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Instant Reaction: Quinn Hughes does captain things and leads Canucks to win over Oilers

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Photo credit:X/@canucks
David Quadrelli
6 months ago
It wasn’t pretty, and it didn’t come without concerns, but tonight, the Vancouver Canucks won their first game of the preseason thanks to Quinn Hughes. The final score was 5-2, and we’ll have a full recap of the game out shortly. This is instant reaction!
This was a game the Canucks absolutely should have won, having iced what we expect will be their opening night lineup against a Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl-less Edmonton Oilers squad.
The first period was a bit of a disaster, as the Canucks played low-event hockey, were outshot, and looked subpar at five on five (which has been a bit of theme this preseason…). Again, the Oilers were without their two best players while the Canucks dressed all of theirs, so that’s where most of the first period concern from fans came from.
But in the second, Quinn Hughes gave Canucks fans plenty to cheer about, as he scored not one but two goals. The first didn’t show off Hughes’ new and improved shot, rather, it was his overall skill and hand eye coordination that were on display for his first of the period and second of the preseason.
On his second goal of the period, Hughes showed off his shoot-first mentality! It wasn’t the prettiest, but they count all the same.
At this point, Hughes had the Canucks out front, and from there, it was smooth sailing as the Canucks kept their foot on the gas and took control of a game they should have perhaps controlled sooner than they did.
If Hughes can manage to put up a goal total in double digits while maintaining the same level of defensive play and overall point production that he put up in 2022-23, he’s almost certainly going to get increased attention for the Norris Trophy this season. It’s just preseason, but Hughes’ new shoot-first mentality has resulted in three goals already. Rick Tocchet said this morning that he thinks Hughes added 10-20 miles per hour on his shot this offseason, and it’s hard to disagree with that statement.
Some other notes and random thoughts I had tonight:
-With three minor penalties tonight, are we close to seeing the Quinn Hughes-Cole McWard experiment coming to an end?
-Sure, the Oilers were missing their two top guys, but any night when the Canucks’ penalty kill goes 4/4 is a good night!
-Phil Di Giuseppe didn’t start camp on JT Miller’s line, but now that he has it, it’s good to see him keep his head down and keep working. It sure looks like he’s not going to be giving up that spot anytime soon.
-Brock Boeser is up to four assists and nearly had a fifth tonight. That’s good!
-Which line is the Canucks’ “shut down line”? It looked like the Miller line got the tougher matchups tonight, but will Elias Pettersson’s line soon take on that role?
On this Saturday night, I leave you with this question, dear readers.
Look at tonight’s lineup.
What changes do you think we’ll see to this lineup by opening night? I’ll go first. I think Noah Juulsen gets another shot next to Hughes in at least one of these final two preseason games and that he’s in the spot where McWard was tonight on opening night. I also think Ethan Bear signs at the start of December and that the Canucks try to tread water until then.
What else will be different about the lineup? Let me know your answer to that, along with your instant reaction to tonight’s game in the comments section below!

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