October 03 2013 02:12PM
image via sharks.nhl.com
Some time ago, in April (was it April? The first round of the playoffs is usually in April. Maybe it was May?) the Vancouver Canucks were swept out of the Stanley Cup playoffs by an underdog team known as the San Jose Sharks.
Since then, the Canucks have made significant changes, including ditching the old coach, hiring a new one, and shaking up the bottom six (a figurative shake-up, like when you've left orange juice in the fridge too long and all the pulp seeps down to the bottle of the pitcher. You shake it to even out the pulp but it doesn't really change the overall composition of the components of the pitcher) and sacrificing a bull to Apollo, the Greek God of healing and medicine, in hopes that the top six will stay healthy throughout the season.
The Sharks, meanwhile, ditched the shoulder yokes and tail stripes on their jerseys, as pictured above. Aesthetically, they'll look more different than the Canucks.
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM
Radio: Team 1040
Hilariously, despite my assertion in my preview for the defence that Jason Garrison and Alex Edler were not a plausible pairing in John Tortorella's system, the two have been practicing together and will play together on the second unit, à la Anton Stralman-Marc Staal. Curiously, Ryan Stanton is in the lineup so perhaps the Canucks were serious when they pulled a waiver claim on the player with one NHL game to his credit, in Game 48 for the Chicago Blackhawks last season after they'd wrapped everything up but the Stanley Cup.
In unrelated news, Andrew Alberts has hired a resume writer.
I find the defence somewhat interesting. Torts liked to go with five main defencemen in New York, flipping his fifth guy in and out of the top two pairings but, again, we have yet to see whether that will be a thing in Vancouver. And he's not telling us, or Ben Kuzma, about it either.
San Jose, per Daily Faceoff, have four unrecognizable faces, one on each line. Rookie Tomas Hertl will line up with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns. Tyler Kennedy came over from Pittsburgh and is slotted with Logan Couture. Former Calgary first rounder Matt Pelech, drafted as a defenceman, is Mike Gillis' nephew and will be dressing for the opener as an enforcer, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
Another pretty cool story is Matthew "Neat-o" Nieto, a Long Beach, CA native was drafted by the Sharks in 2011 in the second round and will make his NHL debut tonight, listed with Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels.
The defence is similar to what we saw in the playoffs, although Scott Hannan may have finally been taken out behind the woodshed. Brad Stuart
remains in the lineup is injured and will not be playing, so Todd McLellan summoned Hannan from behind the woodshed, and he's the guy for the Canucks to target. Goaltender Antti Niemi is very good, but we know that already. He's a quality start and even strength save percentage King. To use an old line, we're pro-goalie, but anti-Niemi here at Canucks Army.
Zac Dalpe is making the transition back to centre, although I think he gets some looks at wing on a higher unit tonight, and Torts won't keep him between Tom Sestito and Dale Weise all night. The Sedins will play with Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler will centre a line with Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen. I'd rather see the AmEx line, but it's a long season.
SNIPING THE SHARKS - "Vancouver to score 4+ goals and WIN" is priced at $4.00, meaning you win four times your bet. This is somewhat tempting: the Canucks scored 4 or more times 11 times last season, and won each game. With how strong the Canucks are on D and in net, all you have to worry about is the offence, so it comes down to whether you believe the team has it in them to score four goals in a game.
BEAST MODE - This involves Ryan Kesler scoring at least goal and the Canucks winning, priced at $3.50. Kesler scored in just four games last year, although he had a memorable performance in Game 2 against the Sharks in last year's playoffs. Like with most players, the team wins more often in games he scores than when he doesn't. If you're willing to place action on either bet, I think it's more likely that the Canucks score 4 than to have Kesler score (looking at about 25% to 20% chances on either side) and you get better odds on the first action.
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GAME DAY LINKS
Former Canuck Manny Malhotra Signs AHL Tryout With Charlotte Checkers (The Canuck Way)
Results are in for The Province's preseason survey (The White Towel)
Gillis defends record as GM (Globe & Mail)
Jason Garrison to "give it his best shot" on Canucks powerplay (Vancouver Sun)
How Andrew Alberts lost his job to a guy with one career NHL game (Pass it to Bulis)
Don't forget to sign up for Streakcred. I'm on a two-game streak, just… *checks standings* shoot. Four points behind the leader.
But that can change tonight. Taking an upset in Boston, a loss for Cory Schneider and the Devils, and, *sigh* yes, a loss for the Canucks in San Jose. Also looking for Alain Vigneault to win his debut with New York:
Your picks are probably better. Go sign up.