VANCOUVER – Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo doesn?t plan to take any mornings off during the playoffs.
Most Canuck veterans stayed in street clothes during an optional morning skate before Saturday night?s second game of the Western Conference quarter-final series against the Los Angeles Kings. But Luongo went through a series of rigorous shooting drills with goaltending consultant Ian Clark and defencemen Nolan Baumgartner and Aaron Rome.
?I?ve always been a morning skate guy,? Luongo said afterwards. ?I?ve skated pretty much every morning skate unless it?s an afternoon game.?
Despite the extra intensity of the playoffs, Luongo said he prefers to go to work in the morning before games. Although few of Luongo?s rituals are known, he said the morning skate is an important part of his routine.
?It?s been four years that I?ve been here and I?ve always been to every morning skate ? that?s the way I am,? said Luongo. ?I like to get a little sweat going in the morning so I can feel good about my game at night.?
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said it?s fine with him if Luongo, who played 68 regular season games and is expected to start every post-season contest, wants to put in extra practice time on game days.
?He?s been doing that for four years and I?m not about to change it,? said Vigneault.
The Vancouver bench boss said he also wants defenceman Andrew Alberts to keep doing what he does best ? even after he took a major and game misconduct for boarding Brad Richardson in Game 1. Despite the miscue, Alberts retained his spot in the lineup for Game 2.
?He?s got to be a physical presence out there,? said Vigneault. ?Those players walk the fine line between being a force on the ice and sometimes pushing the envelope out there.
?Andrew Alberts, in my mind, is getting criticized unfairly. He?s exactly what we expect of a depth defenceman that?s dependable defensively and physical. That?s what we wanted from him ? and that?s what we?re getting from him.?
Alberts has often felt the scorn of some reporters? pens for defensive miscues and penalties since arriving in a trade from Carolina at the deadline. The 29-year-old said after practice Friday the major was not deserved, but took a more diplomatic approach Saturday, saying the decision was up to the referees.
He vowed, however, to keep playing the same physical style.
?Nothing really changes,? said Alberts.
But Kings coach Terry Murray felt a need for change, as he was expected to scratch three veterans Saturday night, including top-line winger Justin Williams.
?I need them to have a bigger bite in the game,? said Murray, who in the previous 48 hours had praised his club extensively for a strong showing.
Defenceman Randy Jones and enforcer Raitis Ivanans were likely headed to the press box while rearguard Peter Harrold and wingers Rich Clune and Scott Parse would crack the lineup for their first ever NHL playoff game.
Wayne Simmonds was to move up to the first unit in place of Williams.