Each returning NHL team will play one exhibition game before things get going for real. The Vancouver Canucks can learn a lot about themselves facing the Jets.
Hockey is most definitely in the air, Vancouver Canucks training camp is alive and well, but with that being said, there is still a considerable amount of time between now and when an actual game will take place at full speed.
Good news though, one exhibition game for each returning team has been put in place by the league, with the NHL schedule revealing that the Canucks will battle the Winnipeg Jets on July 29th in Edmonton.
Despite what people might think, the Jets are a terrific pull for the Canucks for a variety of different reasons. Since their return to the league back in 2012, the Canucks hold a losing record of 8-15 when head-to-head with the Jets. They are a bigger body team that strives in the mayhem of the playoffs, and Vancouver needs to see how they measure up against a team that’s built for playoff domination.
Although it’s only an exhibition game, the stakes are clearly different this year and you know the Jets will be gunning for Vancouver’s inexperienced young guns. It’ll be the first glimpse of Elias Pettersson under pressure in an NHL playoff atmosphere, and that can go a long way when looking into what’s to come for this team.
Of all the Canucks’ best players, they are all young, have no playoff experience in the NHL, and aren’t exactly crash-and-bang style guys. How they hold up in the playoffs will be crucial for overall team success.
Brock Boeser has become known as a little bit injury-prone, so when the tempo picks up he’s still a question mark. Petey has gotten better at staying out of the way of danger, but he’ll be enemy No. 1 come puck drop. And pretty much the same thing can be said for Quinn Hughes on the back end.
Not only will their physicality be tested, but they’ll be expected to produce in the playoffs as if they’ve done so before — Jim Benning is counting on it. Not only them, but guys including Jake Virtanen and Jacob Markstrom are yet to debut in the NHL Playoffs, too. That’s a ton of skill mixed with a serious amount of untapped potential.
Package that up with all of the playoff veterans Benning has supplied the team in support of the organization’s stars (J.T. Miller, Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson), and suddenly Vancouver is looking like they may actually be able to stand on their own two feet against the big bad Jets. Trust me, this exhibition game is bigger than any other in the history of the NHL, and Travis Green better have the Canucks ready for a serious scrap.
The Canucks have been put in an excellent position ahead of playoffs, the Jets are an experienced playoff club, and Vancouver will get a good taste in terms of what it takes to be a winning team when it matters most.