Rookie 'tender makes debut

RANDY SPORTAK

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

In theory, a Hockey Night in Canada clash is not an ideal time for a rookie goalie's debut.

Throw in the fact it's a hotly contested divisional game and you're talking about a pressure-packed situation.

Vancouver Canucks goalkeeper Cory Schneider didn't see it that way heading into last night's game against the Calgary Flames at the Saddledome.

"Lucky I'm an American because Hockey Night in Canada is kinda foreign to me at this point," he said after the morning skate. "To me, it's just another game and will be the first one of many, hopefully."

Just another game? Schneider has been a highly touted prospect since chosen by the Canucks in the first round of the 2004 draft.

This is his chance for that first impression, hardly just another game.

"I'm excited, but I'm focused on the game because it's a big divisional game. We need the two points," said Schneider, who was told during the morning skate he would start by head coach Alain Vigneault. "I've been preparing like I was going to play, and if I wasn't, that was fine. I'm ready to go."

With Roberto Luongo on the shelf on a week-to-week basis due to a groin injury, Vancouver's goaltending situation is somewhat up in the air.

Curtis Sanford has done an admirable job, winning three straight decisions prior to Thursday night's 4-3 loss to the Flames in the first half of their home-and-home series.

Still, Schneider had to eventually see some action.

Might as well throw him into the deep end of the pool and see if he can swim.

Prior to being summoned from the AHL's Manitoba Moose, Schneider was on an incredible tear, with a 10-1 record, 1.37 goals-against average and .945 save percentage.


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