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At the Rink blog

Canucks hoping to find identity during road trip

Tuesday, 10.15.2013 / 2:13 PM

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer / 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

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2013-2014 At the Rink Blog
Canucks hoping to find identity during road trip

PHILADELPHIA -- Since he got the job in June, Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella has been talking about establishing an identity, about making the team tougher to play against.

Through six games it has shown up in spurts, Henrik Sedin told NHL.com, but Tortorella and the Canucks' captain think the team really can hone in on establishing that identity and staying consistent with it on its seven-game road trip, which begins Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.

"Yeah, I think it's an important couple of weeks for me to understand them because you are with one another, doing things together as a team, both on and off the ice in this length of a trip," Tortorella said. "It's for both ways, me to understand them and them to understand me, and really to confine yourselves with one another to build this. I think it's a good time."

After facing the Flyers on Tuesday, the Canucks' road trip includes games at the Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and St. Louis Blues. All told it's a 13-night trip because the team got to Philadelphia early so it could practice at the University of Pennsylvania on Monday.

The trip starts with the Canucks riding a two-game losing streak. They lost back-to-back 4-1 games to the San Jose Sharks and Montreal Canadiens before departing for Philadelphia.

"So far we've had one or two games where we've showed [the identity Tortorella is trying to create] for a lot of the game, but the other games it has shown up for 20 or 25 minutes and it hasn't been good enough to win games," Sedin said. "You can tell when we play that way we are a tougher team to play against."

Tortorella, though, knows the Canucks are going to have to get some secondary scoring if they're going to make this a successful road trip as far as the standings go.

Vancouver's top line of Henrik and Daniel Sedin with Mike Santorelli has produced seven goals and 18 points with a plus-3 rating this season. The other nine forwards expected to be in the lineup Tuesday, including Jordan Schroeder, who will be making his season debut, has a total of six goals, nine points and a minus-13 rating.

Worse yet, the Canucks' power play is 2-for-19, tied for 25th in the NHL.

"I look at a guy like [Chris] Higgins, who has had some really good chances, has forechecked very well and has been around the puck and has done a lot of good things, [but] hasn't finished," Tortorella said. "Our [media] guys are riding the [heck] out of Kes [Ryan Kesler] already here, but he has developed some scoring chances, he has been involved with [Higgins] in developing some, but rightfully so, he needs to score too.

"You know how I feel about it. When you're not scoring don't think about scoring, do the other things and then the scoring will come. I believe our guys are concentrating on that, but we certainly need someone to kick in because a lot of the load has fallen on the twins and Mike Santorelli."

Schroeder will get his first chance to deliver some production for the Canucks on Tuesday. He's been out of the lineup since breaking his foot blocking a shot in the preseason, but Tortorella said Schroeder is ready to go and will play against the Flyers.

Tortorella did not say who would be coming out of the lineup for Schroeder, but the likely candidate is Zac Dalpe, who has been centering Vancouver's fourth line.

"I just walked in, saw my number on the board in the lineup," Schroeder said of how he learned he would be playing Tuesday. "I prepared [Monday] like I was going to play and it's a good thing I did that."

Here is Vancouver's projected lineup for the game Tuesday:

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Mike Santorelli

Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Jannik Hansen

David Booth - Brad Richardson - Zack Kassian

Tom Sestito - Jordan Schroeder - Dale Weise

Kevin Bieksa - Jason Garrison

Dan Hamhuis - Christopher Tanev

Ryan Stanton - Yannick Weber

Roberto Luongo

Eddie Lack

Scratched: Zac Dalpe, Andrew Alberts

Suspended: Alexander Edler

Injured: Alexandre Burrows (foot)

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Quote of the Day

They said, 'You're going to love the city. It's smaller than Philadelphia, but you're going to love it. You're going to love the fans. Just watching the playoffs last year, the fans seemed louder there than they did anywhere. I'm really excited about that.

— Forward Scott Hartnell on his upcoming season with the Columbus Blue Jackets