The Vancouver Canucks slipped on the Oilers leak as the fell 3-2 to Edmonton in the season opener for both sides. Not only was the game a return for hockey, but it also treated the Oilers fans to their first look at their revamped team. This year at The Puck Authority, I will be looking at some of the more random, underreported things that happen in each game or even just what pops into my mind. The column will change throughout the season and will get better, but here it is, the first edition of “Benny’s Bits.”
Nice pass Horvat at 5:30 into the game
The lead pass from Horvat up to Tanner Pearson was one of my favourite parts of the first period. The Oilers were controlling the play in the Canucks end. Bo Horvat, with his now veteran presence, positioned himself along the boards, opening himself up for a pass if the Canucks defence were to retrieve the puck. He did get the puck and launched new linemate Tanner Pearson onto a breakaway.
Although Pearson failed to get the puck past Mike Smith, the chemistry between the two new linemates and Horvat’s positioning are very promising things for the Vancouver Canucks.
Erikson’s Spinorama at 4:18 remaining in the first
Loui Erikson, who many thought would never see the ice in a Vancouver jersey, especially in this game. Well, he pulled off a spin-o-rama with 4:18 remaining in the first period. Sure, it amounted in nothing more than a muffin of a shot for Smith, but hey! Erikson did something, kinda.
The Oilers were not good last year. That’s a well-known fact. These fans clearly got the memo and are enjoying the first game of their season. Presumably these fans are season ticket holders with such nice seats. Are they going to keep up these antics throughout the season?
The Canucks had the Green Men for a while, do the Oiler’s have “The Finger?”
Pressure, Pressure and more pressure
For most of the first period, the Canucks were unable to string anything together in the offensive end. Anytime that the Canucks would get the puck into the offensive end, an Oilers stick would soon poke it away. It was not until late in the third period did the canucks forwards find their mojo, especially Elias Petterson who held the puck in the oilers end for a good long time, only to have his scoring plan foiled by the evil villain known as the clock.
Yes, Vancouver trailed by one at the end of the period, but the pressure and promising offensive passing in the dying moments was very promising.
The first goal of the season.
Quinn Hughes on PP1? Pssssh, Nah we don’t need that. Alex Edler looks JUST FINE!
Edler scored the first goal of the season for Vancouver and extended his lead for the highest-scoring defensemen in Canucks history. The old, reliable Swede now has 95 goals. Five goals away from becoming the first Vancouver defensemen to hit 100 goals.
The way the powerplay looked was fantastic and is what Canucks fans have been waiting for since the team’s glory days in 2011. Edler walked the line wonderfully, opened up space and fired his slap-shot past Mike Smith.
If Edler can do this throughout the season and the power play looks as smooth as it did, things should be good for the Canucks.
The new helmet rule
A rule change that was underreported over the offseason was that of the helmet rule. This season, players who have their helmets fall off have to get off the ice as soon as possible.
Connor McDavid could have been assessed a minor penalty on Vancouver’s first goal when his helmet came off and he failed to remove himself from the ice surface. However, the Canucks scored so he did not get the penalty.
Zack Kassian is a changed man since he left Vancouver. His off the ice journey is well documented as his rehab from addiction and alcoholism has improved since his move away from Vancouver.
On the ice, his play has also improved. Not only is he a leader in the locker room and a constant physical presence on the ice, but his basic hockey skills have also reached a much higher level.
His goal against Vancouver had many Canucks and Oilers fans alike absolutely stunned. Where did that shot come from? Picking out top corners? That’s not the Zack Kassian we all have gotten to know.
Look at this player. Is this the guy you would expect to snipe top shelf?
Nope, I didn’t think so. Yet he did.
Prior to the season opener, Kassian said to the media, “I’m just old and boring now.”
That goal did not fit his description.
Welcome to the team, Mr. Myers.
The Canucks 2-2 goal was first credited to Tyler Myers who was making his Canucks debut. The goal was eventually awarded to Tanner Pearson who got his stick in on the deflection. However, it was still Myers first point in the blue and green.
The towering defensemen played the third-most minutes for the Canucks, only behind Edler and Hughes, two on the mainstays of the lineup. It is clear that the Canucks success in the defensive end will rely upon those three and Myers performance is a good indication that he will improve the Canucks defence from what it was last year.
The difference between a good player and a great player is their game-changing ability.
McDavid was barely noticed throughout most of the evening, but when the game got to the business end of things, he showed up and changed the game as great players do. He simply walked through the Canucks defenders like a small child would walk through a museum, swiftly and smoothly.
The goal was also a failure of many Canucks players, none of them being named Jacob Markstrom. The play began with a lazy giveaway from Brandon Sutter to McDavid who went on the walk between the gap of the Canucks defenders.
As we can see in the video, neither one of them closed down the shooting lane which allowed the worlds best player an easy way through and a scoring chance which he nicely buried.
Where is Adam Gaudette?
This week in Canuck land, all of the citizens were concerned about the waiving of Sven Baertschi and Nikolay Goldobin in favour of giving Adam Gaudette an NHL roster spot.
After dominating the preseason and showing that he belongs, the former Hobey Baker winner was a healthy scratch in the first game. In the lineup was the much-maligned Tim Schaller. It made no sense to me, but then again, Travis Green is the same coach who scratched superstar rookie Brock Boeser in his first two NHL games.
Winner winner, we have a funny Twitter!
What has to happen next time?
Here’s my checklist for next time. In the next Benny’s Bits, I will go over them and see what the Cancuks did right.
- Bo Horvat reunited on PP1 with Petey and Boeser
- More defensive awareness and positioning against quick rushes.
- Use the point. Quinn Hughes, Alex Edler and Tyler Myers can shoot.
NEXT GAME: Canucks at Calgary Flames. Saturday night at 7pm Pacific.