After a less-than-stellar preseason the place they might solely choose up two wins, the Vancouver Canucks will wipe the slate clear with a visit to Alberta to face the Edmonton Oilers for his or her first regular-season recreation since a 6-2 loss to the Calgary Flames in Might. Listed here are three issues that have to occur for them to start out the 2021-22 season on the correct foot.
1. Keep Out of the Penalty Field
The Oilers had the very best energy play within the NHL through the 2020-21 season they usually stand to maintain that crown in 2021-22. Anchored by the two-headed monster of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, they scored 48 energy play targets in 56 video games and transformed on 27.6 % of their probabilities. Through the 10-game sequence final season, they had been in a position to rating 11 targets on 37 alternatives. For folks preserving rating at residence, that could be a success price of 29 %.
Through the preseason, the Canucks not solely had issues staying out of the field, however additionally they struggled on the penalty kill. With the offseason losses of Alex Edler, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, and Loui Eriksson together with the present accidents to Tyler Motte and Brandon Sutter, they will ailing afford to be shorthanded on this recreation. The Oilers are simply too good on the ability play to let alternatives cross them by. In the event that they take too many penalties, they are going to get burned ultimately.
2. Comprise McDavid and Draisaitl
Each staff goes right into a recreation in opposition to the Oilers hoping to close down the famous person duo of McDavid and Draisaitl. More often than not, they fail. Over six seasons within the NHL, McDavid has solely didn’t hit 100 factors twice. He put collectively a staggering 105 factors in solely 56 video games final season and is poised to do the identical once more this season. He additionally has three Artwork Ross Trophies, two Hart Trophies, and three Lester B. Pearson Awards in his trophy case. To not be outdone, Draisaitl has already hit the 500-point plateau in solely 478 video games and has one every of an Artwork Ross, Hart, and Pearson Award as effectively. So, shutting them down is often a idiot’s errand.
The one factor the Canucks can hope to do is comprise them and restrict their probabilities. Sadly, historical past isn’t on their aspect on the subject of doing that. In 31 profession video games apiece, McDavid and Draisaitl have a mixed 31 targets and 89 factors. Final season alone, they torched the boys in blue and inexperienced 15 occasions in 10 video games. To have any likelihood at profitable this primary matchup, the Oilers’ present model of Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri can’t be given free rein of the offensive zone. Going again to the primary key, additionally don’t hand them an additional weapon by giving them time on the ability play.
3. Maintain the Puck Away From Mike Smith
Regardless of what number of occasions the Canucks have performed in opposition to Mike Smith whether or not it’s with the Oilers, Arizona Coyotes, or Calgary Flames, they nonetheless haven’t been in a position to determine how you can preserve the puck away from him. Each staff within the NHL is aware of how a lot he likes to play the puck. Sure, he’s good at it, however that doesn’t imply you possibly can’t preserve him from being an element with strategic dump-ins and consciousness when he has the puck on his stick.
Through the preseason, the Canucks had been burned a number of occasions on line modifications when Smith determined to one-up the puck to a ahead or defenceman hanging out at their blue line. On this recreation, they want to pay attention to that and both preserve gamers late or dump the puck softly into the nook the place he can’t exit and get it.
Canucks March to the Playoffs Begins Now
The Canucks and Oilers met 10 occasions final season with the Oilers profitable the season sequence 6-4. Going again to final season, the Canucks are driving a two-game profitable streak after a 6-3 victory on Might 6 and a 4-1 triumph on Might 15. Elias Pettersson was not within the lineup for each of these video games and can make his return to regular season ice for the primary time since Mar 2, 2021.
The Canucks will want a scorching begin from Pettersson and Quinn Hughes in the event that they hope to make any noise within the Pacific Division this season. All of it begins right here in opposition to the Oilers. If they will come out of this preliminary six-game highway journey with a profitable document, it should go a protracted strategy to constructing confidence that this staff is usually a playoff staff in April.
Projected Line Mixtures, Defence Pairings & Beginning Goaltenders
J.T. Miller – Elias Pettersson – Alex Chiasson
Tanner Pearson – Bo Horvat – Conor Garland
Matthew Highmore – Jason Dickinson – Nils Hoglander
Justin Dowling – Juho Lammikko – Vasily Podkolzin
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Tyler Myers
Quinn Hughes – Tucker Poolman
Brad Hunt – Luke Schenn
Thatcher Demko: 3-6 all-time in opposition to the Oilers with a 3.04 targets in opposition to common (GAA) and .913 save proportion (SV%)
Leon Draisaitl – Connor McDavid – Jesse Puljujarvi
Zach Hyman – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Kailer Yamamoto
Warren Foegele – Derek Ryan – Colton Sceviour
Brendan Perlini – Ryan McLeod – Kyle Turris
Darnell Nurse – Tyson Barrie
Duncan Keith – Cody Ceci
Kris Russell – Evan Bouchard
Mike Smith: 17-11 all-time in opposition to the Canucks with a 2.69 GAA and .911 SV% together with 4 shutouts
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance author, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects basically. He loves speaking about younger gamers and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks followers and followers of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content material data, you possibly can observe Matthew by his social media accounts that are listed beneath his photograph on the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.