Roberto Luongo issues veiled threat to Cory Schneider; I’m coming for you, he basically says

With the lockout over and the Canucks’ season slated to begin January 19 at home versus the Anaheim Ducks, the roster has reassembled for a brief training camp. And, since Roberto Luongo remains on said roster, he too has had to return to Vancouver.

He did so Thursday afternoon, arriving to an airport welcoming party of reporters looking to grill him on the awkward situation. (But the most awkward situation came during the scrum, when Jason Botchford asked, “Do you think it’s been a distraction at all?” and Luongo responded, “We’ve been in a lockout, so…. in regards to what?” Awkward.)

Now, while Luongo is here for the moment, he isn’t expected to be here long. But he might be. After all, who knows with Mike “Patience is a virtue” Gillis? And if he is here for awhile yet, Luongo is willing to accept that (not that he has a choice). “Whether it’s a couple of days, a week, two weeks or the end of the season, I’m totally fine with it,” he said.

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Did the Canucks cross the line with their celebration in Detroit?

It was the quintessential Alex Burrows moment. The game on the line, he found himself with the puck on his stick, skating in alone on the opposing goaltender. And, like he does so often in such situations, the Canucks’ winger converted, unsurprisingly, by way of the backhand move he employs so regularly we call it “Blue Steel”.

I asked him once if he worried that goaltenders were wise to it.

“I’m sure goalies have seen clips of it,” he said. “Personally, I think if I execute it like I can, it’s a tough move to stop.” Clearly, Burrows trusts the backhand shelf like Gordon Bombay trusts the triple deke.

Jimmy Howard soon learned why, as Burrows executed the move perfectly, leaving the Detroit Red Wings’ goaltender on his belly and putting the puck up high to give the Canucks the come-from-behind win. It was the second time in Burrows’s career that he had broken a meaningful streak with the move, so it wasn’t surprising to see him make reference to the last time in his celebratory gesture: to signify the broken streak, he feigned breaking his stick over his knee.

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Hodgson seems happy with his icetime; who isn’t?

Cody Hodgson is quietly putting together a very successful rookie campaign. The 21-year-old centre has appeared in all 39 games for the Canucks, putting up 20 points, primarily from the third line. His addition has allowed the Canucks’ to ice three scoring lines, while making the second powerplay unit legitimately dangerous for the first time since Ryan Kesler was promoted to play alongside the Sedins.

The talk about Hodgson, however, hasn’t been his point production; it’s been his ice time. Hodgson is averaging just 12-and-a-half minutes per night, which has a number of Canucks fans upset, thinking that Alain Vigneault is mismanaging the talents of the 10th overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

In fact, the only person who doesn’t seem to have a problem with Hodgson’s ice time is Hodgson himself.

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If you’ve been out of the loop since the final horn sounded versus Columbus, here’s the latest in The Redhead and the Redheaded Stepchild (my title for the Highlander-esque saga involving Cory Schneider, Roberto Luongo, and the fact that there can only be one starting goalie): after yet another fantastic performance versus the Columbus Blue Jackets, Schneider has been declared the starter for his seventh straight game.

The decision caused many in Canuck nation to do a double take, especially with how quickly after the game the announcement came. Clearly, Alain Vigneault felt the decision to be something of a no-brainer, because he wasted very little time thinking about it.

But that’s because it likely didn’t take that much thought.

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Cory Schneider will make his sixth straight start Tuesday versus the Columbus Blue Jackets, a fact that he sent many into a tizzy. (Isn’t Roberto Luongo usually the one that starts games? He come he’s not doing that lately?) You probably already know our thoughts on the matter. Yesterday, Daniel looked at the faux goaltending controversy in which the Canucks are currently mired, and I am in full agreement with him. This situation isn’t what it’s being made out to be. No, Roberto Luongo has not lost his starting job. No, the Canucks aren’t suddenly in possession of a backup signed through 2022. No, this isn’t the end of the Roberto Luongo era in Vancouver and Vincent Lecavalier has not been asked to waive his no-movement clause.

Still, while I’m loath to admit it, this is a pretty big story. Prior to this stretch, a healthy Luongo had never played backup for three consecutive games. Now he’s about to spot Schneider his fourth. This is unprecedented, and the unprecedented needs to be examined.

As Daniel said, this has nothing to do with Luongo. But I would add that it’s not even solely about Schneider — it’s about the entire Canucks lineup, all nineteen guys that have played their roles to perfection over this winning streak, none of whom deserve to be plucked from the lineup. This is about Alain Vigneault sending a message to the whole room. That message is: continue playing well enough to win, and you will continue playing.

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