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Schneider to be back in net for Canucks vs. Flames

by Kevin Woodley /

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Cory Schneider will be back in goal for the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday for the same reason he was there at the end of last season.

Schneider confirmed he would start when the Canucks play host to the Calgary Flames after getting pulled from his first regular-season game as the team's No. 1 goalie Saturday and watching his predecessor, Roberto Luongo, start the next night.

"Same approach I had last year," coach Alain Vigneault said. "I'm picking the goalie I feel gives us the best chance to win."

When Vigneault made the same decision three games into the playoffs last season, most assumed it meant the end of Luongo's time in Vancouver.

That included Luongo himself. Instead, he found himself back in goal earlier than expected in a season-opening 7-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, and back in for a scheduled start in what turned into a 3-2 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.

Some argued that Schneider, who signed a three-year, $12-million contract extension last summer to be the new No.1 goaltender, should have been given a chance to go right back in a day after being pulled. It was a luxury afforded Luongo many times during his six seasons as the Canucks' unquestioned No. 1.


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Vigneault, though, said Sunday he was sticking with his original plan by starting Luongo in the second half of back-to-backs. Tuesday, the coach refused to tier his goaltenders, or attach any labels to his decision to go back to Schneider for Wednesday's game.

"Would you not say that I have two No. 1s right now?" Vigneault said. "I've got two great goaltenders and my job is to pick the one I feel gives us the best chance to win, and [Wednesday] I think Cory gives us the best chance to win."

No. 1 or not, Schneider saw it as a vote of confidence after giving up goals on three straight shots -- and five on 14 overall -- in 26 minutes against Anaheim.

"It's a great sign they believe in me and feel last game was an aberration, which I believe as well," Schneider said. "Now it's up to me to go out and prove it."

Schneider got that benefit of the doubt by posting a 36-12-3 record and .933 save percentage while earning more -- and tougher -- starts over the past two seasons as Luongo’s backup. He said wasn't thinking about who would play against the Flames, that he was more concerned about fixing what ailed him against the Ducks, including focusing on fundamentals and not trying too hard if things go wrong.

"Start pressing and that's when you can start getting a little bit leaky," he said.

Having to answer endless questions about it -- and about the presence of Luongo, who was being surrounded at the locker beside him -- doesn't make it any easier.

"Just take a deep breath and do it," Schneider said. "You guys [media] have a job to do and there's a lot of you, so you have to be accountable and responsible. You can't stick your head in the sand and pretend nobody cares and it doesn't matter."

The media attention certainly wasn't reduced for Luongo after Canucks general manager Mike Gillis told the Vancouver Sun he had a trade in the works.

"We have a potential deal in place with one team that has to do something with another player that they have -- and it's not who anybody thinks it is -- and so we have to wait," Gillis told the newspaper. "[But] we've been offered packages that don't fit what our plan is, what we need."

Luongo, who gave up two goals on 12 shots in relief Saturday and two on 32 shots before he was beaten on both shootout attempts by the Oilers, said it was news to him.

"Mike hasn't approached me, so it is just status quo from my side," Luongo said. "I don't know what to make of it, to be honest with you. I think I don't want to read into stuff that is in the paper and out there in the media because that's just doing a disservice to myself and the team. I'll hear it from Mike."

In the meantime, Luongo, who said last summer that it was time for him to move on from Vancouver, sounded content to play out the entire season with the Canucks.

"There's nothing bitter or sour or anything like that," Luongo said, insisting he didn't feel like he was just biding his time waiting for a trade that everyone expects is coming eventually. "I am playing the game. I am playing in the NHL. I am playing with a bunch of guys I love and have been with for six years.

"Whether it's the season or next week doesn't matter. I am giving 100 percent of myself to this team. I have a lot of respect for the organization and I want to give whatever it takes to help this team win games."

According to Vigneault, that means watching from the bench Wednesday.

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