The Vancouver Canucks’ first preseason game in Rogers Arena didn’t start out so hot. The team was outshot 27 to 16 in the first two periods and lost rookie defenceman Quinn Hughes for a large portion of the first period after he took an errant stick to the face.
But Hughes was fine (we think, more on that later) and the Canucks were a different team for (most of) the third period, scoring three goals to the Oilers’ two and slipping by with a win after being outplayed for the majority of the contest.
The latter point is a bit concerning, to be honest. To say the Oilers were playing with a reduced roster is putting it extremely nicely. Other than Darnell Nurse and Adam Larsson, the Oilers basically iced the Bakersfield Condors (their AHL affiliate). Okay, they had former Canuck Markus Granlund there as well, but he was on their first line!
The Canucks, meanwhile, had a healthy array of regulars, including Elias Pettersson and newcomers Tyler Myers and Micheal Ferland. Hopefully the boys in blue were just getting their feet under them. It was preseason, after all.
Here’s what else we saw in the Canucks’ 4-2 exhibition win over the Edmonton Oilers.
Three that impressed
1. The Vancouver Canucks fans
They didn’t show up until right before game time, but when they did, they came through. Rogers Arena was mostly full (though it must be said, there were a decent number of Oilers fans as well), and the fans were vocal. It was obvious whenever Pettersson touched the puck because the arena was full of oohs and aahs, the fans bursting with excitement at the prospect of the Alien bursting by Oilers rearguards (which happened often).
It was definitely enough to get excited about the prospect of watching live hockey once again. Oh, and the Canucks’ revamped video intro for the 50th anniversary is pretty cool too, if we’re being honest.
2. Elias Pettersson
Speaking of which, Pettersson really was great. He displayed his ability at will and took the game over whenever he wanted. Oh, and he scored the game-tying goal by pouncing on a Ferland rebound.
3. Shane Starrett
The Canucks didn’t have as many shots as the Oilers, but they had some real quality chances. The Oilers’ tender shut the door a few times on point blank Canuck opportunities, including one sequence where he denied both Ferland and Nikolay Goldobin after beautiful setups from Pettersson.
Three that didn’t
1. Tyler Myers
Coughed the puck up a few times and generally looked like he needed to get his feet under him a bit. The pairing with Hughes looked good on paper, but not on the ice. Myers likes to walk the puck up and take rushes. At one point, the two of them got caught both pinching and Hughes had to stride back (effortlessly, we might note) to disrupt the counterattack. Myers also had a tough giveaway.
2. The Canucks drummers
Do people like that? Sorta thought that maybe with the 50th anniversary fans would be treated to something new for the in-game experience.
3. Brogan Rafferty
Not him per se, but his absence. He was supposed to be in the lineup but was a last-minute scratch. It’s disappointing, we wanted to see him out there as he’s impressed in his limited time with the team.
- In addition to the revamped video intro, we have to say we also quite dig the new slogan. “Colourful past, bright future” beats the hell out of whatever “Compete is in our nature” was.
- Ferland and Zack MacEwen made a point of throwing the body around tonight and both were effective on the forecheck. The latter also had some real nice touch and almost scored a couple. He also stopped right in front of the goaltender and stared over him at one point. He clearly wanted to get into a scrum and he did just that.
- Speaking of a scoring touch, Brandon Sutter potted two goals, including one on a penalty shot. The second was a gift from Alex Edler.
- Tanner Pearson sure looks good out there. Sure, he got two points—one was an empty netter and the other was a second assist—but the more important fact was that he looked dangerous all night.
- Jake Virtanen got some penalty kill time, and it’ll be interesting to see if that’s a trend going forward. He wasn’t a fixture on the unit last year but having his speed there would make sense.
“Precautionary... nothing major.” – Coach Travis Green on Hughes’ absence in the third period after he came back from the high stick.
“I think that’s good, first real game action of the season… get back in the rhythm. And getting the win was awesome.” – Canucks’ goaltender Thatcher Demko on his game after playing the whole contest. Rumour was that he would split it with backup Zane McIntyre.
“Eagle saw me the whole time, I don’t know what happened on their end… anyone could score one of those.” – Brandon Sutter on his second goal, in which Alex Edler found him wide open at the side of the net.
“Rusty first game.” – Elias Pettersson, who has not changed.
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