(SportsNetwork.com) – John Tortorella failed to lead the Vancouver Canucks to
the playoffs in 2013-14, one big reason why his tenure as the club’s head
coach lasted only one season.
Tortorella also failed to beat former Canucks and current New York Rangers
head coach Alain Vigneault in two meetings a season ago. New Vancouver bench
boss Willie Desjardins hopes for better luck on Saturday night when his club
plays host to the Rangers.
Vigneault led the Canucks to 30-or-more wins in six straight seasons before
the lockout-shortened campaign ended that streak in 2013. He also got
Vancouver to within one win of the franchise’s first Stanley Cup title in the
spring of 2011, only to lose a home Game 7 to the Bruins.
Vancouver still made the playoffs under Vigneault in 2013, but was swept out
of the first round and the early exit cost the coach his job.
The Canucks opted to replace him with Tortorella after he had been let go by
the Rangers, but Vancouver missed the playoffs and Tortorella’s style seemed
to clash with many on the Canucks roster.
Vigneault, meanwhile, saw his Rangers beat the Canucks twice last regular
season, extending their series winning streak to four straight, and New York
reached the Stanley Cup Finals, where it lost in five games to the Los Angeles
While New York sits fourth in the Metropolitan Division, three points behind
third-place Washington, Vancouver is behind only Anaheim in the Pacific
Division and is clicking under Desjardins, who was hired to replace Tortorella
on June 23.
Desjardins will look for his club to pick up the pace in the start of a four-
game homestand as the Canucks return to Vancouver following a 3-3-1 road trip.
They lost the final three games of the trek, including Tuesday’s 3-1 decision
Ryan Miller stopped 22 shots in the loss and Derek Dorsett’s second-period
short-handed goal was the lone offense for the Canucks. It was the club’s
fourth short-handed tally of the season.
“It’s not an excuse. You have to play at another level when you’re on a long
road trip as we are,” Miller said. “We were definitely playing like we’re at
the end, but we competed hard. I’m just sorry we couldn’t stretch it into
overtime, but that’s the way it goes.”
The Rangers come in rested as well, having been out of action since a 4-3
victory at home over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday.
It was an eventful game for Blueshirts defenseman Kevin Klein, who netted the
winning goal with 1:15 to go in overtime, putting him a shot from the high
slot and through a screen.
“I just tried to shoot it far side and it managed to go in. I’m happy for that
one,” said Klein, who has three game-winning goals among his career-high six
tallies this season.
Earlier in the game, Klein suffered a cut to his left ear on a high stick from
Penguins forward Zach Sill and had to get 13 stitches to re-attach the upper
part of his ear.
J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes and Rick Nash all scored for the Rangers, who snapped
a two-game slide ahead of tonight’s opener of a four-game road trip. Henrik
Lundqvist stopped 32 shots in the win.
Forward Chris Kreider did not play on Monday due to a neck injury.