Thursday, January 15, 2009

Roberto returns, Canucks hope to reverse fortunes

The return of Roberto Luongo couldn’t have come at a better time, well ok, perhaps a little less than two months ago would have been a better time, but with the Canucks spiraling out of the Western Conference race, putting the number one goaltender in the NHL back on the ice certainly can’t help but give the Canucks and their fans hopes for an end to the slide.

While Vancouver waits for high profile acquisition Mats Sundin to find his ice legs and retool those hands, the return of the teams captain and last line of defence is about as welcome a bit of information as they’ve had in a long time at GM Place.
Luongo will return tonight as the Canucks take on the hard charging Phoenix Coyotes, a team that seems just a step ahead of the bailiffs but only a few points behind the Canucks in the race for playoff positioning in the west.

His arrival will hopefully bring to an end the suddenly horrendous home stretch the Canucks have faced, where they have dropped five of their last six games in the friendly confines of the Garage, many of those games lost because that one key shot wasn’t turned away by the platoon of goaltenders that have tried to keep the Canucks afloat in Luongo’s absence.

There’s a lot of pressure now on Luongo to save the season to a degree, though there will still need to be a bit of a recovery period before he is up to speed again in the nets, should he try to rush things too much he is but one more groin pull away from the end of the season, for him and the way they’ve played in his most recent absence for the Canucks as well.

As Assistant Coach Rick Bowness put it today to Iain McIntyre of the Vancouver Sun, "We put ourselves here. Regardless what Roberto does, we have to play better as a team in front of him. We know what he’ll do. It’s more important what we’ll do in front of him.”

They had best take the coach’s advice to heart, Luongo will be ready to make that game saving stop or spectacular save that turns a game around, what the Canucks do with that boost is up to the other players on the roster, so far they haven’t quite risen up to the challenge.

Vancouver Sun-- Canucks welcome back Louie
Vancouver Sun-- Canucks demote Sanford to AHL Moose
Vancouver Sun-- LaBarbera relieved to be staying as Sanford waived by Canucks
Vancouver Province-- Fit to play Luongo says 'I'm ready to go'
Vancouver Province-- So long, Sanford, we hardly knew you
Globe and Mail-- Canucks place Sanford on waivers

Update: Apparently listening to the assistant coach isn't something they do in Vancouver, with Luongo back in the nets, the Canucks played perhaps their worst game of the season so far, losing to Phoenix 4-1.

Globe and Mail-- Luongo fails to turn the tide
Vancouver Sun-- Even Luongo can’t stop the bleeding as Canucks lose sixth straight at home
Vancouver Province-- Coyotes tear Canucks apart

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