Cam Tucker

VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 10: Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates after scoring a goal against the Calgary Flames as Sven Baertschi #47 looks on in NHL action on October, 10, 2015 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Canucks’ Horvat could reportedly be reunited with Baertschi and Virtanen

Willie Desjardins raised eyebrows in Vancouver when the Canucks coach started the season with Bo Horvat centering essentially a fourth line with Alex Burrows and Derek Dorsett.

It was an odd move, to say the least, because Horvat appeared to be developing chemistry with winger Sven Baertschi last season and it looked like that pairing could be counted on to provide some scoring for an offensively challenged team that relied — and will still rely — heavily on Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

But when the season began for the Canucks on Saturday, Horvat was on a fourth line, despite a much better  and more productive second half to last season, and Baertschi was on a line with Markus Granlund, who has 31 career NHL points.

From the Vancouver Sun earlier this week:

Although Burrows and Dorsett appear to be the Canucks’ fourth set of wingers, Desjardins insisted again that Horvat is not playing on the fourth line and will get additional minutes on special teams.

“We need to play four lines,” Desjardins explained. “Granlund’s a good offensive player. Maybe he can have chemistry with Baerstchi as well. So I want to have a look at that. Bo is the type of guy … whatever line he’s on he can create something.”

After a come-from-behind 2-1 shootout win over Calgary on Saturday, the Canucks host the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.

Those hoping to see Horvat put back on a line with Baertschi and second-year right winger Jake Virtanen, in an attempt to spark some secondary scoring, may get their wish.

Dan Murphy of Sportsnet reported on Twitter that it “sounds like” that trio will be put together versus the Hurricanes.

Video: Okposo scores 2:37 into his Sabres debut

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Kyle Okposo made an instant impact for the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.

Making his debut for the Sabres — after missing the season opener with a sore knee — Okposo scored 2:37 into the first period against the Edmonton Oilers thanks to a nice set-up in front from Sam Reinhart.

Okposo later added an assist on Ryan O'Reilly‘s first goal of the season at the 7:14 mark of the opening period.

The Sabres signed Okposo to a seven-year, $42 million deal on July 1.

Related:

Okposo on joining the Sabres: ‘There’s so much skill, and the future is bright’

Bednar enjoys first NHL win, but stresses Avalanche need to be better defensively

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Jared Bednar’s NHL coaching debut shared some similarities with that of Patrick Roy’s first game behind the Colorado Avalanche bench three years ago.

Bednar won his first game as bench boss of the Avalanche. So, too, did Roy. On both occasions, the Avalanche scored six goals and beat a Western Conference opponent.

But Roy also erupted at former Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, causing a confrontation between the benches — an incident that resulted in Roy, the former fiery Avalanche goalie, being fined $10,000.

Nothing like that for Bednar, who has worked his way up to the NHL from the coaching ranks in the ECHL and AHL. But it’s a positive start for Colorado, which underwent a sudden coaching change in August.

“I’ll tell you, that was a fun game,” said Bednar, as per NHL.com.

“It was an exciting game. I really liked it, I enjoyed being behind the bench. I thought our fans were amazing. I’m going to enjoy it, at least for tonight. It’s a good night, a successful night for our team. I don’t want to give up that many goals, but it was a fun game.”

Joe Colborne also had the hat trick in his first game as a member of the Avalanche.

But what the new coach won’t be happy with is letting the Stars back into the game — Dallas, with that high-flying offense, is certainly capable of sizable comebacks — after Colorado scored five straight goals to take a three-goal lead.

“I liked the way we played offensively. I thought we were skating and on our toes, creating chances. I think we have to get better defensively,” he said.

“We made some mistakes defensively up ice that gave them some numbers and gave them some scoring chances early in the game and also a little bit later.”

Rask says he’ll ‘definitely’ be ready to face Jets

DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 20:  Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins in goal against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on February 20, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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After missing Saturday’s game versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, it appears goalie Tuukka Rask will return to the Boston Bruins lineup Monday.

Rask was a “little sore,” said coach Claude Julien, so the Bruins instead turned to back-up Anton Khudobin in Toronto and were defeated. Khudobin allowed three goals in the first period, as the young Leafs got off to a perfect start on home ice and basically cruised from there.

The Bruins, now 1-1 to begin the season, will face the Jets to wrap up a three-game road trip. Rask told reporters on Sunday that he’s feeling good and he’ll “definitely” be ready to return.

Good news for Boston.

The Bruins should also have David Backes in the lineup. He was involved in a fight with Nazem Kadri in the first period Saturday.

Meanwhile, the biggest center piece for the Bruins, Patrice Bergeron, is skating on his own in Boston as he deals with a lower-body injury, according to Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe.

Goaltending will be key in turning Canucks’ objective of winning into a reality

Erik Karlsson Ryan Miller
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Ryan Miller didn’t allow a goal Saturday against the Calgary Flames.

He was on the bench when teammate Loui Eriksson inadvertently slid the puck into the Vancouver Canucks net while there was a delayed penalty against the Flames.

It was the only time Calgary scored in the game. The Canucks came back to win 2-1 in the shootout.

Despite the gaffe from his teammate, Miller stopped all 25 shots he faced. NHL.com didn’t have him credited for the shut out as of the writing of this piece, although Sportsnet Stats says STATS LLC was giving Miller the shut out because that one Calgary goal, eventually given to Troy Brouwer, was into an empty net.

The Canucks’ 36-year-old goalie was solid, as he turned away Johnny Gaudreau in regulation and again in the shootout. He stopped all four Calgary attempts.

Not many are predicting the Canucks to be very good this season. In fact, USA Today had them projected to finish with a lousy 65 points, last in the league. Ouch.

But if the Canucks are serious about being a winning team this year, they’re going to need big things from Miller and Jacob Markstrom.

There are just too many question marks throughout their lineup.

What kind of offensive production from the 36-year-old twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin is realistic?

Eriksson was brought in to help boost Vancouver’s scoring and its power play, and the twins had a dynamic third-period shift that led to the tying goal Saturday. But how will they fare over the course of 82 games at their age?

Where are the goals going to come from once you get beyond the top line, or up-and-coming forwards like Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi, who were better in the second half of last season?

The defense should be of particular concern, especially when you get to the bottom pairing of Luca Sbisa and Philip Larsen or the No. 7 and No. 8 guys Nikita Tryamkin and Alex Biega.

The Canucks will take this one. They were able to spark a come-from-behind win against a Calgary team playing its third game in four nights and still searching for its first victory.

But if scoring is an issue like it was last season, the play of their goalies will be pivotal in turning playoff talk into a reality.

Related:

‘Make no mistake,’ Ryan Miller is still the No. 1 goalie in Vancouver