25
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski - USA TODAY Sports

CANUCKS ARMY PRESEASON GAME 4 – CANUCKS @ FLAMES

TV / RADIO / PUCK DROP

SN, SN1 / SN 650 / 6:30 PM

THE INTRO

By now, the Canucks have given everyone a decent idea of where they’re at to start the year. Some good (Bo Horvat/Sven Baertschi connection, Elias Pettersson’s abilities), some bad (too many power play opportunities and nothing to really show for it) and the ugly (Erik Gudbranson still isn’t anything like what his contract says he is).

Tonight, the Canucks travel to Calgary to take on the cliched red-hot Flames in their final meeting before the regular season commences. It’s been chronicled here a few times (why does he do this?) that Dillon Dube of the Flames is having himself a preseason to remember. Dube potted another two goals last night against the Jets and the Canucks will have their hands full with him.

As far as the Canucks are concerned, they have their own weapons to show off so Calgary can chill out.

The NLL hasn’t started yet so for now, the Flames are the #1 ticket in town. Expect a big crowd.

LINEUPS

The Canucks will go with this group tonight:

Calgary will match with this setup:

 

PRIMED FOR THE PRESEASON

  • Vancouver made another round of cuts before tonight’s game sending Kole Lind, Jonah Gadjovich, Guillaume Brisebois, Lukas Jasek, Zack MacEwen down to Utica. Richard Bachman, Tanner Kero and Ivan Kulbakov were also sent down. Shame we didn’t get to see Ivan in action but the crease is crowded enough. Hang in there, champ!
  • Olli Juolevi will see more time tonight in hopes his progression can speed up. Losing out on a summer of preparation due to injury puts Juolevi at a serious disadvantage so even if he doesn’t crack the main roster to start, he may just get enough done early on in Utica to take over someone’s job or at the very least be the first injury replacement. Alex Biega and Derrick Pouliot can’t actually be expected to be the heroes, can they?
  • Last season was Boeser, this year it’s who else, Elias. What can’t he do? His face-off game still needs work but it feels like it’s just a matter of time before it just falls into place. The Canucks really did steal this kid in the Draft and through all the suffering, Canucks Nation may finally be rewarded yet again. Here’s hoping Pettersson puts the rest of the league on notice tonight. Nikolay Goldobin gets the nod to flank his side.
  • Erik Gudbranson hasn’t been noticeable aside from maybe his one hit. Michael Del Zotto, on the other hand, has shown himself to be the aggressor early on this preseason. Could Gudbranson still be an important part of this team with everything else passing him by in the meantime? Tough to say. Re-upping his contract makes it difficult to cheer for a defensive unit that has too many cracks to name. A trade has to be brewing, it has to be. He won’t play so exhale people.
  • J.D can’t be the only one wondering about Nikolay Goldobin? He’s impressed a lot of us but why the negativity Travis? It can’t be expected that the fans and media will get the whole story but Goldobin has been good so far and could be a surprising story early on this season. Maybe he needs to wear Tyler Motte’s jersey, who knows?
  • Goldobin will get his chance to shine tonight on the top line. He needs to do something special.

MY 94 CENTS

The preseason is awful to judge because there just isn’t a complete picture to critique. As much as the Canucks PP has been on the ice, there have really only been a few opportunities to see what the main package will be and overall what has been trotted out has been good.  Jake Virtanen is looking like he could have a breakout season which would really help the rebuild and cross off one thing that needs to happen, Brendan Leipsic has been involved and effective and if he isn’t on this team to start, there should be some questions directed towards Travis Green immediately.

Both teams are trying to finalize rosters so tonight should go a long way in helping that out.

THE FINAL WORD

It isn’t official but this game is the unofficial back half of the first Hockey Night in Canada. Let that soak in. Canucks score first and win a close one.

  • LTFan

    I watched the last game on Thursday and have to admit Gudbranson hasn’t shown much. I really don’t know how he was picked at #3 overall in the 2010 Draft? Certainly hasn’t lived up to where he was Drafted.

    Both teams should now have some of the ‘rust’ off their game and we will have a better game. For the Canucks their D is still weak. Goal tending – really a toss up between Nilsson and Demko. Both goalies have to be better if they want to be backup. So far, IMO, Demko has an edge on Nilsson for that job. It is now up to one of them show the Coaches they are that player.

  • TheRealPB

    I’m a little confused by your take on both Gudbranson and Virtanen. What makes you think that Jake has looked like he’s poised for a breakout this preseason? He’s mostly been placed in a third line energy role and he’s looked fine, but not much for a top-six opportunity. And I am far from a Gudbranson fan but even I have to admit he’s looked far better than in previous years — quicker with clearing the puck, better at closing gaps, just generally more competent.

    I don’t know why Green is down on Goldy but you cannot deny that he’s been given pretty prominent opportunities this preseason. He’s not getting sent out with the scrubs. I think he’s looked good too; not sure what it is that Green is expecting of him. I will say that he still doesn’t seem as defensively responsible as even the first few games of Petterson or Dahlen.

  • Dinsdale

    I’m a bit conflicted by your contention that “getting too many powerplays with nothing to show” when you admit you don’t have a handle on “the main package.”
    Given there’s real signs for optimism with regards to the powerplay, I’m really looking forward to seeing their ability to draw penalties and then cash in.

  • TD

    Green is down on Goldy because he takes some shifts off. If he wants to play in the NHL, Goldy has to play every shift. Green coaching style is to call players out when they aren’t 100% engaged, especially the kids. Overall, I think Goldy has taken a step forward, which has him playing with Pettersson.

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      If that is indeed how TG operates, then please reconcile how Loui Eriksson was never healthy scratched a single game the past 2 seasons? Or Guddy?

      • steviewire

        Just because Eriksson is not living up to his $6m salary, doesn’t mean he’s not an effective middle six player. The team would be worse off with him scratched. You don’t scratch a player because the GM overpaid him

    • Pettersson is going to carry Goldobin, so if Goldobin plays really well, Green should separate them and watch Goldobin flounder. Would help during the next contract talk and send a message to Goldobin: no passengers or we sell high.

  • Of most interest to me is how Demko responds. In his last outing, he wasn’t bad, but looked “Not in the zone”, if that makes any sense. Not sharp, labored, slow to react, like he didn’t warm up properly. I think he’s on fire tonight.

    The pairing of Juolevi and Tanev is also of interest. Both play an understated game, so probably won’t see any sparks. This duo may be Canucks top pairing for years to come.

    A win tonight would put Canucks at .500 in this pre season. Don’t let in the first goal.

  • Kanuckhotep

    Real big men like EG#44 quite often are gentle giant types and IMO must start using his size and slam opposition to be effective. History lesson: Harold Snepsts didn’t play 1,193 reg season and PO games for 17 NHL seasons by being Mr. Rodgers. For those who remember Big Harold he had limited skills but had to mean to play as long as he did. Let’s all hope #44 can start being this type of D man.

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      We can only hope….so long as Benning keeps handing out raises and contract extensions to these type of floater/terrible players, the fans have no choice but to hope for these guys to show something….anything

  • Kanuckhotep

    I apologize Canucks fans. Harold played 1,126 sanctioned NHL games. Sorry for this error. As for tonight’s contest Calgary will be very tough to beat this year and should be a true test for the VC. Go Canucks Go.

  • BRINGBACK BURE (Trip B)

    I’m very curious about the D still. I’m gonna focus on Juolevi and Tanev. I am so strongly hoping these two become our shutdown tandem. I liked Hutton except for that boner Edmonton miscue. Pouliot not so much!

  • I am Ted

    Please don’t put anything Butthole Burke on this site. I am begging you. Hasn’t he done enough damage already? That mental midget needs to stay gone.

    I hate to break this to you but pre-season is a good tool for development and assessment. Sure, it’s not great but it does have it’s benefits. I actually liked watching a lot of the games when the ‘main’ Canucks roster was in China. The team they left behind was physical and had edge. It was nice to see and they were relatively competitive. One grows tired of watching the local team get beat and beat up.

    Goldmember might be starting to get it. He has shown signs but then takes a step back. Hopefully it all works. I also hope Gudbranson picks up the physical edge part of his game but he has looked OK. I’m not sure why you want to push him out the door so badly. Edler should be dealt due to expiring contract and maybe even Tanev if Benning can get an overpayment. I think I prefer Motte to Gagner too!

    Tonight should be interesting. It looks like Cgy has a close-to regular season team going. Let’s see what the kids can do.

  • wojohowitz

    It is a topic of ongoing debate whether Benning did the right thing by bringing back last years top six defensemen (or even top eight). His POV is that defensemen get more comfortable and better over three or four years. The exception being Hutton who got comfortable and lazy instead. A recent example was Sbisa who definitely was better in his last year as compared to his first year.

    So there are three possibilities; (1) Stand pat. (2) Minor moves – one or two replacements. (3) A major upgrade or a wholesale change.
    What they have now;
    Edler and Tanev, Solid veterans, hard to replace.
    Stecher, Has upside, will get better, should play point on the power play.
    Hutton, Has upside, could be their best defenseman and that`s the problem.
    Del Zotto and Gudbranson, Decent bottom pairing that can fill in when needed but no upside – they are what they are.

    One question is whether Green will play mix and match and throw everyone into an uncertain state of mind. If you don`t hear from Guddy it`s because he`s quietly doing a good job. Move him away from Del Zotto and he might become much more noticeable. Does Green tinker or leave them alone.

    • speering major

      The D will have a big overhaul in the near future but I think the moves start at the trade deadline

      Hughes and Juolevi are on their way in. Chatfield is getting close and has looked like he can hang so far. MDZ and Pouliot are on the way out. Of Hutton, Stetcher, Edler, and Tanev, at least one will be moved. Maybe even 3. I think Tanev is gone if there’s a good market at the deadline. Edler might stay. If Edler stays, Hutton is gone for sure (left side log jam)

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      Just cause you “dont hear from player x” doesnt mean at all that they are quietly doing a good job. Loui Eriksson goes months on end never having his name even spoken by Shorty or Garrett, does that mean he is quietly doing a good job? Just saying….

  • Defenceman Factory

    This will be a real test for Calgary’s D prospects. The Canucks top lines could have a field day.

    Interesting to see Palmu on the 4th line with Beagle and Arch. I expect him to demonstrate adequate defensive responsibility and really surprise some flames with his speed and strength. Within 2 years it looks to me like Palmu and Dahlen will be the top 6 LWers.

  • speering major

    I called for Goldobin- Petterson- Gagner pre season. Let’s see if they have any chemistry. Seems like the flames are icing depth D.

    Big night for Oli IMO. He will be getting minutes with a solid partner and likely matching up vs some potent opposition.

    Gaudette hasn’t shown any offense in the NHL. He looked good at young stars but he hasn’t generated anything outside that. Playing with Brock against a thin blueline should be a big opportunity to show something

  • Killer Marmot

    Michael Del Zotto, on the other hand, has shown himself to be the aggressor early on this preseason.

    Del Zotto had a crappy first half of last season and a solid second half. I was wondering which MDZ was going to show up this fall. So far it’s been MDZ II.