Back in June, when John Tortorella was introduced as the new head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, much was made of his pronouncement that the Sedin twins would be expected to block shots under his watch — something they didn’t do much of under the last bench boss, Alain Vigneault.
What if the twins got hurt, people asked? Is it really worth it to put your best players at risk like that?
Well, Tortorella had an answer for those questions in a Q&A with NHL.com.
“They’re going to be killing penalties and I hope they do [block shots] because I know both Danny and Hank want more,” Tortorella said. “In my conversations with them this summer they want more. I’ve told the team I’m going to ask more out of everybody on this club and they’ve embraced that. For them to get more they’re going to be put in more situations, not just offensively but away from the puck and killing penalties, and they can be very dangerous people killing penalties. So if they’re going to kill penalties they’re going to end up blocking some shots. As they see that I think they’re going to feel better about themselves that they’re becoming complete players because that’s the way they think.
“The next question that I’m sure is going to be asked is what if they get hurt. So be it. You need to play the game the right way. You get injuries in a lot of different ways. You need to play the game the right way and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
The Sedins have been remarkably durable during their careers. In fact, Henrik Sedin is behind only Jay Bouwmeester on the NHL’s active ironman streak. (Daniel has been a bit less lucky when it comes to injuries, but overall he’s stayed pretty healthy.)
While it’s unlikely the twins are going to turn into Vancouver’s version of Ryan Callahan and Brian Boyle under Torts, it’s clear the new coach is trying to change the culture of a Canucks team he feels was too easy to play against before he arrived.
Related: Tortorella calls shot-blocking critics ‘idiots’
Brent Burns, Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson have been named finalists for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, but the debate about who should win is likely to persist right through to June 22 and the annual NHL Awards.
Not only did Karlsson, last year’s Norris winner, lead all blue liners is points with 82, he led the league in assists with 66 and finished tied with Joe Thornton for fourth in the entire NHL in total points. Those lofty offensive totals could make the Ottawa Senators star the clear favorite to claim the award for a third time in his career.
Karlsson is the first NHL defenseman to score at least 82 in a season since Brian Leetch of the New York Rangers (85 points) and Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins (82 points) in 1995-96.
Burns — is there an award for most outrageous beard? — is also coming off an impressive regular season, finishing just shy of the 30-goal mark with 27 and 75 points in 82 games for the Sharks. He’s also had a strong showing in the post-season, as well, with eight points in the opening round versus L.A.
Doughty’s offensive numbers don’t match up with the production from Karlsson or Burns, with 51 points in 82 games for the Kings. There were eight defensemen ahead of him in overall point production. But he’s often recognized for logging hefty amounts of ice time, averaging 28:01 in the regular season, on a Kings team that often dominates puck possession at even strength.
“If you’re going to win, I don’t care how good you are, you’re going to have to play the other side of the puck,” Kings GM Dean Lombardi recently said to the Associated Press.
“You’re going to have to make those little plays that aren’t going to show up on the highlights. (Doughty’s) defensive partners — the little things he’ll do just to get his partner time to make a play. He’s three steps ahead of everything, and because he is that, he makes it look easy.”
They were the top teams in the Western Conference during the regular season, with 109 and 107 points, respectively. And now, the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues clash with a second-round series in the playoffs. You can catch Game 1 between these Central Division foes on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
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Some links to check out for tonight’s game:
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Nine days after getting prized prospect goalie Thatcher Demko under contract, the Vancouver Canucks have inked another college puck stopper.
The Canucks have signed college free agent goalie Michael Garteig to a one-year entry-level contract, the team announced Friday. Garteig recently completed his senior year with Quinnipiac University, which won the ECAC championship but lost the NCAA championship game to North Dakota earlier this month.
Garteig, 24, posted a 32-4-7 record with a .924 save percentage and a career best eight shutouts this season. He was also once again nominated for the 2016 Mike Richter Award.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Sabres have re-signed forward Johan Larsson to a one-year contract.
Larsson was eligible to become a restricted free agent once his contract expired this summer. The Swedish-born player is coming off a season in which he set career bests with 10 goals, 17 points and 74 games. He also finished tied with rookie center Jack Eichel in scoring five game-winning goals.
Overall, he has 16 goals and 21 assists in 142 games for the Sabres.
Buffalo acquired Larsson in a trade that sent former Sabres captain Jason Pominville to Minnesota in April 2013. The Wild selected Larsson in the second round of the 2010 draft.
Contractual details, per the Buffalo News: