You can’t see it, but he’s definitely smiling under there! A night Nils Höglander won’t soon forget. pic.twitter.com/RjKcya3h9b— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 14, 2021
Nils Hoglander came into the Canucks camp knowing that he would have to be lights out in order to steal a spot on the roster. After being arguably one of the top players in camp, Hoglander scored his first NHL goal and was one of the best players on the ice last night as the Vancouver Canucks opened the 2021 season with a 5-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers last night at Rogers Place in the Alberta capital.
#Canucks controlling nearly 75% of the expected goals with Nils Hoglander on the ice, and he's spent 60% of his 5-on-5 ice-time H2H vs. the McDavid line.— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) January 14, 2021
Whole Hog, right into the fire.
The big names were getting it done for the Canucks last night, as Brock Boeser scored twice in the 3rd period, both goals set up by Quinn Hughes. Bo Horvat had a goal and an assist, and we even got a big 4th line goal from Adam Gaudette on a nice feed from Antoine Roussel. Boeser’s big night is a welcome sign for the Canucks. He struggled at times last year, obviously still not right after the back injury that ended his season in 2019.
Brock Boeser says he feels like his shot is back to what it was in his rookie year. Says his back injury gave him problems, but that he’s much more comfortable now. #Canucks— David Quadrelli (@QuadreIli) January 14, 2021
Braden Holtby stopped 28 of 31 Oilers shots for the victory in his Canucks debut, and Travis Hamonic, also playing in his first game with the Canucks after signing a 1 year deal earlier in the week, had an assist. The Canucks played a pretty decent game defensively last night, holding Connor McDavid off the score sheet and Leon Draisaitl to just one assist. They also did a fine job on the penalty kill, as the Oilers were unable to capitalize on 4 chances last night. The Canucks went 0-2 on their PP opportunities.
Hoglander wasn’t the only rookie who was impressive last night, as Olli Juolevi had himself a pretty decent game in limited ice time. Apart from a bit of a gaffe on the Oilers first goal from Kailer Yamamoto, Juolevi looked calm and composed in his first regular season NHL game.
Olli Juolevi is currently leading the #Canucks in Corsi.— Faber (@ChrisFaber39) January 14, 2021
He’s controlling 80% of attempted shots at 5-on-5.
This one wasn’t a classic by any stretch, as these guys will need a couple more games to get into normal regular season mode, but this was still a pretty good preview for what we can expect this year: A lot of tight games, that the Canucks are going to need to play strong team defence and keep the offence flowing. They’re back at it tonight, and we’ll have our game preview coming up later today.
Last night was also another debut of note:
Harnarayan Singh did a fantastic job in his first Sportsnet gig, and I look forward to hearing his PxP work this year.
AROUND THE NHL
There were 4 other games on opening night in the NHL, and a couple of them featured some major rivalries.
Next up was the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens going head to head, and it was Morgan Reilly in overtime to give the Leafs the 5-4 win in OT. Toronto got 3 point nights from William Nylander and John Tavares, while Josh Anderson scored twice in his debut for the Habs. Post game wraps at Pension Plan Puppets and Habs Eyes On The Prize are there for those who wanna take a look.
One of the weird parts of the divisional realignments is Tampa Bay in the Central, and they got the defence of their 2020 Stanley Cup title off to a good start, cruising to a 5-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Check out the post game coverage at Raw Charge and Second City Hockey.
The St Louis Blues started their season against a team they’re going to be battling for supremacy in the Honda West Division this year: the Colorado Avalanche. What we thought was going to be a real battle was a pretty one-sided affair, with the Blues taking a 4-1 win in Denver last night. Check out the post gamer at Mile High Hockey.
There’s 10 games on the schedule tonight, as the Canucks and Oilers will do Round Two of their 10 game season series tonight. The Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets will kick off their 2021 campaigns tonight as they meet in Winnipeg. The Dallas Stars game in Florida against the Panthers has been postponed because of the COVID-19 outbreak in Dallas. They will begin their season next week, once all quarantine protocols have been met.