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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, October 3rd (All times Eastern)

Vancouver Canucks (0-0-0) at San Jose Sharks (0-0-0), 10 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - After getting swept out of the first round of the 2013 playoffs by the San Jose Sharks, the Vancouver Canucks decided it was time for a change.

That led to the Canucks hiring John Tortorella as their new head coach and he makes his debut on Thursday night against the Sharks.

Vancouver reached the postseason in six of its seven seasons under Alain Vigneault, a run that included six division titles (including the club's fifth straight Northwest title in 2013), back-to-back Presidents Trophies in 2010-11 and 2011-12, and a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011. However, last spring marked the Canucks' second straight first-round exit, so general manager Mike Gillis cut bait with Vigneault.

Vigneault landed on his feet with the New York Rangers, who in a twist of fate has fired Tortorella, making him available for the Canucks. The fiery bench boss is expected to toughen up the Canucks and make the club more disciplined.

That includes the talented Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik, who make their living racking up points. Henrik Sedin led the club with 45 points a season ago, while Daniel was next with 40 points before a big drop-off to Jannik Hansen, who was third on the club with 27 points.

Roberto Luongo will make a some-what surprising start tonight for the Canucks. That didn't seem likely after he opened last season as the backup to Cory Schneider, but after Gillis was unable to trade Luongo and his large contract, Schneider was instead dealt to the New Jersey Devils on draft day.

Luongo did well in the backup role despite playing amidst constant trade rumors and finished 9-6-3 with a 2.56 goals against average and .907 save percentage.

He also went 0-2 with a 2.58 GAA in three playoff games -- two starts -- while Schneider nursed an injury. Although the Canucks were swept by San Jose, the postseason loss could hardly be blamed on Luongo, as Vancouver's offense contributed only eight goals over the four games.

The Canucks are slated to begin the season on the road for only the 13th time in club history, having gone 6-5-1 when kicking off the season as the away club. They won't have Zack Kassian for the first five games of the season as he finishes off his eight-game ban issued during the preseason for a cross- check to the face of Edmonton's San Gagner.

The Sharks will play their first three games of the season at home and are 5-2-1 in their last eight openers. They made the postseason for a ninth straight year and pushed the Los Angeles Kings to seven games before falling in the semifinals.

San Jose opened last season by winning its first seven games, though was plagued by inconsistency afterwards. They'll try to duplicate the fast start, but are without forwards Martin Havlat (groin surgery) and Raffi Torres (torn ACL) while defenseman Brad Stuart is questionable with an unknown injury.

The Sharks appear on the verge of a rebuild, with center Joe Thornton, winger Patrick Marleau and defenseman Dan Boyle all unrestricted free agents at season's end. However, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski were both signed to five-year extensions this past offseason.

Thornton led the Sharks with 33 assists and 40 points last year, while Couture (21 goals), Marleau and Pavelski all finished with 31 points.

San Jose ranked sixth on defense with 2.33 goals against per game and have a workhorse in net in Antti Niemi.

Niemi started 43 games last season and went 24-12-6 with career bests in GAA (2.16) and save percentage (.924). He appeared in 2,580:46 of ice time to lead all NHL goaltenders while earning his first Vezina Trophy nomination.

In addition to the first-round sweep, the Sharks won all three of their regular-season meetings with the Canucks last season. The clubs face off tonight as division rivals, with Vancouver having joined San Jose in the new- look Pacific Division following realignment.

10/03 14:30:58 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
ROC 8
DUR 2
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR
 
5:05pm Sunday
SYR
DUR
 
Final
TEX 3
CLE 12
Final
COL 6
CIN 4
Final
MIA 2
PIT 5
Final
CWS 5
TOR 3
Final
KAN 2
NYY 4
Final
BOS 4
MIN 6
Final
PHI 0
NYM 7
Final
SEA 3
TAM 0
Final
SFG 3
MIL 1
9th
DET 3
OAK 2
 
3rd
HOU 1
BAL 0
 
8:05pm Tonight
WAS
CHC
8:15pm Tonight
ARI
STL
10:05pm Tonight
SDP
ANA
10:10pm Tonight
ATL
LOS
1:05pm Thursday
CWS
BAL
 
4:35pm Thursday
CWS
BAL
 
8:05pm Thursday
BOS
TEX
 
10:05pm Thursday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Thursday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Thursday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Thursday
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Thursday
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Friday
KAN
CHC
 
7:05pm Friday
COL
PHI
 
7:05pm Friday
TAM
BAL
 
7:10pm Friday
MIA
NYM
 
7:10pm Friday
WAS
CIN
 
8:05pm Friday
BOS
TEX
 
8:10pm Friday
ARI
MIL
 
8:10pm Friday
CWS
HOU
 
8:10pm Friday
TOR
MIN
 
8:15pm Friday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Friday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Friday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Friday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Friday
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Friday
ATL
SFG
 
2:10pm Saturday
TOR
MIN
 
3:05pm Saturday
COL
PHI
 
4:05pm Saturday
TAM
BAL
 
4:10pm Saturday
ARI
MIL
 
4:10pm Saturday
CWS
HOU
 
4:10pm Saturday
MIA
NYM
 
4:10pm Saturday
WAS
CIN
 
7:15pm Saturday
BOS
TEX
 
7:15pm Saturday
KAN
CHC
 
7:15pm Saturday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Saturday
ATL
SFG
 
10:05pm Saturday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Saturday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Saturday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Saturday
PIT
SDP
 
1:10pm Sunday
MIA
NYM
 
1:10pm Sunday
WAS
CIN
 
1:35pm Sunday
COL
PHI
 
1:35pm Sunday
TAM
BAL
 
2:10pm Sunday
ARI
MIL
 
2:10pm Sunday
CWS
HOU
 
2:10pm Sunday
TOR
MIN
 
2:15pm Sunday
LOS
STL
 
2:20pm Sunday
KAN
CHC
 
3:05pm Sunday
BOS
TEX
 
4:05pm Sunday
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Sunday
NYY
OAK
 
4:10pm Sunday
CLE
SEA
 
8:05pm Sunday
DET
ANA
 
9:10pm Sunday
PIT
SDP
 
9:00pm Tonight
HOU
GSW
9:00pm Friday
GSW
HOU
 
9:00pm Sunday
HOU
GSW
 
8:00pm Tonight
ANA
CHI
8:00pm Friday
TAM
NYR
 
8:00pm Saturday
CHI
ANA
 
12:00pm Friday
AUBURN
CHARLESTON
 
1:00pm Friday
CALIFORNIA
CCAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
COLUMBIA
ECAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
ORALROBRTS
ARKANSAS
 
1:00pm Friday
OREGON
IOWA
 
1:00pm Friday
SFLORIDA
FAU
 
1:00pm Friday
WRIGHTST
NOTREDAME
 
2:00pm Friday
MICHIGAN
BRADLEY
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
2:30pm Friday
TEXAS
OREGONST
 
3:00pm Friday
INDIANA
RADFORD
 
3:30pm Friday
ULLAFAYETE
RICE
 
4:00pm Friday
LEHIGH
LSU
 
6:00pm Friday
CANISIUS
SWMISSOURI
 
6:00pm Friday
CLEMSON
ARIZONAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MERCER
FLORIDAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MOREHEADST
LOUISVILLE
 
6:00pm Friday
VIRGINIA
USC
 
7:00pm Friday
FIU
MIAFLA
 
7:00pm Friday
FLAAM
FLORIDA
 
7:00pm Friday
MARYLAND
MISS
 
7:00pm Friday
SACREDHART
TCU
 
7:00pm Friday
STJOHNS
OKLAHOMAST
 
7:00pm Friday
TSOUTHERN
TEXASAM
 
7:00pm Friday
VCU
DALLASBAPT
 
8:00pm Friday
HSTNBAPT
HOUSTON
 
8:00pm Friday
LIPSCOMB
VANDERBILT
 
8:00pm Friday
OHIO
ILLINOIS
 
8:00pm Friday
TULANE
NWILMINGTN
 
10:00pm Friday
PEPPERDINE
FULLERTON
 
10:00pm Friday
SANDIEGOST
CSANTABAR
 
11:00pm Friday
CSBAKER
UCLA
 
Final
ROC 8
DUR 2
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR
 
5:05pm Sunday
SYR
DUR