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GAME DAY PREVIEW: Game 1- Canucks @ Edmonton Oilers

The 2022-23 campaign begins tonight as the Canucks kick off the season with a five game road trip starting in Edmonton.

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

VANCOUVER CANUCKS vs EDMONTON OILERS

ROGERS PLACE, EDMONTON, AB

7:00PM PST

TV: SPORTSNET. RADIO: SPORTSNET 650

OPPOSING BLOG: THE COPPER AND BLUE

Another season is upon us at last, and dare I say we should be cautiously optimistic this time around? It’s clear that the Canucks have undergone some changes, there are new faces on the ice, and it should lead to some aspects of their games being different this season than last. That ‘should’ is doing some heavy lifting, I know, but offensively at least, the Canucks are probably going to be better than we’ve been used to for some time. It’s the defensive aspect that continues to be a source of concern, and we’ll have to hope that the confidence that Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin have in the back end of this club is warranted.

For the Canucks, it’s not just new faces, but new line combinations, spreading out some of their offensive firepower to roll with three potentially lethal lines, and an entirely new fourth line that is an interesting mix of toughness, pedigree and a touch of the unknown. Nils Aman will make his NHL debut tonight centering Curtis Lazar, a former first round pick of the Ottawa Senators and Dakota Joshua. This is a far different fourth line than we’ve seen in some time for the Canucks, and it’ll be interesting to see what they bring to the table as the season progresses.

As Canucks fans we’re not often used to good news, but there is some, as Brock Boeser is in the lineup and ready to roll despite a recent surgery to repair a wrist injury. It was expected he would miss at least the first couple games, so to have Boeser back in such an important season for him is a definite boost.

Tonight will also mark the NHL debut of Andrei Kuzmenko. The second leading scorer in the KHL last season, Kuzmenko was solid in the pre-season, showing some immediate chemistry with Elias Pettersson. They’ll line up with Nils Hoglander, and hopefully that will help Hoglander shake off a dreadful sophomore season.

The Oilers, after a fairly deep run in the post-season, overhauled their goaltending, bringing in Jack Campbell from Toronto and promoting Stuart Skinner from Bakersfield of the AHL in the hopes that Campbell can do what Mike Smith could not and get them into the Stanley Cup Finals.

Overall, though the Oilers didn’t change much from last season, apart from a couple small moves. Defensively they don’t strike me as being as strong as they need to be, but they’ll be faster on the backend simply by the retirement of noted douchebag Duncan Keith.

Anytime you have to play a team with guys like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, it’s a measuring stick to see where you are, so why not get this out of the way right out of the gate before heading East for four games over the next week?

LINEUPS

Courtesy of nhl.com, this is what scientists believe we’ll see on the ice tonight:

Canucks projected lineup

Tanner PearsonJ.T. MillerBrock Boeser

Andrei KuzmenkoElias PetterssonNils Hoglander

Vasily PodkolzinBo HorvatConor Garland

Dakota JoshuaNils AmanCurtis Lazar

Quinn HughesLuke Schenn

Oliver Ekman-LarssonTucker Poolman

Riley StillmanKyle Burroughs

Thatcher Demko

Spencer Martin

Scratched: Danila Klimovich

Injured: Travis Dermott (concussion), Tyler Myers (undisclosed), Ilya Mikheyev (undisclosed)

Oilers projected lineup

Evander KaneConnor McDavidJesse Puljujarvi

Dylan HollowayLeon DraisaitlZach Hyman

Ryan McLeodRyan Nugent-HopkinsWarren Foegele

Brad MaloneDevin ShoreDerek Ryan

Darnell NurseCody Ceci

Ryan MurrayEvan Bouchard

Brett KulakTyson Barrie

Jack Campbell

Stuart Skinner

Scratched: None

Injured: Kailer Yamamoto (upper body)

An already less than impressive Canucks D-core without two of their top three guys could mean a busy night for Thatcher Demko, and it’s unfortunate for Ilya Mikheyev that he’s not ready to return to the lineup and make his official Canucks debut tonight. That definitely works for Hoglander though, who takes Mikheyev’s spot on the Pettersson line. Oliver Ekman-Larsson was absent from practice but will go tonight.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Pennsylvania thrashers MANTIC RITUAL burst onto the scene with a blistering debut album ‘Executioner’, and promptly disappeared. The good news is that they’ve reformed and released a 6 song EP which includes a couple amazing cover tunes: ‘Black Funeral’ by MERCYFUL FATE and ‘Cross Me Fool’ by Canadian thrash kings RAZOR. ‘Heart Set Stone’ is out now and available from the band on their bandcamp site.

It’s season 13 for me, and as always, we are eternally grateful for everyone who comes to hang and read our thoughts on the Canucks. Enjoy the game, folks. Go Canucks Go!