Canucks’ Cory Schneider ready, ‘wants to play,’ but coach Alain Vigneault will make final call
‘Both of them are preparing like they are going to play,’ bench boss says of his two netminders
VANCOUVER — Cory Schneider insisted Tuesday he is ready to play, but some of his words seemed to suggest he may not be completely over the mysterious injury that forced him to sit out the Vancouver Canucks' final two regular-season games.
"No one is ever really 100 per cent in the playoffs at any point," Schneider said after his second straight day of practice on Tuesday. "I feel like I can contribute and be a difference-maker on this team and I want to do whatever I can to play. That's how I feel, I want to play in the playoffs. The trainers and the coaches may have a more long-term view of things, but for me the here and now is it's Game 1 and I'd like to play."
Asked if he felt better Tuesday than he did after Monday's practice, Schneider did not exactly make like Tony the Tiger and bellow "I feel greattttt!"
Instead, he offered up this: "I felt good enough to finish practice and can't really say how good I felt compared to yesterday."
Roberto Luongo played Vancouver's final two regular-season games as Schneider recovered from an injury he apparently suffered in last Monday night's 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Coach Alain Vigneault was not ready Tuesday to declare his starter for Game 1 of the team's first-round series against the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night at Rogers Arena (7:30 p.m., TSN, Team 1040).
Vigneault said he talked briefly with Schneider during Tuesday's practice, but won't make a final decision until Wednesday.
"I just asked him how he felt, he said he felt good," Vigneault said. "This definitely is going to be a tomorrow decision. Both of them are preparing like they are going to play. But it is definitely going to be tomorrow."
Schneider said dealing with this injury — whatever it is — has been a new experience because he really hasn't been injured since long before he turned pro.
"I have never really been hurt, knock on wood," he said. "I don't think I have missed a practice since my freshman year in college, other than for illness. Anything like this is new to me. That's why I am relying on the training staff here. They know what they are doing and are doing a great job.
"I have been very lucky and it's just something I have never really dealt with before at this level. I've had my share of aches and pains, but nothing that has really made me miss any time. So this is something where I have to work as hard as I can and do what I need to do."
Schneider said he got through Tuesday's practice without any problems.
"I felt pretty good today," he said. "On the ice I didn't seem to have any limitations doing the drills out there."
Schneider planned to meet later Tuesday with the team's medical staff and Vigneault.
"I'd love to play no matter what, so I will probably tell them that I want to play and then it's up to them to decide if that is the best course of action," Schneider said.
He hoped a decision would be made no later than Tuesday night.
"I think hopefully we'll have it figured out tonight," Schneider said. "I think that would be best for everyone involved."
But Vigneault insisted, publicly at least, that he would not make that decision until Wednesday morning's game-day skate.
If Schneider does start Game 1, it will have been nine days between starts. He said it was important to get a couple of days of practice in before playing.
"It's not like I am jumping in at tomorrow morning's skate and then try and get ready to play."
Schneider has lots of experience dealing with long gaps between games as Luongo's former backup.
"It's something I have dealt with before, I'm not foreign to, so I am not overly concerned about that," he said.
If Schneider does go, it presents a rather intriguing goaltending matchup. Both he and San Jose starter Antti Niemi have had solid seasons.
Niemi started all but five of San Jose's games this season, tied for the NHL lead with 24 wins and boasted a 2.16 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage. Schneider had 17 wins from his 30 starts and had equally impressive numbers: a 2.11 GAA and .927 save percentage.
Niemi is not always in the conversation when it comes to elite goalies, but Schneider thinks he should be.
"He has been very steady for them back there since they acquired him and has won a Stanley Cup (with Chicago in 2010) and will definitely be in the discussion for the Vezina this season," Schneider said.
• The Canucks called up several players from their AHL farm team on Tuesday. Forwards Jordan Schroeder, Nicklas Jensen, Darren Archibald, Kellan Lain and Alexandre Mallet, defencemen Jim Vandermeer and Peter Andersson and goaltender Eddie Lack have been recalled.
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