Canucks riding Raycroft wave
The Vancouver Canucks can take a breath, for now.
After beating the Los Angeles Kings in a 2-1 shootout win Thursday night, without all-star goalie Roberto Luongo, the Canucks face the Anaheim Ducks Friday night, a team that's won less than half as many games so far this season.
Backup goaltender Andrew Raycroft took Luongo's place in his first start of the season Thursday, and Raycroft could be in net for at least a week as Luongo recovers from a rib fracture.
The 2004 Calder Trophy winner should get a second consecutive start Friday night.
The Canucks also recalled Cory Schneider from their AHL affiliate to serve as the backup.
A victory tonight would give the Canucks their fifth win in six starts.
The Canucks have relied heavily on Luongo in the last few seasons. The team certainly didn't fare well without him last season when he had a groin injury, going 12-14-3.
But Raycroft proved Thursday night he can handle some heat, and held his own against the host Kings, one of the NHL's hotter teams, stopping 30 shots in regulation and overtime.
Despite the Kings outshooting Vancouver 31-15 and dominating the puck, Raycroft kept it even — a possible sign of what's to come tonight.
"I knew what I signed up for, and I knew what I was getting into," said Raycroft, who signed with the team as a free agent.
He'll face the slumping Ducks, who are off to a surprisingly slow start this season, holding the bottom of the Pacific Division and second last in the Western Conference.
Raycroft is 2-0-0 with a 3.62 GAA in four games — two starts — against the Ducks. But he hasn't started against them since making 26 saves in a 4-3 overtime win while with Boston in 2003.
With eight Canucks out now, including Luongo for at least one more game, the pressure's on to lead another victory.
Raycroft has only allowed one goal in 52 minutes over two games since Luongo was pulled by coach Alain Vigneault.
Luongo suffered a hairline fracture in a rib during Saturday's 3-1 win over Toronto, when a shot from the corner caught him through a soft spot in his padding.
He played through the injury, making 27 saves in a 2-0 win over Edmonton the following night, but aggravated it Tuesday while facing 42 shots and giving up five third-period goals in a 5-4 loss to Detroit.