Vancouver Canucks vs Calgary Flames Post Game Recap: Fresh New Faces

The Rundown

The Vancouver Canucks iced a bunch of the young guns tonight in a tilt against the Calgary Flames. Most of the Flames main roster was in China, so the Canucks decided to give the rookies a game to try and impress. After two bland periods they finally got going, but by then it was too little too late.


1st Period

After last night’s game against Edmonton, there was hope some of the younger players like Adam Gaudette, Thatcher Demko, Olli Juolevi, and others would show up and impress tonight against a Flames squad icing a young roster of their own. However, it was a pretty rough start to the game for the young Canucks. We finally got our first bit of action halfway through the period as Calgary forward Matthew Phillips came down the right wing and put a puck past Demko far side.



Later in the period, it’d be the Flames who strike again as the Canucks defense suffers a fairly large defensive miscue. With Edler down low on Chatfield’s side, no one picks up the streaking Spencer Foo, who receives the pass and outwaits Demko to pot home Calgary’s 2nd goal of the hockey game.



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That was it, no joke. Saw a couple of good saves by Demko, one notable stop on a cross-ice attempt. Brandon Sutter had a couple of good scoring chances but all in all a tough way to start off at home. Score would remain 2-0 Calgary heading into the intermission.


2nd Period


2nd period kicked off relatively well for Vancouver, with a couple of nice scoring chances. None were bigger than Sutter being awarded a penalty shot after a solid power move got himself a breakaway. However, Sutter got stoned on the backhand attempt by Flames netminder David Rittich. A few minutes later, a one-handed pass by Gaudette back to the point on the powerplay gets intercepted by Dillon Dube of the Flames, who comes in and sauces a beautiful cross-ice feed to Andrew Mangiapane who blasts the shot past an outreached Demko to make it 3-0 Flames…


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The Canucks were oh so close to getting back on the board, but Reid Boucher just missed a snipe top shelf, ringing it off the underside of the bar. The period would then wind up a shooting gallery on Thatcher Demko, who would have to make a couple of stops against a few Flames breakaway chances, stopping both he faced. The period would end in a 3-0 lead for Calgary, and it was looking bleak for fans of the home team.


3rd Period


Part of me believes Travis Green ripped a strip into this team after the second period because the Canucks finally started to show what they could do. The first chance was Palmu coming out from the corner and lifting the puck above the top corner far side on the backhand. A few minutes later DiPietro, who was making his first appearance of the preseason after relieving Demko to start the 3rd period, had to make a great save from the slot with his glove before the Canucks would come back down on the counter-attack. A Boucher shot would be stopped, but rebounded right to Adam Gaudette who’d be robbed on the 2nd effort by Flames goaltender Tyler Parsons (Theme for the period).


Finally though, the Canucks would make something happen. Edler would take the puck in on his off side, wrap around the net and then finds Brendan Leipsic on the near boards. Leipsic would then do this.



After the great goal by Leipsic, Boucher had a great chance hit the side of the net. Then Gaudette tried to come out of the corner and stuff a shot far side, which after a scramble is followed by Zack MacEwen ringing a shot off the near post. Another couple of minutes go by and Boucher rings yet another attempt off of the iron poles keeping the net up. Boucher kept up the great play in the 3rd, feeding Brendan Leipsic cross-ice, only for Leipsic to be stoned by the glove of Parsons.


In the end, the Canucks couldn’t beat Parsons again and Calgary forward Juuso Valimaki would seal it with an empty-net goal with .5 seconds remaining in the game.




Both photos courtesy of Natural Stat Tick




The Good

For 2 periods, this game was rough to watch. However, there were a couple of Canuck players tonight who I really thought stepped it up when they needed to.


Olli Juolevi: Lots of concerns with Olli Juolevi heading into training camp and the pre-season, but at least through this first game. He was easily the best defenseman on the ice tonight. When the team was struggling, he was keeping the Flames to the outside, breaking the puck up ice seamlessly, showing off great passing and not showing any signs of being stressed or panicking with the puck. When the Canucks were playing well, he didn’t make any mistakes and helped the attack. This is the type of game Olli plays, and I was extremely impressed. Understanding the competition the Flames presented tonight wasn’t NHL quality, for the most part, it’s still a great sign. Especially considering there was another Canucks blueliner fighting for a job who didn’t have the greatest of nights…


Brendan Leipsic: Someone who needed to have a great game after being ‘average’ as Travis Green put it. He wasn’t great throughout the game, but man oh man did he show up in the 3rd period. With a great goal, and multiple high-quality scoring attempts. He brought himself back into the conversation for the top 6 winger spot against Baertschi and Goldobin. Now, he’s going to have to have a game like this versus NHL caliber players to really put himself back in the conversation, but a game like this helps his cause.


Reid Boucher: Not in competition for a spot out of camp, Boucher flashed the shot that made him a solid prospect years ago. Ringing 2 shots off the inner part of both the crossbar and the post. A great AHL player, Boucher’s time to become a full-time NHL player has probably passed him. A great piece to have in case of an emergency, however, and should help the Canucks at some point this season.

Michael DiPietro: The young netminder isn’t in competition for any job coming out of camp, but he showed well in his only period of work. Making a couple of slick saves with the glove while not allowing a goal in the period. Good to see from the young lad, who I expect will have a fantastic year in the OHL.


The Average

You guys thought I was going to put ‘the bad’, well surprise! Really though, there were quite a few players who took their sweet time getting going, but when they got going pushed themselves up to be mentioned.


Adam Gaudette: A real up and down game for Gaudette. A little bit of a defensive miscue with Chatfield and Edler on the second goal of the hockey game. Then his one-handed pass got picked off and turned into the eventual 3-0 goal for Calgary. On the flip side of that, he was strong on the penalty kill, had a lot of quality scoring opportunities all over the ice, and I never felt like he was being dominated at any point. Would like to see him hit the net more with his one-timer on the power play, but overall an average game. As far as helping his chances to make the team, wouldn’t say this game helped him. Definitely didn’t hurt him.


Petrus Palmu: Another case of a player who took time to get going, but was all around the ice in the 3rd. A good number of offensive chances, and really showcasing his speed and skill while being physical. Good chance on the backhand coming out of the corner, and was also a player on the penalty kill. Again, nothing really gained for Palmu but didn’t cost himself anything.


Thatcher Demko: Statistically, Demko had a rough night. Allowing 3 goals on 21 shots against. All in all, if it wasn’t for Demko overplaying the 1st goal of the game, I’d say he was strong in between the pipes. There wasn’t much he could do about the 2nd or 3rd goal, and he made a couple of big stops on a few Flames breakaway opportunities. Now, I don’t think Demko upped his stock with a game like this, however with how bad Nilsson performed last night I’d say Demko is still in the driver seat for the backup job. That, of course, is only if the backup spot is truly up for grabs. Something Iain MacIntyre has put into question.


The Bad

Now, I don’t want to be too overly negative on the team. With that being said, I feel an obligation as a writer to call out poor play when I see it, and one player, in particular, is going to feel my wrath.


Derrick Pouliot: Goodness gracious, what a truly awful start to the preseason for him. Didn’t look comfortable at all, was a tire fire on defense, and his breakout passes and plays in the offensive zone were an eyesore. With as much competition as there is for those couple of spots on the Canucks blue line, he probably took himself out of the race with one game. He looked brutal against primarily AHL competition, and with Del Zotto, Hutton, Sautner, and Juolevi all competing with him, I’d say he’s dead last in that battle. Now, hopefully, Pouliot shows this game turns out to just be a blip on the radar because if he doesn’t I see him starting the season in the press box.


Camp Battles

As for the training camp battles. Olli Juolevi definitely pushed himself up into the forefront for a spot on the blueline out of camp, but we’ll need to see him have this kind of performance against NHL caliber guys before we can give him the lead. Demko however, is ahead in the battle for the backup position on the basis that he didn’t suck, while Leipsic pulls himself back into the picture for a top 6 role.


Top 6 winger alongside Horvat – Boeser: Goldobin, Baertschi, Leipsic, Eriksson (Top 3 are pretty neck and neck right now, however, Leipsic needs to beat out Goldobin/Baertschi performance in order to avoid the waiver wire.)


Left side defense on pairs 2 + 3: Del Zotto, Juolevi, Hutton, Sautner, Pouliot (Juolevi and Hutton are tied, Hutton’s mixed game versus better competition helps him pull even with Juolevi’s strong game versus weaker competition for the time being.)


Backup goaltender: Demko, Nilsson (Demko is firmly ahead right now, but Nilsson’s contract gives him another chance to get himself back in the race.)


Top 6 winger/center spot: Gagner, Granlund, Gaudette, Dahlen (Not much changed here, no one has really separated themselves from the pack. With Gaudette and Dahlen needing to blow away Gagner and Granlund, I’d say right now there’s a 70% chance they’ll both be going down to Utica.)


Thanks for the read everyone, back at it again tomorrow night!

  • Kneedroptalbot

    I disagree with your Goaltending accessment. Demko was not good tonight, he can probably develop the most by playing a lot of games. After parts of 2 pre-season games I would say Nilsson and Demko are similar. Both need to find their game.

    • netminder50

      Disagree with your disagreement … He’s played against AHL talent and has done well. Goalies get better by reacting to faster players and I think that’s what he needs. Losing will suck but his reaction speed to shot release and dangles needs to increase. Worth exactly $.02

    • Nuck16

      Demko should start the season in Utica until he gets his groove and is hot. During that time, Nilsson should get every opportunity to show he belongs in the NHL…if he’s playing great at the time when Demko deserves to be called up, then we trade Nilsson…and if Nilsson is terrible, then we waive and assign.

  • Kanuckhotep

    It’s Early. Green just needs to look at his kids presently. No one will remember these games anyways but it’s always interesting to watch. Good writing.

  • Rodeobill

    After last game, I thought Goldy was a shoe in ahead of Leipsic, but Leipsic made a good case tonight too, and he can probably do well on pk in a jiffy too. Poor Gaunce, I kind of thought this was going to be his game to shine, but it looks like he’ll be back to the AHL too. Pouliot didn’t look THAT bad to me, and I thought Guddy had a really strong game too. I definitely agree with the OJ part of this post game, he was the best D on the ice tonight. Gaudette played OK, but he really needed to step up and stand out this game, I think this game confirms most these guys could do themselves a favor by sharpening up in the AHL, some more than others. I get caught up in the excitement of all our prospects and think they should be on the big team, but after this game against Calgary’s second stringers, I realized many of our shiny prospects could do with a little more polish yet. Not that they wont get there, just not there yet.

    • Nuck16

      Both Goldy and Leipsic need to be on the team. The only exception would be if we can get a good return for Leipsic in a trade. It would be a tragedy to waive either of them while keeping someone like Gagner on the roster.

  • wjohn1925

    Thanks for the write-up, especially the good, the ‘average’ and the bad. Wouldn’t disagree with any of your observations. One thing that crossed my mind while watching the first period in particular was how disorganized, and even confused, we looked. So many passes to empty spots. Missing assignments etc. I wondered about the amount, or lack, of practice time together, versus the Flames group which had been playing as a group for most of the training camp. This is not an excuse, but we sure didn’t seem to be on the same page, at least for the first two periods.

  • PQW

    What a disaster this is… beaten by Edmonton’s scrubs, now humiliated by Calgary’s pee wee never-gonna-bes.

    Guys WAKE UP – THIS is a massive pre-cursor for the season, with prospects and vets playing for their NHL lives… these are NOT meaningless games, so stop living in denial… FIVE YEARS into the so-called ‘rebuild’ and the team Benning was ‘turning around in a hurry’ is STILL a perrenial bottomfeeder – it’s a bloody disgrace… isn’t it?

    • Holly Wood

      PQW, is you dislike the team, it’s management, it’s prospects so much, do your mental health a favour and leave this group. Can I suggest perhaps Montreal or Ottawa as teams that need fans right now. Your act has worn thin on this site.

    • jaybird43

      PQW, no it’s not a disgrace. It’s typical for a team that had nothing in the cupboard, no top quality prospects. You should ignore whatever Benning says, because part of his job is to try and sell tickets. What he has done, is re-stock the cupboard. Look around the NHL, friend, and see how long it takes for a rebuild. Unless you are lucky enough to snag a generational talent (Crosby, Ovie, Malkin, McDavid, etc.), consider that 7-8 years is the norm. Sad … but true.

      • Defenceman Factory

        PQW is a troll. He is trolling. He only posts to annoy people. I don’t understand why he does it but the more attention he is given the more likely he is to continue.

      • PQW

        Birdman it IS a disgrace – it’s been seven years since the cup final run and five since Benning was given a clean slate to ‘retool’ – and we are still NOT getting out of the NHL basement – no more DENIAL or EXCUSES.

        Benning was gifted Horvat, Tanev, Hutton, Markstrom etc and a Calder cup FINAL team in Utica ff – PLUS he has had high draft picks since arriving… but as these pre season games are proving, we are going BACKWARDS man. Can’t you blowhards SEE THAT. Trevor did, I have and GAME GOING FANS have… Guys, show some respect to the paying public and SEE it for what it is – a TRAINWRECK!

        • Green Bastard

          Come on PQW, all this troll hate cuz Jim didn’t accept your offer of a Weinstein rub down? “We” are not getting out of the basement? “We”??? YOU maybe.

      • I wouldn’t put any stock into this game and make any excuses, jaybird43, as there were zero core players here. If you contrast what we currently have with the Blackhawks when they were winning Stanley Cups, we have a Toews (Horvat), Kane (Pettersson), Sharp (Boeser), Keith (Hughes), Seabrook (Juolevi, hopefully), and a Crawford (Demko). We may have someone who can be our Hossa (Dahlen?). Everyone else is complimentary and that’s ok because no team can really afford more elite core players without getting too top heavy (i.e. Blackhawks now). Those first six guys will probably comprise 40-50% of our salary structure.

    • Green Bastard

      PQW, the humiliated pee wee never-gonna-be a real troll. I thought you LIKED Dube and Foo? Now they join you AS pee wee never-gonna-bes? You are a perplexed pup

  • Gored1970

    I thought your assessment of the Canucks’ performance against the baby Flames was fairly accurate. Juolevi looked great and Pouliot looked awful. I would add that Lind and Gadjovich were invisible and will be joining Gaunce in Utica. We need scoring from the D but wrist shots into the goalies logo from the point isn’t the answer. We need someone with a cannon on the point. We are 0/13 on the PP against AHL goaltending. Hopefully they will pare down to a manageable number and work on systems.

    • Dinsdale

      You’re right–neither Lind nor Gadjovich stood out.
      Alarmingly, Gadj looked slow. Since the Canucks love the “assemble the squad” scenario, I was surprised they didn’t try re-teaming him with former OHL linemate Palmu, who at least looked engaged and enthusiastic.

  • Captain Video

    After the game, Gudbranson had the following to say about Juolevi: “I thought he had a really solid game. In a weird way, he sees the game kind of similar to me.” Way to throw the kid under the bus, Guddy!

  • Kanuckhotep

    Just to add as the pre season progresses it’ll get more real as guys get sent down and the veterans get rolling. More and more you’ll see what will be closer to the real line ups and it’s pointless to sees these initial games as anything indicative as to what you’ll see come Oct 3rd. Still, everyone, isn’t it great having hockey back and not have to listen to who Donald Trump insults next?

  • Nuck16

    OK this game was a bit of a snoozefest…but excited about tonight where we should get our first look at Brock and Petty on the same PP unit…I’m going popcorn shopping.

  • wojohowitz

    There seemed to be something else going on. Edmonton played like they spent last weekend doing drills and practising teamwork and structure. Calgary played with youthful enthusiasm hoping to impress the coach. The Canucks were tentative and played like they didn`t want to make a mistake. Green might be over coaching when he should just turn loose the hounds,

  • kermit

    It was a snooze fest, especially compared to the Edmonton game. But not only was the line up filled with prospects, they were prospects likely to be bottom 6. The D had more veterans, but it’s the same D as last year, so we know not to have high expectations.

    • Beer Can Boyd

      Also, Jared McCann scored 2 goals last night. He would be the #2 centre on this team. Instead of the borderline 5/6 defenseman we got in trade for him.

      • I agree. I hated the Gudbranson trade as I pegged McCann as our 2C behind Horvat. I think McCann has a lot more upside than disgruntled Canuck fans will give him credit for. After all, when he was traded, he did the work over the summer and bulked up to nearly 200 lbs. I don’t think McCann will ever be a #1 but he could probably be a higher-end middle-6 centre.

      • North Van Halen

        Can you leave the horse alone? It’s dead. I mean the vultures have gone and it’s only bones now, yet you keep smacking away.
        We’ve not only heard this for 3 years now, almost to a man, we’ve said the trade is a mistake.
        Why don’t you beat the dead horse of Burrow for Dahlen or
        Goldie for Hansen or Leipsic for Holm or Granlund for Shinkaruk?

      • North Van Halen

        And on that note, why isn’t Leipsic for Holm lauded as an absolute steal. Leipsic has 35+ point/season potential and Benning acquired him for the 10th best defenceman on one of the worst d corps in the NHL. A guy that never played an NHL game for Vegas and is now in Russia?

      • Nuck16

        Plus we also gave up a higher draft pick than Jonathan Dahlen, plus we protected Guddy in the expansion draft…neither of the assets we gave up were expansion draft eligible. Yup.

        • North Van Halen

          And just to get this straight , you’e saying because Burrows & Dahlen were available in the expansion draft we shoudn’t acknowledge those were great trades for the franchise.

          Wow, I’m not even sure what to say to that other than, wow.

    • wojohowitz

      That`s a good point about Boucher with 7 SOG on 12 attempts. He could teach some of these young guys about how to find time and space. Both Gaunce and Gaudette seem to shoot while in a crowd and in a rush.

  • speering major

    I have to admit that after reading about Palmu here, I just thought he was a guy that gave the analytics crowd a nerd-boner. I really like his game and think he has a legit shot at making the NHL in a year or two. He skates well and thinks the game well. His size doesn’t keep him on the perimeter and he battles well.

    It will be interesting to see what happens to Leipsic. I’d like to see him be given some time and not let him get picked up on waivers. Leipsic looks great in open space and there was lots of that vs a minor league roster last night. He needs to show he can be dangerous, not just buzzing around in the neutral zone and on the perimeter. I suspect he will fall behind Goldobin on the depth chart but he’s earned some time to prove himself imo

      • jaybird43

        I think LAKID and PQW are fantastic additions to this site. Makes almost all other comments look good by comparison … No matter how stupid what I’ve said is, I can look at myself in the mirror with pride and say, “Ah well, let it go – it wasn’t as dumb as those guys typical post. But I am very curious as to why LAKID hangs out here in particular – seems that he’s given up any semblance of offering up thoughtful critique, and it’s just a bit of circus show for him?

    • kermit

      LAKID trolls like a teenager, mostly one liners, so he’s easy to ignore. About once in every hundred comments he actually says something funny. There are others here who post like angry incels.

  • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

    Thank god Loui Eriksson is now officially reinjured and on the shelf! Good riddance to Loui. Now another spot is open for a young kid (at least for a few weeks). Go shine kids and make Loui “earn it” to get back into the lineup (TG’s double standard). #playthedamnkids

  • KD87

    Hutton looked like he didnt understand all his new muscles whrn he fired those field goals from the point. Gaunce looked more like a permanent ahl guy than boucher. Pouliot needs to stronger on his stick and keep his head up and wait a second or 2 longer when he has the puck.
    Also running the same play over and over was bad as the baby flames figured out the pass is always off the back hand into the zone. The canucks are quick enough now to implement some dump and chase rather than getting picked off at the blue line.