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Canucks' Luongo out with upper-body injury

by Kevin Woodley
Roberto Luongo won't get to renew his rivalry with the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.

Vancouver's No. 1 goalie won't play because of what Canucks coach Alain Vigneault labeled an "upper-body injury." Luongo, who missed practice Monday and Tuesday, was listed as day-to-day, leaving backup Cory Schneider to face the Blackhawks.

"It's nothing serious," Vigneault said of Luongo.

Luongo, who was expected to make his sixth straight start, including a 38-save, 6-2 win in Chicago on Nov. 6, hasn't been on the ice since stopping 23 shots in Sunday's 4-1 victory against the New York Islanders. He appeared to be in discomfort at one point during the third period, and Schneider even began to loosen up on the bench, but Luongo and Vigneault downplayed it after the game.

Luongo also took a Mark Streit slap shot directly off his mask "right between the eyes" while stretching across the crease for a rebound during that third period against the Islanders, but insisted after the game and again Monday that it wasn't the source of his injury.

"It bent my cage a little bit, but it didn't really hurt," Luongo said Monday. "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."

Luongo is 7-5-1 this season with an .896 save percentage after his usual slow start in October, but is 4-2-0 with a .924 save percentage since the calendar turned to November. Schneider is 2-3-0 with a .918 save percentage, but his only appearance since a 40-save, 5-0 loss in Minnesota on Nov. 3 was a third-period relief effort last Friday in Anaheim.

At least Schneider is familiar with the rivalry, having started ahead of Luongo in Game 6 of last year's first-round playoff series.

Schneider left that game due to muscle cramps, and Luongo returned to backstop the Canucks to a win in Game 7, spring boarding their run to the Stanley Cup Final.

"They're definitely a dangerous team," Schneider said of the Blackhawks. "They like to cheat. They like to make plays, they like to hold onto the puck and try things other teams may not. And they can actually pull them off. It will be a good challenge. They're one of the best teams in the League and I'm sure they're not happy how the game went last week, so they'll be out to prove something in our building. I'm going to be ready for a big, big game for us."
Vigneault said the Canucks may call third-string goalie Eddie Lack up from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League.
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