The last time the Vancouver Canucks visited the United Center, coach Alain Vigneault started a rookie in net.
This wasn’t just any game either. It was Game 6 against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Canucks led the first-round series, 3-2 – a series they’d once led, 3-0.
With starting goalie Roberto Luongo having struggled in his last two starts, and with a history of poor playoff performances at the United Center, the coach made the bold decision to go with Cory Schneider.
Now fast forward to the third period of the game. The score’s tied at three and Schneider has cramped up.
Enter Luongo, who made 12 saves before this happened in overtime.
Tonight will mark Luongo’s first return to the United Center. This time, he’ll get the start.
“One of my favorite barns to play in,” he said today, as reported by Tim Sassone of the Daily Herald. “I’ve had some great games in here, some not so great games.”
So far this season, Luongo’s had more “not so great games” than he’d like. Friday against the Blues, he made a couple of big saves to keep his team in the game, but the winning goal by St. Louis was like a lot goals that have been scored against the Canucks in 2011-12 – Luongo could’ve done better, but the defensive coverage could’ve been a lot better.
The Canucks (6-7-1) have lost two straight and sit two points back of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.