The matchup has been set, but Vancouver’s starting goaltender for Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarter-Final remains in question.
The Canucks practiced at Rogers Arena Monday and with the exception of Chris Tanev (who is in a walking boot and remains day-to-day), everyone participated, including goaltender Cory Schneider.
Schneider has missed the last two games with an undisclosed lower body injury and said after practice he is also day-to-day, but felt it was an encouraging sign that he was able to finish practice.
“Whenever you can do an hour-long practice, that’s a good sign,” said Schneider. “So we’ll see how I’m feeling tomorrow.”
Schneider will practice again Tuesday and will be revaluated after and that will likely be the process as well on Wednesday, when coach Alain Vigneault said he’ll make the call as to who will start between the pipes for Game 1.
“I’d love to play, it’s the playoffs and I’ve felt good about how I’ve been playing lately,” added Schneider. “This is when the fun part of the year starts, I’d love to play and if we feel I’m healthy enough to play, I will. We’ll see how it is tomorrow; we’ll see how I’m doing and go from there.”
Roberto Luongo will start for the Canucks if Schneider is unable to play and Luongo is preparing as if he’ll get the call.
Monday was the first time reporters had heard from Luongo since Saturday night when he allowed five third period goals en route to a 7-2 Canucks loss to the Oilers. He’s brushed that off and apologized for not discussing it post-game; Luongo was frustrated and embarrassed and didn’t want to say something he’d regret.
He’s moved on, the second season is here and Luongo is ready to rock.
“Can’t change what happened in the past and you can’t look too far ahead, you really want to stay in the moment, especially in the playoffs where every shift is critical,” said Luongo. “You don’t want to be too emotional about anything, you want to be even keel about everything.”
Kevin Bieksa returned to Vancouver’s line-up against the Oilers Saturday night and he proclaimed himself injury free Monday; he’s back to himself and does not believe he’ll have to take any extra precautions during the post-season.
“I’m good to go. My health issues are behind me and I’m ready for Game 1,” said Bieksa, who joked that a couple of minuses was all he got from Saturday night’s loss, before coming clean.
“It’s always good to get into game situations and feel that pressure on the forecheck and make some plays and make some hits, take some hits. It served its purpose.”
BRING ON THE SHARKS
The third seeded Canucks face the San Jose Sharks, who finished in sixth thanks to a 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in the final game of the regular season. By no means did the Sharks back into the playoffs, though, they had already secured a spot and actually only finished two points behind the Canucks in the standings.
“Every single team is a good team, I think they’re all playing the same way LA, St. Louis and San Jose,” assessed Henrik Sedin. “It’s going to be a tough, grinding series, they’ve got some big bodies. We’ve played them before, we know we’ve got a good team in here and we’re looking forward to them.”
Chris Higgins, who skated with Zack Kassian and Ryan Kesler, while Derek Roy was between Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen at practice Monday, is also preparing for a tough series with the Sharks.
“It seems like we always have fun games against these guys, they compete hard and they’ve got a lot of skill over there and we’re looking forward to another emotional series against these guys,” said Higgins, adding he’s comfortable playing with Kassian and Kesler.
The Canucks will practice at Rogers Arena against Tuesday morning.