Update 7:15pm: Luongo has returned to the bench for the Florida Panthers, reports CPSJ’s Flyers reporter Dave Isaac. He is not expected to return to the net this evening.
Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo suffered a lower-body injury tonight in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers and will not return, reports the Sun Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov. Luongo suffered the injury in the first period after making an awkward save. James Reimer started in goal for the Panthers in the second period. CSN’s Tim Pannacio speculates that Luongo pulled his groin.
Luongo’s injury halts a potential performance upswing for the veteran goalie. Tonight’s game marked the first time Luongo played in back-to-back games in over two weeks. The Panthers had been going with James Reimer as of late due to Luongo’s struggles and Reimer’s ability to right the ship. Luongo is not having his best season, going 17-15-6 in 39 games with a .914 SV% and a 2.70 GAA. Coincidentally, these mark Luongo’s worst stats since his final year with Florida in 2005-06 before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks. Conversely, Reimer has put together a 12-8-4 record in 26 games with a .919 SV% and a 2.47 GAA. Not significantly better numbers, mind you, but in the Eastern Conference’s tight playoff race, every edge matters.
If Reimer suffers an injury, the Panthers have two readily available—if unconventional—options. Goaltending coach Robb Tallas or forward Derek MacKenzie have both been emergency goaltending options in the past for Florida. Expect the Panthers to call up Reto Berra if they expect Luongo to miss some time. Berra currently plays for the AHL Springfield Thunderbirds and has a .910 SV% and 2.53 GAA in 31 games.