Canucks and Beyond

Transcript: Luongo's Press Conference Today

11/10/2008 at 6:59pm EST

This afternoon Roberto Luongo was made available to the media by way of an NHL conference call. David Keon of the NHL’s Public Relations office opened up the session with some current facts and stats:

Earlier today Roberto was named as “First Star” for this past week after backstopping Vancouver to three home victories, all via shutout, as he raised league-leading total of shutouts to five.

Canucks’ captain has blanked the opposition in four of his last six starts and enters Wednesday’s home game against Colorado Avalanche with an active shutout streak, 201 minutes and 8 seconds.

Last year Roberto had a record of 35-29-9, making him the third goalkeeper in NHL history to record 35 victories in three consecutive seasons.

Various journalists asked their questions and a complete transcript of the Q&A session is available below.

Q. Your team has shown improvement already this season. Roberto in goals per game, in the faceoff circle, and winning games after scoring the first goal. Now, to some people these may seem like little things, but how does the success in these areas help you to get into a comfort zone, especially early in the game?

ROBERTO LUONGO: It’s nice. In a lot of games you don’t have to always be on edge trying to preserve a one goal lead. Often times this year we’ve been able to score obviously more goals than last year. But we’ve had the lead sometimes in the third period and we were able to extend the lead and work with maybe a two- or three-goal cushion, which makes life a bit easier for everybody.

Q. I think having a guy like Kyle Wellwood around you, a lot of people didn’t think was going to be around earlier this season. Now that he is, being on the defensive zone, he’s pretty good on faceoffs. Have you noticed in particular with his work that that’s helped you and the team in general?

ROBERTO LUONGO: I think so. He’s been a great surprise for us this year. He’s dedicated to working hard. He’s doing all the little things right to help this hockey club. Right now he’s definitely a huge asset to our team.

Q. Eliminating teams from getting rebounds and second chances in close, is that the biggest difference that you’ve noticed so far with Bieksa, Mitchell and Ohlund healthy again compared to last year when you had some guys that were getting just their first serious taste of the NHL?

ROBERTO LUONGO: I think obviously when we have a healthy blue line, it’s one of the top in the league so far. This year so far we’ve been able to that. A huge difference, not only in the defensive zone but guys able to move the puck out of the zone quicker and start up a rush or something like that, and makes a difference also on the offensive side.

Q. You’re finding you’re not getting as many second chances in games, too?

ROBERTO LUONGO: Yeah. I think especially in the last couple of weeks we’ve really beared down in our own zone and cutting down chances off the rush as well. So I think that’s why we’ve been seeing more results as far as shutouts and wins and stuff like that.

Q. I have a couple of quick questions. When you’re on a roll like you are right now, you enter a game with a mind?set that nobody can score on you, that’s the kind of mind?set that you start off a game with?

ROBERTO LUONGO: You know, not really. I think you’re aware that things are going well for you right now. So you just want to make sure that you keep doing the things you’ve been doing the last three games and not shy away from that and think that it’s going to be easy from now, not only have to focus on little things.

It’s a matter of just building off the last game. And you can’t really take things for granted when you’re a goalie, because, if you do, that’s when you start getting in trouble. Always make sure you’re on top of your game and doing the little things right.

Q. Who are the one or two guys who you least would like to see coming down on you in a shoot-out?

ROBERTO LUONGO: There’s a few guys. One of them thankfully is on my team this year, which is Demitra. I think in the past he’s had my number in a shoot?out. So I’m happy to see him. And other guys like a Milan Hejduk and Ovechkin, those guys have great hands. So it’s hard to figure out what they’re going to do.

Q. Could you give me a quick assessment on Bryzgalov?

ROBERTO LUONGO: I think he’s a solid goalie. He’s worked in Anaheim for a few years with Francois Allaire and he’s got great technique and he’s a steady guy. You have to work hard against him every night if you want to get goals.

Q. Roberto, you mentioned in your last answer that you can’t take things for granted, especially when you’re hot like this, and you have to keep on doing the little things that helped you get the three shutouts in a row that you were talking about. What are those little things that you need to kind of stay on top of and make sure you have?

ROBERTO LUONGO: I think, first of all, it’s different for everybody. I mean, for me, personally, there’s always a few things that I always like to remind myself before the game. As I visualize and stuff like that, as far as where I want to be in regards to my crease area. Always want to be on top of my crease and make sure I’m not backing up too deep and challenging the shooter and making sure that I’m aware of other players that are in my zone, as far as if there were a pass to be made and stuff like that.

Every goalie is different, but for me it’s a couple little things like that, and obviously there’s more stuff. But I don’t think we have all day, either, you know.

Q. Is it easier when you’re on a run like this to have already been through one? I know you hold the team record for shutout minutes and you could break it in the next game, but does it become easier with all the distractions that start to come around when you go more than one game with a shutout ? does it become easier to handle all that outside stuff if you’ve already been through it a couple times?

ROBERTO LUONGO: It’s funny, because I don’t really look at it that way. I don’t think there’s a distraction to be had. I mean, it’s just ? I don’t go into Wednesday night’s game saying, oh, I’ve got to get a shutout. I just go in thinking about how I have to play. And if I do that, things will take care of itself.

So I don’t really find it to be a distraction. For me everything’s the same. I still focus on my game and it’s not something ? like I’m not going into Wednesday night’s game thinking about beating the shutout streak. I’m just worried about getting the two points and playing my game.

So I don’t really look at stuff that way, I would say.

Q. Last thing from me. You’ve had a good deal of time now to play in front of Willie Mitchell, and he’s a little underrated in what he does. Can you kind of give a scouting report having watched him for a long time and what he does in the defensive end that makes him so valuable?

ROBERTO LUONGO: Well, I think he’s probably ? he’s the best defensive defenseman on our team by far. I mean, he takes pride in killing penalties, which is rare. And he loves that stuff.

And he’s got a great stick. He cuts off a lot of passes and when guys are one?on?one against him, he knocks the puck off of them often. So it’s nice to see a guy that takes so much pride in his play defensively.

Q. The recent injury to Martin Brodeur was a shocker with all the games he’s played. And the fact it was his biceps, and Kevin Weekes had the same problem, and we’ve never really heard about this before. As a goalie, had you ever heard anything about this kind of injury and are you surprised it’s starting to crop up more?

ROBERTO LUONGO: I’ve never really heard of it as much as I have now. But, I mean, we’re all human. And the body, you know, works in weird ways sometimes. And definitely the more years go by, the more taxing the game is on your body. So it’s very sad to see him go down with an injury like that, especially that he was approaching all those records.

But at the same time, I mean, he’s strong enough physically and mentally to come back and pick up where he left off when he gets back.

Q. You’re kind of a workhorse goalie yourself. Did it give you a little bit of pause? And obviously you don’t like to think about injuries, but a little bit of pause and say, hey, maybe we’ll look at a little lesser of a workload as we go forward?

ROBERTO LUONGO: Not really. Like I’ve said in the past, I think the main thing is you’ve got to listen to your body. And there are times during the season where you do feel a bit more fatigued than others, and those are the times where it’s important to make sure that you listen to your body and maybe have to take a night off or something like that, which will maybe be beneficial in the long run.So every person is different in his own way. But I think the most important thing is that you’ve got to make sure that you’re aware, you know your body and you listen to it when it’s time for a break.

Q. You had a similar streak, shutout streak last season. How are things maybe different this time around in terms of your ability to keep square to the shooter, rebound control or mental toughness?

ROBERTO LUONGO: You know what? I mean, there’s not much of a difference. I mean, obviously you always work on your game, try to improve it and get better as the years go by. And I think mentally I wouldn’t say that I’m better this year than last. I mean, I think I’ve always been pretty strong mentally. But there’s little things in your game that you try to implement as years go by, and there’s a lot of things involved with a shutout streak also. I think the team play and luck factor is also involved and you need all of those things to be going the right direction if you want to be part of a streak like that.

Q. You said you’re mentally stronger this time around. The shutout streak, in what ways are you mentally stronger? Is it something you’ve done differently in your preparation? How does it differ?

ROBERTO LUONGO: I said I didn’t think I was mentally stronger. I’ve always been mentally strong. So I don’t think it’s much of a difference in that area.

Q. Is it any different in terms of keeping more square to the puck or coming on top of the crease or any rebound control?

ROBERTO LUONGO: You know, not that I can really think of. Maybe I do it subconsciously, but it’s always something that’s been part of my game, which is having a good angle on the shooter and making sure you’re square and stuff like that. So I wouldn’t say it’s any different.

Q. And when you assume the captain’s duties, many people thought maybe it’s not suitable for a goalie to have that role. Have you found that added responsibility has helped you in any way when you’re on the ice like getting ready for a game?

ROBERTO LUONGO: You know what? I do embrace the challenge, and I enjoy it very much. So I don’t think it really gives me a lot of added responsibility when I’m on the ice or in the locker room per se.

I do try to speak up in the locker room. But only what comes natural to me. I don’t really try to go out of my comfort zone or get me distracted by things like that. But so far it’s really something that I love and that I embrace.

Q. I was wondering if you’ve had a chance to talk to Martin Brodeur, and, if you do, do you guys ? in the media here we’re always getting ramped up for 2010 especially being in Vancouver and such. Is that something that’s on your mind, you guys chat about these kind of things? I’m wondering whether it’s something you’ve been thinking about a lot.

ROBERTO LUONGO: Actually, I haven’t spoken to Marty. We only speak, obviously, if we play against each other or maybe I see him in the summertime or Team Canada events. So I haven’t spoken to him and obviously being in Vancouver there’s a lot of Olympic talk and stuff, but it’s really something I try to stay away from. Still a long ways to go before we get to that, a year and a half. So a lot of things could happen and there’s a lot of great goalies in this league. So for me it’s just a matter of making sure I keep doing my job. And if things turn out the way they’re supposed to as far as my play, hopefully I’ll be there next season.

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