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Canucks: Luongo's status is week-to-week

Monday, 11.24.2008 / 10:53 PM / News

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

How long will Roberto Luongo be out?
Nobody seems to have a clear-cut answer.
However, the Vancouver Canucks announced on Monday night that their No. 1 goaltender and captain will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis after suffering a groin strain on Saturday afternoon at Pittsburgh.
"It's the first time I got an injury like this," Luongo said before the Canucks hosted the Detroit Red Wings. "I'll be working hard with the training staff and the medical guys and try to get back as soon as possible. But I really don't know how long it's going to take."
Luongo, a 2-time Vezina Trophy finalist, was injured less than 5 minutes into the contest, following what appeared to be a routine save on a shot from the point by Philippe Boucher, Pittsburgh's first of the game. The goalie was helped off the ice without putting weight on his left leg.
Curtis Sanford, who stopped 17 of 18 shots in relief in Saturday's 3-1 win, got the starting nod against the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Canucks have also promoted Cory Schneider from Manitoba of the American Hockey League. Schneider was the AHL's top goaltender, boasting a 10-1-0 record and a 1.37 goals-against average.
“You never want to see anyone get hurt, especially Louie, who’s so vital to the team, but it’s an exciting opportunity for me and hopefully we can weather the storm while he’s out,” Schneider said. “I don’t think it’s so much about me as it is about Louie getting better and Curtis getting his chance to show what he can do. You've always got to be ready."
Luongo said he feels a bit better each day, but likely won't resume working out until Wednesday or Thursday. Vancouver begins a home-and-home series with the Calgary Flames on Thursday night at GM Place. Luongo underwent an MRI on Monday, which confirmed the strained groin.
"It's not as painful as 2 days ago, so that's a good start," Luongo said. "Pretty much, I can't move around without feeling any pain. Walking is just as uncomfortable for me right now. It's improving every day, but I've still got a little ways to go."
While it's impossible to determine just how long Luongo will be out at this point, the Canucks' captain said he will not come back too quickly and risk more damage. In 19 appearances this season, Luongo is 11-5-2 with a 2.17 GAA and an NHL-best 5 shutouts.
"I won't rush it back," Luongo said. "I want to make sure that I can get back as quickly as possible. It's going to be important for me to work hard with the medical and training staff to make sure that we can heal this as quickly as possible. I want to make sure that I'm back at 100 percent."
A member of the media asked Luongo was the best-case scenario would be as far as is return timetable is concerned.
"Best-case scenario was no injury," Luongo said. "It could be worse. It's not something that I enjoy, being in the press box."
With Luongo on the shelf, it will be up to the rest of the team to keep its lead in the Northwest Division. Vancouver entered Monday's action 5 points ahead of the Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames at 13-6-2.
“We have to [move forward] the best we can,” Canucks forward Ryan Kesler said. “Obviously, [Luongo is] the face of this franchise and he’s our best player, so it’s going to hurt to lose him and we’re going to have to do our best without him. Saying that, we have Curtis, a great goaltender. He’s been proving it all year. He proved it coming in 2 nights ago, and we’ll tighten up defensively."
At the time of Luongo's injury, the Canucks were playing the last of a 4-game road trip that saw 2 stops on Long Island, New York, Minnesota and Pittsburgh in a stretch of 6 days. Luongo played against the Islanders and Rangers on Monday and Wednesday, respectively, before getting the night off on Thursday against the Wild. He was back between the pipes on Saturday afternoon at Mellon Arena when the injury occurred.
Did the vigorous travel schedule play a role?
"There's a lot of things that could be a factor, but you don't really want to start putting blame or trying to figure out how it happened," Luongo said. "Things happen in sports. It was unfortunate, but it could be worse. I've just got to deal with it right now."
Considering how Luongo appeared when the injury took place, Canucks fans were petrified they had lost their No. 1 goaltender for a significant amount of time.
So did Luongo.
"You never know … once you're in that kind of pain, you always think of the worst right away," Luongo said. "For the first 24 hours, I was pretty worried. But once I got up on Sunday and was able to come over to the rink and I was able to walk, I realized that maybe it wasn't as bad as I first thought."
Instead, the Canucks captain is expected to be back in a matter of weeks. When Luongo does return to the ice, he intends to performing the way he did prior to the injury.
"I think the main issue is that there's no damage to the muscle," Luongo said. "That's the most important thing for me. The rest for me is just getting back to where I was before the injury."

Material from team media was used in this report.


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