VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks’ goaltending saga is showing no signs of coming to an end.
The club will turn to Roberto Luongo for his third straight start ahead of Cory Schneider on Friday when they host the Chicago Blackhawks.
Luongo (1-0-2) picked up his first win of the season in Wednesday’s 3-0 shutout of the Colorado Avalanche.
That means that Schneider (2-2-0), who was tabbed to be the starter before the season with the Canucks looking to trade Luongo, will again find himself on the bench.
Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault, who has grown tired of being asked to explain who plays and who sits, jokingly flipped a coin to show reporters how he arrived at his decision.
“I’m not going to get into all the reasons behind it but (Friday), Lui is playing,” Vigneault said Thursday.
The players in the Canucks’ locker-room, meanwhile, say it doesn’t matter which goaltender starts.
“For us it’s never been an issue,” said Vancouver forward Daniel Sedin. “We’re confident in both goalies, they’ve been good so far so it’s a non-issue for us.”
Boasting a .938 save percentage, Luongo credited his sharpness to an extensive work regimen during the lockout.
“You just want to keep working hard and making sure you put the work in in practice and keep it going and stay fresh and sharp,” he said after Thursday’s practice. “And when you do that and you come to the game prepared and ready to have fun, usually good things will happen.
“Right now I’m feeling good about the way I’m playing and hopefully I will be able to carry that over.”
Luongo and the Canucks (3-2-2) will face a stiff test against league-leading Chicago (6-0-1), which has forwards Patrick Kane (10 points), Marian Hossa (nine points) and Jonathan Toews (seven points) firing on all cylinders.
“It’s exciting, nothing better than a game against the Blackhawks to get a little playoff intensity going there,” Luongo said. “Those guys have been one of the top teams in the league so far so it’s a good measuring stick for us.”
Putting on a brave face for the cameras, Schneider—who has a save percentage of .897—said he can’t argue with the decision because Luongo is playing better at the moment.
“It’s just some adversity,” Schneider said. “I don’t cry myself to sleep at night, I don’t feel bad for myself, I just have to work hard and be better, it’s as simple as that. So if you’re the best goalie, you’re going to play.
“For me it’s being as good as I can be and outplaying him, it’s something you can control so there’s no point in feeling bad about it or being upset about it, I just have to channel all that into motivation.
“We’ve seen what (Luongo) can do when he gets on a roll, so I can understand why it’s easy to keep him in the net so for me it’s just to work hard and whenever I get that next opportunity to be as good as I can be.”
The last time Chicago and Vancouver met was in March 2012, when Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith elbowed Daniel Sedin in the head.
A concussed Sedin missed the remainder of the regular season before returning in the playoffs, while Keith was suspended for five games.
Sedin says the Canucks won’t be looking for retribution, just two points.
“It’s a great challenge for us,” Sedin said. “We’ve been getting better every game, so I think we’re starting to get on the right track.
“(The Blackhawks) have got a lot of firepower up front, we know that, they always have that good forward line. I think even the depth on their ‘D’ is pretty good too so it’s going to be a big challenge for us, but we like challenges.”
Note: Canucks forward Dale Weise missed practice with a sore neck but Vigneault expects him to play Friday. Weise fought Colorado’s Cody McLeod on Wednesday.