The last time the Vancouver Canucks faced a heated rival – Jan. 7 in Boston – backup goalie Cory Schneider was named the surprise starter over Roberto Luongo. It was a decision that drew derision from those in the Beantown media, at least one of whom accused Luongo of being scared to face his TD Garden demons.
Tonight at Rogers Arena against Vancouver’s other main foe, the Chicago Blackhawks, Schneider will once again get the start over the team’s supposed number one.
Allow Canucks coach Alain Vigneault to explain why.
“We talked about it a couple of times and it just made sense,” said Vigneault, as per The Province. “If I told him (Luongo) in advance enough, I know that he would work out while he was (on the break). Louie’s got a family and this was a good mental break for him. Cory doesn’t have a family yet and he can work out during the break.”
OK, there’s a trace of logic in there.
Schneider also hasn’t started since Jan. 10, so he was due to get the nod at some point.
That said, the optics are what they are. Tonight isn’t just another regular-season game for the Canucks. It never is when the Blackhawks are involved. It certainly wasn’t just another regular-season game against the Bruins, no matter what was said by those Vancouver fans who were scared to admit it.
In the past, tonight would’ve been an automatic Luongo start. Now you can’t help but wonder, come playoff time, how will the Canucks handle their goaltending situation? Is it still Luongo or bust? Or, has his leash grown shorter with the emergence of Schneider, not to mention Luongo’s history of awful – not just bad – playoff performances?
Related: Vigneault wonders how Blackhawks-Canucks rivalry can get more intense
You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.
We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.
“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.
These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.
Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.
It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.
With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.
It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.
Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:
It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).
As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.
Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:
This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.
Update: Bullet dodged?