Roberto Luongo allowed some soft goals in Vancouver’s season opening shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday, and he didn’t get a chance to redeem himself in Game No. 2.
Lo and behold, Cory Schneider was named the Canucks starter for Monday’s first road contest of the season; a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Schneider stopped a penalty shot by Maksim Mayorov early in the third period after allowing a “really bad goal” to Vinny Prospal late in the second frame.
Prior to the game, head coach Alain Vigneault explained that the Canucks are playing four games in six nights on their inaugural road trip of 2011-12, and that his goalies will split duties. Assistant coach Rick Bowness said that Schneider’s play last year dictated that he receive more time early in the season.
Schneider played only twice in October last year, and made just four starts in the first two months of the season. He wound up playing 25 games, and sharing the Jennings Trophy with Luongo, which goes to the team with the lowest goals against average.
The Canucks play at Philadelphia on Wednesday, and at Detroit on Thursday. Luongo will start against the Flyers and Schneider will likely get the nod against the Red Wings, so through four games, he and Luongo will have split duties. That means, in the early going at least, he is being given an even-steven chance to compete with Vancouver’s incumbent.
Luongo does not have a good track record at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, but after playing just twice in the preseason, it was odd that he was given a rest so early in the campaign. One wonders whether he would have started had he played better against Pittsburgh? And one wonders whether the early returns this week will affect Vigneault’s goaltending decisions going forward?