NHL

more stats

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

Other Stories

Hurricanes

Hurricanes vs. Tampa Bay 1
Game Blog: Faulk PP goal gives Canes 3-1 lead in 2P

Fresh out of he penalty box, Brad Malone forced a hooking call on a breakaway and the Canes went on the man-advantage. It was rewarded on a blast by Justin Faulk and the Canes lead 3-1.

Related Stories
  • ACC: Clemson at NC State

    Tomorrow at 9:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: NC State at Georgia Tech

    Saturday at 12:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Arkansas at Florida

    Saturday at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: Waste Management Phoenix Open

    Saturday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: Duke at Notre Dame

    Tomorrow at 7:30 pm on 620am

  • ACC: NC State vs. Clemson

    Tomorrow at 9:00 pm on WRAL-FM

  • SEC: Kentucky at Missouri

    Thursday at 9:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • NHL: Hurricanes vs. St. Louis

    Friday at 7:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
2nd
CAR 3
TAM 1
 
4th
IND 71
TOR 82
 
3rd
DET 47
CLE 55
 
Half
MIA 50
MIL 54
 
1st
DAL 16
MEM 16
 
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
CHI
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
WAS
Final
AKR 59
BST 47
 
2nd
KSU 55
CMICH 47
 
2nd
VCU 64
GWU 38
 
2nd
TOL 66
UMO 65
 
Final
MICH 58
NEB 44
 
2nd
BGU 53
NILL 41
 
Final
EMICH 76
OHIO 40
 
2nd
VT 53
PITT 58
 
2nd
LAS 51
STJOE 46
 
2nd
TULA 50
TULSA 57
 
2nd
UGA 63
VANDY 58
 
2nd
KYST 46
WVU 51
 
2nd
BUF 71
WMICH 63
 
2nd
GEOR 42
XAV 54
 
1st
EVAN 38
INDST 33
 
Half
ORU 43
TABOR 24
 
9:00pm Tonight
OKST
BAY
9:00pm Tonight
PROV 0
DEP 0
 
9:00pm Tonight
ALA
UF
9:00pm Tonight
RUTG 0
MSU 0
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARK
TENN
9:00pm Tonight
AUB
TEXAM
9:00pm Tonight
UTST
WYO
9:05pm Tonight
SDST
FRES
10:00pm Tonight
CALST
SDCHR
 
10:00pm Tonight
NEV
UNLV
11:00pm Tonight
BSU
COLST
2nd Intermission
PHI 3
ARI 3
 
2nd Intermission
NYI 2
NYR 0
 
2nd Intermission
CLB 3
WAS 2
 
3rd
PIT 2
WIN 3
 
2nd
MON 3
DAL 1
 
2nd
FLA 2
DET 4
 
2nd
CAR 3
TAM 1
 
1st Intermission
NAS 0
COL 0
 
9:00pm Tonight
CAL
BUF
9:30pm Tonight
EDM
MIN
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
ANA