Tonight, the Vancouver Canucks opened their preseason schedule with a split squad game against the Calgary Flames. For the purposes of tonight’s game recap, I will focus mainly on the game in Victoria, but I’l acknowledge the game in Calgary and comment on significant happenings from that game. As expected, the Canucks iced a more veteran lineup, including Victoria, BC native Jamie Benn for the home game. Goaltending tonight is actually something to keep an eye on because there is a battle for the minor league positions. Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko, who will not play tonight, will be the goalies with the Canucks this season. Jake Kiely, Richard Bachman, Mike Dipietro and Zane McIntyre are all battling for the 2 spots in Utica and the ECHL. Dipietro and McIntyre were expected to split the net tonight in Victoria. Kiely and Bachman were the goalies in Calgary. Dipietro is expected to get one of the spots in Utica. Other players of note playing in Calgary tonight were newcomer Oscar Fatenberg, Ashton Sautner, Alex Biega and Jett Woo. Veteran Troy Stetcher was the only lock on defense to make the team playing in Calgary. It is also interesting that the Canucks played Jake Virtanen in the road game tonight. Virtanen has received early criticism from coach Travis Green for failing his physical and was in the third group on training camp’s opening session with players largely expected to be in Utica this year. Sven Baertschi is another player to keep an eye on in preseason. The veteran winger spent most of last year battling post-concussion syndrome. Tim Schaller and Tyler Motte, both battling for one of the last forward spots, were also in Calgary, as was penalty kill specialist Jay Beagle.
Turning our attention to the main game this recap will focus on, there were a couple of players in that game with a lot to prove. First, Loui Eriksson, who made comments over the summer expressing his disappointment that things have not worked out as planned in Vancouver ans also implied that he and coach Green did not see eye to eye, may not be a lock to make the team. Eriksson signed a big 6-year deal three years ago and he has been a disappointment thus far. He often barely appears in the stats at the end of the game. Another player with a lot to prove is Nikolay Goldobin. The veteran accepted a 1-year deal near the league minimum. He has shown flashes of what he can do offensively, but not on a consistent enough basis. Goldobin’s skill set does not make him suitable for the bottom six. Bo Horvat and JT Miller, who are expected to play together once the regular season play starts, are also on that line. Chris Tanev plays his first game using modified pads designed to prevent further broken bones. Jalen Chatfield, Guillame Brisebois, and Josh Teves, who are all battling for the final spot or two on defense, are playing in Victoria tonight. First cuts will probably come after tomorrow’s game in Edmonton. Here is tonight’s game recap.
- First period of game in Victoria
- The Flames opened the scoring just over 5 minutes into the game as Dillon Dube was Johnny on the spot to pot home the rebound behind Michael Dipietro
- Almost thirteen and a half minutes later, Austin Czarnik snapped home a PP goal past a screened Dipietro
- First period of game in Calgary
- The Flames opened the scoring just over seven and a half minutes into the game as Johnny Gaudreau snapped one by Richard Bachman
- Second period of game in Calgary
- The Flames added a goal just over 15 minutes into the 2nd period as Michael Frolik ripped one home from the right faceoff circle
- Second period of game in Victoria
- The Flames added a goal just over thirteen and a half minutes into the middle frame ripping one top corner on Dipietro while on a 2-on-1 break
- Third period in Calgary:
- The Canucks scored their first goal of the preseason just over 5 minutes into the 3rd period as Mitch Eliot snapped a shot by Flames goalie Cam Talbot
- Just over twelve and a half minutes later, Jake Virtanen tied the game scoring from a sharp angle
- Overtime in Calgary:
- The Canucks won it just under three and a half minutes into OT as Virtanen scored his second of the game, wiring one from the slot
- Richard Bachman played the whole game and stopped 36 of 38 shots
- Final score: Canucks 3 Flames 2 (OT win)
- Third period in Victoria
- The Flames added a goal just under two minutes later as Rasmus Anderson scored off an unlucky bounce off JT Miller
- Just under two minutes later, Loui Eriksson gave the home crowd something to cheer about as he was johnny on the spot to put a rebound behind Flames goalie Tyler Parsons
- Just under 14 minutes later, Josh Teves stole the puck then wheeled around the net and snapped one by Parsons
- Almost 90 seconds later, Bo Horvat brought the Canucks within a goal with a quick snap shot from the top of the slot
- Michael Dipietro played the first 2 periods and saved 24/27 shots. Zane McIntyre played the third and faced just one shot, unfortunately having it go past him for a goal
- Final score: Flames 4 Canucks 3
- Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do much hard-hitting analysis of the game as it was not televised and nhl.com did not provide player stats. It’s great to see Virtanen score two huge goals. It was also nice to see the team respond in the 3rd period after falling behind by two after 2 periods. Richard Bachman has the early leg up on one of the spots in Utica thanks to a 36 save effort. Neither team scored on the PP (Calgary was 0/3 and the Canucks were 0/2). The Canucks blocked 21 shots to Calgary’s 9 blocked shots. The Flames outhit the Canucks 24-22. Faceoff wins were an even 50-50.
- Due to lack of stats, I can only really comment on the goals/assists in the Victoria game. Dipietro had good and bad moments in his first preseason game. While he gave up 2 first period goals, he bounced back nicely in the 2nd period and made some big saves. IT’s unfortunate that McIntyre faced just the one shot and had it go in for a goal. He may or may not get another chance with the need to get Markstrom and Demko some reps.
- It appeared the new modified padding worked well for Tanev. He was blocking shots with no hesitation
- I really liked how the Canucks didn’t give up in either Calgary or Victoria. Obviously falling behind by multiple goals isn’t ideal, but the tenacity and drive was there in the 3rd period. The Canucks nearly tied it in Victoria, but were unable to jam the puck home in a mad goal-mouth scramble with ten seconds left
- JT Miller and Bo Horvat looked good together
- Up next, the Canucks play the first of a home and home with Edmonton in Vancouver, with the two teams meeting in Edmonton two nights later. Expect Thatcher Demko or Jacob Markstom to play half the game tomorrow with the other goalie playing in Edmonton. Elias Pettersson, Alex Edler, Michael Ferland, Troy Pearson and possibly Brandon Sutter should also see their first preseason action. Olli Joulevi will likely be held back a few days longer as he continues to recover from major knee surgery from last December.