VANCOUVER - The San Jose Sharks are looking very formidable in the young NHL season with three wins in three games. They have out-scored their opponents 17-4 and outshot them by a whopping 133-65 margin.
Prior to 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 comes Thursday night when they pay a visit to Rogers Arena.
The Sharks have also beaten the Canucks eight straight times in games that matter, 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.”
Okay, so maybe it's not a measuring stick for the coach. But for the Canuck players who were here last season and have lost the eight straight to San Jose, are they not overdue?
“I don't think so,” replied 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.”
Okay, 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 old 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 NOT BUYING: Despite being on the 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.”
QUOTABLE: “The fourth line is a concern but part of that is my responsibility in showing them some confidence and getting them some minutes. I just haven't felt comfortable with them yet.” – Tortorella on barely using fourth-liners Tom Sestito (3:21), Zac Daple (2:30) and converted defenceman Yannick Weber (2:23) against the Devils.
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