The San Jose Sharks are looking formidable in the young National Hockey League season with three wins in as many games. They have out-scored their opponents 17-4 and outshot them by a whopping 133-65 margin.
Before Wednesday's action, rookie Tomas Hertl led the league in goals (six) and points (seven).
As a team, the Sharks led the league in offence with 5.67 goals per game. They have allowed just 1.33 per game.
One of their three victories - all of them coming at home - was the Oct. 3 season-opening 4-1 win over the Canucks. Their first road game is tonight when they visit Rogers Arena.
The Sharks have also beaten the Canucks eight straight times in games that matter - plus two more this pre-season - four of those in last spring's playoff sweep.
So, by all accounts, the Canucks should see where they stand in the revamped Pacific Division. It's the old 'measuring-stick' game. Then again, new Canuck head coach John Tortorella is a different sort of cat.
"I just don't believe in the measuring stick," Torts said Wednesday following practice. "I think it's such a long year and so many things happen. So it's not measuring yourself up against another team, it's measuring yourself in what you're doing as a club."
OK, so maybe it's not a measuring stick for the coach. But for the Canuck players who were here last season and have now lost 10 straight to San
Jose, are they not overdue? "I don't think so," said defenceman Kevin Bieksa. "We don't look too much in the past. Obviously they beat us early in the season and it's our only loss, so far, and we're looking to get back in the win column against them but I don't think we're too concerned with the way the last few games have gone."
OK, so maybe the players don't feel they're overdue against the Sharks. How about 'a statement game' then? "I don't know if there are too many statement games in Game 5 of the season," said winger Chris Higgins, smiling. "I think we're really concentrating on just getting our game in order, not on who we're playing right now."
SANTO CLAUSE: Canuck defenceman Jason Garrison reacted with mock indignation when the NHL took away his overtime winner against New Jersey and awarded it to Mike Santorelli, his former Florida Panther roommate.
"I've cooked that guy so many dinners and given him a ride to the airport every single time," Garrison said, winking. "He's texting me: 'What time is practice? What should I wear?' And I think the puck hits a little thread hanging from his (equipment)."
But seriously, folks ... "Good for him," added Garrison. "He put himself in a good
spot. There is no chance that would end up going in without him there. So I don't care about losing the goal. It was a big win. I think the toughest part for me is that I got all these text messages saying 'nice goal' and now I think I have to go back and tell everyone 'sorry, it wasn't me.'" RYAN EXPRESSIVE: Despite being on the Canucks' first-unit power play, Ryan Kesler has one goal and no assists in four games and is a minus-3. So, naturally, he was asked about his start during a scrum that became testy Wednesday. Kesler had nine shots on goal Saturday against the Oilers but just one Sunday in Calgary and one Tuesday against the Devils.
"It's four games in," Kesler said. "No need to burn down the city or anything. There are 78 games left to play and I'm excited about them."
Asked if it was simply a matter of putting more pucks on net, Kesler replied: "I had nine shots against Edmonton, which was my career-high, so I don't know what you're talking about. I mean, if you don't get the puck, you can't shoot, right? We chased the puck a lot in the last two games and when we did get it, we weren't getting the bounces. That's the way it goes."
Tortorella, by the way, has not been disappointed with Kesler's lack of production.
"He's doing a lot of good things," said the coach. "I think he wants more as far as stats but he's had a really good camp and he's done a lot of good things that don't count as far as goals and assists. He just hasn't been rewarded."
BODY CHEQUE: The Canucks won't have to worry about facing Brad Stuart tonight.
The Sharks defenceman was suspended three games, without pay, by the league for his check to the head of New York Rangers forward Rick Nash on Tuesday night, costing him $55,384.62 in salary.
Canucks to celebrate their 25 millionth fan
The Canucks are planning to make a big deal tonight out of the 25 millionth customer to swing through their turnstiles at Rogers Arena.
The building, originally known as General Motors Place, opened Sept. 19, 1995, with a Bryan Adams concert. But it will be at a hockey game - San Jose Sharks at the Canucks - where the 25 millionth guest will be selected and honoured with Canuck season tickets as well as tickets to a year's worth of Live Nation concerts.
According to a release from the team, there will be other giveaways and surprises for those attending tonight's NHL game. Fans are encouraged to arrive early "so they can enjoy the club's token of appreciation."
Attendance break down at Rogers Arena
Rogers Arena welcomes its 25 millionth guest. Thursday when the Canucks host San Jose. This is how the attendance breaks down since the building opened in 1995.
Figures are in millions.
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