Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/24/13
The Canucks got the day off Wednesday giving the players a chance to explore the bright lights of New York City. Some of them however may have decided to skip the City That Never Sleeps and well just stay in bed and sleep. Who could blame them? If there’s one thing coach John Tortorella has proven in the first 11 games of the regular season is that he’s going to ride his top players. If Tortorella was ever going to give his fourth line some meaningful minutes it should have happened Tuesday night on Long Island. With David Booth scratched the Canucks dressed only 11 forwards and added a seventh defenceman in Andrew Alberts. And when Jannik Hansen went down with an injury in the first period you figured that Tortorella would have to spread out the ice time among his forwards. Wrong. He just shortened his bench and rode his top forwards even harder. Ryan Kesler played a season-high 28:04 and the Sedin twins each logged more than 22 minutes. Chris Higgins and Mike Santorelli each played more than 23 minutes. Fourth-liner Tom Sestito meanwhile played a season-low 2:30 and Alberts played one 37-second shift early in the first period during which the Islanders scored their first goal and was not seen again. “We were playing with a short bench for a lot of the game there and guys were a little tired but we grinded it out” Higgins said after Tuesday night’s 5-4 overtime win. Tortorella was asked before that game whether he felt like he had to find a way to give his fourth line more minutes so as not to risk wearing out his top forwards. He dismissed that concern. “You know what I don’t even look that far I am trying to win tonight’s game” he said. “You guys have that formula that they have to have certain amount of minutes here and you don’t want to get them too tired. I don’t believe in it. I believe in trying to win the next game. So we’ll see where we go with it.” As of Wednesday the Canucks had three forwards in the top 10 in the NHL in average ice time per game: Kesler stood fourth averaging 22:08 per game; Henrik was sixth at 21:51; and Daniel was 10th at 21:41. Tortorella is spreading the ice time a little more evenly with his defencemen. Alex Edler at 17th with 24:54 of ice time a night is the only Canuck in the top 20. A REAL PLUS: Defenceman Kevin Bieksa who Tortorella called both a “warrior” and “gunslinger” after Tuesday night’s win on Long Island was tied for the league lead in plus/minus at plus-10 heading into Wednesday night’s action. Teammate Jason Garrison was tied for second among NHL defenceman with nine points in 11 games.
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