Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin - USA TODAY Sports

Canucks Army Post-Game: It’s a Start

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.

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 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.


Quick Hits

  • 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.
  • speering major

    I think the decision to sit Brock was specific to the oilers. They have 4 forwards that play a very gritty game. The last game of the preseason vs the oilers Brock looked invisible and outmatched physically while looking great vs weaker comp earlier in pre season. I think Brock will be effective this year but he still needs to mature physically. Look at Bo a couple seasons ago, not even close to where he is now physically.

    Both Markstrom and Dorsett exceeded expectations

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    I was pleasantly surprised by the Canucks. I thought they did play well, and they played fast. I thought the Oilers would destroy them and instead the Canucks held their own and won the game with timely goals. Markstrom was excellent in net. I think the Canucks would have had more goals if the second Oilers goalie didn’t stand on his head and keep the Oilers in the game. Overall, I was happy to see them get the win.

  • I am Ted

    Very solid team game. Coilers may regret spending so much money on three guys. Ah well.

    I get why Virtanen had limited minutes but does that help him? I’m sure he’ll get more minutes down the road but maybe top minutes for another season in Utica would be better for his development.

    I really wish Benning never signed Erikkson.

  • Steamer

    Last week Baertschi said Green is an especially good ‘game-day’ coach; think the surprise substitution of Virtanen for Boeser – as I would have done vs. Edmt. – is the first installment of on-going game-day surprises. Will vets – Eriksson, Vanek, et al – sit if unproductive? Green gives every indication this could be the case. Most certainly a differently coached team.

  • Doodly Doot

    Vancouver Celebrates Thanksgiving Early! Roasts fresh turkey from Edmonton!

    Ok. Ok. Over the top, yes, but fun! They should, by rights, not have had ‘that’ good a game. And it was good. It was also impressive considering the context of what preceded it: China, Bo’s injury and lack of preseason, the endless line-juggling leading up to the game, Dorsett’s improbable/questionable comeback, both goaltenders’ limited play, a questionable 4th line, and the mystery of the missing young super-winger. But Green has revealed himself to be a bit of an alchemist and iced four lines that skated, worked hard and were fun to watch. There were even flashes of serious talent. And Stecher put a specific part of his summer training to good use.

    My 4 Stars: Markstrom – Granlund – Horvat – & Dorsett!,

    Props: Green thoughtfully reformatting ice time for players (up and down).

    The line Green built to neutralize the McDavid line worked really well. You have to call that a success. I’m sure those guys took pride in that. I love how Granny plays the same way no matter where he is. Well done!

    Favourite moments: Virtanen splitting the D and driving the net and then later Virtanen owning Lucic on wide drive. Electrifying! Stecher hit and fight. You did NOT see that one coming.

  • Beer Can Boyd

    McDavid played 24+ minutes. If that continues, he will burn out in 4-5 years. What was evident last night is that the Oilers have 2 very good lines and 2 lousy ones, a below average defence corps, and an overworked goalie. Shut down McDavid likes the Canucks did, and this is not a very scary team at all.

    • Killer Marmot

      Interestingly, Canucks forwards had fairly even ice time throughout the lines, with the exception of Virtanen with only 7:34. If they can do that and still play well, it will help sustain them over the long grinding season.

      • canuckfan

        Green is still developing Jake and keeping him hungry Green needs to have Jake in Vancouver so he can keep bringing him along most important Virtanen gets to watch players like Dorset go out and give their all. Seeing this from the stands is not the same as seeing it up close, these are the lessons Green wants to teach Jake. Leave it all on the ice and try and make this shift better than the last no coasting just go hard all the time.
        Brock is going to be fine it is a long season he will get his chances with Dorset frustrating McDavid the Oilers would have gone after Brock which would then have taken the Canucks away from their game plan.

  • LTFan

    J.D. Burke “But I’m not ready to write Green off as a coach yet because he didn’t go that route.” That is why Green is the Coach and you are a blogger for CA. There is a difference in knowledge and pay.