The Connor McDavid era unofficially began tonight in Penticton, and he was involved in the action early. The first two periods were very entertaining, before the Oilers erupted for four goals in the third period and dominated the Vancouver Young Stars 8-2.
Here is a summary of the events of the evening….
sConnor McDavid, meet Jake Virtanen. pic.twitter.com/PHJcZLYOkm
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) September 12, 2015
McDavid’s line started and he had a good chance on his first shift.
scores a nifty goal to give the Oilers the lead less than three minutes into the period. He signed an AHL deal with Bakersfield,
and makes an early impression.
On his second shift McDavid got rocked along the boards by Jake
Virtanen, sixth overall pick 2014. McDavid, no surprise, bounced right
back up. He is going to get hit. Contact is part of the game, and while many
are concerned players will take runs at him, I don’t see players trying to go
out their way to cheap shot him. They will want to hit him — body checking is legal — but unless there is a rash of cheap shots, I don’t see it as a major
McDavid isn’t a porcelain doll. He can handle a hit
or two. In regular season, you can’t react to every hit, but in a rookie game,
I had no issue with Mitch Moroz and Darnell Nurse getting in
Virtanen’s face in the next few shifts. I know Moroz took an unsportsmanlike
penalty, weak call by ref IMO, but the outcome of this game means nothing. I
won’t critique a retaliatory penalty, especially when the Oilers haven’t responded
for years. They need to create a culture
where they stand up for themselves and each other.
Great energy in the
first ten minutes.
Slepyshev’s second shift was very good. Created a turnover
by moving his feet quickly along boards to strip a puck. Looks like he has
quick feet for a big man.
Labate crushes Rankin when he is searching for the puck in
his feet. Labate gets an interference penalty and Oilers go on PP…
McDavid’s line with Slepyshev and Nurse Don’t get a great
Second unit: Draisaitl, Rankin, Sanford, Bear and
Laleggia. Bear has an absolute cannon of a shot. They are unable to set up, but
watch for his shot in this tournament.
Laurikainen with his best save, eighth of the game and
really the first time he’s tested, as he stops Abols on a breakaway. He
tracks the puck very well. He anticipated/read the play very well all period. Was never
in trouble in goal, and had very controlled movements.
Players on both teams are amped up. Lots of big, healthy
runs at players on both sides. First game of the year for these players, and
they look excited.
Christoffer almost gets his second point of the period, but
Loiseau can’t finish the nice cross-crease pass.
Edmonton had six players on the ice for five seconds, but refs
missed it with under two minutes remaining in the frame.
Period ends 1-0 Edmonton.
Entertaining period. Shots 12-10 in favour of Vancouver, but
outside of the breakaway none of the Canucks shots were dangerous. Oilers had a
few chances, but Witt made solid saves on Loiseau and McDavid.
Winquist scores 1:35
into the second. Draisaitl’s pass deflects off a skate right to Winquist and
he buries into wide open net.
Laleggia with a bad giveaway. Doesn’t lead to scoring
chance, but he tried forcing a pass through the middle of the ice.
Virtanen with a big hit on Nurse in the corner. Nurse went
back for puck, braced himself, saw Virtanen coming but still went into boards
heavily. Virtanen is having a hell of a game thus far. He shows up wherever the
puck is and seems to have a hit every shift.
I’ve noticed many shifts longer than you’d usually see.
First game in a many months for these players and I wonder if at times they are
Laleggia with another bad clearing attempt. He has fought
puck a few times tonight, but he’s also made a few great outlet passes. He is a solid puck mover, and I think turnovers are due to being his first game in many months.
Canucks with best chance of the night and they rip it off
MacKenzie Stewart goes after Mitch Moroz, they push, but
Stewart drops and starts throwing. Moroz responds with a hard right, after
eating a few. Very interesting how Stewart didn’t wait for Moroz, he just
dropped the gloves and started throwing. He got an instigator and a ten-minute
misconduct. Different approach from Canucks to Oilers when it comes to going
after a player, but also shows not every situation is the same.
Some wondered why Moroz didn’t just go after Virtanen on the next shift after the McDavid hit. The issue with that is Moroz is a tough guy and Virtanen is Vancouver’s top pick. If he jumps him, it could lead to Stewart jumping McDavid. I didn’t see what Moroz did to annoy Stewart, but Stewart throws early because he knows Moroz is a physical player.
Oilers change goalies change at the midway point of the second
period. Bouchard comes in with nine minutes remaining. Laurikainen stops all 16 shots he faced.
Oilers get a
two-on-one a minute later…Draisaitl and Christoffer…Draisaitl’s pass goes
of Vancouver D-man’s (Hutton) stick and beats Witt five-hole. 3-0 Edmonton
I notice Slepyshev again with a strong play along the boards
in the D-zone. Also had a solid body check. He isn’t afraid to use his size.
Fox takes a cross checking penalty and Oilers go on PP with
McDavid, Chase, Moroz, Slepyshev and Nurse….
Edmonton controls off
the faceoff, after Van can’t clear. They move puck around, eventually putting
it on net, McDavid fishes it out of a maze, retreats to right boards. He passes
it across to Nurse at the left point and his point shot beats a screened Witt.
Brendan Gaunce puts Canucks on the board with a nice snap
shot and he skates down the right side and rips it off the far post. 4-1.
Period ends. Shots are now 24-18 Edmonton.
For the third straight period the Oilers score early. Connor Rankin slides across the
slot and rips one far post to beat Witt. 5-1
Moments later Hutton replies for Canucks…Beats Bouchard
short side. Gaunce gets the assist.
On the next shift Virtanen races in, but Bouchard follows
him nicely across the crease and makes a solid pad save. Abols keep hammering
away at the puck, and Chase and Waltz take exception. A little scrum ensues.
Virtanen and Chase get roughing penalties, while Moroz gets a cross checking
penalty. Canucks go on the PP.
Christoffer, Loiseau, Betker and Leveille start on PK.
Christoffer does great job in offensive zone killing time with the puck along the
boards. Canucks 1st PP unit never gets set up.
Platzer, Winquist, Nurse and Bear kill off the remaining
time. Canucks get no shots on PP.
Right after the PK, Oilers control the puck off the faceoff. Laleggia comes racing in the zone down the
right side, sees Slepyshev in the slot and he snaps home a quick shot. Winquist
gets the other assist. Slepyshev wasted no time getting the shot away. Great
Less than a minute later, McDavid makes is 7-2. Chase and Moroz with the assists. McDavid shot knuckled
over Witt and bounced across the line before Moroz touches it.
Christoffer with another solid rush up the ice, has a give
and go with Loiseau and just misses finishing it off, but slides it side of the
Oilers go on PP again. Draisaitl line starts…don’t get much
Chase, Moroz, Christoffer, Leveille and Laleggia come out…but
forwards only stay on for 30 seconds. Platzer line gets final 15 seconds of PP,
but Oilers don’t register a shot. Oilers are up 7-2 and no McDavid on PP. No
need to run up score.
Not as much sip and energy in this period. Blowouts tend to
suck life out of game, but still a few solid hits.
Oilers offence keeps coming. Sanford creates a turnover, gets it to Platzer in the slot and he rips home a quick snap shot. 8-2.
McDavid hasn’t had a shift since he scored. No injury, just resting.
The Oilers win 8-2, and final shots are 36-35 for Vancouver. I didn’t notice Shinkaruk or McCann for the Canucks, they were virtually invisible.
1. Braden Christoffer. He was buzzing all night.
2. Anton Slepyshev. Not a flashy night, but solid.
3. Eetu Laurikainen. He stopped all 16 shots he face and was very poised.
Who did you like?