It was a bland performance by the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday as they fell 4-1 to the Calgary Flames. On the bright side, Thatcher Demko, Brendan Leipsic and Adam Gaudette all tuned in fine performances.
For the Vancouver Canucks, Wednesday’s preseason game against the Calgary Flames was not about winning, but rather to evaluate which players are worthy of roster spots as opening night draws closer.
Vancouver fell 4-1 in a game that didn’t seem to energize the crowd at Rogers Arena much, but head coach Travis Green and general manager Jim Benning had to love what they saw from some players on Wednesday.
Top goalie prospect Thatcher Demko did give up three goals on 21 shots, but he can’t be faulted for either of them.
The first one was on a partial breakaway, which is almost never a goalie’s fault. The second one saw Spencer Foo all alone in front of the net for an easy goal. The third one was porous coverage on a 2-on-1, where Andrew Mangiapan polished it off with ease.
Demko made some quality saves and looked like a guy who’s almost ready for the NHL. Demko told Sportsnet’s Iain MacIntyre that he’s confident that the team is “going to do whatever they think is best for me.”
Hopefully they were impressed with his effort on Wednesday.
As for the skaters, Brendan Leipsic and Adam Gaudette were by far Vancouver’s two most effective forwards. The former should be on the opening night roster no matter what, but Green and co. can’t have any second guesses now.
Leipsic scored one goal and tallied five shots on goal and a total of19:47 time on ice. He was given 4:43 minutes of power play time, too. Leipsic had three goals and nine points in just 14 games last season. The 24-year-old looks like he hasn’t missed a beat, and it’ll be exciting to see what he can do through the course of a full season.
As for Gaudette, it’s anybody’s guess if he’ll make the opening night roster. It wasn’t a good sign when Benning signed Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel and Tim Schaller. All the Hobey Baker winner can really do is play his game and hope for the best. We got to see the best of Gaudette on Wednesday.
Gaudette led all forwards with 22:30 time on ice and registered two shots on goal. He was all over the ice with his slick speed and was given minutes on both the penalty kill and power play. The 21-year-old worked tirelessly throughout the game.
Fans can only hope Green and the front office noticed. This is a player who should be on the opening night roster. And if bringing Gaudette up means moving on from a valued veteran, then so be it. He needs to be on this team, because there’s nothing more to work on.
*Stats courtesy of NHL.com*