Roberto Luongo will travel with Canucks to California but no word on return to the crease
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The most controversial thing about Vancouver’s goalie situation these days is who, between Roberto Luongo and Eddie Lack, has the better sense of humour.
The always-fascinating world of Twitter has given us insight into each of their comedic styles, so we leave that to the people to decide.
On the ice, the crease this season belongs to the 34-year-old Luongo.
Lack has emerged and continued to prove to be a capable back-up, especially during the past few weeks, with Luongo sidelined first with a groin ailment and then an ankle injury.
Since Luongo suffered the groin injury on Dec. 22, the club’s last game before the holiday break, Lack has started six of the last seven games. Despite a recently snapped five-game losing streak, Lack’s record stands at 8-3-3, with a solid save percentage of .923 and goals-against average of 2.19.
Luongo took part in a full practice on Sunday and confirmed that he will travel with the team on this next road trip to California, which begins Monday against the L.A. Kings.
The Canucks will carry three goalies – including AHL call-up Joacim Eriksson - on this trip.
It’s unknown when or if Luongo will start in any one of the next three games, even with back-to-back games in Anaheim on Wednesday and Phoenix on Thursday.
If he were to start Monday in L.A., it would be nine days since his ankle was injured in a collision with Kings’ captain Dustin Brown. The Canucks lost that game, outplayed for the most part, but Luongo was exceptional in defeat, making 46 saves.
“This is my first practice so, obviously there has to be a progression there,” said Luongo, named to Canada’s men’s Olympic hockey team last week.
“But I’m happy where I’m at right now and just want to keep working hard and making sure once I do get in, I’m as good as I was the last game against L.A.”
Vancouver's puck stopper wouldn’t bite when asked about what Brown’s intentions may have been.
“It’s tough to say. It’s a quick game out there, things happen fast,” said Luongo. “It’s one of those things that happens in hockey.
“He’s the only one that knows really what happened. For all honesty, there’s nothing I can do about it.”
It’s all part of some emerging Pacific Division angst between the Canucks and Kings.
Their rivalry, which began to form in the 2012 playoffs, has been one-sided of late, with the Kings winning all three meetings to date this season.
A regulation win for the Canucks on Monday, and they would tie the Kings in points with 59 for the third spot in the division.
“Listen, L.A. plays in the blue. That’s part of hockey. We need to play in the blue. We need to protect our blue,” said head coach John Tortorella, referring to the crease.
“That’s a big part of developing who you are. I’m not going to pin-point, ‘oh, we need to get that guy.’ We need to play the right way and we have another opportunity.”
Before injuring his groin, Luongo recorded five wins in seven starts, although he was pulled against Dallas in a game the entire team looked a full step behind.
“It’s always frustrating to be out. Doesn’t matter how you’re playing,” said Luongo.
“If you’re playing great, you just want to keep it going and when you’re not playing so well, you just want to get back on the ball. You don’t want to be out sitting on a bad stretch of games. Either way, it’s not very fun.”
He’s watched as Lack, the 26-year-old rookie from Sweden, has done an admirable job filling in.
True, he has one win to show for in his last five starts, but has at least provided his teammates the chance to win with both the quantity and quality of his saves.
Guarding a precarious one-goal lead against St. Louis on Friday, Lack denied David Backes on a chance in close at a critical point in the game.
It helped preserve the win, as the Canucks managed to actually hold onto a lead, exorcising some demons, at least for one night.
“For his first year in the league, I think he’s done more than everybody could’ve hoped,” Luongo said of Lack.
“He’s getting results. It’s huge because you need to have a guy like that who can play if something happens and he’s been doing a great job. At the same time, it puts less pressure on me to try to come back.”
ALEX EDLER WILL TRAVEL TO CALIFORNIA
Canucks defenceman Alex Edler, out since Dec. 3 with a knee injury, will also travel to California with the team.
Edler took part in practice Sunday, with Yannick Weber and Frank Corrado rotating in and out on the right side.
According to Tortorella, Edler – as well as Luongo, is getting better but is still “day-to-day.”
Whether it happens on this trip or not, Edler’s return to the lineup appears inevitable. When it does happen, it will help lessen the heavy burden on other left-shooting defencemen, most notably Dan Hamhuis, who has recently been flirting with 30 minutes in ice time per game, occasionally going over that mark in certain games.
“Mentally, I’m ready,” said Edler.
“It’s always like that when you’re injured. It’s not fun. You get bored really quick, so it’s very exciting to be back with the team and getting closer.”