ROGERS PLACE, EDMONTON, AB
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OPPOSING BLOG: THE COPPER AND BLUE
The preseason is done, the rosters are (somewhat) set, and the 52nd edition of the tire fire that is the Vancouver Canucks are ready to set sail. They begin this season staring down a 6 games in 11 nights road trip that takes them to Edmonton, Philadelphia, Detroit, Buffalo, Chicago and Seattle before they finally have their home opener against the Minnesota Wild on Oct 23.
Unlike last season, where the teams were restricted to play within their division, this year it’s back to playing against the entire league, and for the Canucks that means not having to play the Oilers 10 times this season. That already seems like a positive thing, as Connor McDavid got around 20% of his points against the Canucks. They do however play them twice this month, and we can only hope that the results are better than we saw in the preseason.
Injuries are part of the Canucks experience in a way few teams can match, and this season we start off with a handful of them: Brock Boeser, Brandon Sutter, and Tyler Motte are all out, and while Boeser and Motte are expected to be back sooner or later, there’s no timeline for Sutter, who is suffering from Long COVID after being one of the 21 Canucks who contracted the virus back in March.
The Canucks and Oilers are facing off for the 3rd consecutive match, the Oilers having won the Thursday and Saturday exhibition contests by 3-2 scores. Read into that what you will, but we didn’t see the best either team has to offer just yet.
The Canucks are a much different team than they iced last season, with a near total swap out of the bottom six and 2⁄3 of their defence. I’m genuinely excited to see what Conor Garland can do this season, as well as a healthy Elias Pettersson, and a Canucks team determined to put last season behind them. This six pack of road games is a hell of a way to start the season, but maybe a little adversity outta the gate is the thing they need to get it rolling the right way?
One thing the Canucks need to do is try to limit the damage that Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl inflict. That means whoever is in that shutdown role has to do most cannot, and also that the Canucks absolutely have to stay out of the penalty box tonight (looking at you, Travis ‘Too Many Men Penalties Are My Vibe’ Green). The PK was simply not good enough in the preseason, so let’s hope that the addition of Juho Lammikko is going to be the correction it needs.
As we see every year, there’s an outcry for toughness, especially with Zack MacEwan being claimed on waivers by Philadelphia today (and hey, thanks to Jim ‘Asset Management Is My Passion’ Benning for losing another one). I don’t know where to land on this, honestly. Unless it actually becomes an issue, is it really worth it for the Canucks, who literally need meaningful contributions from every single player just to have a shot at getting into the playoffs, to give up a slot to someone who can’t do much more than drop the mitts? Fighting is down, and there’s guys who have shown they can step up if something goes down on the ice. I just don’t think there’s a roster spot for someone like that unless they can also provide value at either end of the ice.
The Oilers have made a few changes of their own this past offseason, but like the Canucks, their defence is still a bit of a concern. Not garbage fire bad like Vancouver’s, but the talent drop off after Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie is pretty steep, and one can only imagine how loud the discontent will be if Duncan Keith and to a lesser extent Cody Ceci are who everyone thinks they are.
There’s also the goaltending. The Oilers overcame their defensive woes last year on the backs of 87 year old Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen. Expecting Smith to be as good as he was last season seems like a fool’s errand, honestly. The Oilers have some good scoring depth up front, but it may go to waste if these two can’t keep the door shut.
Courtesy of nhl.com, this is what we should expect tonight:
Canucks projected lineup
Oilers projected lineup
Scratched: Slater Koekkoek
GAME DAY CHATTER
Alex Chiasson speaks to the media prior to season opener against Edmonton:— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) October 13, 2021
- on playing for and now against Edmonton
- his role on the Canucks
- being on a PTO#Canucks | @theprovince pic.twitter.com/d0Lw64jjrq
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
It’s been a long 10 years since the Canucks came within a game of winning it all, and most of it’s been pretty damn awful to endure as fans. We’re not saying that the days of them being serious contenders are back, but there’s a sense of hope that things are getting better. Yes, it could still go sideways, but the fact we can feel optimistic for the first time in a long time (especially after last season) is pretty nice. So I thought we’d ring in the new season by waking up this long slumbering fan base (apart from those who jumped ship for the Kraken, because y’all suck, honestly) with a track from the ‘Feel Like Shit... Deja Vu’ EP by the OG crossover kings: SUICIDAL TENDENCIES.
Thanks for coming back to enjoy the season with us. Enjoy the game. Go Canucks Go!