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.