Canucks Report: Torres takes on Sharks; Hamhuis helps out
Goaltender Roberto Luongo, who has not skated since he tweaked his groin during Friday’s game against the Ducks, was spotted skating with the team during practice in San Jose. No word yet on whether he will play in tomorrow’s final preseason game against Anaheim.
TORRES TAKES ON SHARKS
By Elizabeth Moffat, Canucks.com
In last night’s 6-2 preseason loss to the San Jose Sharks, there was one optimistically bright spot in the form of Raffi Torres. The left winger doubled his preseason point total by scoring the Canucks only goals of the game.
Torres signed a one-year contract with the Canucks over the summer, after splitting the year between the Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets. At the time of the trade, he was the Blue Jacket’s sixth highest scorer, and led the team with nine game winning goals over two seasons. He was also among league leaders in shooting percentages with 19.2%.
Torres played right wing last night, and was assisted on both goals by fellow newcomer Dan Hamhuis, who recorded his first point of the preseason.
"I feel all right, but I still feel like I can get better," Torres said after the game. "I was playing the right side tonight which is a little different for me when I come back into my zone."
Despite playing five full seasons in the NHL, Torres will still have to fight to earn a solidified role on the Canucks crowded roster. With Alex Burrows out for at least another month, there are still spots to fill, Torres’ scoring outburst Wednesday might push him into an unexpected position on the team.
"There's some possibilities, whether it be on the first two lines or the third or fourth line," Vigneault said before Wednesday’s game. "There are some opportunities there. Nobody has really caught our attention as far as saying, 'I want this and my play will show it.'"
After Wednesday’s game, Torres becomes the team’s top point scorer of the preseason, he might be the man Vigneault has been waiting to step up.
HAMHUIS HELPS OUT
Dan Hamhuis recorded his first points of the preseason, assisting on both Torres goals and added two hits in a team high 22:00 minutes of ice time.
Hamhuis was a big free agent acquisition for the Canucks on July 1 when he signed to a six-year contract. The stability was a big factor in choosing Vancouver for Hamhuis, who previously spent six years with the Predators.
Last year, Hamhuis had 24 points (5-19-24) and has 161 points (32-129-161) in 483 NHL games over six seasons. He racked up 148 hits last season, more than any Canuck blueliner - 36 more than the highest hitting Canuck, Shane O’Brien, who finished the 2009-10 season with 112.
Hamhuis’ real strength however, is his smarts. He watches the play, and makes good decisions on where to put himself and when. He acknowledges that he’s not a risk taker, but he doesn’t need to be.
This thoughtful style of play keeps the Smithers native healthy, he missed only seven games in five seasons with the Predators, providing longevity much needed by a defensive line who ran out of stream and was plagued by injuries in last years playoffs.
"It makes the game easier," said Hamhuis. "You're not running around and if you're playing well positionally, you let the game come to you. You don't get as tired and you can play the game a little smarter.”
Author: Elizabeth Moffat