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Babcock replaces Brodeur with Luongo

Monday, 02.22.2010 / 10:00 PM / All-Access Vancouver

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Babcock replaces Brodeur with Luongo
Roberto Luongo will start in net Tuesday against Germany in the qualification round. He's replacing Martin Brodeur, the gold-medal winning goalie who gave up four goals on 18 shots in a 5-3 loss to Team USA on Sunday.
VANCOUVER -- Roberto Luongo is Canada's main man in these Olympics now, meaning he finally has his chance to steal the country from Martin Brodeur.

Luongo will start in net Tuesday against Germany in the qualification round. He's replacing Brodeur, the gold-medal winning goalie who gave up four goals on 18 shots in a 5-3 loss to Team USA on Sunday. Ryan Kesler closed the scoring with an empty-net goal.

"I felt going into the tournament we set ourselves up with the possibility of making one change," Canada coach Mike Babcock said. "We talked about playing both guys and if we felt we needed a change we had one, and now we're making it."

Babcock doesn't anticipate making another one because at this stage of the tournament it's win or go home, and if you win there isn't a reason to make a goalie change. If you have to make one during the game, well, that's never a good sign anyway.

"One thing about this tournament now, if you're changing goalies you're probably out of the tournament," Babcock said. "This is our plan. He has an opportunity and he has to play well."

Babcock said Sunday night that "without emotion" he would watch the video of Canada's loss to the Americans and then make a decision. Luongo told NHL.com that Babcock informed him Sunday night that he would be getting the start.

"I thought I had a chance, maybe, but I wasn't sure," Luongo told NHL.com. "I didn't want to assume anything, but I was definitely ready if I got the call."

Luongo stopped 15 shots in an 8-0 win over Norway in Canada's tournament opener. Babcock said before that game he chose to start Luongo because it's his building and he deserves it, but Brodeur would start the next game against Switzerland.

Brodeur played well against the Swiss, showing Babcock his poise under pressure, particularly in the shootout when he was 4-for-4. He earned the start against Team USA for his leadership, but he didn't show enough of that Sunday.

"The adrenaline will be there just like it would be if you're in the Stanley Cup Finals, or playoffs I mean, because I haven't been there yet," Luongo said. "This is a big stage and being in Vancouver, it's just so exciting. I have a lot of support around here, so I'm really looking forward to being on the ice tomorrow."

Babcock talked to Brodeur on Monday to give him the news. He didn't sense any shock coming out of the veteran.

"He's a pro," Babcock said. "He's been through it a number of times and has won a lot of championships. He understands it's about the team, not the individual. That's the case this time."

Marc-Andre Fleury is Canada's third goalie here, but it doesn't seem like he received much consideration at all.

"The way we set it up is we had a ranking and the top two guys are getting their opportunity," Babcock said. "That's the way it's set up and Lou is going to start and Marty is going to back up."

Luongo's butterfly style is a reason why Babcock is going back to the Canucks' goalie.

Brodeur is not a butterfly goalie, and clearly the Americans had a game plan to shoot low on him. Three of their four goals went in on shots that either dragged on the ice or only a few inches off of it. Two were deflected and they all were scored with screeners in front.

Babcock hinted that if Luongo was in net, maybe those shots don't go in.

"(Luongo) is a great big butterfly goalie and the way the pucks went in our net last night, with traffic and people in front of you a lot, which is the way the game is now, sometimes being down in that big butterfly things hit you and bump into you," Babcock said. "We think Lou gives us a real good opportunity."

Team Canada GearEven with all this fuss about the goalies, obviously any team's most important position, none of the skaters seem to care all that much about who is in net.

Defenseman Duncan Keith said they are "just focused on playing and doing what we're told." Asked if it matters to the defensemen that Luongo doesn't like to roam around the net and play the puck as much as Brodeur, Keith said no.

"Either way there has to be communication," he said. "It's just a matter of talking it out. A lot of times that can be done off the ice so you sort it out before you even get on the ice."

Eric Staal doesn't believe Babcock can make a wrong decision.

"Tomorrow is an opportunity for Roberto," Staal told NHL.com. "It's his building."

It's his team now. Luongo has been waiting years to finally take over for Brodeur.

His chance has arrived.

Contact Dan Rosen at: drosen@nhl.com.