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Canucks Learning on the fly Under Coach Tortorella [Article]


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VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks spent the pre-season learning new head coach John Tortorella's system.

Now that the games count in the standings, they're taking part in some on-the-job training.

Tortorella has implemented a more aggressive, puck-pressure style with Vancouver and he watched the Canucks succeed at it for stretches in Thursday's season-opening 4-1 loss to the Sharks in San Jose.

"Our goal as coaches is that you want (the system) to be instinctive eventually. That will take some time," Tortorella said after Friday's brief practice at Rogers Arena. "(Against San Jose) I think we had some good minutes of how we wanted to play. So I think (the players) know how to play.

"It's just a matter of doing it consistently."

Canucks centre Ryan Kesler said the team needs to get a grasp on the system quickly, beginning with Saturday's home opener against the Edmonton Oilers, if it's going to compete in the realigned and more competitive Pacific Division.

"We have to learn fast. We've got to get these points. These points are going to be important for us and the end of the year," Kesler said. "I thought we did a good job for a large part of the (San Jose) game."

He added it's not simply understanding the system, but believing in it.

"I think we've got to trust each other, that's the big thing. We've got to trust each other that we're going to work hard," Kesler said. "We can only be aggressive if that happens.

"As a group we have (the system) locked down, it's just a game of mistakes. Sometimes you make the wrong read and it's an outnumbered rush. Things like that are going to happen."

Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa said no one in the locker-room expected the change to Tortorella's style from that of former coach Alain Vigneault to be seamless.

"You can't think that it's going to be perfected in the first game of the season. It'll take some time but we showed some good strides there," Bieksa said. "We're happy with how we played at times (against San Jose). Other times we'd like to maybe play a little different."

Bieksa said there's going to be instances early in the season where the system breaks down, especially at the end of shifts or when players are hurt.

"When you're not thinking clearly you kind of revert back to old habits," he said. "I think that's going to take a little bit of time to set in where it's just second nature, but right now I think everybody has a good grasp of how (Tortorella) wants us to play."

Among the positives from the San Jose loss was goaltender Roberto Luongo, who is back as the undisputed No. 1 after Cory Schneider's off-season trade to the New Jersey Devils.

Luongo finished with 31 saves on the night, including a stellar first period that saw him stop all 16 shots he faced.

The penalty killing unit also had a good night, holding the Sharks' power play scoreless on eight chances.

"I think we did a lot of good things," Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. "I think we showed that if we play the right way for 60 minutes we're a tough team."

The Canucks know the young Oilers will be hungry on Saturday after a 5-4 loss to the Winnipeg Jets in their opener Tuesday.

"It's team that we've obviously developed a little bit of a rivalry with. They usually play us very tough at the beginning of the season," Bieksa said. "We know they'll be fast, they'll be skilled and we'll be looking to play in their face."

Note: Canucks right-winger Alexandre Burrows missed practice with an undisclosed injury suffered against the Sharks. Tortorella said the forward is "banged up" but added he expects him to play against Edmonton.


Things take time people.

Stop overreacting stop making endless posts about scoring secondary scoring 3rd line this 4th line that. How many season openers have we won in the last 5 years, what is our record again?

Calm down enjoy the 82 game ride that is this marathon of a season.

Remember, it's a process

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I'm not worried about the Nucks, I'm more worried that Colorado looks way better, St. Louis looks way better, Edmonton looks way better & San Jose, LA and Chicago look just as good as last year. Doesn't leave much room to be complacent, hopefully Torts' system catches on quickly & hopefully it's effective in the western conference.

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Thanks for linking the article. I had not seen it yet and thought it was important to pass on to some `fair`weather fans who needed to be reminded that you stand by your team win or loss, and that you would have to accept some hiccups when they are changing the way they play the game.

As for the opening game itself Perhaps instead of focusing on the negatives we should look at the positives from last nights game. Yes Vancouver lost but the penality kill was very good and I for one actually like that the Sedins were part of the kill. I think its about time they became more rounded players...

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Im not going to hit the panic button just yet, but this team has 15 games this month and a hellashish 7 game road trip against some pretty stiff opposition.

At the end of October we should have a pretty good idea about this years edition of the Canucks, good or bad.

But I will agree that we need some secondary scoring badly,, I just dont know where that is going to come from with this lineup. Hell, I will go as far to say we just need some scoring period.

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Canucks have never acquired a legitimate 2nd line scoring winger to play alongside Kesler. We have always been acquiring reclamation projects and all we could do is be hopeful he will turn into a good and solid 2nd liner. Higgins has been good but he doesn't provide the secondary scoring that we are really in need of. I really hope before this seasons trade deadline, we can add a legit top 6 scoring winger who can play with Kes.

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