It was the final preseason game of the year as the Vancouver Canucks iced a lineup that closely resembled what we will see for the season opener on Wednesday.
Brock Boeser, Tyler Motte, Jason Dickinson, Travis Hamonic, and Brandon Sutter were not in the lineup but aside from those five, these are your 2021-22 Canucks.
Thatcher Demko got the start for the Canucks while the Oilers sent Mikko Koskinen between the pipes.
#Canucks lines vs Edmonton:
— David Quadrelli (@QuadreIli) October 10, 2021
The Canucks iced a strong lineup for their final tune-up of the preseason but the Edmonton Oilers went a different direction. They were without their two superstars and top defence pairing.
Without Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the Canucks were primed to put on a show against the Oilers.
It’s that time of the post game report.
One minute into the period saw an exchange of cross-checking penalties that sent the game into early four-on-four action.
Jack Rathbone had a couple of good shots on net and one of them led to a scramble in the crease that gave Elias Pettersson a quality scoring chance on the backhand.
Evan Bouchard took a penalty with 12:54 remaining in the period. That sent the Canucks to their first power play of the game. The penalty moved into a commercial break, which meant that the Canucks were able to get a fresh first unit on the ice.
Alex Chiasson was back on the first power play unit and that leaves Boeser’s status on PP1 in question as he continues to nurse an injury.
Both Rathbone and Oliver Ekman-Larson were on the second unit as the Canucks look like they will run two defencemen on that second unit. The power play expired without much of a threat of scoring.
Late in the period, J.T. Miller took a penalty, giving the Oilers their first power play of the game. Though they were without their top power play guys, Evan Bouchard wired a slap shot from the point that went right past a screened Demko. 1-0 Oilers.
The Oilers quickly added to their lead after a Luke Schenn turnover that led to Brendan Perlini scoring a goal off of the misplay. 2-0 Oilers.
The Canucks went back to the power play with 17.8 seconds remaining when Bouchard took his second penalty of the period. The Canucks were unable to get anything going as the final seconds ticked away. 102.8 seconds of their power play was set to carry over into the second period.
Thoughts from the first
It felt like the Canucks’ fourth line was a final audition for each of Justin Dowling, Matthew Highmore and Phil Di Giuseppe. One or two of these players could very easily find their way into the opening night lineup. Di Giuseppe was the only one who stuck out of the trio. He did a good job transitioning the puck out of his own zone.
The Canucks dominated possession throughout the period. At the halfway point, they were dominating in the shot department by a count of 9-1. They had a ton of chances in the period but the Oilers were the team that capitalized on their opportunities and that left them with a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Stuart Skinner replaced Koskinen in the Oilers’ crease to begin the period.
The Canucks went back to the power play with 13:57 remaining in the period. It was another commercial break so the first unit was well-rested for their next attempt with the man-advantage.
It was a horrible start as Hughes got the puck tangled up in his skates and the Oilers pounced on it, creating a turnover. Kailer Yamamoto was sprung in on a breakaway and deked to the forehand before roofing it over Demko. 3-0 Oilers.
The Oilers killed off the penalty and with that kill, the Canucks were unsuccessful in their three attempts.
Miller took his second penalty of the game with 8:10 remaining in the period. The Canucks were able to kill the penalty off on the backs of their fourth line all getting run during the two minutes. Di Giuseppe had a good block and clearing and continued to look like the best of the fourth-line bunch.
The lines began to go into a blender and the most interesting trio had to be Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Höglander flanking the wings of Pettersson.
There were coincidental roughing penalties late in the period and that resulted in 115 seconds of four-on-four to start the third period.
Through two periods, the Canucks looked like they were playing a tight defensive game. They only allowed 13 shots in the first 40 minutes but trailed 3-0.
Thoughts from the second
It was a strong 40 minutes for Tyler Myers, who held a 90.5% Corsi as the game went into the third period. Myers was moving the puck well and had a couple of good offensive rushes. David Quadrelli was at the game and sent me a message saying “Myers has been the Canucks’ best defenceman tonight.”
Quinn Hughes’ defence was what stuck out to me. He was doing a great job blocking passing lanes while simultaneously closing in on opponents. It’s only the preseason but it is a good sign for what’s to come.
There were some good scoring chances early on but the Canucks continued to struggle at capitalizing. They were getting shots from good spots but couldn’t find the back of the net.
The Oilers went over 12 minutes without registering a shot on net. The Canucks were controlling the possession but it never really felt dangerous. They had the puck in the offensive zone but struggled to put together three good passes to generate a scoring chance.
The fourth line was able to get a goal as Di Giuseppe scored from Dowling and Highmore. This brought the Canucks within two goals with six minutes remaining. 3-1 Oilers after the Di Giuseppe goal.
— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) October 10, 2021
The Canucks pulled their goalie with three minutes remaining.
They immediately gained the zone and began spinning the puck around. The good passing came to a conclusion when Hughes made a hard pass that deflected off of Miller’s stick and into the back of the net. Pettersson had the second assist on the goal. 3-2 Oilers after the Miller goal.
— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) October 10, 2021
They pulled the goalie again with two minutes remaining. Pettersson made a good move from the left side and drew a penalty with 72 seconds to go in the period.
The Canucks had a strong effort in the final seconds of the game but were unable to beat Skinner to tie the game up. They lost the final game that doesn’t count in the standings.
Thoughts from the third
Miller had a clutch goal but seemed to bobble the puck quite a bit in the third period. He lost a possession late in the third from a fumble that forced the Canucks to re-enter the zone and just looked to be off by a beat.
Thatcher Demko was very hard to assess in this game, he just barely saw any shots in the game. He allowed three goals on 18 shots.
The Canucks did a great job of controlling the puck in the offensive zone and in so, gave Demko a very quiet night between the pipes. The three goals that were scored on him were from either a perfectly aimed shot or a great passing play after a giveaway. The game was a slow one but meant a lot to a handful of players.
Alex Chiasson spent almost the entirety of his ice time in the offensive zone and that is a solid final showing before the opening night decisions are made. It really feels like Chiasson has earned a spot on this team after signing a professional tryout and having a strong training camp and preseason.
Jack Rathbone is the other name who likely punched his ticket into the opening night lineup. He got this game over Brad Hunt and Olli Juolevi and that seems to suggest that he won the battle through camp.
The final name who may have made the team was Phil Di Giuseppe. He is in a battle with Zack MacEwen, Matthew Highmore and Justin Dowling for a fourth-line spot with Sutter and Motte out of the opening night lineup. Scoring a goal is a good sign but it was more about how he played. He has a lot of energy and played significant shorthanded time throughout the preseason. Di Giuseppe can play all three forward positions, though he is primarily used on the wing. He has shown well over the past two weeks and looks to have carved out a spot in Travis Green’s lineup.
It’s now crunch time for the Canucks’ coaching staff and management group. There are decisions to be made about which players will be on waivers before the regular season rosters are completed. Olli Juolevi is on the chopping/trading block, Chiasson needs a contract, and the fourth line is still not set in stone.
It’s going to be a busy few days as the Canucks prepare for the season opener on Wednesday when they kick off a six-game road trip in Edmonton.