Roberto Luongo, Jonathan Toews, Alex Burrows

Luongo returns to United Center


The last time the Vancouver Canucks visited the United Center, coach Alain Vigneault started a rookie in net.

This wasn’t just any game either. It was Game 6 against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Canucks led the first-round series, 3-2 – a series they’d once led, 3-0.

With starting goalie Roberto Luongo having struggled in his last two starts, and with a history of poor playoff performances at the United Center, the coach made the bold decision to go with Cory Schneider.

Now fast forward to the third period of the game. The score’s tied at three and Schneider has cramped up.

Enter Luongo, who made 12 saves before this happened in overtime.

Tonight will mark Luongo’s first return to the United Center. This time, he’ll get the start.

“One of my favorite barns to play in,” he said today, as reported by Tim Sassone of the Daily Herald. “I’ve had some great games in here, some not so great games.”

So far this season, Luongo’s had more “not so great games” than he’d like. Friday against the Blues, he made a couple of big saves to keep his team in the game, but the winning goal by St. Louis was like a lot goals that have been scored against the Canucks in 2011-12 – Luongo could’ve done better, but the defensive coverage could’ve been a lot better.

The Canucks (6-7-1) have lost two straight and sit two points back of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Derek Roy signs in Swiss league

Derek Roy, Jeremy Smith, Chris Kelly
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Derek Roy has finally found work — but it’s not in the NHL.

Roy, who spent the entire preseason in Washington’s camp on a PTO, has signed with SC Bern of Switzerland’s National League A, the club announced on Friday.

The news comes after Roy narrowly missed out on making the Caps roster, and just one year after he had something of a bounce-back campaign in Edmonton, scoring 22 points in 46 games while developing chemistry with young winger Nail Yakupov.

A 12-year NHL veteran, Roy is one of the more prominent names to be squeezed out of work this season, and head overseas. The 31-year-old has scored over 500 points in 738 career contests, and has twice represented Canada at the World Hockey Championships.

With Bern, Roy will play on one of Switzerland’s stronger teams, alongside a trio of ex-NHLers: Chuck Kobasew, Andrew Ebbett and Cory Conacher.

Lehner’s injury ‘doesn’t look like it’s short term’

Robin Lehner
AP Photo
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Robin Lehner might not be back anytime soon.

Making his debut with the Buffalo Sabres, the 24-year-old goaltender couldn’t complete Thursday’s game against his former squad, the Ottawa Senators, due to what has now been revealed to be a right leg injury.

When he left the arena, he was wearing a walking boot on that nearly went up to his knee.

“It doesn’t look like it’s short term,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told the Buffalo News. “It’s more than day-to-day at this point, but we need to evaluate further.”

It’s a rocky start to what’s an important campaign for Lehner. He has been given an opportunity to demonstrate that he’s ready to be a starting goaltender after being acquired by the Sabres over the summer, but it looks like that will have to be postponed.

While he’s sidelined, Chad Johnson is likely to be leaned on heavily.