Vancouver Canucks, Thatcher Demko

Canucks Opener: Facts And What To Look For In Game-1

Canucks Game Facts

Tonight: Edmonton Oilers at Vancouver Canucks

Where: Rogers Arena

When: 7 pm pacific, with actual puck drop 10 to 20 minutes later

TV/Radio: Sportsnet, Sportsnet-1, / AM-650

Key Factors:

Starting goaltenders: Thatcher Demko for Vancouver, Jack Campbell for Edmonton

Chaos is too strong a word, but tumult might be accurate to describe the Canucks preparation for this one, much of it out of their control. There’s apparently been a bit of flu/cold bug running through the room and there’s still a couple of lingering injuries.

Winger Ilya Mikheyev would love to play, is apparently very close, but won’t be available with his recovering knee. D-man Carson Soucy’s lower body injury, suffered in the final preseason game, will keep him out of the line-up.

Meanwhile, that “elevator” to the AHL we referred to last night remained active Wednesday. Forward Vasily Podkolzin was sent back down to the Abbotsford Canucks while defenceman Akito Hirose was once again called up. That presently means this for the D-corps in the opener, which is how they stacked up two days ago before Hirose went down and then back up:

Quinn Hughes – Filip Hronek

Ian Cole – Tyler Myers

Akito Hirose – Noah Juulsen

Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet said D-man Guillaume Brisebois and forward Teddy Blueger are game time decisions, so that pecking order could change. Broadcaster Brendan Batchelor reported the following power play units:

J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, Andrei Kuzmenko, Quinn Hughes

Anthony Beauvillier, Conor Garland, Pius Suter, Nils Höglander, Filip Hronek.

There are a few new faces in the mix, which leads to another key factor.

Special Teams

The Oilers power play last season was other worldly, setting a record with a 32.4% success rate, led by superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. They weren’t as efficient during their trial runs this preseason, but again, it’s the preseason. They’ll enter the NHL regular season with a great deal of confidence.

The Canucks ended up with the 11th best PP in the NHL at 22.7 and are loaded with their own star power in the 1st unit. The 2nd unit with its new bodies will likely see limited action.

The Oilers penalty kill last year was not good, 20th in the NHL at 77%, while the Canucks PK was abysmal, dead last in the league at 71.6%. New addition Blueger was supposed to help, but he’s questionable for the opener. Tocchet will try other new faces, but for now it’s the best PP against the worst PK on paper. Dangerous.

Coming In:

Canucks: 0-and-0, preseason record of 2-3-and-1, coming off a 3-1 win at home against the Calgary Flames on Friday night.

Oilers: 0-and-0, preseason record of 5-2-and-1, coming off a 3-1 victory at home last Friday night against the Seattle Kraken.

Recent Canucks:

— More Moves; Canucks Salary Tap Dance, New Bodies, Waivers

— Simmer’s Sunday 9: Canucks, Kraken, Pacific North Rivalry

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.