VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Vancouver Canucks open the season against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night with almost all of the players who helped them win a second-straight Presidents' Trophy last season.
Unfortunately for the Canucks, not all are healthy.
Offseason surgeries to his left wrist and shoulder have left Ryan Kesler uncertain about a return date, and a groin injury suffered during fitness testing Sunday has David Booth out 4-6 weeks, leaving the Canucks without two-thirds of their second line for at least the first month of the shortened season.
Instead they will start the season with journeyman Andrew Ebbett and sophomore Zack Kassian trying to fill those roles, while the rest of a mostly intact lineup tries to make up for any slack.
It helps to have Henrik and Daniel Sedin on the top line, which will remain together with Alexandre Burrows to start because coach Alain Vigneault doesn’t want to mess with past chemistry.
"The fact we had no exhibition games, I believe at the beginning you have to stick with what you know has worked in the past," Vigneault said when asked if he thought about moving Burrows to spread the offense around. "And depending on how that functions, you make adjustments you have to make."
Which could leave the Canucks relying heavily on that top line.
No problem, said captain Henrik Sedin.
"We get those minutes on the power play and in the offensive zone where we have to score goals if our team is going to win," Henrik said. "That’s not any different than any other years here."
Here’s the rest of the lineup for Vancouver’s opener, including free agent addition Jason Garrison taking the place of Sami Salo -- the only significant change from last season -- alongside Alexander Edler, who signed a contract extension Friday:
Alexandre Burrows – Henrik Sedin – Daniel Sedin
Mason Raymond – Andrew Ebbett – Zack Kassian
Chris Higgins – Maxim Lapierre – Jannik Hansen
Aaron Volpatti – Manny Malhotra – Dale Weise
Dan Hamhuis – Kevin Bieksa
Jason Garrison – Alexander Edler
Keith Ballard – Chris Tanev
Cory Schneider starts his first season opener, picking up where he left off in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season as the Canucks' new No.1. That leaves Roberto Luongo, a Vezina Trophy finalist two seasons ago, as the backup while he awaits a trade, though Vigneault has hinted Luongo will play Sunday against Edmonton.