Roberto Luongo has new equipment and a new mask with a stylized Johnny Canuck logo on the front, but it's the same old, same old when it comes to Vancouver's goaltender and his standing with Canucks fans.
Luongo was subject to some Bronx cheers Tuesday in the late stages of a 4-0 loss to the New York Rangers, even though his teammates went 0-for-8 on the power play and couldn't beat Henrik Lundqvist once. Luongo has but one win in four games so far this season, but will be back between the pipes when Vancouver plays host to the Nashville Predators Thursday.
The goaltender said that his struggles have nothing to do with a lighter workload this autumn.
Luongo played but two preseason games, and split the first four regular-season contests with backup Cory Schneider, as the organization attempts to rest regulars who played heavy minutes into mid-June during the team's Stanley Cup run. He has also tried myriad ways of changing his October fortune over the years - more summer work, less summer work, starting an offseason program early, starting it late - yet nothing has seemed to work.
In his career, Luongo is 40-48 with a 2.64 goals against average and a .914 save percentage.
"I don't think [a lighter workload]has anything to do with it," Luongo said of his struggles.
The goaltender joked that his new equipment arrived two weeks late, just like his game, and explained that the new mask may not look new because it lacks a gloss finish. He also disputed that he feels more pressure Thursday because of his struggles, reminding the inquiring minds that he has played in a Cup final.
The Canucks will make at least one lineup change against the Predators. Winger Mikael Samuelsson will be sat down with what head coach Alain Vigneault called stiffness stemming from offseason sports hernia surgery. The coach called it a "maintenance day."
Samuelsson will be replaced on the third line by winger Marco Sturm, who is back from a one-game benching, and on the first power play unit by defenceman Sami Salo. Samuelsson plays the point on the power play.