TAKEAWAYS

 

1) The Canucks spread their scoring against the over-matched Oilers. Six different players found the back of the net which was perhaps the best sign on the night. Sven Baertschi and Adam Gaudette are two players who need to show offensive flashes and both scored 'goal-scorer' goals on Thursday night. Baertschi crept in from the left boards and finished a back-door centering feed from Bo Horvat on a second period power play while Gaudette showed poise and patience to outwait a defender before snapping home his first of the preseason to round out the scoring. The Canucks also got goals from unexpected sources in Brogan Rafferty, Jay Beagle and Lukas Jasek. Bo Horvat was the Canucks other goal scorer and he now has a goal in each of the preseason games he's appeared in. I'm sure Horvat would be happy to skip the final week of the preseason and get to the games that count. He looks like he's in midseason form already.

 

2) It was a good night for the Canucks grinders as Beagle, Tim Schaller and Tyler Motte formed an effective line while Loui Eriksson chipped in with a pair of assists and played a key role in the team's penalty kill which went three for three. Schaller probably has the most to prove -- or lose depending on how you view things -- given the kind of season he had a year ago and his contractual status which may make him an easy choice for waivers before opening night. But he claims to have put in more work than ever over the off-season and has skated well through training camp and was involved on Thursday night. With Jake Virtanen scoring twice in his preseason debut on Monday, there have been noticeable efforts from a handful of players in the battle for those bottom six roles on the hockey club. The second week of the preseason -- when the pace picks up and the level of competition rises -- should make for interesting viewing to see who can separate themselves from the pack.

 

3) Brogan Rafferty continues to impress. His slap shot goal which opened the scoring certainly earned him attention, but it's his overall game and his calm demeanour which will likely see him survive the next wave of roster moves. The first year pro is showing signs of progress every night out after a strong training camp in Victoria. In 12:50 of ice time -- all at even strength -- Rafferty scored on his only shot of the night and registered three hits. By his own admission, there are areas of his game he wants to work on and says quicker decision making with the puck especially on breakouts is at the top of the list. But in the same breath, he believes with time and experience he'll be able to address those. While he's almost certainly destined to start the season in Utica, Rafferty certainly gives early indications he will be a big leaguer for this organization in short order.

 

4) Jacob Markstrom looked sharp in his preseason debut making 26 saves on the night. It's important to note that he wasn't facing many NHL shooters on this night, but that was beyond his control. He made the stops he was supposed to aside from the one puck that snuck in past him off the stick of Oilers forward Cooper Marody. Markstrom was able to lock things down on three Oiler power plays and had the luxury of more goal support than he enjoyed on many nights last season. With four games remaining on the preseason schedule, it's likely the Canucks number one netminder will get two more starts. And then he'll be the man between the pipes back at Rogers Place on opening night October 2nd when he'll see a much different looking Oilers team than he stared down on Thursday.

 

5) JT Miller wasn't dominant, but the Canucks newcomer had a couple of assists against the Oilers, and now has three helpers in his first two preseason games. He's very much a straight-line player who protects the puck well and has already demonstrated his playmaking ability. With a big third period lead, Canucks head coach Travis Green scaled back the ice time of his top players so Miller finished the night with 17:34 of ice time. Included in that total was 4:51 of power play (tied with Josh Leivo for tops among Canucks forwards) and 1:45 on the penalty kill. Miller has now seen short-handed duty in both of his preseason games after not being used in that role last season in Tampa Bay. On Thursday morning, Green said he was contemplating adding new faces to his penalty killing stable this season and has already used Miller, Josh Leivo and Jake Virtanen in that capacity in the first week of exhibition action.