VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks goaltending controversy has taken another turn.
Cory Schneider has been given the starting nod for Vancouver’s home game against Calgary on Wednesday after a forgettable performance in the Canucks’ season opener.
Schneider was given the hook after letting in five goals on just 14 shots in a 7-3 loss against Anaheim on Saturday. Roberto Luongo stepped in to finish the Anaheim game, then stopped 30 shots in a 3-2 shootout loss to Edmonton on Sunday.
Despite Luongo’s solid goaltending, Schneider is being given another chance to cement himself as the starting goalie and live up to the three-year, US$12 million contract he was rewarded with last summer.
When asked what he hoped to achieve against the Flames, Schneider’s wishes were simple.
“Just a bounce back game,” he said after Tuesday’s practice at Rogers Arena. “A much better performance and hopefully a win for our team because we need to get one here.
“It wasn’t not the way I wanted to start but hopefully it gets better. I don’t think it can get much worse, so I’ll just hit the reset button and almost start the season over again.”
The 26-year-old said he was able to forget his miserable outing against the Ducks and stay focused, despite being dropped to the bench against Edmonton.
“I wasn’t worried (about not starting), I didn’t put too much into it,” Schneider said. “I was just more focused on being ready in case I did get the call and sure enough I did, so I feel like I put the work in.”
Schneider said it was time for the Canucks to grab a win at home, but he was wary of a Calgary team desperate for its first points of the season.
“They’ve got some good firepower up front and some active defencemen so it’s going to be a challenge for us,” he said.
“We need to have a good game and set the tone that we’re going to be a tough team to play at home.”
Meanwhile, a story in the Vancouver Sun quoted Canucks general manager Mike Gillis as saying there is a “potential deal in place with one team” for Luongo’s services.
Luongo said Thursday that Gillis has not yet approached him about a possible trade.
“It’s just the status quo from my side,” he said. “Like I’ve said, until Mike comes to me, I’ve got nothing to report.
“I’m a Vancouver Canuck and I’m working hard and trying to do my best to help this team. I’m just focused on being here right now. There’s no point in worrying about what my future will be if I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Head coach Alain Vigneault tried to shrug off the latest speculation and said—not for the first time—that he was fortunate to have two high-quality goalies to choose from.
“My concern is picking the goalie for tomorrow night and making sure that the players and the goaltender that’s playing and the goaltender that’s backup are all ready to play,” he said. “We’re not concerned about what’s being said outside our environment really, it’s never been an issue and I’m sure it’s not now.
“Would you not say that I have two number ones right now? I’ve got two great goaltenders and my job is to pick the one that I feel gives us the best chance to win tomorrow and I think Cory gives us the best chance to win.”
Meanwhile, the Canucks morning skate featured a few changes to their forward lines, namely feisty wing Zack Kassian playing alongside twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin, while Alex Burrows was shifted to centre in a makeshift second line between Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen.
Kassian saw some ice time with the Sedins in the Edmonton game and finished with one goal, four shots and two hits in 12:42 of ice time.
He also received a fighting major following a fight with Oiler Ben Eager late in the third period.
“I can move down as fast as I moved up so that’s my perspective going into the game tomorrow and I’m just taking it day by day,” Kassian said.
The Canucks also recalled centre Jordan Schroeder from the Chicago Wolves, while defenceman Jim Vandermeer has been re-assigned to the AHL club.
Vigneault confirmed Schroeder, a 22-year-old Burnsville, Minn., native, will make his NHL debut against the Flames.
Schroeder was selected 22nd overall in the 2009 draft.