In a Sunday night regular season game with huge playoff implications for the Florida Panthers, James Reimer will start ahead of Roberto Luongo.
The decision is apparently not injury-based. And Luongo agrees with the call.
“Right now I don’t deserve to be playing. That’s the bottom line,” he said to the Miami Herald Sunday. “For me, everything is about the team and us winning games. James Reimer gives us a better chance to win every night than I am. Until I figure my [game] out this is the way it should go I think.”
Reimer has outperformed Luongo of late, winning three of his last four and giving up just six goals in that time. Luongo, meanwhile, is 3-5 over his last 10 appearances, giving up 36 goals.
There have been rumblings about the veteran goaltender’s health, something he downplayed to the Herald while acknowledging that something was going on.
“Obviously, things aren’t going the way I want them to be,” he said. “I just have to focus on making sure that I put the work in during practice and feel good during games. The other things — health or whatnot — I have to put the work in and perform in games.”
Luongo had labrum surgery in the offseason after playing through an injury at the end of last season and through the first round of the playoffs.
He left the Panthers’ game against the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 15 after experiencing some cramping.
“Reimer has been playing very well and deserved to get the start,” Panthers interim coach and GM Tom Rowe said. “There were some goals Luongo would like to have back from the other night so he’ll keep working on things.
“That’s the luxury of having a guy like Reimer here; we can put him in and let Luongo get reorganized and ready for the stretch run.”