Tomas Vokoun will make an eighth consecutive start for the Capitals on Saturday night when they take on the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.
The 35-year-old Czech suffered his first loss this season, 2-1 to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night, but it’s safe to say neither of those tallies – both on the power play – could be blamed on Vokoun. He has been steady for Washington in his seven previous starts and Vokoun now has the opportunity to stay on a roll against the waiting-to-breakout Canucks.
“It helps when you’re out there more. When you get momentum you get to keep it, but saying that, you [still] have to be able to deal with anything, be ready for anything,” Vokoun said. “[Coach Bruce Boudreau] makes decisions, who plays, but it’s nice for me to get a game even after a loss.”
While Vokoun looks to extend his momentum, the man who will oppose him looks to find some. It has been a rough start to 2011-12 for the much-maligned Roberto Luongo, who is 2-3-1 with an .868 save percentage and 3.45 goals against average.
Luongo hasn’t played a complete game since Oct. 20 against Nashville and in his most recent outing, on Oct. 25 in Edmonton the veteran was yanked from the net after giving up three goals on 14 shots in just 26 minutes 55 seconds. While the pressure on Luongo is one thing, getting back in a rhythm after several days without a full game is another.
“It’s practice. You put in the work in practice and start feeling good about your game [and] then it all transpires once you start playing,” Luongo said. “For me, I’ve been feeling pretty good about myself in practice the last week or so. Obviously the results weren’t there in Edmonton. You just got to stay with it keep working and things will eventually come.”
Luongo has had a rough October, but the slump doesn’t give Boudreau cause to doubt what the Canucks’ goaltender can do. Boudreau coached Luongo during the 1999-2000 season with the Lowell Lock Monsters and he won’t be the one to underestimate the 32-year-old.
“I coached him for a year; I know how good he can be,” Boudreau said of Luongo. “I know how mentally strong he is. So every time he steps on the ice there’s that chance he’s going to be great. I anticipate him being great just like [Oilers’ Nikolai] Khabibulin was last night, and so if he’s that we better be prepared.”