Luongo called in to stop bleeding
Netminder who was supposed to be traded is trying to stay upbeat
The biggest problem for the Canucks hasn't been trying to win with two goalies.
It's trying to win with two centres. Especially when one of them was acquired for the fourth line.
Henrik Sedin and Max Lapierre have been the constants. From there it's been a black hole down the middle.
The Canucks tried a raw rookie in Jordan Schroeder, a journeyman on a two-way deal in Andrew Ebbett, a player who was actually risking his personal safety in Manny Malhotra, and three wingers - Alex Burrows, Mason Raymond and now Chris Higgins.
That's enough to make Samme Pahlsson look good.
It's been a long, but quick, fall from the team that had the deepest core of centres in the NHL in 2010-11, to the one that could have Ebbett centring its second line in Columbus Tuesday night.
The Canucks should have seen it coming. They knew Ryan Kesler wasn't going to be healthy to start. Even when he is, how long can it last? They knew the chances of Malhotra playing more than a few games were slim to none. They knew Schroeder wasn't likely to be ready, at least not ready enough for Alain Vigneault.
"We felt he hit a wall a little bit," Vigneault said, explaining why Schroeder was re-assigned to Chicago and Ebbett was recalled Monday.
"The last little while, offensively, it's been a little challenging for him. He's supposed to be an offensive player, 5-on-5, and on the power play.
"We thought we'd help him out by putting him on the power play where we sort of needed a right-handed shot, see if we couldn't boost his confidence, which should help him 5-on-5.
"But obviously that didn't get the results that we anticipated."
It would be counter-intuitive and unthinking if the Canucks hadn't planned for all of this and tried to add an NHL centre in the offseason.
But it's not as easy as going out and getting an Antoine Vermette. Oh, wait, Phoenix managed to do that last year.
It's almost as if the Canucks were betting they'd get it done in a Roberto Luongo trade. If so, in retrospect, that was quite the gamble.
Of course, now it's Luongo who the Canucks need. Benched for eight of the past 12 games, which you can be sure was not the most enjoyable stretch of his career, Luongo now is getting tapped to play emergency room doctor with a Tuesday start in Columbus. Someone has to stop the bleeding on a team that has won just three of 12.
Wouldn't it be rich if it was Luongo, the player who has been waiting 10 months for a trade?
"I didn't know exactly how it was going to go, but it was my point to make sure, no matter what the circumstances were, that I'd be ready when it was my turn and that I'd stay positive. I mean, you have to let nature take its course," Luongo said.
On the Luongo trade front, nature is not only taking its course, it's stopping for bird watching, and a tree-by-tree examination of the Amazon rainforest.
It's taking so long, people are saying the goalie is frustrated, angry and fed up with his lack of playing time.
He's just not one of those people.
"Coming into this season, I kind of knew what the situation would be," Luongo said. "The last couple of games I was in there, obviously I had a really bad game in Detroit and I gave up one bad goal against Calgary.
"You have to look at yourself in the mirror sometimes and expect more out of yourself. That's what I expect (Tuesday)."
Yes, Luongo wants to play. Desperately so.
"It is tough, but you have to stay upbeat," Luongo said. "There's no point feeling sorry for yourself. "
It's the whole reason he essentially stood up in the summer and fell on his sword, telling the team, and everyone else, it's time for him to move on.
He knew the direction the Canucks were going and it was down Cory Schneider Way. He said he was willing to step aside.
But for all sorts of reasons, Luongo hasn't been traded, and Schneider hasn't excelled, going 2-3-3 in his past eight games. Impossible to say if the two are related, but you're free to speculate.
What worked out magically last year is not this year. Compounding the problem, the Canucks are not winning, and having either $4 million or $5.3 million in cap space on the bench every game is not helping. But asked specifically if he was angry or frustrated, Luongo said:
"We're frustrated and angry we are losing, but other than that, I'm just trying to be ready when it's my turn and make sure I give my team a chance to win.
"Something I didn't do in Detroit, and obviously that bad goal in Calgary may have hurt us."
© Copyright (c) The Province