Roberto Luongo was missing from Vancouver Canucks practice Monday at Rogers Arena.
Ring the alarm?
Nope, it was simply an optional skate that Luongo, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Chris Higgins, Alex Edler and others opted out of in favour of rest, although they did take part in an off-ice workout.
Put those Luongo injury rumours to rest, sure he did the splits and took a shot off the helmet all in one play in a 4-1 win, his 200th with the Canucks, Sunday night against the New York Islanders, but that’s all in a day’s work for the starting netminder.
Midway through the third period with the Canucks ahead 3-1 on the Islanders, Luongo got ahead of a Mark Streit shot by getting a head on it; there was debate in the press box that it went off the crossbar and not his head because of how quickly it ricocheted back out, but alas the replay concluded Luongo was truly using his head.
Just what exactly does it feel like to take a flying piece of rubber off the mask?
“It depends where you get it,” said Luongo. “The one last night was actually right between the eyes, it bent my cage a little bit, but it didn’t really hurt. Sometimes it’s more of a ringing sensation if you get it on the side of your head or off the forehead and stuff like that. The one last night didn’t really hurt at all.”
A bad batch of cookies is one thing, but sticks?
The Easton sticks that Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler are using this season have been snapping left and right and the cause of the broken lumber, which always happen to split when lined up with a vicious one-timer, remains a mystery.
"It’s either the sticks or we’re doing way too many workouts,” joked Bieksa after using up three sticks Sunday against the Islanders.
Edler, who, knock on wood, hasn’t broken a stick in a few games, is equally as clueless about the epidemic sweeping the Canucks blueline.
"I’m using the same sticks as last year, I don’t know why they’re breaking, but there have been some breaks at some bad times,” said Edler. “I don’t really know what to do about it, I can play around a bit with the stiffness and things like that, but I like the sticks so I don’t want to change.”
Something has to change, if only for the sanity of the Canucks coaching staff.
“That drives us absolutely crazy, but what are you going to do?” associate coach Rick Bowness said Monday. “You’re walking into a one-timer and the thing breaks, that one shot could determine the outcome of the game, there’s points on the line every game and we’re walking into shots and they’re all snapping in the same place. It’s frustrating.”
No word on how Edler, Bieksa and the Canucks plan on getting out of this sticky situation.
KES & COHO
Associate coach Rick Bowness filled in for head coach Alain Vigneault at the podium Monday and of all the topics he addressed, the issues of Ryan Kesler and Cody Hodgson were the most interesting.
While many veterans sat out Monday’s practice, Kesler was out there and not because he had to be.
“It shows his true professionalism, it shows his true commitment to his career and his team and his organization and these are the things you look for,” said Bowness of Kesler’s extra work.
Although Kesler has seven points in 13 games this season, he has only two goals. It isn’t because of effort, according to Bowness, Kesler simply isn’t getting the bounces right now.
“There’s not much missing, it’s right there. We all know how hard he works and it’s good to see that. It was a long road trip, guys were tired, we got home late the other night so that’s why we gave them the option, the guys who felt they needed a little extra work on skills and things like that, it’s their initiative, it’s what they feel.”
Hodgson was also on the ice following another two points performance, his second in four games, giving him nine points (4-5-9) this season.
The rookie forward has been doing all the right things so far this year, albeit under the radar.
“His confidence and his belief in his abilities that he can have success at this level are growing on a day-to-day basis,” assessed Bowness. “When you’re a young man coming into our league, can I do what I did before at this level, and it takes a little time. The hands and his reading, that’s always been there and that will always be there, but can you do it at the next level and can you do it against better competition and he’s showing that he can.”
Hodgson has also shown he can adapt to playing all over the ice and with an array of linemates, adding versatility to his resume.