Luongo says Canucks should relax despite pressure of an 0-3 start

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

VANCOUVER, B.C. - Roberto Luongo says he's not trying to save the world when he's playing goal for the Vancouver Canucks.

But stopping a few more pucks and getting Vancouver's first NHL win of the season Wednesday against the Montreal Canadiens (TSN, 10 p.m. ET) would be nice.

"You want to stop them all and sometimes you want to save the world and it ends up hurting you more than anything," Luongo said in an interview after Tuesday's practice.

But he has looked shaky backstopping the 0-3 Canucks and getting the hook after four goals on four consecutive shots in a 5-3 loss Monday to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Touted as a likely starter for Canada in the 2010 Winter Olympics, Luongo has a bloated 4.55 goals-against average and an anemic .820 save percentage.

And the defending Northwest Division champions are off to their worst start in eight years.

A loss to Montreal would be the first time in the franchise's 39-year history that the Canucks have begun a campaign 0-4.

So, is Luongo worried?

"Right now we need to take a deep breath, relax and just go out and play," he said.

"It's three games into the season and you almost feel you're into January last year (when the Canucks lost 13 of 16), so we need to relax, go play hockey, realize that we have a good team and we can win."

Luongo and the players in front of him say the problem is a matter of building trust.

That wasn't evident Monday night when Kristian Huselius took Rick Nash's goalmouth pass and had an easy back-door tap-in for Columbus.

"We've just got to trust each other as a team and make sure when we're on the ice that we know what everybody's doing," Luongo said.

"(Wednesday) night's not going to be any different. I'm going to challenge the shooter and trust that my teammate's going to be there to take the back door away."

Associate coach Rick Bowness was yelling at players to communicate better on the ice.

"We're not trusting each other," said defenceman Kevin Bieksa.

"We're just not making good reads. A lot of the goals are preventable. It's not the other teams making amazing plays, it's usually a flaw by us."

At the other end of the ice, the Canucks have not been burying chances with only six goals to show for 120 shots.

"When you're getting a lot of shots on goal it means you're carrying the play for the majority of the game," said stay-at-home defenceman Willie Mitchell, the club's unlikely scoring leader with a goal and two assists.

"That's not what we're worried about. We're more worried about the mistakes that we're making at the other end."

Daniel Sedin, who led Vancouver last season with 31 goals, said the Canucks are moving the puck well and generating chances.

"There have been a lot of rebounds sitting around but we haven't been able to get the goals."

He was aware of the heat Luongo is taking in the media.

"It's a tough position to be in for Louie but he's shown he's a great goalie and he's going to come back.

"We know he's a world-class goalie. We're all going to have bad games. It's good that it's happening now but as a team it's a wake-up call for all of us."

Luongo is a notorious slow starter but last November pulled his game together and posted three consecutive shutouts, blanking the opposition for a club-record 242 minutes 36 seconds.

He expected it would be different this year when the Canucks were 7-0-2 in the pre-season after he signed a 12-year, US$64-million contract extension.

"I felt awesome," he said. "I felt I couldn't be beat ... (now) a couple of rough games on the road and ... all of a sudden things aren't going the way you want them.

"Obviously I don't want to play this way in October but as a team we could be sharper and it would help me out too, but at the same time I've got to make some saves."

Coach Alain Vigneault believes he will.

"He's a great goaltender," Vigneault said. "He's a hard worker and I just think that he's going to get his game together.

"I hope I'm not the only one."



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