Vancouver Canucks, Straight Up: Connor McDavid has the last laugh

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      It was only a matter of time before the NHL’s new helmet rule caused some controversy. Of course, the league was probably hoping it wouldn’t happen on the very first night of the new season.

      On the Vancouver Canucks’ first goal, McDavid was jostled by Brandon Sutter and lost his helmet. League rules state the player must make an effort to put on their helmet or head to the bench.

      McDavid put his back on but lost track of the play, enabling Alex Edler to score from the point.

      Of course, the one they call McJesus would have the last laugh, scoring a ridiculous tally in which he split two Canucks defenders with ease and roofed the puck on Jacob Markstrom.

      Here’s what else we saw in the Canucks’ 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

      Three that impressed

      1. Mike Smith

      The Oilers goaltender had a rough last season with the Calgary Flames, and many laughed when Edmonton acquired him in the offseason to fix a wretched goaltending situation.

      But, at least in Vancouver, no one’s laughing now. Smith was pretty great, stopping 31 of 33 shots and surviving long periods of Canucks dominance. He was also extremely slick playing the puck, rendering Vancouver’s forecheck somewhat powerless.

      2. Zack Kassian

      The former Canuck was an absolute force. He threw his body around, forecehcked hard and registered two points, including the game-tying goal on an absolute snipe.

      In short, he was exactly the kind of player the Canucks have been looking for since they, uh, traded away Zack Kassian.

      3. Quinn Hughes

      He did get dipsy-doodled by Kassian at one point, but for the most part Hughes was solid, creating chances (especially on the powerplay) and generally being his silky smooth self. He had a few very good looks with Elias Pettersson as well.

      Of course, he also was part of the game-winning tally in which McDavid basically walked through him and Chris Tanev. But we’re trying to be positive here.

      Three that didn’t

      1. Brandon Sutter

      An unfortunate giveaway by Sutter gave McDavid all the room he needed. It probably wouldn’t have been a notable play if anyone but McDavid were involved, but it ended up deciding the game.

      2. The Canucks’ bottom six in general

      Sending Sven Baertschi to the waivers doesn’t look so hot (well, it never did, to be honest) in the wake of a rough performance from the bottom six group. Tim Schaller had his moments, so did Josh Leivo.

      But it’s pretty obvious Adam Gaudette will make his debut on Saturday against the Calgary Flames. Whoever comes out (and you’d have to think Schaller, Jake Virtanen or the once again lifeless Loui Eriksson are the likely candidates).

      3. Troy Stecher 

      He battled, as usual. But he only got just over 10 minutes of ice time and was a minus-1. Looks like Stecher is once again the Canucks’ sixth defenceman and all that talk about evening out the minutes more was, well, talk. 


      - Jacob Markstrom was pretty great all night and picked up right where he left off last season.

      - Tanner Pearson had a goal and was buzzing all night. He looks like a man intent on earning his spot on Bo Horvat’s line. And he deserved it tonight.

      - J.T. Miller and Micheal Ferland also looked good, and Tyler Myers set up Pearson’s goal, so it was a nice night for the team’s offseason additions.

      - Another former Canuck in Markus Granlund showed some life for the Oilers, who badly need depth and are hoping he’ll provide it.

      - Alex Edler hit the post with less than a second remaining. So close.


      “One of the best players in the league makes a pretty good play.” – Vancouver Canucks coach Travis Green on the game-winning goal by McDavid

      “You give him a tad bit of ice and he’s going to take a mile.” – Pearson on the same goal

      “At the end of the day, their star players came through for them.” – Bo Horvat