It’s not about how you start, but how you finish, right? Right.
The Canucks lived by those words in their season opener in front of the Rogers Arena faithful. Despite falling behind 1-0 on a deflection goal by Oilers defenceman Kris Russel, the Canucks were able to rally for three straight goals of their own to regain control.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) October 8, 2017
Bo Horvat led the charge with a pair of goals, including a power play marker that brought back memories of Todd Bertuzzi, dropping the shoulder and taking the puck to the net for a highlight reel goal; the second of them chased Oilers netminder Cam Talbot from the game. Brandon Sutter chipped in with a goal of his own, capitalizing on an Oilers giveaway to give the Canucks the lead.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) October 8, 2017
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins finished an Oilers passing play to draw the Oilers to within one, but Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom was able to hold the fort and keep the visiting team at two.
Markstrom stopped 33 of 35 Oilers’ shots. Talbot stopped 4 of 7 Canucks’ shots, and Laurent Brossoit stopped all 19 he faced.
— J.D. Burke (@JDylanBurke) October 8, 2017
— Darryl Keeping (@dkeeping) October 8, 2017
- Before we get into the game itself, let’s get into the news going into today’s game. I’m talking, of course, about the Brock Boeser snub for Jake Virtanen. Based on the lines at practice and everything we’d heard up to today, it sounded like Boeser would play in the season opener in the Canucks’ bottom six. This morning, Canucks head coach Travis Green revealed that Boeser would sit out tonight’s game in favour of Virtanen. And people were pissed! And rightfully so. The team is selling the city on a youth movement, and Derek Dorsett was set to skate while Boeser sat in the press box. Of course that was going to be an ugly PR move! I think, in general, people might have overreacted though. Up until today, it was Virtanen who was going to sit in his place, and nobody seemed that upset about it, in spite of the fact that Virtanen had the superior training camp of the two. I don’t know how that doesn’t elicit a reaction, but people are ready to burn down Rogers Arena in Boeser’s name. It seems disproportionate. Looked at in a vacuum, Virtanen’s speed made him the better option of the two youngsters to play against the Oilers. And it showed — Virtanen had a hell of a game. And as for Dorsett, I can understand Canucks head coach Travis Green trying to show a level of deference to his veterans in just his first game behind an NHL bench. And Dorsett had a hell of a game, too. I don’t agree with the decision. If I were the one drawing up the Canucks lineup, both Boeser and Virtanen would have a place in it. But I’m not ready to write Green off as a coach yet because he didn’t go that route.
- As for the coach himself, I thought tonight was encouraging. The Canucks played a speed game, that generated most if not all of its offence on the counter-attack. Of course, the Oilers dominated the shot spread, but that’s going to be the case anyways when the talent levels are so vastly different as they were tonight. I think most Canucks fans can live with a team that loses the territorial battle most nights and plays a counter-attack offence. Even if it means the Canucks lose more often than not, as long as the hockey is entertaining, the fans can live with it.
- Cole Cassels wasn’t playing, but the Canucks were able to shut Connor McDavid out all the same. It was Brandon Sutter’s line that kept him in check, with Dorsett and Markus Granlund by his side. McDavid had a +8 shot attempt ratio against Sutter, but was mostly quiet and never really threatened to score.
- I thought that Michael Del Zotto had a fairly solid game. He was able to spring a Canuck on a breakaway in the second period and was generally effective in transition with the highest controlled exit percentage among all Canucks defenders.
- Jacob Markstrom isn’t the de facto starter yet, but if he puts together another couple of nights like this, he will be in no-time. He stopped 33 of 35 Oilers shots and held them to two goals in spite of them carrying an expected goals of just under three.
- Is the Canucks torch being passed from the Sedins to Horvat? Tonight’s ice-time seems to suggest as much. Bo Horvat played over 18:30 tonight, and Henrik Sedin played closer to 13:30. This kind of shift is long overdue, so if Green is starting the transition, then all the power to him.