John Tortorella says his third and fourth lines must earn their ice time, something the Canucks coach stressed they most certainly did not do in Vancouver’s season-opening 4-1 loss in San Jose.
After a short 30-minute practice Friday at Rogers Arena, Tortorella made it clear he was not enamored with the play of his bottom-six forwards in Thursday night’s loss to the Sharks. He suggested both lines need to be much better when the Canucks play their home-opener Saturday night against the Edmonton Oilers.
“The fourth line has got to play better,” Tortorella said, later adding: “I’m not sure we had three lines going, either. (Actually) I am sure. We also need more out of our third line.”
Vancouver’s fourth line of Dale Weise, Zac Dalpe and Tom Sestito spent most of Thursday night stapled to the bench. Weise logged 4:40 of ice time, Sestito had 3:28 and Dalpe, in his Canuck debut, had a game-low 3:19.
Tortorella said there was a good reason for that: they simply didn’t play well enough.
“I want to use my whole bench, I go into every game wide open as far as who is going to play,” Tortorella said. “I am certainly going to be using my top players in certain situations, I know that. But if I’m forced to use four lines because of their play and they are making the decisions for me, I feel pretty good about that because guys are going.
“But when a fourth line takes a penalty, gives up two scoring chances and one’s a goal, it’s awful tough for me to put them on the ice. When they are not physical enough, it’s awfully tough for me to put them on the ice. They are not scoring 30 goals so they need to do the other things. I need to see that ,so they’ll get an opportunity again (Saturday) night and they’ll make the decision for me as the game goes on.”
Weise, who took a first-period penalty that stalled some the Canucks’ early momentum, knows he has to earn his ice time.
“I think everyone wants to play more and everyone thinks they can do more, but that’s what makes good hockey teams,” Weise said. “Guys have to accept their roles and do the best they can in that role. I am very comfortable playing that role whether it’s two to three minutes or 10 to 12 minutes.”
After picking apart his fourth line, Tortorella took aim at his third line of Mike Santorelli, David Booth and Brad Richardson. They each played between 12 and 14 minutes against the Sharks.
“I need our third line to give us some zone time offensively,” Tortorella said. “They had some good shifts, but again we just didn’t sustain enough and that’s what that line needs to do.”
The Canucks insisted Friday there were positives to be taken from their loss to the Sharks.
““Lots of positives,” said defenceman Kevin Bieksa. “Great start in a hostile building, I would say we had about 30 really good minutes where we controlled the pace.”
“The first 10 minutes was the best we have played in that building,” added Daniel Sedin. “Usually they come out flying, but we took it to them, I thought. We got up 1-0, made a few mistakes and they are such a good team when they get the momentum back it’s tough. They roll four lines and just come at you.”
Regaining that momentum, something the Canucks could not do against the Sharks, was a point Tortorella emphasized to his players Friday.
“The biggest problem we had . . .was when they take a little momentum away was us gathering ourselves to get it back our way,” Tortorella said. “It took us too long to do that. We had a great start, turned a couple (pucks) over and couldn’t get it back.”
Tortorella is also continuing to hammer home his shoot-from-anywhere mantra. The Canucks managed only 22 shots against the Sharks and had only five in the third period.
“I don’t think we did a good enough job, again consistently, with bad-angle shots,” Tortorella said. “I don’t think we need to look for that perfect shot. We have stressed a lot through camp here just a shooting mentality. I think our power play has bought into that, but we need to get that more consistently 5-on-5. A shot is always the best play. It may not be a goal from where you are shooting, but more often you’ll retrieve it and end up with some offensive zone time.”
Daniel Sedin, who not have a shot in Thursday’s opener, acknowledged he has to get more shots consistently on net.
“My goal is three or four shots a game, that’s where I need to be for our line to be successful,” he said.
Winger Alex Burrows, who was seen limping after Thursday night’s game, missed Friday’s practice. Tortorella said he was given a “body maintenance day.”
“We wanted to give him a day off,” Tortorella said. “He did get banged up a little bit, but I would think he is playing (Saturday). I just haven’t seen him or talked to the trainers today.”
With winger Zack Kassian serving a suspension, the Canucks have no extra forwards on their roster and may have to dress seven defencemen if Burrows can’t go.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun