The Vancouver Canucks will finally have their season opener on Saturday night and they’ll be facing the Edmonton Oilers, a team that boasts arguably the best player in the sport.
The Canucks have never defeated the Oilers in regulation when they’ve had Connor McDavid in the fold, so the opener should provide a unique opportunity to do just that. Or, perhaps more accurately, the opener should provide a unique opportunity to be on the receiving end of an Edmonton drubbing.
McDavid has four goals and 11 points in nine NHL contests against the Canucks. He’s been held without a point just once.
What’s more, McDavid is coming off a blockbuster Wednesday night. He scored literally all the goals as his Oilers defeated the Calgary Flames 3-0, plus he posted seven shots and nine attempts and seemed to be everywhere at once. If anyone’s fired up for the season, it’s the 20-year-old.
Can the same be said for the Canucks?
Expectations are low for Vancouver, to say the least, and the fanbase isn’t necessarily encouraged. There’s little to no buzz around the team (I’m saying this as a local) and the Canucks are expected once more to miss the post-season. They’ve been in the midst of a rebuild for what seems like ages and many are waiting for something – anything, really – to happen.
Last season, the Canucks finished with a dismal 69 points – one less than the Arizona Coyotes. It was their lowest-scoring season in franchise history, as they posted just 182 goals. One of the only bright spots was the emergence of Bo Horvat as the top scorer on the team. He managed 52 points in 81 games and supplanted the Sedin twins at the top of the leaderboard.
But Bo Horvat is no Connor McDavid and the Canucks are going to be in tough on Saturday night, just like they’ll be all season long.
The pundits have been having a field day figuring out where the Canucks will land in the standings. Last year, the USA Today’s Kevin Allen predicted a performance below 70 points. He was correct. This year, Allen figures Vancouver for a 75-point finish. The Sporting News has the Canucks “enjoying” a 63-point season, while other pundits from The Hockey News have the team landing just ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights.
Predictions are a tricky business and things could magically set in place for the Canucks. Horvat could pop up for 100 points and the Sedin twins could surge. They could kick off the season with a win over McDavid and the Oilers and never look back.
Or reality might set in, setting the Canucks and their fans up for another long season.