SAN JOSE — There was no controversy in the crease Saturday.
As expected, Cory Schneider will start Sunday against the San Jose Sharks after his 30-save performance Friday in a 5-0 drubbing of the Ducks in Anaheim opened a three-game road trip in impressive fashion. And, as expected, Roberto Luongo took the news in stride.
While the hockey world awaits his eventual trade and an end to a saga where the Vancouver Canucks goalies are saying all the right things in a situation that will become more uncomfortable the longer it persists, there was no drama at a downtown practice facility. Just reality. Not that it’s easy for Luongo to accept.
“Of course, but I’ve put my ego aside here and I’m trying to work hard and do my best and be ready,” he’s said. “We all know, and it goes without saying, that both Cory and I want to play. We’re competitors, but I’m not going to put myself ahead of the team.”
Until general manager Mike Gillis gets the right return on that deal he’s hinted at — and approaches Luongo who has a no-trade clause and will waive it for the right destination — the goalie doesn’t want to dwell on the daily dose of rumours and speculation.
“That’s what I told him,” said Luongo. “I don’t really want to be bothered on a day-to-day basis with that stuff, and I’ve pretty much given him the green light to do whatever.”
Schneider has done what an anointed starter is supposed to do. Gather his game. Give his team a chance to win and keep his head on straight. His fifth career shutout came Friday because he didn’t carry any baggage. He didn’t let any situation or anybody get to him when he allowed five goals on 14 shots against the Ducks on Jan. 19 and got yanked.
“Nobody feels bad for me,” stressed Schneider. “I’m not going to feel bad for myself and I don’t need pats on the shoulder to say it’s going to be all right. It’s your job, and you have to bounce back mentally and prepare yourself. People can’t do it for you. I’d like to think I got past that point a while ago, but sometimes you have to put it into practice.”
The Ducks could have easily been up a pair of goals early Friday and could have taken command by midway through the opening period when the Canucks couldn’t find their legs or the net.
“It didn’t matter that it was the same team, it mattered that it was another step in the right direction and to get better,” added Schneider. “A little busy early, but we did a better job against their rush and staying out of the box. I’m just feeling better every game.”
Luongo should start Monday in Los Angeles because coach Alain Vigneault prefers to rotate his stoppers in back-to-back games. But on Sunday, Luongo will have that baseball hat on again and sit at end of the bench.
“I watch the game and try to be supportive and try to help out any way I can if I see anything on the ice,” he said. “But at the same time, you want to stay focused if something happens.”