The Vancouver Canucks played their third pre-season game last night against a somewhat depleted Calgary Flames team winning the affair 3-0. The game featured very encouraging performances from the Canucks’ new players. Recently acquired Linden Vey and Radim Vrbata both scored goals. Six million dollar man and newly acquired Ryan Miller made his debut last night turning away all seven shots in his first half of the game.
The massive change throughout the entirety of the organization from a new General Manager and President all the way down to a new arena DJ showed last night. The Canucks played a very cohesive game and seem to be getting more comfortable under new head coach Willie Desjardins. One of the most exciting aspects of last night’s game was the Canucks displaying a competent and dangerous powerplay for the first time in recent memory (they were 26th in the league last year) scoring all three of their goals with the man advantage.
The New Blood
The biggest story from this game is perhaps that Ryan Miller didn’t implode into a dramatic fireball in his first appearance with the Canucks. Miller had an excellent albeit quiet night in net as he turned away all seven shots he faced in his 30 minutes on the ice. The signing of Miller was controversial among the Canucks’ faithful after Miller’s rocky post-season with the St. Louis Blues and the emergence of homegrown goaltender Eddie Lack. The Canucks will enter the season with Miller as the undisputed number one but could find themselves lost in another goaltending controversy if Miller falters and Lack surges.
There have been several great stories this camp of Canucks’ prospects making an impact. One of the best has been Linden Vey who scored a goal last night and has notched four points in his two games. Canucks fans weren’t sure what they were getting when the team traded a 2nd round pick at the 2014 Draft to the LA Kings for Linden Vey. The 23-year old Vey has impressed this pre-season being a force in the offensive zone with superior vision and stickhandling ability. Vey showed superior hockey IQ being in perfect position to bang home a rebound on the powerplay in last night’s game.
One of the most exciting acquisitions this off-season saw the Canucks ink sniper Radim Vrbata to a three year contract. The 33-year old Czech could be the shoot first player the Canucks have needed for years and should lead the team in shots this year. Vrbata did not disappoint last night scoring on a beautiful feed from Daniel Sedin on the powerplay and unleashing some cannon shots from all over the offensive zone. A Canucks fan said it best last night when they said “It only took near 15 years for the Canucks to get someone with a bomb from the hash marks for the Sedins.” Vrbata notched seven shots last night and displayed some surprisingly gritty work along the boards.
Luca Sbisa played another efficient quiet game and really seemed to click with his defensive partner Chris Tanev. Sbisa was acquired as part of the controversial Ryan Kesler trade this off-season and looks to find his place as a physical defensive defenseman on the Canucks blueline. The 24-year old Sbisa threw a couple of big hits and will likely be the most physical defenseman on the Canucks this year.
Chris Tanev was a revelation manning the point on the powerplay. The 24-year old defenseman came from nowhere as a young free agent signing to blossom into being one of the Canucks’ best defensemen. Tanev played over five minutes on the powerplay and was a big part of it’s success last night. Displaying an absolute laser beam of slapshot last night, Tanev notch an assist and looks to be in mid-season form.
Jannik Hansen scored a beauty of a goal when he unleashed a fierce one-timer on the powerplay. The Great Dane is known as a tireless forechecker and displayed his blazing speed last night hindering the Flames’ breakout. Hansen will be looked upon to contribute a veteran presence as he bounces around the line-up this year.
Bo Horvat had a consistent quiet game playing more of a defensive role for the team. The general conscientious is the 19-year old Horvat will make the Canucks this year and start off in more of a defensive checking role. The destiny of the 2013 9th overall pick is up in the air as he’s had a quiet training camp. It remains to be seen what Horvat is capable of at the NHL level and if he’ll be playing more than nine games with the Canucks.
Joacim Eriksson took over in relief for the second of the game from Ryan Miller. The 24-year old Swedish netminder had another good outing turning away all 11 shots he faced while looking very composed in net. The Canucks will likely be overloaded with goaltenders this year with the recent waiving of Jacob Markstrom and prospect Joe Cannata competing with Eriksson for ice time on the Canucks’ AHL farm team in Utica. Eriksson how looks to have NHL potential and will likely get an opportunity somewhere if not Vancouver in the next year or two.
Brad Richardson left the game with an undisclosed injury. Richardson’s status remains unknown at the current time.