It’s only one game, but there was plenty to react to from Wednesday night’s season opening tilt between the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flame. Here are 5 Takeaways From Vancouver’s 5-1 opening night victory in Calgary.
When we last saw the Vancouver Canucks play the Calgary Flames during the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs, it was the Flames forecheck that was the big story. Calgary’s suffocating and rapacious forecheck pinned the Canucks in their end throughout, effectively neutering Vancouver’s offensive attack 180-feet from the Flames’ net.
Calgary’s forecheck did force a turnover that led to their only goal on Wednesday night, but what stood out in Vancouver’s regular season opener was the way Vancouver’s new-look defence corps was able to move their feet and skate the puck out of harm’s way. It was something we saw very little of outside Vancouver’s top-defence pair back in April.
On multiple occasions on Wednesday night Canucks offseason additionMatt Bartkowski was able to beat Calgary’s forecheckers and skate the puck up ice. 22-year-old rookie Ben Hutton was similarly effective moving the puck.
Vancouver’s transition game, far from being a weakness on Wednesday, was a strength. It was a big part of what permitted the Canucks to throttle Calgary, who were out-shot 28 to 8 in a decisive 30-minute stretch that extended from late in the first period until early in the third. By then, it was too late for the Flames.
An overall lack of backend speed was something the Canucks identified as a major issue in the offseason. It’s why they dealt Kevin Bieksa, it’s why they signed Bartkowski, and it’s partly why Hutton was able to steal a spot in the opening night lineup out of training camp.
The twins were mostly able to play their puck possession game while flanked by Sutter, and his solid hand-eye coordination resulted in the sort of tricky goal that a player needs to be able to score to thrive with the twins: