Now, the Vancouver Canucks have gotten even more good news. The backbone of their team in the first part of the season, team captain and star goaltender Roberto Luongo, appears ready to get back in the lineup this week.
Out since suffering a groin injury in Pittsburgh November 22, Luongo has finally started practicing with the team, and the Vancouver Sun speculates that his return to the lineup could come as soon as Thursday at home against Phoenix.
"I pounded it pretty hard and the groin is feeling fine," Luongo said following the Sunday morning session at GM Place.After practice Monday, Luongo declared himself 100%, saying he is "doubtful" for the New Jersey game Tuesday. He left the door wide-open for a Thursday return.
"We pretty much explored everything. I mean, we had some rushes, we had screens, we had bumps, we had rebounds, we had tips. There were some broken plays where you kind of had to react and kick your leg out and be in a bit of a vulnerable position and I didn't have any problems. So that's really encouraging. I'm really happy with the way things went.
"Now the only thing that's left is to get in some team drills and take it from there."'
With their ability to bolster their offense by signing Sundin, the Canucks did address their primary weakness. Sundin automatically makes Vancouver's second line better, and the top line of Steve Bernier and the Sedin twins doesn't have to do everything themselves.
Sundin has been working a lot with youngster Mason Raymond, along with veteran Pavol Demitra, so far. As Sundin works himself fully into shape, Raymond is actually a great linemate for him. He may be the fastest forward the Canucks have, and he can set up Sundin to wreak havoc in the middle.
It also doesn't suck very much that defenseman Sami Salo is about to return
With two lines that can really go, and a goaltender who is among the best in the world when he's healthy, the Canucks have solidified themselves as a contender in the Western Conference. However, there is work to be done. They have gone 9-11-3 since Luongo was injured. Calgary has a five-point lead over Vancouver in the Northwest, and the Flames have three games in hand.