EDMONTON — The Vancouver Canucks begin life, hopefully a quieter life, without John Tortorella, Henrik Sedin’s ironman streak comes to an end and the Edmonton Oilers present their latest goaltending saviour to the world.
For a late January game in Edmonton, Tuesday night’s encounter between the Canucks and Oilers isn’t lacking in storylines.
“I think it’s important our team maintains the necessary focus it takes to win a hockey game in this league,” Mike Sullivan, the Canucks’ acting head coach, said Tuesday morning. “We’ve got a veteran group in there and they’ve been in the league for a long time. They’re good pros. I think they understand how important it is to move forward.”
Even if it means moving forward without their head coach and best player.
Tuesday will mark the first of six games in which the Canucks will be without Tortorella, who incurred a 15-day suspension from the NHL for charging the Calgary Flames’ dressing room after a line brawl opened Saturday night’s game at Rogers Arena.
The NHL handed down its decision late Monday.
“We have the guys who know what to do,” said defenceman Kevin Bieksa. “Guys will make adjustments. This isn’t as big a deal as you guys are making it out to be.”
Playing without their captain and leading scorer, however, might be a bigger deal.
Henrik last missed a game in March of 2004. His streak of 679 games is the sixth-longest in NHL history and, to put it in perspective, his twin brother Daniel is the only current member of the Canucks to see him miss a game.
“I think he was a healthy scratch,” Daniel deadpanned of the last game his brother missed.
Technically, Henrik had an abdominal strain but good one, Daniel.
“I’ve never walked down the hallway without having Hank directly in front of me,” Bieksa said. “Kes (Ryan Kesler) hasn’t. Burr (Alex Burrows) hasn’t. Danny’s the only one.
“He’s our captain and our leader. We’re going to have to get by without him for a while.”
The Oilers, meanwhile, are giving hometown kid Ben Scrivens his first start in Edmonton. Scrivens, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings a week ago, absorbed a 4-1 loss in Minnesota in his only start with the team.
“I’d like to go out and have a good one,” Scrivens said. “You try to push all that stuff out and prepare like it’s another game.”
“I know he’s excited to play,” said Eakins. “The best thing Ben said to me so far is ... ‘I want to come in there and earn my ice time and earn another contract.’ He knows where I come from on how you go about those things.”
There’s more Ed Willes from Edmonton at thewhitetowel.ca.
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