CALGARY, AB -- With new coach John Tortorella behind the bench, the Vancouver Canucks have big expectations. Though the team finished third in the West a season ago, the Canucks were promptly bounced by the San Jose Sharks comes playoff time.
Vancouver will welcome back Roberto Luongo to full-time duty after splitting time with Corey Schneider in seasons past. With an Olympic roster spot on the line, the veteran Luongo is expected to be in top form and Ryan Kesler appears ready for action after some injury trouble. Much like they have in previous seasons, both Daniel and Henrik Sedin should be among the league’s best duos.
That pair has proved potent through Vancouver’s first two games, combining for a goal and six assists. Five of those points came at the expense of the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night as the Canucks trumped the provincial rival of the Calgary Flames 6-2 for their first win of the season and Tortorella's first as the Canucks' coach.
Last Season: 26-15-7, 59 points (3rd in West)
Notable Additions: F Benn Ferriero, F Brad Richardson, F Mike Santorelli, D Yannick Weber
Notable Subtractions: D Andrew Alberts, C Andrew Ebbett, C Maxim Lapierre, C Manny Malhotra, LW Mason Raymond, C Derek Roy, G Cory Schneider
Flames Season Series Record: 0-0-0
Starting the season with points in back-to-back games, Henrik has four assists in the two games the Canucks have played this season. He had a points rally against the Oilers Saturday night, recording three assists in the first 28 minutes of the game. The third overall pick in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft had 11 goals and 45 points in 48 games last season.
Luongo is trying to re-establish himself as one of the league’s best after splitting time with Corey Schneider last season. His .907 save percentage a year ago was Luongo’s worst since his rookie season with the Florida Panthers and his start to the 2013-14 season hasn’t been any better, allowing six goals on 58 shots in two starts.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Like his brother, Daniel has points in each of Vancouver’s first two games of the season. He scored his first of the year Saturday against the Oilers as part of a two-point night. In all, he has three points in two games this season after recording 12 goals and 40 points in 47 games last year.
He managed just 17 games a year ago, but Kesler comes into the 2013-14 season healthy. When he’s at 100 per cent, the Livonia, MI product is effective in all three zones on the ice. The former Selke Trophy winner is coming off a goal and a fight against the Oilers on Saturday.
Never a stranger to mix things up, Sestito had seven fights on his card in the shortened season a year ago. That includes squaring off against Calgary’s Brian McGrattan twice. The two could collide again Sunday, making Sestito a player to keep an eye on.