The Vancouver Canucks begin a new season Thursday night feeling like they've got something to prove not only to their demanding new head coach but to those who don’t believe they are an elite team anymore.

Suddenly there is no shortage of skeptics when it comes to the Canucks.

In case you hadn’t noticed the Canucks are no longer a fashionable pick to win their division and they don’t seem to be in the conversation when the so-called experts list their Stanley Cup favourites.

Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin said he gets that.

“I think if you lose out in the first round of the playoffs you alway have something to prove and it’s no different for us” Sedin said after Wednesday’s practice at UBC and before the Canucks chartered to San Jose for Thursday night’s season-opener against the Sharks.

Their new season is beginning where their last one crashed and burned in a four-game first-round sweep at the hands of the Sharks. It was Vancouver’s second straight first-round playoff exit and it ultimately cost former coach Alain Vigneault his job.

It is up to new coach John Tortorella to pick up the pieces and re-tool a team that in terms of personnel really hasn’t changed much.

“I’m anxious a good anxious” Tortorella said Wednesday. “You want to get going. I want to see what the team looks like I want to see how they react in different situations. We’ll makes mistakes San Jose will also. But now we’re playing for the real stuff here. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Henrik Sedin believes his teammates are motivated by the fact their stock seems to have fallen around the league. Asked how the team re-earns that elite status that appears to be slipping away he said: “I think we have worked on it every day. It’s just about being harder to play against. That’s what we had a few years back and I think we lost a bit of that.

“We lost that identity of just being a tough team grinding things out and I think that came because the expectations were always on us. It didn’t matter what we did in the regular season. Playoffs mattered and once we got to the playoffs we didn’t have that mindset where everyone knew the way to play.”

The playoffs are way off in the distance right now and Tortorella has spent the entire training camp trying to make the Canucks a tougher team to play against.

That new coach and new system make opening night even more intriguing for the players.

“I think every player is excited to get going and show what we can do” Daniel Sedin said Wednesday.

He feels like the Canucks are well-prepared and have responded positively to what he described as an intense camp.

“AV (Vigneault) did a good job there’s no question about that” Daniel said. “But I think the pace in practice so far has been something that maybe we haven’t had before in training camp the intensity. Maybe it helps with a new coaching staff too and a new system. Everyone is ready for every practice and really focused so I think practices have been really good. Short but intense. You get confidence from that knowing we have done everything in practice to put ourselves in the best position.”