January 06 2014 04:00PM
It was during Saturday night's evisceration at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings that more than just a regular season game was lost by the Vancouver Canucks. Early in the 3rd period, Dustin Brown acrobatically spun into Roberto Luongo following his rebound of a Justin Williams shot, acquainting his right skate with the goaltender's head. Luongo stayed down for a while, and got looked at by the team's trainers, but was eventually deemed OK to stay in the game.
While he went on to surrender a goal later on in a losing effort, there was nothing in his movement or play that struck me as glaringly awkward. I personally didn't really think twice of the incident after the fact - other than about how big of a scumbag Brown is, of course - but then news broke on Sunday that he was unable to dress as Eddie Lack's backup against the Ducks (enter, Rob Laurie). There were rumblings that it was a high-ankle sprain which was keeping him out, and Mike Gillis did nothing to throw water on the fire.
It sounds as if a full-blown crisis may've been averted, however. While we've yet to hear any definitive news from the team regarding the extent of the injury, James Duthie is reporting some good news for Luongo, the Canucks, and Team Canada. I assume that Duthie wouldn't be tweeting this without having spoken to someone in the know, so it appears that you can all finally exhale..
Hearing specialist has confirmed no real damage to Luongo's ankle. Sounds like he can start skating as soon as its pain free. #canucks— Dan Murphy (@sportsnetmurph) January 7, 2014
Good news. It's looking like this was probably more of a scare than anything else.. but boy what a scare it was, for multiple parties.
For Luongo personally, it would've been a major bummer given how well he had been playing sandwiching the minor groin strain he had just come back from. He had saved 204 of 216 shots he had faced in December prior to the flare-up v. Winnipeg, good for a .944 save %. He also showed no ill effects in his return v. LA, stopping 46/48 shots during an absolute barrage by the Kings. Even more impressive than the actual numbers themselves was how calm and sound he looked in net. Given everything that has transpired I think it would've been awfully cruel for him to be sidelined for an extended period of time.
For the Canucks, it would've meant potentially having to trade for a goaltender, the thought of which has quite an ironic flavour to it. Eddie Lack has done everyone possible thus far in his young career to instill confidence that he's capable at the NHL level, but having to carry the load that comes with being "the guy" for weeks is a completely different animal. Especially considering the competition he's set to face (the Penguins, Blues, Yotes, and the California buzzsaw.. again).
Combine that with the fact that their position in the Western Conference playoff standings is anything but secure, and I think it would've been a sketchy proposition to roll with 2 guys that have 11 career starts between them at this level (the second of which is Joacim Eriksson, who was called up yet again). A potential option would've been to call the Carolina Hurricanes, who are rolling with 3 goalies at the moment, but the price tag were they to go down that road would probably be too rich for Mike Gillis' blood. The pickings are pretty slim in the world of reliable backups currently available (at least ones that are any good).
Then there's the cloud of the Olympic games hanging over this thing, with Team Canada set to announce their roster tomorrow morning. The scary truth is that after Luongo, their options in net get real ugly in a hurry. If you'd feel comfortable with the potential of Mike Smith flopping around all over the place like a fish out of water with the Gold medal on the line, you're kidding yourself. Or you're Sean Burke and you're paid to brainwash yourself.
Lastly, there this:
A smirk and a 'no comment' from Dustin Brown on Canucks GM Mike Gillis comments he ran Roberto Luongo in Saturday's win.— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) January 6, 2014
LA Darryl Sutter on #Canucks GM Gillis comment Dustin Brown ran Roberto Luongo causing injury "that's wonderful but honestly it's bullshit'— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) January 6, 2014
What a guy. It truly is kind of remarkable how many times one person can find themselves involved in some sort of "accidental" interaction, which just so happens to end horribly for the other party. More remarkable though is that someone could defend him. I mean, we're building up a large enough sample size at this point to know what's really happening here. I know Jaden Schwartz is well aware of what Dustin Brown's intentions are. As is Tomas Hertl. I think Tom Sestito is as well..
The Canucks and Kings play again on a week from today in case you were wondering.