The mandatory off week for the Florida Panthers appears to have done wonders for injured goaltender Roberto Luongo.
The Panthers No. 1 netminder has “turned a corner” as he continues to rehab a lower-body injury, Panthers head coach Bob Boughner said on Thursday.
The Panthers practiced for the first time since their mandatory break on Thursday, and although Luongo is still on pace for a return early next month, the news was good to hear for a team nine points adrift of the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference.
“I think he’s turned a corner a little bit,” Boughner told reporters after the team’s practice. “He’s showing some good improvement here in the last few days. We’re excited to hopefully get him back out on the ice during a practice at some upcoming point.”
Luongo hasn’t played since Dec. 4, when he was injured in a 5-4 shootout loss to the New York Islanders.
The news of Luongo’s pending return was probably a little music to the ears of James Reimer.
Reimer has started Florida’s past 16 games, posting an 8-6-2 record with .924 save percentage during that span, but ran into the break losing four of his previous five starts.
Still, Reimer has performed admirably in Luongo’s absence, as he bounced back from an unfavorable start to the season that saw Luongo regain the starter’s reins.
The Panthers will have five games in-hand on Pittsburgh Penguins, who entered Thursday occupying the final spot. They play the Los Angeles Kings live on NBCSN at 10 p.m. ET.
The Panthers return to action on Friday when they host the visiting Vegas Golden Knights.
Reimer is expected to start No. 17.
A forgettable start to the season got even worse for the Florida Panthers when goaltender Roberto Luongo went down during Monday night’s loss to the New York Islanders. Head coach Bob Boughner announced Wednesday morning that the netminder is will miss an “extended period of time” with a lower-body injury. He did not give a specific timetable.
“Whether that’s three weeks, four weeks, five weeks, we’re going to see how his rehab goes, that kind of thing,” he said via the Sun-Sentinel. “Definitely out for a while.”
This is the second injury that’s sidelined Luongo this season after he missed six games while nursing a hand injury in October. James Reimer will once again step in with Harri Sateri recalled to back up. Reimer has made 12 starts this season and posted a .901 even strength save percentage, via Corsica.
“This is a pretty big loss for us. [Luongo’s] been awesome for his whole career with Florida,” Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov told Pro Hockey Talk on Tuesday. “Of course it kind of sucks, but that’s the luxury of having James Reimer as a second goalie for us. That’s a pretty good thing that we have two goalies that can be first goalies in the league.”
The Panthers are currently tied for the third-fewest points in the NHL with 24 and wrap up a homestand later this week before hitting the road for a five-game trip. They’ll also be facing a pair of back-to-backs over the next three weeks, and since Luongo won’t be returning any time soon it could be Sateri making his NHL at some point, or maybe general manager Dale Tallon dips back into the market for an option other than the 27-year-old Finn.
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.
At 38 and with more than 1,000 games of NHL experience (981 regular season, 70 playoffs) to his name, Roberto Luongo‘s at that stage of his career where injuries start to stack up.
With that in mind, you wonder if all that wear-and-tear showed up on a night like this, as Luongo suffered some form of a lower-body injury while making a save against the Islanders. He needed help off the ice following a stop on Ryan Pulock, as you can see in the video above this post’s headline.
Plenty of people are concerned that this could be a serious issue for the likely future Hall of Famer.
It’s already been a tough season for the Panthers, but Luongo’s quietly been fantastic, carrying a superlative .928 save percentage into tonight. While James Reimer is a capable backup/platoon-mate, this is a tough blow for Florida.
Here’s hoping that this injury isn’t as scary as it looked. The Islanders ended up edging Luongo’s Panthers 5-4 via a shootout on Monday. No word yet on Luongo’s condition.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.
The Florida Panthers lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. Making matters worse was the fact their goalie Roberto Luongo left the game in the third period with an apparent hand injury.
The injury occurred after a collision in the crease with Penguins forward Conor Sheary.
Luongo immediately went down to the ice in pain. A replay from above the net showed Luongo’s right hand getting caught in an awkward position against the post after coming into contact with Sheary as he cut through in front of the crease in pursuit of the puck.
The injury forced James Reimer off the bench and into the game with the Panthers trailing by a goal. MacKenzie Weegar tied the game for Florida before Sheary scored the eventual winner about eight minutes later, on a night when the Penguins fired 48 shots on the two Panthers goalies.
Luongo gave up three goals on 36 shots before leaving the game. The Panthers now head out on the road. They’ll visit the Washington Capitals on Saturday.
Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.
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With Roberto Luongo struggling in recent weeks there has been some speculation that he might be playing through some sort of an injury. On Thursday, after stopping 13 all shots he faced in the first period against the Philadelphia Flyers — and not always looking comfortable — he ended up leaving the game with what the team is calling a lower body injury.
After the game Panthers coach Tom Rowe said it is expected that Luongo will miss at least a week of action.
Reto Berra has been called up from the AHL.
He was replaced at the start of the second period by James Reimer.
Reimer had been making more starts in recent weeks due to a combination of him playing extremely well (.929 save percentage in February), and Luongo hitting a pretty significant slump. Reimer played well in relief on Thursday, but the Panthers still ended up losing in a shootout, 2-1.
In his six starts in February Luongo managed only a .878 save percentage, allowing 20 goals. He allowed at least three goals in four of those appearances. Going back as far as Jan. 13 he has allowed at least three goals in eight of his past 11 starts.
The Panthers entered the night one point of a Wild Card spot with 68 points.