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GAME DAY PREVIEW: Canucks vs Edmonton- Oct 7/17

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The 2017-18 begins tonight for the Vancouver Canucks, and while the puck has yet to drop, we’ve got lots to complain about...

Vancouver Canucks v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

Vancouver Canucks vs. Edmonton Oilers

7:00 PM PT - Rogers Place- Edmonton, AB

TV: CBC - Radio: Sportsnet 650

A new hockey season is finally among us. A time of excitement and hope, new faces and expectations, and oh good f’ng lord, why is Jake Virtanen sitting in the press box for Derek Dorsett??!?!?!

Let me be perfectly clear here: I am not discounting all of the hard work and perseverance Dorsett has shown recovering from a pretty serious neck injury and the surgery that followed.

It’s a great story, really. The problem is that while all of that hard work translated into him being able to resume his career, it’s sheer and utter insanity to try and make anyone believe that Dorsett did anything during the post season to earn a spot in the opening night line up. Unless you count this.

Jake Virtanen did, and he’s in the press box tonight in a game that seems tailor-made for him. So while I am not going to get out the knives for Travis Green (like his predecessor, he gets a season’s grace before I lose my shit), it is a curious decision, especially when you go back and read about everything that’s been said about how much progress Virtanen made in getting himself prepared to make the team this year. It sets off alarm bells that the Canucks are gonna screw this up, and it’s way too early in the year to be feeling that.

THE OPPOSITION

We all knew that the Oilers would be one of the teams to beat in the West heading into this season, and they certainly sent a message against another contender on opening night as they dispatched the Calgary Flames rather handily. Sure, there’s still issues with the Oilers. Defensively they’re not as strong as some of their Western opponents, and I’m not yet convinced they have the goaltending to take them on a long playoff run (not to mention should Cam Talbot get injured, the depth drop is like the Marianas Trench). They do remind me of the Oilers of old: score their way out of any jam they get into.

If they stay healthy, this is a team that could take a run at the Cup. Gross, right? And when you see what they can do to teams like Calgary, who have a pretty decent defensive core, what are they going to do to the Canucks tonight? If Connor McDavid has one of those games, it’s over early.

THE CANUCKS

There’s more to be concerned about than just our boy Jake sitting in the press box tonight. Usage and ice time will continue to be something that sticks in my craw, and the thing to watch is if the Sedins are getting 1st line minutes this season. This is not a criticism of the Sedins, so cool yer damn typing fingers (do you have separate fingers for typing? hmm...). It’s a recognition of their decline, and we should be seeing Bo Horvat’s line getting the top minutes. Something to keep an eye on.

How will Green deal with McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Milan Lucic et al? Line matching could be an issue, so it may have to come down with trying to see who can keep them at bay the best. I had nightmares of the 4th line getting pinned by the Oilers, so let’s hope that doesn’t become reality.

One thing that has to be better if the Canucks hope to avoid being in the basement again this season (and even then it may not save them) is special teams play. Newell Brown has been brought back to try and rekindle some of that magic from earlier in the decade, but does he have the horses to effect change? Botch has a great piece on this (and some other pressing issues heading into tonight).

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

EXHUMED are back with a kickass new disc, and a great video for ‘Night Work’ that seems pretty fitting as we head into Hallowe’en. Enjoy the game, folks!