Monday, December 10, 2007

Trouble in Canuckland

The Vancouver Canucks lost a disappointing game 4-2 to the Los Angeles Kings Monday night. There were many problems with the Canucks' play during the game, particularly on the defensive side where former King Aaron Miller looked especially vulnerable. However, more worrisome for Canucks' fans were the troubling events prior to the game. Star goaltender Roberto Luongo stayed in the treatment room after Saturday's loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, sparking rumours that he might be injured. He was scheduled to start Monday's game against the Kings, but pulled himself partway through the warmup, citing sore ribs. A seismic wave of fear was quickly felt throughout the Canuck community, as Luongo probably means more to this franchise than just about any other player does to any NHL team. Vancouver Province hockey reporter Gord McIntyre described the repercussions quite well in his post-game story.
"It was the biggest shock since Bette Midler's understudy took over in the stage musical Rochelle, Rochelle," McIntyre wrote. "Except that was on Seinfeld, a make-believe TV show. On Monday night at the Staples Centre, it was still prime time, but real life."
In a post-game interview with McIntyre, Luongo certainly didn't do a great deal of reassuring. "It hurts when I move, it hurts when I breathe," he said."The last few days it got worse. I was in pain all day and wasn't good enough to go."
Luongo said he picked up the injury from a Minnesota Wild slapshot on Dec. 2, which TEAM 1040 analyst Dave Tomlinson identified as taken by Canuck-killer Aaron Voros, who also scored the winning goal in that game. Luongo stayed down for about a minute after the shot, which raised some initial concern, but he appeared to be all right. Luongo said in today's media interviews that he reaggravated the injury against Chicago on Dec. 5, but still was able to play later. He identified the injury as a rib contusion, and said he'll be out for "a few days", which had TEAM analysts Blake Price and Tomlinson worried. Price said that usually with close back-to-back games approaching (Wednesday against Anaheim and Thursday against San Jose), an injured player who's at all close to returning would state that he'd try to make it for one of the back-to-backs, and Luongo's less-committal approach means he may be gone for a longer stretch.
It now remains to be seen what Vancouver will do for the back-to-back games: do they call up Drew MacIntyre from the Manitoba Moose to play one of the games, or even just as insurance in case Curtis Sanford gets hurt, or do they hope to tough it out and start Sanford both games? My feeling is that the call-up as insurance makes sense: that way, if Sanford plays well Wednesday, he can go Thursday as well, but otherwise, MacIntyre can have a shot. In either case, at the moment at least, it doesn't look like Bobby Lou will return until at least Saturday's game against the Oilers. This will be a real test for this team.
"Vancouver fans have always wondered what life without Roberto Luongo might be like," Price said. "They're about to get a small dose of it."

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