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Not much to cheer about after the Canucks' 4-0 loss in Seattle on Saturday

October 2, 2022, 7:02 PM ET [189 Comments]
Carol Schram
Vancouver Canucks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Saturday October 1 - Seattle Kraken 4 - Vancouver Canucks 0

After the Seattle Kraken erased a two-goal deficit to skate out of Vancouver with an overtime win last Thursday night, I wrote a piece for The Hockey News about their 3-0 record to that point in preseason, and the fact that they'd shut out both Edmonton and Calgary on home ice before they made the trip up to Vancouver.

The trend continued on Saturday, when a close-to-NHL-ready Kraken lineup took down Vancouver by a score of 4-0.

Here's how Seattle lined up:

And this is the group that the Canucks took down to Seattle:

After stopping all 10 shots he faced in half-a-game of action against the Flames last Tuesday, Philipp Grubauer went the distance on Saturday. The Canucks didn't exactly make his night difficult — going into the third period down just 1-0, they managed only ONE shot on goal in the entire final frame and 17 in total for the night. But after his nightmarish first season in Seattle, I'm sure the 30-year-old former Vezina Trophy finalist must be gaining confidence from the fact that he has been perfect so far in his two exhibition starts.

Matty Beniers got the scoring started, midway through the second period. It looks like Tucker Poolman, Tanner Pearson and J.T. Miller were all digging for the puck along the defensive side boards, but Adam Larsson won the battle and chipped it up to newcomer Andre Burakovsky. With Oliver Ekman-Larsson late on coverage in the slot, Beniers had plenty of time to get a good shot away.

In the third, Alexander Wennberg and Yanni Gourde stepped up, each with three points in the period.

On top of failing to produce any meaningful scoring chances, Miller and Pearson did not have a good night defensively. They were on the ice for all four Seattle goals, three of them with their linemate-for-the-night, Linus Karlsson.

Miller and Pearson certainly have enough NHL reps under their belt that they've earned membership in the "we'll start trying in the *second* week of preseason" club. But the injuries to Brock Boeser and Ilya Mikheyev could leave the Canucks with a couple of holes to fill up front when the regular season begins in a week-and-a-half, and Karlsson hasn't done anything to earn consideration with an empty stat line so far — six shots, no points, and now a minus-three.

He is just 22, and waiver-exempt, so it's probably all-but-inevitable that he starts the season with Abbotsford.

Some teams are opening their AHL training camps early this week, so we're already starting to see significant roster cuts in some cases — including Seattle, where former Canucks Kole Lind and Brogan Rafferty were both placed on waivers on Sunday.

With Abbotsford's camp not opening till Wednesday and the Canucks off on Sunday, I suspect a few of the potential AHLers will make the trip to Edmonton for Vancouver's road game on Monday night, then the cuts will follow on Tuesday.

Another candidate for at least a fill-in role on the big club, Nils Hoglander also got a top-six look on Saturday night, on a line with Bo Horvat and Vasily Podkolzin. His stat line for the night is not bad, relatively speaking. In 15:33 of ice time, he had two hits, a takeaway and two blocked shots — and was the only forward with more than one shot on goal, with two. But after earning praise from Bruce Boudreau up at Whistler, he has also been quiet in game situations so far — pointless with four shots on goal and two minor penalties in his three games.

On the back end, Boudreau shuffled his defense pairings as the game went on, eventually using Ekman-Larsson with Tucker Poolman, Jack Rathbone with Tyler Myers and Christian Wolanin with Luke Schenn.

Small sample size for Wolanin, the 27-year-old lefty who was signed to a two-way contract over the summer. But at this point, I'd give him a slight edge over Danny DeKeyser in that roster battle — with both behind Jack Rathbone for what's either the third or fourth spot on the left depending on where Quinn Hughes plays.

On the right, I've got Kyle Burroughs ahead of Poolman at the moment.

In net, of course, Thatcher Demko was just fine in his first full outing. Horvat's most noticeable moment was a big-hustle backcheck that broke up a dangerous Seattle scoring chance. Dakota Joshua continued to stir the pot and was noticeable. Curtis Lazar was an impressive 5-0 in the face-off circle. And the Canucks' penalty killing was perfect for the night.

But they sure missed the excitement and offensive creativity that Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson bring to the ice. I'm even tempted to put Andrei Kuzmenko into that category after his impactful game on Thursday.

As for Monday's opponent — the Oilers have been busy, with five preseason games already in the books. On home ice, they beat Winnipeg 4-0 last Saturday and Calgary 2-1 on Friday. On the road, they were shut out by the Kraken on Monday and the Flames on Wednesday before spoiling the Jets' Dale Hawerchuk tribute night with a 3-2 shootout win on Saturday night.

Two of Edmonton's three remaining preseason games are against Vancouver — in Edmonton on Monday (6 p.m. PT), then in Abbotsford on Wednesday (7 p.m. PT). They'll finish up when Seattle visits Rogers Place on Friday before the Oilers and Canucks meet for their now-traditional season-opener in Edmonton on Wednesday, October 12.

The Oilers made some cuts to their roster on Sunday. Nothing too shocking except perhaps the rather early re-assignment of 2021 first-round pick Xavier Bourgault — although the soon-to-be-20-year-old is just entering his first pro season.

Also — professional tryout candidate Jake Virtanen remains in camp. He has played in four of Edmonton's five games so far, with four shots on goal and no points.

A bunch of Edmonton's top players have skated in just one preseason game so far — McDavid, Draisaitl, Kane, Hyman, Nugent-Hopkins, Nurse, Ceci. I imagine we'll see at least a few names from that list on the ice on Monday night.

I also wouldn't be surprised to see Jack Campbell get the start in net on Monday — and perhaps go the distance. He has played just half-a-game so far, allowing one goal on eight shots in the first half of last Friday's win over Calgary.

If that's how the other side of the ice shakes down, the Canucks are in for another tough test on Monday — and probably won't be icing a top-end lineup of their own.

They'll need a terrific effort if they hope to quiet the rumblings of concern that are already starting to bubble up among the faithful in Vancouver.
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