Roberto Luongo on Staying Sharp for the Canucks

Roberto Luongo has been thrust into the starting role after a season playing backup. Here, the Canucks' goaltender talks about the adjustment and what he's done to stay sharp

Credit: Jeff Vinnick / Vancouver Canucks

Roberto Luongo will start Game 1 for the Canucks against the Sharks

Roberto Luongo starts for the Vancouver Canucks as they face off against the Sharks in Round 1. But is he ready after playing backup for so long?

Having been reduced to an expensive insurance policy this season, Luongo, one of the NHL’s top goaltenders, has been scheduled for the playoffs in light of Cory Schneider’s injury. “He’s a big part of this team, he can help this team,” Schneider says. “You can never have too much goaltending and Roberto is still an elite goaltender.”

However, playing like one after spending long stretches as a spectator is a new challenge for Luongo. He did manage to do so right after he wasn’t traded, stopping 40 of 41 in a surprise start in Calgary and 36 of 38 against the Nashville Predators. “I’ve been through a lot the last few weeks, so I wanted to make sure I showed the guys that I’m here for the rest of the year and I’m 100 per cent dedicated,” Luongo said after the Calgary win. “I want to make sure they know that.”

But it hasn’t been an easy adjustment, so Luongo has been staying out after practice to do extra drills with the Canucks’ goalie coach in order to stay sharp during the extra down time. “It’s not something I’m used to,” Luongo admitted. “It’s not easy sometimes. The key — and I always go back to this — is practice. You want to make sure you are feeling good about yourself in practice and it makes it easier to move past that.”

After waiting five pro seasons to finally get a shot as the No. 1, Schneider knows how hard it must have been for the 34-year-old Luongo to watch one of his prime years slip by as a backup. But he also trusts Luongo is there to support him now.

“I know how hard he works and how badly he wants to play and win,” Schneider says. “He’s a pro, a guy who has dealt with all sorts of stuff throughout his career and he’s persevered through all of it. He’s been a great teammate.”

Note: The original version of this story was published before the Vancouver Canucks knew Luongo would start Game 1 of the 2013 NHL Playoffs

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.