VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Most of the faces have changed but it will still be tough to get a ticket when the Boston Bruins (4-2-1) visit the Vancouver Canucks (4-3-0) on Saturday night.
Wounds over Vancouver's loss to the Bruins in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals have lingered in recent days on the city's airwaves and elsewhere, so the contest is expected to be a sellout. Never mind that most players from the 2010-11 versions of the Bruins and Canucks -- along with their coaches -- are long gone.
Canucks coach Travis Green wants his young charges to prove that they can be a difficult team to beat, and the Bruins will provide plenty of motivation.
"I want our team to be hard to play against, I do. Winning teams are hard to play against and by hard to play against, that means many things," Green told reporters recently. "That means playing fast. That means making good puck decisions, winning puck battles. For me, hard to play against is a burning desire to win that comes from your group and I want our group to stick up for each other and stick together. And that's what winning cultures have, and I want that in our group."
The rebuilding Canucks demonstrated an ability to compete by beating Carolina, Tampa Bay, Florida and Pittsburgh during a recent six-game road trip on which they won four and lost two.
"We learned a lot about ourselves," center Brandon Sutter told reporters. "When we're doing the right things, we can play with anyone. We kind of showed that."
Green earned praise for telling his troops not to seek retribution after Florida defenseman Mike Matheson sidelined star rookie Elias Pettersson with a concussion that will keep him out Saturday. Matheson earned a two-game suspension for his actions.
But the Canucks' tempers will be tested as Bruins forward Brad Marchand pays a visit. Marchand, known for questionable antics, has been persona non grata in Vancouver for his actions in the 2011 championship series, and fans are likely to show their displeasure with him from the get-go. Time will tell whether the fans' emotions rub off on the players.
Meanwhile, the Bruins will attempt to get back on the winning track after suffering two straight losses, the latest being a 3-2 overtime setback in Edmonton on Thursday. Boston's defense could be revised Saturday after veteran rearguard Kevan Miller suffered an undisclosed upper-body injury against the Oilers.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy faces a decision on Miller's possible replacement. Regardless of who is selected, Miller's absence could result in more ice time for captain Zdeno Chara, 41, who played his 900th game for the Bruins against the Oilers.
"It's a huge honor -- it's a privilege," Chara said of his long tenure with Boston. "I've been really proud of being part of this organization and very thankful to have owners like we have, and they make it very convenient for me and my family to stay in this organization in Boston for as long as we have."
Chara is one of the few Bruin holdovers from the 2011 finals. Selected by the Islanders in the third round (56th overall) of the 1996 NHL entry draft, he played for the Islanders and Ottawa before signing as a free agent with the Bruins in 2005.
"You appreciate what he does more and more every time you see him, especially at his age," Cassidy told reporters.