The Canucks are back at the friendly confines of Roger’s Arena after a lack-luster effort turned into home-opener ruining victory over the Calgary Flames (or more accurately, the Abbotsford Heat). Normally a match-up against the New Jersey Devils wouldn’t be much cause for excitement. However, Tuesday night marks the return of an old, red-headed, friend…
As I mentioned before, the Canucks turned what could have been a shockingly embarrassing defeat into an overtime victory after rallying from 3-1 down in Calgary. The hero of the night may look like Mike Santorelli, but John Tortorella deserves a ton of credit for having the balls to split the twins. The gamble immediately worked, as the Canucks took over the third period from the Flames with two quick goals by Santorelli and Jannik Hansen. A late goal by David Jones provided the home fans with some hope, but it was all for naught as the aforementioned Mike Santorelli buried the OT winner after a beautiful rush by Kevin Bieksa, giving the Canucks their second consecutive victory.
Cory Schneider. What more really needs to be said here? The jilted ginger, who only four months ago was believed to have been the goalie of the future for the Vancouver Canucks, returns to Rogers Arena to face his old team for the first time since June’s shocking trade that sent Schneider to New Jersey for the ninth overall pick (Bo Horvat). There is going to be a ridiculous amount of motivation for New Jersey to play well for their new keeper. New Jersey is boasting a revitalized lineup after the sudden retirement of captain Ilya Kovalchuk. Newcomers Michael Ryder, Ryane (what’s up with that e at the end of Ryan?) Clowe, Jaromir Jagr and Damian Brunner join mainstays Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac to form New Jersey’s offense.
I doubt we see the Sedins split up again unless the Canucks come out dragging like they did in Calgary. I believe that, at least to start, we’ll see the same lines as Hansen has found some early success with Hank and Danny and the other three lines are beginning to develop a bit of chemistry. On defense, Ryan Stanton has shown he is responsible and has drawn praise from John Tortorella. Stanton will probably start with Bieksa while Dan Hamhuis continues to work through his struggles. Luongo will get the start (as if there was ever any doubt).
D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Hansen
Higgins – Kesler – Booth
Richardson – Santorelli – Weise
Sestito – Dalpe – Weber
Edler – Garrison
Stanton – Bieksa
Hamhuis – Tanev
1. Cory Schneider vs. Roberto Luongo: Part I
Obviously. It’s the classic Teacher vs. Student scenario and both goalies will be out to prove something. Schneider will want to show that the Canucks made a mistake, and Luongo will want to show that they didn’t. While both goalies surely want to win this game, there is a huge amount of respect between the two, which means we won’t be seeing a Chris Osgood and Patrick Roy like collision at center ice. One thing is for sure though: both of their teams will be playing hard to get their goalies the win.
2. What’s up with Hamhuis?
Among the early concerns for the Canucks is the play of Dan Hamhuis. Normally the most reliable defenseman on the Canucks, Hamhuis has clearly struggled to adapt to the new coaching system. Alarm bells were raised last game when Hamhuis received only a few more seconds’ ice time than waiver pick-up Ryan Stanton. Hamhuis is a smart guy and an excellent hockey player. I wouldn’t count on his issues lasting much longer. However, it will be interesting to watch if Tortorella begins to lose patience.
3. Will Torts Split the Twins Again?
I personally don’t think so, at least not to start games. However, splitting the twins worked so well against Calgary that I wouldn’t be surprised to see it used more often as the season progresses. Both Henrik and Daniel are so talented that, despite popular belief, they can succeed on separate lines. The goals won’t be as pretty but as long as the puck is crossing the goal line, I don’t think many people will care.
Aside from Cory Schneider, I don’t see much on the New Jersey Devils that will strike fear in the Canucks; especially considering the Devils will have played the night before in Edmonton. My only concern is if the boys in blue are a little tired from a weekend double-header and adapting to John Tortorella’s demanding style of play. Nevertheless, I see the Canucks making a statement for their new (old?) number one goalie and pulling out the 2-1 victory. Schneider will make it painfully difficult though.
For old times sake: