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Encouraging Article on the Panthers


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LOS ANGELES - After one of his most humbling weeks as a member of the Panthers, Roberto Luongo said he just wanted to get back to playing like he had at the beginning of the season.


On Saturday afternoon, Luongo looked like his old self.


The Panthers lost, 3-1, to the Kings, with Luongo making 29 saves. But, it appeared his focus was back as he made one big stop after another. The Kings scored their first goal during a 5-on-3 power play, and their second on a Pavol Demitra breakaway. Luongo didn't have much of a chance on the third.


"This was the best I've felt since the first couple weeks of the season," said Luongo, who admitted he has been putting too much pressure on himself of late. Last week, Luongo was pulled early in two games and watched the entire San Jose game from the bench.


"I felt sharp and I felt aggressive and I felt good about myself. It was nice for me to sit and watch in San Jose, to refocus and get ready."


Luongo's play has been scrutinized in Canada, where it appears his spot on the Canadian Olympic team isn't a given anymore. When the season started, it was all but assured that Luongo would join New Jersey's Martin Brodeur in Turin, Italy.


Now, it looks like Luongo could really have to impress Team Canada boss Wayne Gretzky, who coincidentally coaches Curtis Joseph - Luongo's possible replacement - in Phoenix.


And a trip to this Olympics would be extremely special for Luongo, a Montreal native of Italian heritage.


"The Olympics are the biggest sporting event in the world," he said.


Panthers coach Jacques Martin is an assistant for the Canadian team and made it clear Saturday he wants to have Luongo in Italy.


"I think other people on Team Canada see the same things I see," Martin said. "We like people who have won before and have won key games and won pressure games. Brodeur has done that, he's won some Stanley Cups and won the Olympics for us. Roberto has won the World Championships for Team Canada and won big games in the World Cup."



That is great news if Luongo feels as if he is focused again. As we all know very well, he has not even come close to playing well especially the last two weeks. But if he feels like hes back again to the top of his game, than look out. I think if the Panthers know that Luongo isn't going to let in the easy goal anymore, than the team as a whole will play better. Because you got to admit, especially in the Senators game, the goals he gave up in the first period were extremely dejecting. That killed the team's momentum, especially the Chris Neil goal.

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