Subtle differences this season
Changes: More shot-blocking under Tortorella and the Sedins will be killing penalties
The more things change in Vancouver, the more the Canucks' core seems to stay the same.
So, you're forgiven during the season opener if you're left wondering just what exactly is different here as you see the Sedins cycle the puck to Alex Burrows, Dan Hamhuis defend an odd-man rush and the obligatory Alex Edler drop pass.
There won't be the promised infusion of youth in Vancouver, either. But that's because the only prospects close to the NHL are Frankie Corrado, who management determined needs some AHL seasoning, and Jordan Schroeder, who is injured. It's not because new coach John Tortorella is anything like the old one, Alain Vigneault.
Most of the changes for the Canucks' season opener Thursday night in San Jose will be subtle ones.
Unless, of course, you miss Mason Raymond hugging the half boards any time a lane opens up to the net. You may also be startled witnessing the Canucks power play, seeing Jason Garrison's thunderous slapshot, which was buried for most of last season by dubious design.
Otherwise, the power play will feel familiar, with Ryan Kesler manning the front of the net and the team using drop passes to gain entry into the offensive zone.
There's the much-anticipated invasion of blocked shots to come. But it will take time for the Canucks to grasp the where, when and how of Tortorella's and Mike Sullivan's detailed shot-blocking defence.
Last year, the New York Rangers blocked the second-most shots in the league (400) and the year before, the third most (672).
Only two teams blocked fewer than the 292 shots the Canucks stopped last season. The year before, the Canucks were last. The goal will be to block higher-quality shots from forwards in tight, not necessarily the more typically blocked point shots. But this is not going to be a quick transition as the team learns angles and positioning.
One of the most discussed, and controversial, alterations remains Tortorella's insistence the Sedins kill penalties.
The coach gave the topic some wonderful colour Tuesday with a quote that hits you like an all-caps email.
"They want to be complete players, and were pissed off they weren't killing penalties. They want to grind and show people they can do that also," the coach said.
It wasn't a comment the Sedins shied away from and in a conversation with The Province, Daniel explained why.
In its simplest form, it's about the Sedins being leaders. Take Wednesday morning before the team flew to San Jose. The Sedins were on the ice an hour early, working with Zack Kassian and skill coach Glenn Carnegie.
This is their team. They want to do whatever they can to improve it.
They are the ones who have worn the post-season failures more than anyone but Roberto Luongo.
Yet when the San Jose Sharks swept them out of the playoffs they did it with seven power-play goals in four games (7-for-24) and the Sedins were helpless to prevent any of them.
"We've had a few series in the playoffs like that where the other team's power play has been extremely good," Daniel said.
"San Jose scored a lot of power play goals, and we're not on the ice for the PK. We couldn't really do anything about it. It's been frustrating. We can kill penalties. We want to be a part of every part of hockey."
At even strength, the series was actually a close one. The Sharks outscored the Canucks 8-6. But Vancouver's penalty kill, so good the last three regular seasons, finishing 8th, 6th, and 2nd overall, was ventilated.
"If we don't improve it, we don't want to be there," Daniel said. "We want to help out. If we don't, he won't play us, I can promise you that."
The Sedins have also managed to convince themselves this could help them offensively as well, making it easier for them to play more minutes. "There's a timeout, and a couple of PKs and all of a sudden you're sitting on the bench for seven, eight minutes," Daniel said. "That's tough. "That's when it takes two or three shifts to get going again. I think it's going to be easier for us. That's what I think, anyway.
"(The scoring) shouldn't drop off. "But we will get that question if it happens."
And so will Tortorella.
canucks GAME DAY
7 p.m., SAP Center, San Jose, TSN, TEAM 1040
© Copyright (c) The Province