VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks did some yoga Monday to help them relax after a disappointing loss in Detroit, but a potentially stressful question still needs to be answered.
Coach Alain Vigneault must decide whether to go back to Roberto Luongo, who allowed all of the goals in an 8-3 loss to the Red Wings. Vigneault was not around to field reporters’ questions and add a new chapter to Vancouver’s season-long goaltending saga.
Goaltending has been a hot topic since Cory Schneider displaced Luongo as the team’s starter in last spring’s playoffs, but the team did not trade the latter as expected.
Luongo was not available Monday, either, but teammates were quick to defend him after the shellacking in Motown.
“Goaltending has been excellent,” said Daniel Sedin. “That’s one game, and everyone can have an off night. That was one for Lu, and he’s going to come right back and be good again.”
Bounces off defencemen, shooters left wide open, and a poor penalty-killing effort, which enabled Detroit to convert three of five power plays, did not help his cause. The outing contradicted his 23-save effort in a 1-0 win in Nashville two nights earlier.
“(Luongo) and (Schneider) have been our best players this year,” said Henrik Sedin. “That’s the bottom line.”
He said forwards and defencemen can go without scoring and generate little discussion, but everybody talks about the goaltenders even if they have an average performance.
Accordingly, fans and some media types were questioning Sunday and Monday whether Luongo should have been pulled rather than being left in for all eight goals. Luongo saw his goal-against average fall to a highly respectable 2.11 after he led the league. He suffered his first regulation-time loss of the season and sports a 5-1-5 record, including two shutouts, along with three overtime losses and two shootout setbacks.
Schneider has a 2.68 goals-against average with a 5-3-2 mark and one shutout.
So Henrik Sedin was not putting too much stock in the one-sided loss to the Wings after the Canucks finished their four-game road trip with a 2-1-1 mark that included another win in Dallas and a shootout loss in Chicago to the hottest team in the NHL.
“It could have been a great road trip, but it ended up being a good road trip,” said Henrik Sedin. “Four tough cities to go into, to get five points out of it was pretty good.”
The Detroit loss excepted, the Canucks (10-4-4) are looking for more of the same against the hard-working Coyotes (8-7-3), who are reeling after allowing two late goals 23 seconds apart in a loss to Calgary on Sunday.
“It doesn’t matter who we play against,” said Henrik Sedin. “We came into Chicago, they’re the best team in the league right now, and we came back. We outplayed them in the third period and we were able to come back, so we feel we’re in good shape.”
The first-game back after a long road trip is often tough on a team, and the difficulties could be exacerbated in this lockout-shortened, 48-game season.
Henrik Sedin said the yoga sessions help players chill out after the stresses of a game, and the stretching exercises provide “a bit of a workout, too.”
“You feel extremely relaxed afterwards,” said Henrik Sedin, who had not done a yoga session before this season. “We’ve done it after the game a lot of times, and it gets you back calmed down.”
Monday’s yoga session replaced an on-ice workout after a long overnight flight from Detroit.
“You want to stretch and relax with a long flight (Sunday) night, so it’s something great to do,” said forward Max Lapierre.