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Game #1 Vancouver Canucks (0-1) @ Edmonton Oilers (1-0) – game recap

And the 2019-20 and the Canucks 50th anniversary season is underway. Tonight, the Canucks faced off against the Edmonton Oilers, who they swept in a mini home and home series in the first week of preseason action. Connor McDavid did not play in either game, but he did tonight. The surprise final cut on Monday was veteran Sven Baertschi, who struggled with post-concussion syndrome all last season. Notably in his comments Monday, Jim Benning mentioned that Baertschi was still hesitating in the corners, which would be a safety concern that he could be at risk to put himself in a vulnerable position and at risk for yet another concussion that could end his career prematurely. Another factor is Adam Gaudette made it impossible to cut him and was better than Baertschi (Gaudette was a healthy scratch tonight). A third factor is the Canucks could get more cap relief waiving Baertschi than from waiving Brandon Sutter or Loui Eriksson, both of whom kill penalties while Baertschi does not. As expected, Jacob Markstrom got the nod in net. He had an OK preseason. Oscar Fantenberg, who edged Alex Biega for the final D spot was also a healthy scratch tonight. The 4th line was interesting with Jay Beagle skating between Tim Schaller and Loui Eriksson, who have both been disappointments in Vancouver. Newbie Tyler Myers was paired with veteran Alex Edler. Rookie Quinn Hughes skated alongside Chris Tanev and newcomer Jordie Benn was paired with one of last year’s pleasant surprises Troy Stetcher. Brock Boeser was in the lineup after receiving clearance to play on Monday skating with Petey and Michael Ferland, who will be tasked with protecting both stars. Future captain Bo Horvat was flanked by Tanner Pearson and JT Miller. Finally, Brandon Sutter was between Josh Leivo and Jake Virtanen. Could the Canucks start the season with a win? Here is tonight’s game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Oilers opened the scoring 5:42 into the game as Leon Draisaitl finished off a nice tic-tac-toe play aided by a poor rebound coughed up by Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom
  • The Canucks tied the game with just over 8 minutes left in the 2nd period as Alex Edler unleashed a howitzer from the point at the tail end of a PP, beating Mike Smith just under the crossbar
  • The Canucks took the lead just over halfway though the 3rd period on a tip-in by Tanner Pearson off a one-timer by Tyler Myers that went through the wickets of Smith
  • The Oilers tied it just over a minutes later as ex-Canuck Zack Kassian burned his former team, whipping home a cross-ice feed by Draisaitl
  • Almost four minutes later, the Oilers retook the lead on a bad turnover at the blueline. Connor McDavid slipped up the middle all alone and beat Markstrom
  • Jacob Markstrom stopped 19 of 22 shots
  • Final score: Oilers 3 Canucks 2

My Take:

  • Canucks who impressed me tonight:
    • Jacob Markstrom (he’d like the first goal back but he was pretty sharp the rest of the way, keeping his team in it)
    • Quinn Hughes (got a secondary assist on the 2nd goal; looked great on the power play and made strong decisions with the puck all night)
    • JT Miller (was +1, had a secondary assist on the Canucks first goal of the season, won 83% of the draws he took)
    • Tanner Pearson (had a whopping 11 shots on goal for a third of the Canucks offensive output)
    • Alex Edler (scored the Canucks first goal of the season, had 5 shots on goal and blocked 3 shots)
  • Canucks who need to improve:
    • Brandon Sutter (caused the turnover that led to the GWG, only won 42% of his draws)
    • Loui Eriksson (While I actually did notice him on the ice and most of the night he seemed to be working hard, he was very inefficient with his effort. Just a single shot on goal – not good enough)
    • Jake Virtanen (had least amount of ice time for the Canucks,  the only times I noticed him was a couple of times where he was fumbling the puck. He threw three hits and forced a turnover)
    • Tim Schaller (the one time I saw him on the ice, he was very slow and struggling to get by an Oilers defender in the neutral zone)
    • Brock Boeser (he gets a bit of a pass as this was just his second game (he only played once in preseason before getting hurt); looked like he’s still getting up to speed after a contract dispute delayed his arrival in training camp and a concussion ended it prematurely)
  • The Canucks won 51% of the draws, led by Miller, who had an 83% success rate. Bo Horvat (56% success rate) and Jay Beagle (50% success rate) also had good nights in the faceoff circle)
  • The penalty kill was solid, holding the Oilers off the scoreboard and shotless. The power play had it’s chances and one of the goals tonight came just seconds after a PP expired. Smith was lucky to stop all 7 shots from the PP
  • The Canucks had 21 hits, led by Virtanen with 3 hits
  • The Canucks blocked 17 shots, led by Chris Tanex, who blocked 4 shots (his new modified equipment seems to be working well)
  • Up next, the Canucks look to split the road trip as they head south to Cowtown. Look for Adam Gaudette and Oscar Ferland to make their season debuts. There were certainly a few candidates to make a healthy scratch
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