Here we go again
By Derek Jory
The Vancouver Canucks hit the ice for their season opener Thursday night hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins in the only meeting between teams this year.
The first game of the year is exciting normally, add in a true Stanley Cup contender and it makes for an extra special night at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks will have Chris Higgins in the line-up, he skated this morning after sitting out yesterday’s practice with tightness in his groin. Higgins is penciled in on Vancouver’s third line with Manny Malhotra and Jannik Hansen.
Roberto Luongo will start in net for the Canucks and although the Penguins are without superstar Sidney Crosby, Luongo knows he needs to watch for some Evgeni Malkin guy.
“He’s a world class player, that goes without saying,” said Luongo, who bucked tradition and spoke to the media on game day. “We’ve got to treat him just like any other superstar coming in this building, we’ve got to play him hard, we can’t give him time and space to make plays and obviously when they are in the offensive zone, we’ve always got to keep an eye on him and his whereabouts.”
The scouting report on the Penguins is that they’re fast, much faster than the leisurely waddling you’re used to seeing at the zoo.
Coach Alain Vigneault laughed when asked what his biggest concerns were about Pittsburgh’s line-up.
“I’ve got a few,” he smirked. “Tonight we’re playing against an opponent that we don’t see very often, we know that they’re one of the best teams in the NHL, they play high-tempo game, they’ve got a lot of speed and skill, so obviously since we don’t see them that often, we’re going to try and focus on the way we play and do the things that we do well, but it’s going to be a good game for us.”
Read more in today’s Tale of the Tape.
THIS AND THAT FROM THE GAME NOTES...
-This is the first time Vancouver has ever hosted Pittsburgh to start a season.
-The Canucks have played their season opener on one occasion versus the Penguins, at Pittsburgh, on October 6,1976, when they were defeated 9-5.
-Vancouver is 2-2-1 in its last five season openers, outscoring its opposition 14-11.
-Captain Henrik Sedin will play his 500th consecutive game tonight; his streak began on March 21, 2004 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
-Tonight will game 3,200 for the Canucks in franchise history.
-Piitsburgh is looking to win its road opener for the fourth straight season.
-Pens forward Tyler Kennedy has scored at least one goal in his last three season openers.
-Tonight Kris Letang will play his 300th career game.