It's been 273 days since the Vancouver Canucks (0-0-0) last stepped onto the ice at Rogers Arena for a meaningful contest but the longest off-season in recent memory will finally come to an end tonight when they open the 2012.13 season by welcoming the Anaheim Ducks (0-0-0) to town.
- The Canucks begin their season with their roster largely intact from last season (outside of injured players) with the notable exceptions of D Aaron Rome (signed with Dallas), D Sami Salo (signed with Tampa Bay) and F Samuel Pahlsson (signed with MoDo in SEL).
- Notable additions for Vancouver include three free agent defensemen signings in Jason Garrison, Cam Barker and Jim Vandermeer.
- The Canucks and Ducks split the 2011-12 season series with each team winning twice. The Ducks earned a bonus point from a shootout loss in their last head-to-head meeting.
- The last netminder not named Roberto Luongo to start a season opener for the Canucks was Dan Cloutier on October 5, 2005. He made 30 saves on 32 shots and was named second star in a 3-2 Vancouver win over Phoenix.
- Vancouver is winless in their last three season openers (0-1-2). They are also winless in their last three home openers (0-1-2).
- Anaheim has lost their last five season openers (0-5-0) and is winless in their last five road openers (0-4-1).
- Ex-Duck Max Lapierre had a big night the last time Vancouver met Anaheim back on April 3, 2012. He scored once in regulation and added a shootout marker as the Canucks knocked off the Ducks 5-4. Alex Burrows also had two goals that game.
- The Canucks were 6-4-1 in the first game of back-to-backs last season. They host the Oilers tomorrow night at Rogers Arena.
- Andrew Ebbett and Zack Kassian combined for 14 goals and 41 points in the AHL this season with the Chicago Wolves. They will likely make up two-thirds of Vancouver's second line and skate alongside scrimmage superstar Mason Raymond (natural hat trick on Thursday) in the absence of Kesler and Booth.
- Not to say the Canucks won't miss Ryan Kesler or David Booth, but it's worth noting they went 2-2-1 in games without Kesler last season and 12-4-2 in games without Booth (after he was acquired from Florida).
- Don't expect the Ducks to load up their big-three of Perry, Getzlaf and Ryan all on one unit. 21-year-old Kyle Palmieri might get that coveted spot beside Perry and Getzlaf.
- Anaheim's Bobby Ryan led all scorers in last year's season series with seven points (2-5-7). He'll likely skate on Anaheim's second line tonight alongside Teemu Selanne and Nick Bonino.
- Vancouver's leading scorers against Anaheim last year were Alex Burrows (2-3-5) and Henrik Sedin (1-4-5).
- Garrison's former Panther teammate and ex-Canuck D Bryan Allen, along with ex-Star D Sheldon Souray, are among the Ducks' newcomers this season. Also new are F Daniel Winnik, F Brad Staubitz, and D Jordan Hendry.
- Back in the 1994-95 lockout shortened season, the Canucks faced the Mighty Ducks five times and dominated the season series winning four times and playing to one tie.
- BC hockey fans will notice a familiar face behind the Ducks' bench in retired NHLer Scott Niedermayer. The four-time Stanley Cup winner, who grew up in Cranbrook and played junior hockey with the Kamloops Blazers, was named an assistant coach eight days ago.
FOLLOW THE GAME
Tonight's game faces off at 7 pm PT and can be seen coast-to-coast in Canada on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. Listen live on The TEAM 1040 Sports Radio or online at teamradio.ca.
Those away from a TV or radio can follow @CanucksGame on Twitter for live in-game play-by-play.