Roberto Luongo didn’t think he’d ever play another game for the Vancouver Canucks.
That was back in May, after losing his starting job to Cory Schneider two games into a five-game playoff loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
Now the veteran goalie is preparing to play for the second straight day to start the new season.
“Probably most of you don't believe it right now, either," Luongo said after the announcement was made following the morning skate Monday.
Coach Alain Vigneault explained the decision by saying he was just sticking to his plan to start Luongo against Edmonton on Sunday night, one day after pulling Schneider early in the second period of a 7-3 loss to Anaheim.
“This was my plan that I figured out a couple of days ago and nothing happened last night that changed my mind,” Vigneault said.
That plan certainly didn't include seeing Schneider give up goals on three straight shots over a three-minute span early in the second period against the Ducks – and five on 14 overall.
Luongo took over, giving up two goals on 12 shots. He said after he should have stopped both goals by Teemu Selanne, who had four points for the Ducks, but said he felt good about his game overall. He will get a chance to build on that feeling against a talented Oilers team that was at least rumored to be interested in acquiring him in a trade last summer.
“To start a game with this logo on is something I’m happy to be doing right now,” Luongo said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen. I would have been fine with either way. I just got myself ready, no matter what the situation."
Neither Luongo nor Schneider had much help against the Ducks. Vancouver gave up quick goals on all three Anaheim power play opportunities, and its highly touted defense surrendered several point blank scoring chances.
Schneider, though, wasn’t making any excuses after the game, shouldering the blame when there was plenty to go around by saying it was up to him to make some big saves to keep the Canucks in the game.
“Sometimes you need to make that one big save and that will get you on your rhythm and send you on your way and I couldn’t make that big save,” Schneider said after the game. “You start pressing a little harder and trying to make that save and sometimes it’s a little counter-productive.”
Schneider, who lamented the three shots that went “through” him the most, said he “felt just a half-second off,” wanted to go over video on Sunday and then, “put my head down, work my butt off and fix any mistakes I made.”
Now he will get that chance to work with goaltending coach Roland Melanson, at least until a game Wednesday against Calgary.
"I want to keep playing,” Schneider said after the skate Sunday. “I'm not worried to get back in the net. I'm eager to do so. This will give me time to work on things."
In Vancouver, where most expected Luongo to be long gone by now, it also provides time for a potential goaltending controversy to simmer.