Something Mike Gillis has got with his new coach is bold moves. Well, that and the most successful road trip in team history. On it, John Tortorella allowed Kevin Bieksa to do just about anything his heart desired, scratched David Booth and lined Ryan Kesler with the Sedins. All of it worked on a 5-1-1 milk run through the East. A record that near perfect is impressive regardless of the quality of opposition, which, to be honest, wasn’t the NHL’s cream. So, it hasn’t vaulted the Canucks back to nibbling grapes, lounging on their former glory perch of Stanley Cup contenders quite yet. The next road trip, to Phoenix, L.A., San Jose and Anaheim, will be far more revealing. But it has managed to give an old, stagnant core a ‘new-car’ smell, and that is achievement. The Canucks needed a good start to get Tortified, and buy into the cult of Tortorella. Consider it done. “Most of all, it’s in the way we play,” Henrik Sedin said when asked if this team has come together in three weeks. “We have every player playing in every situation, including offensive zone faceoffs, defensive zone faceoffs. “It gives you more of a team feeling where everyone does a bit of everything. You get that from four lines and six Ds and, well, we showed a lot of good things this trip.” The improbable win in St. Louis Friday was Tortorella’s best team-building exercise yet, given the number of injuries and road games played. Win a game like the Canucks did, 3-2 in overtime with Eddie Lack starting along with two call-ups from Utica, and a new coach will have his players lapping up every course he can slop down on their plates. And Tortorella has been serving them plenty of new dishes. The main focus for change right now is Kesler. He is playing the wing and hasn’t publicly bristled. That’s progress. He may want to settle in and get used to it too, depending on how seriously he took Tortorella’s post-game sermon. In it, Tortorella declared Mr. Selke a better winger than centre, which is the most controversial item to pass by his lips this season.
On the wing, Ryan Kesler is a slayer
Vancouver Province | Oct 27