Finally Hockey Is Back!
The Vancouver Canucks kicked off the pre-season playing the San Jose Sharks this evening. The two franchises played two separate games in two different cities with both organizations fielding two squads. Two games were played with the first starting in Vancouver, BC and the second in Stockton, California. The game in Vancouver saw several of the Canucks’ young stars as well as a couple of the core players playing together for the first time this season.
The Vancouver Game
In an off-season that saw more changes than any other in franchise history, the Canucks played surprisingly cohesively in a solid 4-2 win. This game saw the Canucks’ high end prospects excel and with a tantalizing first look at the Canucks new first line. The game was a relatively even affair that saw back and forth momentum shifts until the Canucks took over in the final ten minutes of the third period with Bo Horvat scoring the winning goal and Linden Vey scoring an empty netter to seal the game.
Bo Horvat climbed onto the score sheet with his first goal in a Canucks uniform scoring on a rebound chance at the top of the slot. The highly touted 2013 9th overall pick has faced a lot of pressure in Vancouver but said he felt some weight was off his shoulders after scoring the goal. Horvat played a highly efficient game and had a few good chances tonight.
Tonight was the first time Canucks fans got a chance to see Linden Vey play in a Canucks jersey. The 23-year old Vey was acquired for a 2nd round pick during the 2014 draft and hopes to become be a part of the Canucks’ youth movement. Vey impressed tonight with three points and excellent play. It’s unclear at this point what Vey’s destiny is but it’s likely he will make this team out of camp. Most Canucks’ fans weren’t sure what they were getting with Vey but were impressed with his creativity and vision this game.
One of the biggest stories for the Canucks this training camp has been the emergence of prospect Hunter Shinkaruk. The soon to be 20-year old Shinkaruk has been the Canucks’ best offensive player throughout camp. Shinkaruk scored a goal and an assist tonight. Once again Shinkaruk displayed a slippery offensive game as he scored from a dirty area right in front of the net. There is a growing buzz among the Canucks’ faithful that Shinkaruk should make the opening day roster as he’s one of the most dynamic and talented forward prospects the Canucks have had in recent memory. Shinkaruk’s performance in camp is all the more impressive considering he hadn’t played a hockey game before this camp since 2013 due to injury.
Tonight also saw the debut of Radim Vrbata in a Canucks’ jersey. The big name free agent sniper signed with the Vancouver Canucks this off-season and looks to be one of the most skilled compliments the Canucks’ have had in awhile. The Canucks are hoping the Czech sniper will be able to click with the Sedin twins and be the key trigger man for the Canucks’ offense. While Vrbata was kept off the score sheet tonight, he looks to have one of the best shots on the club.
Jordan Subban had a great game tonight opening the scoring for the Canucks on a slapshot from the blueline. Subban showed snazzy puckhandling and distributing ability while drawing favorable comparisons to his Norris trophy winning older brother PK Subban. The 19-year old Jordan Subban is showing confidence and maturity beyond his years in camp and is arguably the best defensive prospect the Canucks have had since Alexander Edler.
Alexander Edler left the game early after taking a puck to the face. It’s speculated that he left due to precautionary measures and will be available to play future games. Canucks’ prospect Peter Andersson also suffered a minor injury during the game but remained on the bench and will likely still be available for future games.
The Vancouver Goalie Factory Is Producing
Eddie Lack was in net tonight for Vancouver. There is a vocal minority amongst the Canucks faithful that believe Lack should’ve been given the number one job and that he could be an elite netminder. The 26-year old Lack had an extremely impressive stretch after the Canucks traded franchise netminder Roberto Luongo last year but the wheels came off the bus when Lack was made to play 17 games in a row to close the season. Lack looked to be in mid-season form as he turned away all the shots he faced.
Joe Cannata came in midway through the second period. The 24-year old Cannata has gotten somewhat lost in the Canucks’ system but has quietly worked his way up to playing back up for the Canucks’ AHL farm team for the last two years. A 2009 6th round pick for the Canucks, Cannata displays good mechanics and drive but his destiny remains unclear. Cannata was beaten twice tonight but picked up the win.
The Stockton Game
Unfortunately there was no feed and very little media coverage of this game. The Canucks lost 5-2 to the Sharks in Stockton. This game was marked by strong performances from Joe Thornton and Jacob Markstrom. Nick Bonino and Nicklas Jensen were the Canucks’ scorers. From reports on Twitter Tom Sestito had a doozy of a fight with San Jose’s noted pugilist John Scott. Sestito received a game misconduct and an instigator penalty for going after Scott.