Yearly since he joined the NHL, Quinn Hughes has began his NHL common season by dealing with the Edmonton Oilers. A standing date towards the perfect participant on the planet just isn’t precisely a stroll within the park for a younger defenseman.
“It is at all times a struggle,” the Canucks’ new captain stated. “They have been itching to go immediately. They have been able to go, and we have been simply taking part in actually good hockey.”
As a reminder, here is how these 4 earlier matchups turned out.
- 2022-23: Edmonton 5, Vancouver 3
- 2021-22: Edmonton 3, Vancouver 2 (shootout)
- 2020-21: Vancouver 5, Edmonton 3
- 2019-20: Edmonton 3, Vancouver 2
Final 12 months was a specific kick within the tooth. In Edmonton, the Canucks bought out to a 3-0 lead by the early phases of the second interval earlier than the Oilers began chipping away and earned the comeback win. That set off a downward spiral of dangerous luck and blown leads that snowballed into an 0-5-2 begin for Vancouver, which did not win its first recreation till Oct. 27.
That document had slipped to 18-25-3 when Bruce Boudreau was fired on Jan. 22, 2023 — proper after a 4-2 dwelling loss to Edmonton.
On Wednesday night time, the Canucks’ try and reposition themselves as playoff contenders within the Pacific Division could not have gone any higher. Brock Boeser led the best way along with his first-career four-goal recreation whereas J.T. Miller and Elias Pettersson every had a aim and three assists because the Canucks trounced the Stanley Cup-seeking Edmonton Oilers by a rating of 8-1 — their greatest opening-night margin of victory in franchise historical past.
— NHL (@NHL) October 12, 2023
Conor Garland and Dakota Joshua additionally scored for Vancouver.
Edmonton’s lone aim got here off the stick of Leon Draisaitl, from down low on a second-period energy play, with assists to Connor McDavid and Evan Bouchard.
EDM VAN recreation one. October 11, 2023. Leon Draisaitl aim energy play aim. Connor McDavid help and Evan Bouchard help. 1-4. pic.twitter.com/hPbyR7Ds1f
— Nation Community Media (@NationNMedia) October 12, 2023
However that was all she wrote. After setting an all-time NHL document with 32.7 % power-play effectivity final season, the Oilers begin off at 25 % this 12 months, 1-for-4 on the night time.
In the meantime, Vancouver went 3-for-6. That fifty % effectivity ties them with the Toronto Maple Leafs (2-for-4) for the early league lead with the person benefit.
And whereas the Canucks’ opening-night penalty-kill fee of 75 % is not a lot better than the 71.6 % fee that left them lifeless final within the league final season, they’re going to fortunately take that end result towards McDavid and firm — particularly as a result of they did not enable a shot on an early puck-over-glass penalty towards Tyler Myers, 5:02 into the primary interval.
After only one apply along with his new staff, Sam Lafferty was thrown out to take the defensive-zone draw towards Draisaitl — paired with Miller because the second ahead within the shorthanded scenario.
“He is type of a bull — he is so much to deal with,” stated Miller of the 28-year-old, who additionally hails from simply outdoors of Pittsburgh. “It is type of a tough recreation to get thrown into the combo on the P.Ok. towards them, proper? However he seemed good tonight.”
Barely a minute after that first penalty kill was full, the Canucks reversed the circulate of play as Garland labored a give-and-go with Pettersson.
AND THE FIRST GOAL OF THE 2023-24 SEASON GOES TO CONOR GARLAND❗️ pic.twitter.com/VhqlstXr4b
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) October 12, 2023
With that early momentum on Vancouver’s facet, there was no wanting again.
“It is good to get off on the proper foot after what occurred final 12 months,” Miller stated.
At 5-on-5, Vancouver coach Rick Tocchet addressed McDavid with a five-man unit — Miller, Boeser and Phil Di Giuseppe up entrance, with Hughes and Filip Hronek on the again finish. The matchup paid off in spades: three targets for Boeser at even power and nothing for the NHL’s reigning scoring champion.
“The underside line is, we have been at a pre-season stage of labor ethic and a pre-season stage of execution, all of us,” stated Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft. “We bought a lesson in regular-season work ethic and regular-season battle stage.”
And whereas each groups have been taking part in with pared-down rosters, the Oilers appeared to really feel it extra — particularly with the continued absence of injured Mattias Ekholm after he did such a powerful job of stabilizing Edmonton’s again finish after his trade-deadline acquisition final 12 months.
For salary-cap causes, either side iced 17-skater rosters made up of 11 forwards and 6 defensemen. And whereas Jack Campbell was pulled as Woodcroft tried to alter momentum after the Edmonton starter surrendered 4 targets on 16 photographs by way of 27:30, Stuart Skinner suffered an almost equivalent destiny: 4 targets on 16 photographs by way of the remaining 32:30.
Edmonton ahead Dylan Holloway additionally left the sport halfway by way of the third interval after blocking a pair of photographs on the penalty kill.
The Canucks additionally used each their goalies, however underneath considerably completely different circumstances. Thatcher Demko left the sport simply earlier than that third-period energy play started, after stopping 21 of twenty-two photographs. Making his Canucks debut, Casey DeSmith stepped in to make 5 saves the remainder of the best way.
Tocchet confirmed after the sport that Demko had been affected by dehydration, because the flu has been going across the Canucks’ dressing room.
Rick Tocchet says Thatcher Demko was pulled as a result of he’s battling the flu, was dehydrated and threw up in his masks
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 12, 2023
Sooner or later after stories surfaced that Garland’s new agent, Judd Moldaver, has been granted permission to hunt a possible trade, the 27-year-old did not see the ice after the 5:33 mark of the third interval. Miller and Hughes have been additionally held out for the final 10 minutes or so, however they did not appear to be worse for put on after they spoke to the media after the sport. Each are anticipated to play massive minutes in key roles this season.
“We began shedding some our bodies on the finish,” stated Tocchet, as soon as once more referencing the flu and dehydration. “I assumed the blokes managed the sport. That is one thing we have been speaking about.”
With 17 groups having performed their first video games of the 12 months by way of Wednesday, Vancouver’s gamers will sit first general within the NHL standings as they take pleasure in a staff break day on Thursday, due to a league-leading eight targets for and plus-7 aim differential. No staff has recorded a shutout but, both, so the Canucks’ one aim towards has them tied with final 12 months’s Presidents’ Trophy winners in Boston and the Stanley Cup champs in Vegas as they arrive out of the gate.
Lofty firm. And whereas it is simply as enjoyable to fantasize about Boeser’s 328-goal tempo because it was when Auston Matthews made his dazzling NHL debut, Vancouver’s gamers are conscious there is a lengthy street forward — together with a rematch on Saturday in Edmonton, the place the humbled Oilers will probably be seeking to change the narrative round their staff with each the final change and the house crowd on their facet.
“There’s numerous instances they’re gonna get the higher of you, but it surely feels good tonight,” Miller summarized. “However I preserve going again to: We wish to be an even-keel group and a day-by-day group. So take pleasure in immediately, after which transfer on.”
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