Tomas Hertl's offensive upside
Tortorella has never coached in the Western Conference and was fired by the Rangers at the conclusion of the 2013 season. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Programming note: Canucks-Sharks coverage gets underway tonight at 6:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
SAN JOSE – The Sharks could be getting the Vancouver Canucks at the right time.
After tonight’s season opener, San Jose will visit Vancouver for its first road game, and fourth game overall, in one week on Oct. 10. The Canucks could still be adjusting to new head coach John Tortorella, while San Jose returns with the same philosophy and almost the same team as it had last year.
[RELATED: Sharks-Canucks: In the Crease]
Tortorella has never coached in the Western Conference, spending parts of seven seasons with Tampa Bay and another five with the Rangers, who fired him at the conclusion of the 2013 season. He held his first pregame media availability as the Canucks’ bench boss on Thursday morning at SAP Center.
His focus is on his team, rather than the opposition. In fact, Tortorella didn’t utter the word “Sharks” even once in the five minutes he spoke.
“I’m not interested in how you set up against this team. This is our first game. We had a good day yesterday in practice, and this is the next day,” Tortorella said.
“I just hope we’re aggressive. We just have a mindset that if we’re going to make mistakes, it’s going to be through the aggressive side. Not testing the waters, not being in between. We’ll chip out the mistakes as we go through, but I want those mistakes to be made by being over aggressive.”
Are the Canucks looking for revenge against the opponent that knocked them out of the playoffs so quickly last May?
“Haven’t even talked to them about it, and no one certainly has said anything to me,” Tortorella said. “I just think they want to play. It’s been a good camp, high volume of skating. Athletes want to compete for the real thing, and tonight’s our first one.”
Patrick Marleau, though, thinks the Canucks could get a little jolt by returning to the building in which their season ended so unceremoniously. Vancouver hasn’t beaten the Sharks since Jan. 21, 2012.
“I’m sure there’s going to be some trying to get even, and show that they can win here in this building,” Marleau said. “It’s going to be a fun game, and a good opening night.”
The Sharks and Canucks are now division opponents, of course, in the realigned Pacific Division. There is already a rivalry here, after they’ve faced each other in the postseason in two of the last three seasons.
That will likely get more intense now.
“The rivalry that is growing between the two teams grew a little bit [in the playoffs],” Todd McLellan said.