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I Watched This Game: Canucks 3, Flames 4 (OT)

The Canucks looked much, much better on Saturday night than they did Friday, and I'm gonna go out on a limb and suggest it's because they dressed better players.

The Canucks looked much, much better on Saturday night than they did Friday, and I'm gonna go out on a limb and suggest it's because they dressed better players. Much like Calgary did Friday, the Canucks went with a training camp A team in front of their home fans, dressing the Sedins, Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, and a number of their more promising prospects.

They still lost, which is somewhat unnerving, but I say we call this one a win for two reasons. First, the prospects looked fantastic -- Brendan Gaunce, Jared McCann, and Ben Hutton in particular had standout evenings. And second, sometimes it's really satisfying to lie to yourself and everyone around you. Try it with me: the Canucks did not lose in overtime when I watched this game.

  • Just like Friday night, the Canucks got on the board first, courtesy one of their best and brightest wing prospects. This time out, it was Brendan Gaunce, who crashed the crease following a Radim Vrbata shot. Showing an impressive speed burst, Gaunce was first on the scene to bury the rebound like a crappy time capsule.
  • We finally got our first highlight-reel goal of the season in this game, as Ben Hutton, Jared McCann, and Bo Horvat combined for a nifty little tic-tac-toe goal. Bo Horvat played the "toe" role, finishing off the pretty passing play, but it was McCann's tac, the touch pass, that really impressed me. Savvy play, that touch pass. Had he attempted a no-touch pass, the puck would have drifted harmlessly to the corner.  
  • As is quickly becoming the norm around here, Horvat looked like the best Canuck out there. He had a game-high six shots, and a number of good looks. He seems faster. How this guy keeps increasing his speed is beyond me. Probably working out or something. 
  • You've gotta consider Saturday night a missed opportunity for Alex Grenier, who was given the plum role of skating with the Sedins. Why they need to skate with a plum is beyond me, but they're leaders on this team, and if they want plums, by gum, plums they shall have. Anyway. Grenier was fairly ineffective on their line, at least to my eyes, and by the third period, he'd been replaced with Alex "default Sedin" Burrows. Between that and a stronger performance from Gaunce, his main competition, you have to think that Grenier's shot at making the team out of camp took a hit tonight. 
  • And speaking of guys who are being outplayed by the competition, one has to wonder how Linden Vey felt watching Jared McCann zipping around out there, making smart plays and picking up two assists. Probably not great, especially when Vey looked so shaky on Friday. Fortunately, McCann doesn't belong to the Medicine Hat Midnight Society, so Vey can still make his case to the coaching staff at the next scary story night.
  • The other guy I really liked tonight was Ben Hutton, who was flying out there, assisted on all three goals, and was making nice breakout passes all night. There probably isn't room for Hutton to make the team on opening night, but one suspects he'll be an early call-up. The Canucks, like Jessie Spano, have to be pretty worked up by all that speed
  • The Canucks' third goal came courtesy Alex Friesen, who took a pass after a great rush by Jared McCann, and beat Karri Ramo up high. Friesen probably won't make the team, though. He's 5'8", which is a real hurdle in the NHL. And on Tinder. Believe me. Anyway, it looked to me like McCann tipped it, but I think Linden Vey was in charge of scoring this one, so no, he did not.
  • Finally, the Sedins don't look like themselves just yet. Instead they look like each other. But it's clear they're still working off the rust. That said, they showed flashes tonight. My favourite moment was what looks to be a new set play, in which they gain the zone on the near side, and then attempt to bank the puck off the end boards to their winger on the other side. It didn't work, but I do love when the Sedins get all banksy. Sometimes I wish they were more banksy. They should start jamming culture.