Alain Vigneault is going to ride Roberto Luongo’s stellar play.
Coach Vigneault named Luongo his starting goalie for Friday night’s highly anticipated matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks. It will be Luongo’s third consecutive start after posting a shutout against Colorado on Wednesday and a 26 save shootout loss in Los Angeles.
“It’s exciting,” said Luongo. “Nothing better than a game against the Blackhawks to get a little playoff atmosphere. They are always fun games to be playing in. We want to get some momentum going after last night. It’s a huge test for us tomorrow.”
Cory Schneider, who re-signed with the Canucks after taking the starting job in last season’s playoffs, said he’s not concerned about his team’s current goaltending situation. “I’m not thinking about it, I’m just focusing on the next day when I come to the rink to improve my game.”
The Blackhawks come into Vancouver as the top team in the Western Conference and to say the two clubs have a rivalry would be a severe understatement.
“We definitely don’t like them at all, but they are a good team,” said Kevin Bieksa. “They’ve won the Stanley Cup before so you have to respect them.”
The game is also the first time the teams have meet since Duncan Keith concussed Daniel Sedin with an elbow to the head last March.
“I saw it a few times after on TV, but that’s about it,” said Daniel, who missed a dozen games with the injury. “I haven’t really thought about it to be honest.”
The play left a sour taste in the mouth of Bieksa, who says the team has since moved on.
“I’m not going to lie there’s bitterness for sure. It’s part of the game. I’ve cheap-shotted guys before, but not as bad as that. It’s part of the game, you have to accept it.”
Now seven games into the shortened NHL season, and with an undefeated club heading into Rogers Arena, Bieksa views the game as a chance to gauge where the Canucks are on the year.
“Right now they are the measuring stick so we will see how we match up with them. They are playing some good hockey and we are on the cusp of playing some good hockey.”