Preseason Game 3: Canucks At Oilers Game Preview

Rich Lam

TIME: 7:00 PM PST

TV: CBC, NHLN-US

Frantic tick tock. Tick tick tick tock. It's crunch time for the youth to make a spot on the Canucks' final roster. The 2 losses in the Canucks' preseason are not what matter. It's the lack of a kid standing out considerably that is cause for concern at this point. No, this is not panic mode, however, it was reported on Friday that John Tortorella wants to use the final 2 Canucks preseason games as " warmups for the players that will be on the final roster." That only leaves tonight's game against the Oilers and Monday night's game against the Coyotes as the final 2 chances for guys like Bo Horvat, Hunter Shinkaruk and several others to stand out.

To me, it's easy to single out Brendan Gaunce as an early winner given his 2 goals in 2 games. That is an easy concept to gauge. But even Gaunce has been visible and invisible, or better. Torts said this about Gaunce:

"I thought Gaunce was probably one of our better ones, not just because he scored a goal (on Wednesday)," Tortorella said. "After watching the tape, he did a lot of good things."


I think the biggest surprise disappearing act has been Nicklas Jensen....a guy dubbed to make it this year as a winger. He is likely headed to Utica.

It's a complicated matter. Torts has worked the bag off these guys away from games and even he has said that the guys look tired. On top of that, the coach is implementing new systems that the regulars especially are not used to. From Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun:

Head coach John Tortorella is introducing a new system and on Friday spent considerable time at the rinkside chalkboard trying to explain it to his players before running them through some drills while he and his staff shouted instructions.

In a nutshell, Tortorella’s system is about putting pressure on the puck. If you lose possession of it, you work hard to win it back as quickly as possible.

Among other things, it means a more aggressive forecheck in the offensive zone. For many Canucks players it is going to take some time to learn.

"There are a lot of differences for the guys who have been here for the last (few) years," said defenceman Kevin Bieksa. "We have been playing pretty much the same way, the same system. To learn new systems and to have them stick is going to take some time.

"When you are playing and you rely on instincts you are just going to do the things you did before, but we are going to have to think a different way. There will be more pressure on the forecheck, getting ready to go, everybody, and just playing fast. We played fast last year but this is a little bit more aggressive style."

Bieksa also thinks the change is a good thing.

"It’s nice, it’s a different way of playing," he said. "It’s a clean slate and hopefully it sparks our group a little bit and gets us playing less in our end and more in the other team’s end. It’s more aggressive, more of an attack style. It’s a different look for the teams we have been playing the last five or six years who got used to us coming at them with a 1-2-2 or a 2-1-2. It’s a little bit different."

Tortorella said introducing a new system has its challenges for players and will take some time. In addition to considerable on-ice work, players will watch plenty of video in the next two weeks.


That prompted some to wonder if Torts waited too long to implement the new system. BAH! The adaptation of the new system might carry on a few games into the regular season. So what? The players will all eventually learn it and adapt. If it takes a few losses to get there so f*****g what?  Damn, I have a lot of patience this year.

OK, so David Booth is going to play vs Edmonton. Booth's return has changed the dynamic of which forwards prospects crack the final roster. Here is what we are looking at now:

Sedin-Sedin-Kassian
Booth-Kesler-Burrows
Higgins-Richardson-Hansen
Sestito-Santorelli-Weise
Schroeder

Why has Jordan Schroeder not played yet? Because he is a lock in the top 13? Answer: yes. Or he is getting traded...Who knows. Schroeder can play center or the wing. Richardson and Santorelli, in my opinion, are looking pretty good so far. Gaunce is a natural center and just might be the 14th forward after all is said and done. But why oh why is Shredder not playing?

Stay tuned for the the roster that the Canucks will ice against the Coilers.

SPEAKING Of THE COILERS


I was talking to a life-long Oilers fan today and asked him if he thinks Edmonton can make the playoffs this year. He was unsure. He also talked about the vacant captaincy, which he thought could go to either Taylor Hall or Andrew Ference. I suggested Ference because he is a veteran and a beast. We then talked about whether of not Justin Schultz can be the Oilers' quarterback defenceman this season. Not sure. Eventually he will be. We also discussed the awesome-ness of Devan Dubnyk and the cool masks that backup goalie Jason Labarbera uses. Usually a Metallica-WWE montage. Bless his heart. I want to go drinking with Barbie. He's a cool cat.
I told the Oiler nut that his team will make the playoffs this year. He refused to say yay or nay. A superstitious one he is. At least we could agree that the Flames are gonna be fun to beat up on this year.

Stay tuned for roster updates!

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