VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Vancouver Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo has underlined his Olympic credentials to Team Canada selectors by posting three consecutive shutouts on the same ice which will host the 2010 Winter Games.
Even before his most recent shutout streak, now at 201 minutes, eight seconds, Luongo was rated a strong candidate for a spot on the Canadian Olympic team as backup to the New Jersey Devils’ Martin Brodeur.
But the battle for the starting job suddenly opened up last week when Brodeur, winner of the Vezina trophy as the NHL’s top netminder four of the last five seasons, underwent surgery on his left elbow and will be of action for up to four months.
“Obviously being in Vancouver there’s lots of Olympic talk but I try to stay away from it,” Luongo told reporters in a conference call.
”There’s still a long way to go before we get to that, a lot of things could happen and there are a lot of good goalies in this league.
“For me it’s just a matter of making sure I keep doing my job and if things turn out the way they’re suppose to, as far as my play, hopefully I will be there.”
No goaltender has done more to catch the selectors’ eye than Luongo, who has posted four shutouts in his last six games to help lift the Canucks to the top of the NHL’s Northwest division.
The Canucks captain is closing in on the franchise shutout streak record of 212 minute, 12 seconds which he set last season and will have a chance to better it on Wednesday when Vancouver hosts the Colorado Avalanche.
“I don’t go into Wednesday night’s game thinking I have to get a shutout, I just go in thinking about how I have to play and if I do that it will take care of itself,” said Luongo. “I don’t find it to be a distraction I just focus on my game.”
Writing by Steve Keating in Detroit; Editing by Ed Osmond