Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A nice way to start the pre-season for the Canucks on the road Monday night, as Vancouver skated away with a 4-3 comeback win via the shoot-out against the Edmonton Oilers. This game looked like it might be a blow out early on with the Oilers pouring lots of pressure in the opening few minutes. Give credit to Vancouver though as they got better as the game moved forward and maybe were a bit unlucky not to have won the game in regulation or overtime.

You know who scored the goals and you know how the game was won. I'd like to point out who I felt were the players that stood out from the Canucks on this night, as well as hi-lite some of the moments that were key to a road win. In no particular order:

Cory Schneider: No way do the Canucks win, let alone stay in the game to the 3rd period, if it wasn't for his play. Struggled with rebound control early on but settled down after Oilers took the lead. Was strong in helping kill off a full two-minute two-man advantage for the Oilers in the middle frame and made a huge glove save late in the same period on Shawn Horcoff while Edmonton worked a power play. If that save doesn't occur and the Oilers score, chances are we're discussing a Canucks loss.

Jason Krog: Solid debut in a Canucks jersey. Had more shifts than any Canucks forward on the night (30) and was shown confidence by the coaches to play in 5-on-5, PP, and PK situations. And to get the winning goal in the shoot-out didn't hurt his cause to make the team either.

Willie Mitchell: Smart and steady with about as close to a mistake-free game as you can expect out of him. Was the best Vancouver penalty killer, playing nearly seven full minutes of time while his team was short-handed.

Mattias Ohlund: Was the busiest skater on the ice tonight for both teams (nearly 27 minutes in ice time). Strong in his own zone, confident in the attacking zone, and was what you come to expect from Ohlund out of training camp.

Kyle Wellwood: Showed good skill and poise with the puck. Made a great play to avoid two Oilers on the wall which resulted in the set-up to the tying goal by Ohlund on the power play. Knows he's got a lot to prove over the next few weeks and this was a good first step.

This was my first time at Rexall Place. Although it was an announced sell-out crowd of just over 16,800, it was far from it in reality. I doubt the same look will occur at GM Place tonight when the Oilers come to town for the rematch.

It's a building that reminds me a lot of the Pacific Coliseum, which I considered my home away from home for the last five years. It is a bigger version of the Rink on Renfrew, with a much different press box situation.

As you can well imagine, the Canucks will be icing a completing different team. The likes of Roberto Luongo, Sami Salo, Alex Burrows, Henrik Sedin, Pavol Demetria and Kevin Bieksa will all dress in front of the home crowd.

I think the same thing can be said for the Oilers, who iced three pretty solid lines Monday. They will definitely be a team built on speed and proved tonight that they'll never be afraid to create chances off the rush. Although I hate the phrase "run and gun", the Oilers might turn out to be a prime example of that style this coming season.

Before I shut this one down, I don't think I could have asked for a more memorable way to celebrate my birthday than by being with John and Tom in the broadcast booth. This really is a dream come true for me and although I didn't have a lot to do compared to nights when I'm doing play-by-play, it still was a night I won't soon forget.

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