The Vancouver Canucks walked out of Rogers Arena with a 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets tonight, but it came at a cost.
Goaltender Roberto Luongo left the game in the first period after suffering a lower body injury.
The 34-year old netminder had turned things around this season after a dreadful 2012, where he was unsure of his future, thanks to the impressive play of Cory Schneider. Schneider has since been traded to New Jersey, which has allowed Luongo to focus on his game rather than trade rumors. Luongo, a former fourth overall pick, is 16-9-6 on the season with a 2.26 goals against average, while also recording three shutouts.
Aside from Vancouver, the loss of Luongo, if his injury is a serious one, could affect the Canadian Olympic team, who have just over a month to decide on the three goaltenders who will be on the squad travelling to Sochi.
Luongo and Montreal’s Carey Price looked to be locks for two of the spots on the team, but things might have to change. Along with Price, the Phoenix Coyotes Mike Smith and the Washington Capitals Braden Holtby are in contention to earn a spot aboard Team Canada and don’t forget about Corey Crawford who did play for a Stanley Cup winner last season. The decision may not be an easy one for Mike Babcock and his Olympic staff and the injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Canucks.
Vancouver has relied heavily on the outstanding play of their veteran goalie through their recent hot steak, where they’ve won nine of their last 11 games. If Luongo is indeed out for a long period of time, look for Eddie Lack to handle the brunt of the workload with Joacim Eriksson getting a call-up from Utica. Lack has been great in a small sample size of ten games, but the loss of their top man between the posts will be huge for the Canucks if he’s out for an extended period of time.