Roberto Luongo will be back in goal for the Vancouver Canucks against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night -- the first time he's made consecutive starts since losing the No. 1 job to Cory Schneider in last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Coach Alain Vigneault said the surprise start was his decision, but wouldn't elaborate on why he made it, or whether it raised more questions about who was his No. 1 goaltender.
"Tonight Louie is No. 1, he’s playing," Vigneult said. "I'm not going to get into all the logistics of what goes behind making a decision. Those are internal things and we'll just leave it at that."
Schneider was the presumed No. 1 after taking over from Luongo three games in last year's playoffs.
Luongo replaced a struggling Schneider in the season opener, and Vigneault made headlines by keeping Luongo in goal the following night. But he went back to Schneider for the third game, saying he was playing the goalie "that gave him the best chance to win," a line that seemed to re-confirm Schneider as the No. 1 going forward.
Schneider also started the next two games, including a shutout in Anaheim on Friday night and a 4-1 loss in San Jose on Sunday, before Luongo got another start in the second half of back-to-back games Monday in Los Angeles. Most assumed Schneider, who has a .897 save percentage overall but .935 since being pulled early in that opening game, to be back in goal against the Avalanche.
Instead it will be Luongo, who many -- including the goalie himself -- assumed would be traded before the season even started.
"My decision," Vigneault said after Wednesday's morning skate. "It's just my call. Just got back yesterday and that's what I decided."
Luongo has lost both his starts in shootouts, but has a .917 save percentage and looked sharp stopping 26 of 28 against the Kings.
"I couldn't tell you if I was surprised or not," Luongo said. "Like I have been saying, I just get ready to play every day and when I am called upon I just want to be ready. I am excited to get the start tonight and hopefully build off last game and get a win most importantly."
Luongo, a notorious slow starter in past seasons, feels good about his game after spending seven weeks working with former Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending coach Francois Allaire in Florida.
"I put a lot of work in during the lockout, and skating four times a week by yourself is something you don't get a chance to do very often, and working on some things you need to improve on really helped me out," Luongo said. "Coming into camp I found I was able to see the puck much better and make some good reads off shots that maybe took me a little while to get going in the past."
As for when he'll get another chance after Wednesday, Luongo wasn't sure, saying the goalies usually find out the day before.
"I don't know if there is a plan or not," he said.
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