Drop The Puck
The day is finally here. The Vancouver Canucks open the 2013-14 season tonight against the San Jose Sharks, the same club that ended last year’s quest for the Cup. Do the Sharks have the Canucks’ number, or was last season a blip within a lockout-marred season?
Tonight we begin to find out.
Below are five things I’ll be looking for in our first glimpse of meaningful Canucks hockey in quite some time.
A rivalry renewed
Yes, as I mentioned above the Sharks simply owned the Canucks last season, piling up a 7-0 record against Vancouver, including a four-game sweep in the first round of the playoffs.
With revenge on their minds I expect the Canucks to come out flying tonight, but that doesn’t mean it will do them any good.
The Sharks are one hell of a hockey team, and now that the Canucks can call them division rivals I only expect the games between these two teams to intensify. While there may be a bit of rust for both teams to shake off in the early goings, I expect a playoff intensity to take over after a few big hits are thrown.
Centre of attention
The Sharks are plenty deep down the middle, the Canucks? Not so much. Brad Richardson was brought in during the off-season to take over third-line centre duties, but is expected to slide over to the wing for tonight’s opener, leaving Mike Santorelli to play pivot.
Recent acquisition Zac Dalpe will begin the season as the Canucks’ fourth-line centre.
Dalpe has played a grand total of 41 games in the NHL during his young career.
Fellow newcomer Ryan Stanton was claimed off waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks this week, and immediately leapfrogged Andrew Alberts to become Vancouver’s sixth defenceman.
Keep an eye on Stanton, who will have to be solid alongside Chris Tanev if he is to keep Alberts in the press box.
Yes, by now we all know that Roberto Luongo takes a while to get into the groove to start an NHL season, but could Vancouver’s undisputed #1 say goodbye and good riddance to bad luck to begin 2013?
The way I see it, Luongo will either stand on his head or be absolutely lit up tonight. In any case, the focus is on Luongo once again tonight at the Shark Tank.
Happy October everyone!!! Or as I like to call it: How did that go in?
— Strombone (@strombone1) October 1, 2013
Power play problems
Vancouver’s power play seriously struggled last season, and one of the biggest complaints was that Jason Garrison‘s booming slapshot was under-utilized as a second unit guy.
Well look out, shot blockers.
Garrison is expected to grace the Canucks’ top unit on the power play, which should open up space on the ice for the Sedins and others to shine with the man advantage.