VANCOUVER – Goaltender Roberto Luongo expects to return to the Vancouver Canucks lineup soon and should be back in game shape in time for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Luongo took part in his first workout with the team Wednesday since suffering a “lower-body” injury Dec. 22 against Winnipeg.
“This is my first team practice, so I’m feeling good,” said Luongo after a morning skate in advance of Vancouver’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. “Everything’s progressing really well right now.”
Luongo indicated the problem is not overly serious, but was still not healthy enough to play against Tampa Bay. Eddie Lack drew his third straight start, and fourth appearance since Luongo got hurt, while minor-league call-up Joacim Eriksson was given the backup assignment.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since he was sidelined, Luongo revealed how he got hurt, but would not disclose the extent of the injury, other than to say it was a lower-body problem.
“It was an Evander Kane shot down the wing that originally got me a little bit,” said Luongo. “I tried to stay in the game a few more minutes and then kept feeling it during the play and felt it again on another shot.”
Luongo left the game late in the first period during a TV timeout after consulting with trainer Mike Burnstein.
“After one of the TV timeouts, I made him aware there was a bit of an issue there, so he knew something was going on,” said Luongo. “Sometimes those things subside, and sometimes they (don’t). So I tried to keep playing until the next TV timeout pretty much and I went to the bench again and spoke to Bernie.”
Luongo indicated he could return to Vancouver’s lineup in the next few days. He added Friday’s full practice with the team, as opposed to the light morning skate, will be important in determining his status.
The prognosis indicates that he will be ready to play for Canada’s Olympic team at Sochi in February.
Meanwhile, Canucks coach John Tortorella said defenceman Dan Hamhuis should be selected to play for Canada in Sochi. Hamhuis, who attended Canada’s summer orientation camp, has been one of Vancouver’s best defenders this season. He logged 32:30 of ice time, while recording two assists, in a loss to Philadelphia on Monday.
“(Playing in the Olympics) would be an awesome opportunity,” said Hamhuis, a 31-year-old, Smithers, B.C., native. “I’ve had the opportunity (to play for Canada), I think, seven times now. It never gets old. So I’d love for an opportunity to do it at the Olympic level.”
Hamhuis has represented Canada in the junior and senior world championships, but a longed-for chance to play in the Olympics has eluded him.
“It’s always a great experience playing for Hockey Canada, and to do it at an Olympic level would just be that much better,” he said. “To play with and against the best players in the world is every kid’s dream, and something I was hoping to do in 2010, but missed my opportunity. The team was very successful, and I would love to be a part of it this year.”
Note: Tortorella said Luongo and injured defencemen Alex Edler (undisclosed) and Andrew Alberts (upper-body), and winger Alex Burrows (jaw) are listed as day to day.