Roberto Luongo will begin the playoffs as the Vancouver Canucks goaltender as Cory Schneider remains day-to-day with a body injury.
Luongo confirmed after morning skate he will start his 62nd career post-season game for the Canucks and he’s excited for the challenge.
“Obviously the decision was made that maybe it would be best to rest him a couple more days,” said Luongo, encircled by media. “For me it’s an opportunity and I’m excited to be playing playoff hockey again.”
Coach Alain Vigneault said that even if Luongo weren’t available to play tonight, Schneider still would not be able to play. His injury has not worsened, he’s just not back to full health yet and the Canucks are not rushing his return.
Vigneault said his team is comfortable with Luongo backstopping them in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal tonight against the San Jose Sharks, and rightfully so.
“I don’t think for our group having Roberto in goal is a concern – he’s a pretty good goalie. He’s been through a lot of battles, he’s played some real solid hockey for us and tonight he’s playing and I’m sure he’s looking forward to the opportunity.”
Joe Cannata will backup Luongo tonight. A week ago Cannata was not expecting that duty and Luongo admitted he wasn’t expecting this start, either.
“Things happen. You try to figure out why, sometimes you don’t understand them, but at the end of the day we are all playing hockey and playing in the NHL and I’m excited about the opportunity to be playing in a playoff game with this team and hopefully get a win and move on.”
No more questions, comments or concern over the 7-2 loss in Edmonton last Saturday, Luongo has moved on. It’s the playoffs; the lockout, pre-season and the regular season are in the rearview mirror.
Ryan Kesler was the only player absent from Canucks morning skate. Vigneault said it was an optional skate, so participating or not was Kesler’s call, although it seems the forward was tied up this morning.
“He’s in the back, we’ve got him locked up in the back, we’re feeding him raw meat,” joked Vigneault. “The beast will be ready tonight.”