Sunday, October 01, 2006

Preseason: Oilers 3 Canucks 2 (OT)

If this season's version of the Vancouver Canucks are going to play like they did the last two games, then one thing is for sure: these Canucks will work harder, play harder and play more together than the group that took the ice last season. And that in itself is good news.

The Canucks may have lost a 3-2 OT decision to the Edmonton Oilers last night, but for the second game in a row, they outshot (32-24), outhit (32-16) and outskated a divisional rival. They even drew more penalties and got more chances on the powerplay than the Oilers; though truth be told, it was an unnecessary double-minor to Matt Cooke, one that put the Canucks a man down for four minutes in overtime, that eventually cost them the game.

Alain Vigneault seems to have decided to keep the Sedin-Sedin-Naslund line together at least for the start of the season. Last night, they were easily the team's best line (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province), scoring both Canucks goals (both Daniel) and combining for six points and seven shots.

The Ikea Connection -- Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Markus Naslund -- finally flashed the electric, tick-tack-toe potential that clearly has had head coach Alain Vigneault drooling since he took over this team.

The trio, all from the same hometown (thank you, Ornskoldsvik), ran plays so imaginative, so slick and so astonishing you half expected Siegfried and Roy to make their triumphant return to showbiz with a performance between periods.

There was Naslund's 40-foot, no-look kick pass to Henrik which which would have left any English soccer hooligan excited, leaping from his seat to chant some incoherent celebration song.

"It came from my soccer days," Naslund said with a grin.

There were slap passes that barely missed, drop passes, and even a Naslund breakaway (he hit the post).

But what everyone will be talking about, maybe right until the season begins Thursday, were the two goals, both scored by Daniel, that were so good looking you'd have to consider them candidates for the next Miss Sweden pageant.
The "O (for Ornskoldsvik) Line" or the "O-Train" - I'm not a big fan of the "IKEA Connection" - also had some help. 12 other Canucks tested Dwayne Roloson, including eight players who threw two or more shots at him. On Friday night, a total of 15 Canucks recorded a shot on goal on Mikka Kiprusoff. If balance is key to Alain Vigneault's system, while they're still lacking in finish, at least, top-to-bottom, the entire lineup are creating scoring chances.

No doubt, this Canucks team is still a work in progress - and Tony Gallagher highlights some of his concerns in today's Vancouver Province - but I'm not nearly as worried as I was a couple of weeks ago. The players, most of them of course wearing Orca Bay blue for the first time, seem to buying into Vigneault's system. For the most part, they are working hard and seeing some good results. Starting Thursday, we'll see if this translates to goals and wins.

Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 10:03 AM


At October 02, 2006 7:21 AM, Blogger fauxrumors said...

1) Certainly the 2006-07 Canucks better work/play hard, else it'll be a very long season in vancouver!
2) Robbie will only be able to steal so many games.

At October 02, 2006 10:41 AM, Blogger mclea said...

How about this Hansen kid? He took the puck hard to the net a couple times, he showed good instincts in the offensive zone, and he moved the puck well all game. Other than the Sedin line, him and Burrows (despite never touching the puck) were the two best canucks out there.

And yes, I'm hyping the s**t out of a kid after seeing him play once.

At October 02, 2006 7:18 PM, Blogger mclea said...

And he got cut...

But no matter. He's a future 30 goal scorer. You read it here first. Document it bitches.

At October 03, 2006 6:01 AM, Blogger hoopsjunky said...

faux - Agree on both points.

basket - Hansen opened a lot of eyes this camp. It'll be interesting to see how he develops.

The crazy thing is this kid has only played one season in North America!


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