By: Brayden Fengler and Trent Leith / October 16, 2023
Welcome back to StadiumChinatown.ca‘s Weekly Fares! For those of you who might be new around here, this is your one-stop shop for everything Canucks from the week before. Whether you missed a couple of games, or want to freshen up on what happened last week, we got you covered.
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Game 1: October 11th vs. The Edmonton Oilers
The Canucks first regular season game had a much different pace and outcome than the team’s first exhibition game last month, much to the delight of many fans. Vancouver iced their ideal roster on opening night with Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller, Quinn Hughes, and Thatcher Demko all in place for the team.
Conor Garland opened the scoring for the Canucks just under 10 minutes into the opening frame, assisted by Pettersson and Noah Juulsen. However, Garland’s early entry quickly became overshadowed by the production of another Canuck, one not often a part of the usual suspect list/leadership core mentioned previously.
Miller found Boeser in the slot with a behind-the-back centering pass from the corner of the offensive zone, for Brocks’s first goal of the season.
The first period of the season ended with the Canuks up two goals and only allowing 6 shots on net. However, Boeser had more things that he wanted to say to start the second period.
Just over four minutes in, after a controlling Canucks attack in the Oilers zone, Boeser happened to be in the right place at the right time, collecting a bouncing Miller rebound and purposefully redirecting his second goal of the night into the back of the net.
Brock really was the story of the night. Not only was it great to see a relatively overlooked and counted-out player come into his own on opening night, but it couldn’t have happened to a better person. It’s been widely reported that Boeser has had a lot to deal with personally over the last few years, most recently with regard to the passing of his father in May of last year.
Seeing the joy on the face of Boeser as he scored these goals (on top of the congratulatory embraces from his teammates) feels powerful to watch, and truly deserved for a player and person like Brock.
Just minutes later, Petey snapped a centering pass from the corner of the Oilers zone that accidentally found Boerser’s leg and found the back of the net. It wasn’t Boeser’s prettiest goal, but it gave him three and brought hats raining down from the stands.
The remainder of the second period saw Elias Pettersson earn his first goal of the season and Leon Draisaitl net his first as well. Leaving the second frame 5-1 in favour of the Canucks.
The third period was more of the same for Vancouver, and of course, included another Brock Boeser goal. one for every period and a fourth overall to cap off his night.
The Oilers wouldn’t find the back of the net for the rest of the game, whereas J.T. Miller and Dakota Joshua for the Canucks each added another to the team’s goal total, bringing the final tally of the game up to 8-1.
Most notably in the third period, Canuck’s starter Thatcher Demko was replaced by Casey DeSmith. This immediately had eagle-eyed fans fearful of a possible injury to the team’s top goalie. Head coach Rick Tocchet later confirmed that Demko had been battling the flue all night, and after “throwing up in his mask” the call was made to have DeSmith finish off the extremely tilted contest.
Rumors, Pettersson & Garland
Despite the production from Pettersson and Garland in Wednesday’s game, they weren’t without their own online ridicule from fans and media. Firstly, Elliotte Friedman mentioned on the 32 Thoughts Podcast on October 9th that Pettersson is hesitant to commit to the Canucks, and in turn, the Canucks are hesitant to sign him long-term.
While it is likely that nothing comes of the rumours and that this is nothing but posturing for negotiations, this is not what you want to see from your team’s superstar just two days before the season opens on what could be Pettersson’s final season with the Canucks.
Then the following day, on October 10th, Garland, entering his third year of a five-year deal, changed agents and was granted permission to talk with other teams to try and facilitate a trade.
This alone shouldn’t be much of a shock, since landing in Vancouver, Garland has been the center of trade rumours and speculation that he wants out of Vancouver. This new agent and permission from the team to look elsewhere was considered by some to be selfish timing. On the eve of the new season, headlines quickly contained Garland’s name and the spotlight was solely shining on him.
All this being said, Boeser requested a trade last season, was granted permission to speak with other teams, and eventually Boeser rescinded his request, and it looks like it worked out for him. “Winning cures all” is cliche, but it is cliche because it is true.
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Game 2: October 14th vs. The Edmonton Oilers
On Saturday the Canucks faced off against a very angry Edmonton Oilers team looking to make a statement after the schlacking they took on opening night in Vancouver. The Canucks needed to be ready for a very different team. They were.
Casey DeSmith made his regular season debut backstopping the Canucks and going head-to-head with Stuart Skinner, also making his first start for Edmonton.
The first shift of the game the Canucks got a taste of the Oilers we all expected to see this season. The Canucks got swarmed in their own end and DeSmith had to make several five-alarm saves early before Draisaitl was able to put Edmonton up 1-0 in the first minute.
Andrei Kuzmenko was the next to score with a crafty tip off a Quinn Hughes shot from the point. Credit to the Canucks, they certainly looked like a very different team. The tying goal was Kuzmenko’s first goal of the season.
The Canucks took the lead late in the first period after yet another tip in front of the net by Nils Höglander off a Boeser point shot. Höglander. Nils is a player who will be the best version of himself while playing with other gifted offensive players, and it’s already showing as he scored while playing alongside Boeser and Pettersson.
McDavid scored the two-all goal after Noah Juulsen made a bad turnover on the penalty kill to Draisaitl, who immediately took the puck to the net and caused havoc. McDavid pulled the puck out of the crowd and made no mistake tying the game.
Shortly after, Pettersson and Jack Studnicka scored the go-ahead goal on a clean two-man breakaway. But do you know what wasn’t clean? Darnel Nurse’s backchecking. Pettersson smartly plays the angles to force Nurse away from Studnicka to allow for a clean shot on the net, but Nurse has none of that and takes out Pettersson’s legs. In the end, no one was hurt (except Nurse’s feelings) and the Canucks retook the lead.
Nuggent-Hopkins would score a seeing-eye goal on DeSmith on the powerplay to tie the game at three a piece in the second period. At the time of the goal, the Canucks were 1 for 3 on the penalty kill, which is concerning to say the least.
In the third period, Sam Lafferty scored what would ultimately be the game-winning goal with a powerful drive to the net.
What a world we are living in, a winger wearing number 18 drives hard to the net and scores a goal with nothing but sheer will. On the play, Höglander picked up his second point on the night which is promising for the young winger after such a tough season last year.
After starting the game going 1-3 on the PK, the Canucks killed off five straight penalties, including a two-man advantage finishing with an even 75% on the night against one of the best powerplays of all time. I’d call that a win. The Canucks are 8-11 on the PK (72.73%) through both games against the Oilers to open the season. That is not going to lead the league, but there is much more room to grow once the Canucks start to face some lesser opponents. The penalty kill looks fundamentally different and is likely to make significant strides in comparison to the last few seasons.
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