BOSTON -- Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault decided Friday that the team's top goaltender Roberto Luongo wouldn't start against the Boston Bruins on Saturday at TD Garden. Instead, Canucks backup goalie and local boy Cory Schneider got the nod against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Boston started Tim Thomas.
After the Canucks, who lost in the Cup finals to the Bruins in seven games last spring, practiced at Harvard University on Friday and afterwards, the coach explained his reasoning.
"We have two goaltenders here that we have confidence in," Vigneault said. "Every game, and we've played 41 so far, you can make a case to play one or the other. In this instance, I decided Cory would be the goaltender."
When asked why he decided to go with Schneider, Vigneault remained coy about the situation.
"All year long I haven't gotten into specifics why I'm choosing one goaltender over the other," Vigneault said. "In this case here, you could make a case that Louie would want to get back at it, and you could make a case for Schneider finally, after five years, getting a chance to play in front of friends and family. At the end of the day, the decision is mine and I'll keep my final reasons to myself."
During the Cup finals last spring, the Bruins outscored the Canucks 17-3 in three games at TD Garden and Luongo was pulled in two of those games. Vigneault made it a point on Friday to dismiss any notion that's why he's decided to start Schneider instead of Luongo.
"No, no," the coach said. "Louie just got off a shutout and he's playing really well. I just decided that Schneider was the guy."
Bruins coach Claude Julien said it wasn't any of his business to concern himself with Vigneault's decisions.
"I don't think I need to answer that, because first of all I think it's their business. ... They choose to run their team the way they want, and as far as I know I think they feel the same way we do about our goaltending tandem," he said. "I think they have a lot of confidence in Schneider and, to be honest with you, I would have no issues with
putting Tuukka Rask in net today the way he's played."
Luongo made 28 saves to help the Canucks to a 3-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday in Vancouver. Overall, he's 17-8-3 with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in 28 games this season.
"Obviously, I would have liked to play the game, but in fairness to Cory, he's from here and he deserves to play this game," Luongo said. "I'm all for it.
"At the end of the day the win is what matters the most. Cory's from here and we don't get a chance to come here very often, it's a good opportunity to play in front of his family and friends."
Schneider, a native of Marblehead, Mass., and former Boston College Eagle, is 8-5-0 in 14 starts this season with a 2.16 GAA and a .931 save percentage.
"It's great," Schneider said. "I'm not sure if I was expecting it, but it's going to be a lot of fun being able to play in my hometown, but more importantly to play a big game for our team against probably the best team in the league right now. It'll be a great challenge for me personally and for our team. I just hope I can step up and deliver a big game."
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.