Alain Vigneault said the plan all along was to start Cory Schneider in goal for Wednesday's home game against the St. Louis Blues.
There is no reason to doubt the Canucks head coach, because the team often splits its goaltending duties in back-to-back games. But after pulling Roberto Luongo in a 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers Tuesday, Schneider has yet another opportunity to show up Vancouver's starter, if not gain ground should the team open the competition for No. 1 duties.
"I've followed the plan that the coaches and management and I laid out," Vigneault said. "[Schneider starting]was my plan going into yesterday, and I'm not changing my mind."
Vigneault would not directly answer many questions surrounding his embattled goaltender, who was yanked after surrendering three goals on 14 shots to Edmonton in a five-minute span. Schneider held the fort the rest of the way and the Canucks nearly authored a second comeback victory against the Oilers this season.
Vigneault said he believed Luongo was receiving too much criticism from the fan base. He also came armed with statistics, and reminded inquisitors that Luongo ranks in the top-five of NHL goaltenders since the lockout in games, wins, goals against average and save percentage.
The Canucks held an optional skate Wednesday morning, and almost nobody from their regular lineup was made available to the media.
Vigneault said the team's issues extend beyond Luongo, and include slow starts. Vancouver has allowed the first goal in seven of nine games this season while getting out to a middling 4-4-1 start.
"It has been a challenging month," Vigneault said of October, which has been a constant over his six years on the bench. "Come November, hopefully it can be better."
The Blues are also in the midst of a goaltending issue.
Would-be starter Jaroslav Halak is struggling, and ceding more time to Brian Elliott, who will make his third consecutive start and is 3-0 on the season.
St. Louis has won consecutive games, and will welcome back centre David Backes, who had been suffering concussion symptoms. The Blues own the NHL's worst power play, having converted just two of 27 opportunities.