SANTA MONICA, Calif.
-- Cory Schneider
will start in goal for the Vancouver Canucks
on Sunday night, coach Alain Vigneault
Vigneault said he was satisfied with Roberto Luongo
's performance in Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, but he wants to change it up for Game 3 against the Los Angeles Kings
"Two great goaltenders -- I've used both of them all year long," Vigneault said. "Obviously being down, 2-0, the way we are right now is not a reflection of the goaltending that we've had so far; but it's time to change the momentum a little bit and this is one of the cards we might have."
Luongo has done a tremendous job handling the puck against the Kings' aggressive forecheck. Schneider is not regarded as good a puck handler, but his teammates reiterated it is about trying to reverse their fortunes.
"I think both goalies have done everything we've asked them to do this year," star forward Henrik Sedin
said. "Goaltending is not the problem in this series. We're trying to do something new tonight."
Said forward Ryan Kesler
, "Lu's played extremely well for us. Being down, 2-0, coach thought he needed to make a change. Obviously Cory would be a starter on any other team, so the apple doesn't fall far from the tree on that one."
Schneider, 26, may be the No.2 goaltender in Vancouver, but he was also the second-best goaltender in the entire NHL when it came to save percentage during the regular season, posting a .937 that trailed only Brian Elliott
in St. Louis. And Schneider's 1.96 goals-against average was third in the League, just .01 behind the Kings starter and Vezina Trophy candidate Jonathan Quick
The only thing missing on Schneider's short NHL resume is extensive playoff success.
He did get a surprise – many would say shocking – start in the first round this past season against the rival Blackhawks, playing Game 6 in a hostile Chicago environment after the Canucks blew a 3-0 series lead. But the rookie turned two puck-handling gaffes into goals, and was forced to leave early after cramping up badly while getting beat on a penalty shot that tied the game.
Luongo went back in for Game 7, backstopped a 2-1 overtime victory and led the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final before struggling in Boston, getting pulled in two of three road games.
Perhaps because of that, the Canucks made sure to get Schneider more and tougher starts this season, including a big Cup rematch victory in Boston and another tough win in Chicago. And they were careful to keep the sophomore stopper fresh down the stretch, splitting time with -- and for the most part out-playing -- Luongo during the final six weeks of the regular season.
--Correspondent Kevin Woodley contributed to this report