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11 thoughts after Canucks get Connor’d by Oilers despite decent effort

The sky is not falling...yet.

Vancouver Canucks v Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrates after a goal during the game against the Vancouver Canucks on October 12, 2022 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

After a loss like that, it’s easy to be pissed off.

Blowing a three-goal lead is never a good sign.

When you blow a three-goal lead against Connor McJesus, it’s a little easier to stomach.

Here are 10 thoughts after last night’s fourth-straight season opener against the Edmonton Oilers.

1. What a debut for Kuzmenko. He finished the night with his first NHL goal, and led all Canucks with a 5-on-5 shot attempt differential of 80.3% (17 shots for, 4 shots against)

2. The line of Pettersson, Kuzmenko and Hoglander was easily the Canucks’ most dangerous line of the night. Most of that credit belongs to Pettersson and Kuzmenko, who carried over their preseason dominance to last night’s opener.

3. Unfortunately, Pettersson is not Connor McJesus.

The end result tonight had to be extremely frustrating. The Canucks had more power plays and were arguably the better team at 5-on-5 (although Edmonton closed that gap as the game progressed).

There’s one main reason why the Canucks lost tonight: Connor McDavid.

The best player in the world had three goals and one assist. And, in typical McDavid fashion, he was flying all night.

This is the Oilers’ recipe for success. Hold your own without McDavid on the ice, and let him do the rest. The Oilers’ plan is no different from previous seasons, although they have a deeper squad and should have more consistent goaltending.

4. Speaking of goaltending, Thatcher Demko was “in midseason form” as Harnarayan Singh said on the national broadcast.

If it weren’t for a missed call for Evander Kane’s high stick on Hughes, coupled with some brilliance on the Oilers’ power play, the Canucks would have won this game.

5. Despite bleeding more Grade A chances than one would like, it wasn’t a terrible night overall for the Canucks patchwork defence.

6. Tucker Poolman basically showcased the same skills that he did at the beginning of last season. Defensively, he’s usually in good position, and he can skate pretty well for a guy his size. There’s just nothing good that happens with the puck on his stick. He also pinched a few times tonight and while he didn’t get burned, he will soon enough if he doesn’t cut those pinches from his game.

7. Luke Schenn obviously isn’t a first pairing defenceman, but Boudreau was right in the preseason when he said “it just works” in regards to Schenn playing with Hughes.

If you look around the league, there are multiple examples of teams who play a de facto third-pairing guy with their number one defenceman to help spread the wealth. Roman Josi with Alexandre Carrier comes to mind. Ryan Lindgren with Adam Fox would be another.

Schenn had his signature physical moments during the game, like when he laid out Zach Hyman behind the net in the third period. He’s not flashy but rarely makes mistakes. Hughes could make anyone look good, but Schenn deserves credit for making that pairing work for such an extended period of time.

8. Further down the depth chart on defence, it was a quietly impressive night from Kyle Burroughs and Riley Stillman. The pairing wasn’t sheltered (which is hard to do on the road) meaning they played against the McDavid line for about 1/3rd of their ice time.

Stillman’s mobility and ability to make the simple zone exit play stood out. Burroughs, while he made a couple of mistakes, held his own and did well to get under the opponent’s skin.

9. Although the third pairing worked for a night, you would like to see Jack Rathbone get his opportunity sooner rather than later.

10. Not a terrific night for the Canucks new fourth line, with both Curtis Lazar and Dakota Joshua playing less than eight minutes on the night (Nils Aman had 10:02 of ice time).

Lazar stood out the most with his tenacity on the forecheck, although you could see that his puck skills are fourth-line calibre as he whiffed on a couple of opportunities.

11. One more thing on Canuck-killer McDavid. he now has 20 goals and 58 points in 35 career games against the Canucks. That 1.66 points-per-game total is the sixth-most efficient mark among all skaters who have played against the Canucks at least 10 times in NHL history.