The Preseasies: Silovs gives up 7 goals as Canucks get annihilated 10-0 in preseason debut
Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
2 months ago
Ah yes, we’ve arrived at every Canucks fan’s favourite part of the preseason: the opening road trip squash match against the Calgary Flames.
Welcome to the Preseasies™, a place for us backup Stanchies writers to shake off the rust before the season truly begins!
We all get why these preseason mismatches occur. The home team ices 80% of their opening night lineup against a visiting team’s AHL squad in a transparent ploy to inspire consumer confidence.
This preseason opener saw Vancouver send nearly their entire complement of depth goaltenders alongside Abbotsford’s starting defence and top six to Calgary. With the exceptions of Pius Suter and Dakota Joshua, the bulk of the Canucks’ forwards were guys competing for a spot on the 4th line or as the team’s 13th forward.
The exception to the Canucks’ depth-forward-heavy roster was Nils Höglander, who spent most of training camp stapled beside Elias Pettersson and Andrei Kuzmenko on the 1st line. Preseason has always been an audition period for guys on the cusp of an NHL job. Last season, Höglander and Nils Aman played the most games. However, it was Jack Rathbone who played more minutes than any skater during the 2022-23 preseason—that audition period resulted in all three starting the season on the NHL club, with Rathbone and Höglander seeing themselves demoted to the AHL after the club’s inauspicious start.
We’ll try not to get too Stanchies with this recap! It was a slaughter. The boys in blue and white didn’t stand a chance.
Let’s get into the game!
The Canucks opened the game by winning the opening faceoff. If I were a betting am—and I am—I’d bet the bankroll on the Canucks winning the Stanley Cup. You’d just have to ignore the 60 minutes of awful that occurred after said faceoff win.
For real, though. The Flames began the opening few minutes with a ferocious attack on Arturs Silovs, with the Canucks’ struggling to wrestle control of the puck for a clean breakout. Pius Suter’s first play in the Canucks blue & whites saw him kicking the puck out of the d-zone to give Vancouver a much-needed line change.
Sadly, not long after the Canucks first foray into the offensive zone, Dakota Joshua went down with an injury before a puck redirected off of Jett Woo’s skate and past Silovs to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
GOAL – 1-0 Calgary Flames – Jordan Oesterle (1)
Woo then put the Canucks on an early penalty kill after running a not-so-subtle interference on Nazem Kadri.
The Canucks PK did a great job to stifle the Flames’ offence. Unfortunately, seconds after the Flames’ power play ended, Matt Coronato capitalized on a rebound at the side of the net to make it 2-0 Calgary.
GOAL – 2-0 Calgary Flames – Matt Coronato (1)
Off the following shift, Danila Klimovich took a hooking penalty that put the Canucks immediately back on the PK. Fortunately, Silovs drew a goaltender interference penalty against Kadri to negate the Flames power play opportunity.
Some good came during the 4-on-4, with Aatu Räty entering the zone for a shot on Jacob Markstrom.
Look, it’s not much, but the Canucks were underwater through the opening 10 minutes, and opening a game recap with an endless run of lowlights kinda sucks.
Speaking of lowlights, Max Sasson drilled Ilya Solovyov into the endboards in pursuit of a loose puck, sending the Canucks back to the penalty kill for the third time in less than nine minutes.
Johnathan Huberdeau then undressed Noah Juulsen so hard that it felt cruel to post the GIF.
Alas, I’ve got bills to pay, and GIF money pays well.
GOAL – 3-0 Calgary Flames – Jonathan Hubderdeau (1)
The Flames’ Dennis Gilbert then caught Höglander with a hard hit up high inside the Canucks’ d-zone.
Höglander got up as though nothing had happened, but new guy Matt Irwin stepped up to engage in a tussle with Gilbert.
As expected, it was a brutal period of hockey to watch. To no one’s surprise, the Flames dominated with possession inside the Canucks’ zone. The defensive coverage was atrocious, with guys not rotating properly nor skating quickly enough on loose pucks. Vasili Podkolzin, who has had a quiet training camp thus far, was caught napping on a puck exchange at the blue line, allowing Chris Tanev an easy run down the left wing.
Again, it’s dumb to critique player performances when the team as a whole was so thoroughly outmatched. But with Rick Tocchet behind the bench, little things like proper rotations in the d-zone will surely be noticed.
Then the Flames scored again.
GOAL – 4-0 Calgary Flames – Nazem Kadri (1)
Unsurprisingly, the Canucks generated their first sustained bit of zone time off a Höglander zone entry, resulting in shot attempts from Räty, Woo, and Linus Karlsson.
Tanev continued his reign of terror against his ex-team, tying up with Podkolzin on a race toward Jacob Markstrom that saw the young Russian collide dangerously with the goalpost.
Mercifully, with five seconds left in the period, the Canucks drew a holding penalty against Connor Zary to give themselves a power play opportunity to start the second period.
A power play unit featuring Podkolzin, Suter, Höglander, Rathbone, and Cole McWard kickstarted the period for Vancouver. McWard had a nice shot on Markstrom set up by Rathbone, but it was slim pickings for offence otherwise for the Canucks’ power play.
Räty continued to show off his improved skating with an end-to-end rush for a shot attempt on Markstrom.
Sure, the puck bobble on the shot attempt wasn’t great, but the wheels to evade the pressure of two Flames forwards on the breakout was an excellent look for the young Finn.
Kadri then took his second penalty of the game to hand the Canucks their second straight power play of the period. Unfortunately, McWard got dinged for hooking 25 seconds onto the power play, negating the Canucks’ badly-needed man advantage.
On the penalty kill, Matt Irwin appeared to go knee-on-knee with Jonathan Huberdeau just outside the Canucks’ bench.
Calgary’s Adam Klapka challenged Irwin to a fight after Huberdeau left the ice to go down the tunnel. Irwin declined the invitation to scrap from the 6’8″ forward, drawing a cross-checking penalty against the big man to send the Canucks to another power play.
Pius Suter registered a shot on Markstrom off a nice blue line hold from Podkolzin.
Otherwise, it was more ‘nothing’ for the Canucks’ special teams.
The Flames then remembered that they were playing against an AHL squad and continued to do more damage against goalie-guild favourite Arty Silovs.
GOAL – 5-0 Calgary Flames – Jonathan Huberdeau (2)
Yes, that’s Jett Woo missing his hip-check on Nazem Kadri at center ice. Yes, that whoopsy gifted Kadri and Huberdeau a glorious two-on-one rush. Yes, they scored a beauty.
Following Huberdeau’s second of the night, Höglander endeared himself to Tocchet-style hockey with a brutal reverse hit on Dennis Gilbert that sent the big defenceman dangerously into the endboards.
Yadda yadda yadda, the Flames scored again.
This time, it was a poor outlet pass from Noah Juulsen rebounding off the skate of Dryden Hunt and out to Matt Coronato for his second goal of the night.
GOAL – 6-0 Calgary Flames – Matt Coronato (2)
Seconds later, Noah Hanifin made it 7-zip.
GOAL – 7-0 Calgary Flames – Noah Hanifin (1)
Following Hanifin’s goal, Tocchet finally, mercifully, pulled Silovs from the net and sent Zach Sawchenko to face down the firing squad.
In the back half of the period, Irwin had a shot attempt. That was neat! I guess.
Uh, what else?
Pius Suter executed an end-to-end rush for a shot on Markstrom. That was neat, too! I guess.
It took 40 minutes, but Jack Studnicka generated the Canucks most dangerous scoring chance of the game, a quick slapshot on Markstrom off a slick redirect pass from Irwin off his skate.
Sadly, the third period began as scheduled, meaning the Abbotsford Canucks were in for another 20 minutes of hockey against the Calgary Flames.
Feeling confident in their narrow 7-goal lead, the Flames swapped netminders, replacing Jacob Markstrom with Oscar Dansk. Wanting to test the new guy coming in cold, Studnicka generated his second dangerous look of the game with a shot off Dansk’s blocker from the slot.
Two minutes in, the Flames got a power play off a Linus Karlsson holding penalty.
GOAL – 8-0 Calgary Flames – Connor Zary (1)
Ben Jones then made it 9-zip.
GOAL – 9-0 Calgary Flames – Ben Jones (1)
What’s there to say, really? Rathbone was engaged in a battle with Matt Coronato behind the goal line before taking a bump from Dryden Hunt that knocked him out of the chase. Coronato then set up Ben Jones with a short pass to the left circle, with Räty caught reaching lazily and Sheldon Dries late to react to the pass—tough look from the Canucks’ forward group.
Midway through the third, with the Flames chasing goal number 10, Adam Klapka took a slashing penalty off a post-whistle scrum to send the Canucks to the power play.
You can probably guess what happened.
Anyways, two minutes later, Dakota Joshua ran a blatant pick at the Flames’ blue line that resulted in an interference penalty and a Calgary power play.
Dillon Dube nearly made it 10-zip. Fortunately, Sawchenko made a huge stop with his left pad to hold the puck from crossing the goal line.
On the other hand, Matt Coronato made it 10-zip seconds later with the hat trick snipe over Sawchenko’s glove side.
GOAL – 10-0 Calgary Flames – Matt Coronato (3)
Not much can be said about the final 10 minutes of the game beyond, “Well, at least they kept the Flames from scoring an 11th goal!”
Cole McWard registered the Canucks’ fifth shot of the period, which drew a smattering of sarcastic cheers from the few Canucks fans in the crowd.
It sucked, folks. It really sucked.
The Canucks were out of their depth. Their AHL complement did not have the size, speed, or IQ to hang with the Flames’ big boys. Jack Studnicka held his own and generated some of the team’s best looks. But they were few and far between. Akito Hirose finished with the second-highest ice time on the team and somehow managed to never be on the ice for a goal against. Nothing happened for or against with Hirose on the ice. The Canucks outshot the Flames 10-3 at 5-on-5 with Cole McWard on the ice. The Canucks were outscored 5-0 and outshot 13-8 with Jett Woo on the ice at 5-on-5.
What does it mean? Not much!
The most you can say about the players is that some guys stood out, Räty, Irwin, Studnicka, and McWard chief among them, and most did not!
We’ll do a stock watch instead of our usual “three stars” since no one really deserved one.
Players who raised their stock in the 10-0 blowout: Aatu Räty, Jack Studnicka, Cole McWard, Matt Irwin, and Max Sasson.
Players whose stock stayed the same: Nils Höglander, Pius Suter, Nils Aman, Dakota Joshua
Players whose stock fell: Jett Woo, Linus Karlsson, Aidan McDonough, and Vasily Podkolzin.
Again, this was an NHL top-six facing an AHL team. Linus Karlsson looked slow, but this was an NHL top-six facing an AHL team. Aidan McDonough accomplished nothing without the puck, but this was an NHL top-six facing an AHL team. Woo got crushed at 5v5, but this was an NHL top-six facing an AHL team. Podkolzin looked ineffective and appeared to be overthinking everything he did, which would matter if it wasn’t an AHL team facing a bona fide NHL top-six.
If you want to read heavily into player performances, be my guest. But everyone who looked good in this game will probably look bad in the next one, and everyone who looked bad will probably look good in the next one.
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