After a less than impressive season opener, the Canucks will try to get off on the right foot at home on Saturday night against the upstart Edmonton Oilers. Alex Burrows was seen limping after blocking a shot on Thursday. Burrows didn’t practice on Friday but is expected to play (UPDATE: Burrows is injured for a few weeks).
The Canucks lost 4-1 to San Jose on Thursday. They were outshot and outplayed. Roberto Luongo looked sharp, despite giving up 4 goals. Their power play and penalty kill also impressed. John Tortorella played the bejesus out of his top two lines, who probably tired a bit down the stretch because of it.
The Oilers dropped their first game of the season on Tuesday to Winnipeg, and are will undoubtedly be focused and ready for the Canucks. They will also likely be particularly snarly, still angry about Zack Kassian’s accidental high stick that put Sam Gagne on the shelf. The Oilers will be without centres Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagne due to injury, that leaves Taylor Hall (playing out of position) and checking centre Boyd Gordon as their top two centres. That’ll be a nice change of pace after having to deal with Thornton, Marleau and Pavelski in San Jose. Maybe Torts will let the third line play a little bit this time?
Keys to the Game
1. Playing with emotion
The Canucks didn’t have a good first game in San Jose, but it was far from business as usual. They played with more urgency and grit than we have been accustomed to seeing. I expect to see that kind of play once again (hopefully with better results), plus a bit more emotion in front of the home crowd.
2. Playing 4 lines
Head coach John Tortorella sent a pretty clear message to the third and fourth liners of the Canucks: show me something or you’re not going to play. The fourth line of Dalpe, Weise and Sestito played about 3-4 minutes. The third liners got about 12-14 minutes.
3. Keeping up with the speedy Oilers
The Oilers are young and fast, and the Canucks had trouble keeping up with them at times last season. The Canucks defencemen will want to slow the speedy Oilers forwards up a bit, hitting them at every opportunity to slow them down.
I’m 0-1 in predictions this year and I promise not to pick the Canucks every night BUT, I think the first home opener under John Tortorella will inspire this group to be better than they were on Thursday. Canucks win big, 5-2.