Bo Horvat walked down the Canucks tunnel Tuesday morning and chuckled as he stepped out onto the bench.
"I didn't expect to become a veteran so quickly," he laughed. "I'm with Virt and Baer tonight - and we're the vets!"
Horvat will indeed play alongside Sven Baertschi and Jake Virtanen when the Canucks open the pre-season Tuesday night in San Jose; the trio combines for 343 NHL games played. With the likes of Tuomo Ruutu (735 games) and James Sheppard (394 games) also in the line-up, Horvat and company won't truly be the team's more experienced players, but they'll be looked upon as such.
"That's our go-to line," stressed coach Willie Desjardins. "Practice is one thing and games are another. Pre-season is different than the regular season, but it's a good first step to see just what we have coming out of camp."
Horvat, Baertschi and Virtanen saw duty together last season and there was evident chemistry there, albeit inconsistently. All three said they've worked hard to prove they can be a line and are hoping to take the first step towards securing that against the Sharks.
"We've all worked hard this summer and we've been together through the majority of camp and hopefully we can bring our chemistry to our game tonight," said Horvat. "We have three great players on this line and obviously Jake and Sven have a lot of skill and a lot of speed and we've clicked well before. There will be a lot of switching and combinations going on, but hopefully we can stick together for a long time."
Baertschi, sporting a black eye and three stitches on his nose from an on-ice run-in with Erik Gudbranson in Whistler, said this year's Canucks training camp was the most intense of his career and he's hoping tonight's team carries that intensity over.
"The guys battled really hard in Whistler. It makes the transition easier because we had a lot of game-like situations out there in camp with everybody going as hard as they can. That prepared us for pre-season."
Here's tonight's full Canucks roster:
Although tonight's game is not being broadcast on TV, you can listen to it live on TSN 1040: player.tsn1040.ca/