Vancouver Opening Night
Enough talk about last season, the Vancouver Canucks are finally ready to begin their long journey back towards the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Canucks host the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday at Rogers Arena in a fitting start to the regular season as the Canucks attempt to do what the Penguins most recently accomplished in 2009, returning from Stanley Cup defeat to hoist the trophy that year.
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Despite the absence of Sidney Crosby from the Pittsburgh lineup, the Canucks should get a solid look at an elite NHL opponent facing off against Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and the Penguins.
Head Coach Dan Bylsma managed to steer the Penguins into the playoffs last season despite injuries to both Malkin and Crosby, so a few games without only the golden boy should be no problem for Pens to begin the season.
After Kris Letang disappointed the home crowd in the Penguin’s 2009 shootout thriller over the Canucks, can the home team give fans something to cheer about following a tough summer of bitter anticipation?
Around the Rink
Ryan Kesler may be injured and out of the Canucks’ starting lineup on opening night but the reigning Selke trophy winner can’t help but find himself in an endless flood of online and traditional media recently.
‘Keslurking’ photos has become a favourite pastime of web-savvy Canucks fans and has been propelled to new heights following the inclusion of Kesler in ESPN’s Body Issue. I’m all for Canucks related meme creations, but between the lurking and the nudity the lines of decency have been seriously blurred.
In the Infirmary
Both the Canucks and Penguins will be without one of their top two centers on opening night with Ryan Kesler (hip) and Sidney Crosby (concussion) ruled out of Thursday night’s action.
The Penguins are more than comfortable playing games without Crosby; however after using Kesler for all 82 games last season the Canucks are beginning a new chapter with Cody Hodgson at second line center.
Hodsgon is expected to start the season between Mikael Samuelsson and off-season acquisition Marco Sturm.
Aaron Rome (finger) and Byron Bitz (hip) also remain out of the Canucks lineup due to injury.
Both remain on the bubble to crack a spot on the roster pending their return.
In The Community
It’s not charitable, but it is noteable. Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo the Canucks No.1 will also appear in new advertisements and a number of player promotions for BCLC.
BCLC spokesman Chris Fairclough says the partnership with Luongo, who is known for his passion for poker, only made sense. Read it on Global News: Luongo partners with PlayNow.com
Like to bet on hockey? NHL Odds for today are up.
Pittsburgh vs Vancouver Preview
When: 10:00 PM ET, Thursday, October 6, 2011
Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia