Oil Spill: Canucks Drop Young Stars Opener 4-1

The Canucks kicked off their first leg of the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton playing host to the much improved Edmonton Oilers. It was a bona fide who’s who of the next wave of these Pacific Division foes, as the fourth and fifth overall picks in this year’s draft led their respective clubs.

Though the Canucks were outmatched early and struggled to muster much in the way of a forecheck, they found their legs about midway through the second to claw back within one and keep the game relatively tight right to the bitter end. They left the first period trailing by two (including a shorthanded marker) but clawed within one on the strength of a Marc-Olivier Roy backhand halfway through the first.

On the strength of Roy’s goal, the Canucks continued to launch wave after wave at the Oilers net, pulling ahead on a shot clock that at the halfway point tilted heavily in the Oilers favour. Unfortunately for the Canucks, that’s as close as they came. Jesse Puljujarvi led an Oilers rush into the offensive zone and buried a wrist shot top shelf on Thatcher Demko to put the game away. The Oilers added an empty-netter to seal the deal, securing a 4-1 victory.

Quick Hits

  • If these early signs are any indication, the Canucks plucked a gem at fifth overall when they snagged Olli Juolevi of the London Knights. He came as advertised. Juolevi effectively snuffed out any Oilers forecheck sent his direction with ease. Any time the Oilers came within checking distance of the Finnish defenceman, the puck was already in transition in the opposite direction. At best, Edmonton was able to land one, maybe two hits on Juolevi. These short tournaments don’t afford the opportunity to develop much in the way of structure, an element that one might expect is crucial for the smooth-skating Finnish defenceman to succeed in. Clearly, that’s not the case.
  • Watching Thatcher Demko rebound from an ugly, chaotic and frankly lopsided first period was encouraging. Not sure if Demko wanted to ease into the tournament, but the Canucks were paying him no such courtesy. You’d like to see Demko stop one of the two first period markers, but the body of work as a whole was nothing to scoff at.
  • I can’t imagine last season was harder for any of the Canucks prospects on a personal level than Cole Cassels. After capping off an illustrious junior career with a Memorial Cup win that he was crucial in securing, it had to be difficult watching his ice time, role and production fall in short order. Obviously, health played a role. He’s admitted as much. And frankly, that should be obvious. Making the transition to professional hockey can be an especially daunting task without any extenuating circumstances; for Cassels, who was recovering from abdominal tears, it proved overwhelming. We’re one game into a sub pre-season tournament, so I’d caution against getting too carried away with anything from this sample, but by that same token, it was nice to see Cassels hitting his stride again. He came out of two puck battles in the first, outmanned, with the puck. I’m not sure that’s a play he’s capable of last season. As for his skating, Travis Green agreed that Cassels improved from where he was last season. Hopefully, the results will follow.
  • As much as I was encouraged by Cassels, the real intrigue from the Canucks forward group came courtesy their invites. Though Canucks Army has long banged the drum for the likes of Alexis D’Aoust and Kyle Maksimovich, it was Marc-Olivier Roy who potted the Canucks’ sole marker on the night. Goal aside, it was, naturally, Maksimovich and D’Aoust who stuck out. Maksimovich, a slight player, made his mark most especially in the defensive zone. In spite of his size, he made a few key backchecks where he muscled the Oilers player off the puck. D’Aoust, on the other hand, made his presence felt in the offensive zone. He had a nifty setup in the second, made possible by a patient passing play in tight on the Oilers crease.
  • I hate to finish this on a sour note, but Tate Olson looked terrible. The Oilers forecheck was giving him fits, and in spite of his large frame, he struggled to hold up physically. Seriously, every time Olson was on the ice the Oilers wasted no time knocking him on his ass. He seemed to get better as the game went on, but that’s hardly noteworthy. I’d think it impossible to play any worse than he did in the first period.

  • LTFan

    3 players who looked good. Troy Stecher, Curtis Valk and Michael Carcone. Stecher skates well, good speed and was an offensive threat whenever he was on the ice.

    Curtis Valk , good speed and skill and was dangerous offensively most of the time. His time playing in the ECHL showed, he was at a higher level of compete than many of the other players who are straight out of Jr.

    Finally, Michael Carcone has speed and should earn a spot in Utica to start with.

    Puljujarvi was the difference in the game. The Canucks left him wide open on both of his goals, big mistake.

    Looking forward to the next game.

    • Smyl and Snepsts

      A much more real view of the game in my opinion. I never really noticed Burkes favorites. Stecher and Carcone in particular looked good. Tons of speed by the forwards that had the Oilers on the heels almost every rush.

    • TrueBlue

      I don’t know about “left him wide open”… it was crazy watching Puljujarvi sort of “drift open” to that left circle area where so many of his highlight reel goals were scored. Anyone can go to those areas, but his timing.. he always seemed to get there at the perfect time to receive a pass. We’ll see how he does in the next two games, but so far.. yeesh. Puljujarvi looks better to me than Draisatl did last year, and Draisatl looked great.

      On the plus side, it was great to see Caggiula decide to hold the puck on a 2-on-1 with Puju wide open in his left-side sweet spot. Very poor decision, feel better about not landing him 😉

      I thought D’Aoust was great. I was expecting maybe a bit of a stereotypical Q forward with gifted hands and a solid shot but no defensive ability, but instead I saw him backchecking, tenatioiusly trying to win the puck, holding it with patience to prevent turnovers, and also the skill that was advertised in Shawnigan. Very much liked his play, and Carcone as well.

      Also great to see the raw potential of Troy Stecher. He took some risks that didn’t always pay off, but largely he was an offensive catalyst with Juolevi. Very Tyson Barrie-ish in the skill & risk/reward sense.

  • LTFan

    Watched the kid from Prince George on TV. He likes to carry the puck, but when someone comes near him on the forecheck, disaster happens. What the hell, he was a seventh round afterthought. Lets stay with the positive.

  • LTFan

    Not a great game but was good to be able to watch hockey again just goes to show you how important a natural sniper is Puljujvari was the difference in the game a lot of the Canuck shows when they were in on the keeper were straight at him he didn’t have to really work for the save

  • crofton

    Stecher and Subban both stood out to me, creating offense and not bad defensively. Juolevi was good in a rather quiet way. I actually thought Vancouver was the better team for a majority of the game, a few bad choices or giveaways and a bit of luck, or lack of it,being the difference on the score sheet.
    Watching Tkachuk play in the first game made me all the happier that `we`drafted Juolevi, too many trips to the box and crosschecking on the Vancouver player several times while he was down….sad and disgusting, really. Being tough is a great attribute, but I have always felt those Types of things (crosschecking an opponent repeatedly while he is down) will reflect poorly on the team

    • LTFan

      “… and crosschecking on the Vancouver player several times while he was down.” Tkachuk was drafted by Calgary and the quote should have said it was the “Winnipeg player”. Calgary played Winnipeg in the opening game of the Young Stars tournament.

      • crofton

        Absolutely right. Must have crossed the wires. But you did take my point. The point about Tkachuk was furthered when the Flames played the Oilers last night, taking a 4 minute spearing penalty….not sure how that can be a call even

  • wojohowitz

    The younger players looked a little hesitant like they were not sure if they could compete. The older players looked ready right from the get go. Roy, Da`oust, Laplante, Carcone, Maksimovich and Valk all saw it as an opportunity. Maybe the next game the younger guys will be more comfortable.

    I was surprised by the earlier game. Tkachuk was a one man wrecking crew. Winnipeg has made some astute draft picks. Kyle Conner 1st round 17th pick in 2015 and 6`7 Logan Stanley 1st round 18th pick this past June. The idea that Stanley may be the best defenceman in that draft may seem far fetched now but in 3 or 4 years we will see how it plays out.

    Canada up 5-0. A ho hum non-event. Calgary and Edmonton online right now.

    One last thought; Watch for Joe Labate. He may have finally figured it out – a big tough grinding winger / center who will and can fight.