Canucks brace for Pan­thers and re­turn of Luongo

Times Colonist - - Sports - PA­TRICK JOHN­STON

The Van­cou­ver Canucks had a busy prac­tice on Satur­day in Burn­aby.

They skated at their old stomp­ing grounds at Burn­aby 8 Rinks, a day be­fore they faced the Flor­ida Pan­thers at Rogers Arena.

The multi-rink fa­cil­ity was the Canucks’ prac­tice base from 1995 to 2001. They have used the main rink there on oc­ca­sion since, but gen­er­ally go to the Univer­sity of B.C. when they aren’t able to prac­tise at Rogers Arena.

The Canucks are sched­uled to prac­tise there again on Jan. 19. To­day is the first time the Canucks will face the Pan­thers since “the in­ci­dent” that saw Flor­ida de­fence­man Mike Math­e­son knock Elias Pet­ters­son from the lineup with a con­cus­sion.

“Our fo­cus is on win­ning to­mor­row,” Canucks coach Travis Green said flatly when asked what his team was think­ing about ahead of the game.

The other ques­tion, of course, is will this be the fi­nal time the Van­cou­ver faith­ful get to see the great­est goalie in Canucks his­tory in ac­tion?

It has been a tough sea­son for Roberto Luongo. He’ll turn 40 in April. His save per­cent­age is .891 at the mo­ment, well be­low his ca­reer stan­dard. He does hours of stretch­ing and physio work, day in and day out, to keep him­self in game shape.

As long as he’s per­form­ing well, you as­sume he’ll keep play­ing.

Just two Canucks re­main from his ten­ure in Van­cou­ver: Chris Tanev and Alex Edler.

Green didn’t coach Luongo, but as some­one who played un­til he was 38, he was in awe of the vet­eran goalie’s abil­ity to re­main com­pet­i­tive as he ap­proached 40.

“We’re talk­ing about a special ath­lete,” he said. “He’s had an amaz­ing ca­reer. Guys that are that elite and play that long are pretty ex­cep­tional.” Josh Leivo skated on a line with Niko­lay Goldobin and Markus Gran­lund at prac­tice. He called his sta­tus “day to day” but was op­ti­mistic about his sta­tus for to­day’s game.

“It was a scare. Thought it was a lot worse than it ac­tu­ally was,” he said of the back spasms that started early in a game 10 days ago in Ot­tawa. He missed the next three games.

“First cou­ple days were real tough, but each day has got­ten a lot bet­ter,” he said.

If Leivo is ac­ti­vated from the in­jured re­serve list, the Canucks will have to make a ros­ter move, either re­turn­ing Adam Gaudette to Utica or plac­ing an­other player on waivers. Pet­ters­son took a twirl on the ice af­ter his team­mates prac­tised, in an ef­fort to test his sprained knee’s strength and agility.

He took a short skate Fri­day as well and might skate again on his own to­day. He won’t play against the Pan­thers, but if all goes well, a re­turn to ac­tion Wed­nes­day against the Oil­ers doesn’t seem out of the ques­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.