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Timetable on return for Canucks' Luongo a mystery

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo will be healthy enough to represent Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but there is still no indication when he'll be back with his NHL team.

Luongo spoke about his selection by Hockey Canada on Tuesday but was forbidden from talking about the ankle injury that kept him out against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, and required an MRI on Monday.

Luongo still hasn't skated and he won't play against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night, but there was no sign of a limp as he walked away from a long media scrum team officials threatened to cut short if there were questions about his injury. He did, however, admit to wondering about his Olympic chances after getting hurt in a game against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.

"I mean, at that point I did not know what was going on exactly yet so obviously it crosses your mind," Luongo said, adding he never talked to Canada officials over the weekend about the injury. "But at the end of the day my main goal is to get healthy and play for the Canucks, so that's what I am worried about right now."

Despite no obvious signs the injury is serious, there remains no timeline for Luongo's return. He was injured during a 3-1 loss to the Kings, his first game back after missing three with a groin injury, when forward Dustin Brown crashed into him after scoring the tying goal.

Luongo's right leg was pinned under him in the butterfly position and he was knocked backward to the ice. He reached for his right ankle and stayed down a couple minutes, but finished the game before being unable to dress against the Ducks the next night.

The Canucks were forced to sign 43-year-old emergency backup Rob Laurie against the Ducks, and recalled goalie Joacim Eriksson from the American Hockey League on Monday to back up Eddie Lack.

Lack has played well in his rookie season, posting a 7-3-2 record and .923 save percentage. But the injury-depleted Canucks will have their hands full against a Pittsburgh team getting healthy again.

The Canucks, who are already missing defensemen Alexander Edler (knee), Andrew Alberts (upper body) and Ryan Stanton (ankle) and forward Alexandre Burrows (jaw), get forward Chris Higgins back after he missed the game Sunday with illness, and wing Zack Kassian is playing despite leaving that game after being hit hard in the face by the skate of teammate Tom Sestito. But coach John Tortorella said wing Darren Archibald, recalled from the AHL in Tuesday morning, will also be in the lineup, and while he wouldn't get into line specifics, the indications from the morning skate were that both Dale Weise and David Booth would be surprise scratches against the Penguins.

Burrows, out since breaking his jaw Dec. 1, and Edler, who sprained his right knee two days later, both skated with the team for the first time Tuesday, but neither offered a timeline for his return.

"I like to believe I am getting there, feeling much better and eating solid food now," Burrows said. "It's around the corner but I'm going to listen to doctors and what they think is best for me."

The Penguins have gotten several key players back of late.

Forward Pascal Dupuis and defenseman Paul Martin are still out, but All-Stars Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang returned on Sunday and combined for four points in a 6-5 win against the Winnipeg Jets, and defensemen Brooks Orpik and Rob Scuderi both came back after Christmas.

The Penguins may dress Deryk Engelland as a forward again after he played defense against the Jets, which would allow defenseman Simon Despres to return after being a healthy scratch on Saturday. Here are the projected lineups for the Canucks and Penguins:


Brian GibbonsSidney CrosbyChris Kunitz

James NealEvgeni MalkinJussi Jokinen

Tanner GlassCraig AdamsZach Sill

Taylor PyattBrandon SutterJoe Vitale

Rob ScuderiKris Letang

Brooks OrpikDeryk Engelland

Olli MaattaMatt Niskanen

Marc-Andre Fleury

Jeff Zatkoff

Scratched: Chuck Kobasew, Robert Bortuzzo, Simon Despres

Injured: Andrew Ebbett (ankle), Beau Bennett (wrist), Paul Martin (leg), Chris Conner (hand), Pascal Dupuis (knee), Jayson Megna (lower body), Tomas Vokoun (pelvis)


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Mike Santorelli

Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Jannik Hansen

Tom Sestito - Brad Richardson - Zack Kassian

Benn Ferriero - Zac Dalpe - Darren Archibald

Dan Hamhuis - Christopher Tanev

Jason Garrison - Kevin Bieksa

Yannick WeberFrank Corrado

Eddie Lack

Joacim Eriksson

Scratched: Dale Weise, David Booth

Injured: Andrew Alberts (upper body), Roberto Luongo (ankle), Ryan Stanton (ankle), Alexander Edler (knee), Alexandre Burrows (jaw), Jordan Schroeder (ankle)

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