Instant Reaction: Canucks wrap up their pre-season by beating Flames

Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Dave Hall
6 months ago
Welcome back to Instant Reaction — the series here at CanucksArmy where we give you our instant reaction to tonight’s Vancouver Canucks game and ask our readers to do the same in the comments section below!
Well, that’s a wrap on the preseason, folks.
The Vancouver Canucks hosted the Calgary Flames for their sixth final exhibition game, closing out their preseason with a 3-1 victory. As they headed into this game, the lineup closely resembled what we can expect on opening night.
And it showed.
Right out of the gate, the game had a much livelier pace compared to Wednesday’s matchup, and was, overall, much more of an entertaining match.
Of course, perhaps scoring a goal within the first minutes will do that…
A quick start?! A Tyler Myers goal?! 
Speaking of Tyler Myers, he had a strong game. Paired with Ian Cole for the first two periods, he skated 10:07 and led the entire team in CF% (81.25%) and was noticeably more effective. He finished the game with a total of 72.73%. 
It appears that playing a more sheltered role, as opposed to playing 20-plus minutes on average last season (second to only Quinn Hughes), may actually be a benefit to his game. Are we shocked? 
Heading into the match, much of the discussion centered around the team’s defensive pairings. After spending a good portion of the preseason paired with Cole McWard, it was time for the Canucks to audition the duo of Filip Hronek and Quinn Hughes.
From an analytics perspective, Cole and Myers were the better pairing. However, It doesn’t take long to see that this Hughes-Hronek duo is the clear top option for the club on a night-to-night basis.
For what it’s worth, we’re not likely to see them together regularly throughout the season. Their chemistry could prove invaluable in critical game situations, and they likely will be used in them, but on a consistent basis, I’d say that it’s probably not in the cards.
Earlier on Friday, Rick Tocchet doubled down on his previous “committee” talk from the other day and said:
“We’re not scared to experiment. I don’t think that you have to play with this guy to build chemistry all the time”. He also mentioned, “I think the way we are built, that we are a committee team”.
Hearing this, I’d anticipate them to ice a more well-rounded unit, something similar to what we saw on Wednesday night.
Speaking of defenceman, the club’s worth nightmare came to fruition late in the second.
When taking part in these pre-season matches, the one thing you ask for is for players to stay healthy. Of course, with one period left, in the final game, Carson Soucy left down the tunnel and did not return.
Hopefully, it was strictly for precautionary reasons, otherwise, it is a massive shame to see this newly invested defensive scheme get broken apart before it even begins.
Of course, this broke up the planned line combinations, and the defensive units continued working their “committee” for the third period.
It was nice to see Teddy Blueger come out and show off some nice hands to put them up 2-1 midway through the second.
He’s set to play fourth-line minutes, so don’t expect that every night, but it’s nice to see that he can.
I mean, what a play by Hughes.
Finally, as if it couldn’t get any more impressive, Phil Di Giuseppe scores his second goal of the pre-season and his fifth point in three games. Perhaps there’s some untapped offensive prowess, after all?
I am curious to hear how Canucks fans feel about Phil Di Giuseppe playing top-six minutes alongside JT Miller and Brock Boeser. There seems to be mixed feelings within the market on the decision, with many thinking that he’s not a top-six guy – not now, not ever. Playing him in such a spot brings up a much deeper depth issue.
I get it. He’s not a very “sexy” pick to be playing offensive minutes. 
And yet, he seems to bring heart and hustle to that line. He wins board battles and grinds in the corners, allowing Miller and Brock to worry about their offensive game. With five points throughout the pre-season, it’s hard to argue the results.
Some other random thoughts I had from tonight:
– The night and day change of our defensive structure is incredibly encouraging. With only 11 goals in the pre-season, there are worries that players may be overthinking the system too much, but in the long run, things appear solid. They also bring another strong showing on the penalty kill, going 2/2 in the evening.
– I still have no idea where this club is going to get their secondary scoring from. Keeping them out of their own net is definitely going to help the record, but goals still need to be had. But from where? Seeing Myers, Blueger, and Di Giuseppe score is nice, but will that be a consistent thing? I argue not.
– Where exactly does Nils Hoglander play in this lineup? He was given a top-line role, and it did not work. He plays middle-six minutes, and it doesn’t seem to work. There is a buzz saw player in there, I just wonder where it fits in the scheme of things.
What was your instant reaction to tonight’s game? Let me know in the comments section below. Stay tuned for the full recap of tonight’s game!

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