On Monday night I took in the Vancouver Canucks vs the Minnesota Wild game at Rogers Arena. It was a fantastic game. The beer was very expensive. The game was exciting and high scoring, which is incredibly rare as there hasn’t been an exciting mid-week game vs Minnesota in fifteen years.
Rogers Arena was nowhere near capacity, but the volume told a different story. This fan reaction wasn’t sustained throughout the night, but only when one player had the puck. Elias Pettersson.
Fresh off concussion protocol and a quiet, uneventful game vs Pittsburgh, I really got the sense that fans were there to see Pettersson bounce back and were ready for him to entertain. Every time he had the puck or made a play, fans were attentive and vocal. When Elias was on the bench, the arena returned to a light murmur similar to a lazy MLB game in June. Perhaps the new Rogers Arena free Wifi contributed to this (when Petey was between shifts, I was scrolling the ‘Gram). The level of volume from the fans during his shifts was unmistakable. We haven’t heard that type of positive reaction in a long time in this city. This was a sound of excitement and suspense, to see just what the kid would do next.
He evokes emotion from the fans. He’s a unique talent, similar to the Sedins, and fans want to embrace him much sooner than they did Daniel and Henrik, who faced a lot of criticism from the Canucks fans the first five years of their career.
He didn’t disappoint the fans either. Scoring two absolutely beautiful goals, breakaway goal and later in the game, doing his best Brett Hull impression, dropping to one knee for a fantastic one-timer. Fans want to be excited about Pettersson, and he gave them every reason to be.
Each time his name was announced, the reaction was louder and louder. I get the sense that fans view him differently than Brock or Bo, they connect with him and want to see him succeed through any adversity he may face, just like Daniel and Henrik did early in their career. Fans want the rest of the league to take notice and be impressed by their shiny new Sedin replacement.
I’m starting to realize that the Vancouver Canucks fans love a specific type of hockey player — one that is special and much different than the other superstars in the league. Pavel Bure was like that. The Sedins were the definition of unusual talent that had never been seen before. And now with this start to the season and praise league-wide, Elias Pettersson could be the next beloved Vancouver Canuck.
We really like Brock and Bo, but there’s just something about Petey.
The Edmonton Turn Around?
An excerpt from Episode 201 – Banner Friggin’ Year discussing Zack Kassian’s odd trade situation
On the podcast this week, much was made about the Edmonton Oilers starting to turn things around, taking steps in the right direction. Connor McDavid isn’t relied on for 90% of the Oilers’ goals anymore, Leon Draisaitl has 5 goals in his last six games, and that strange Zack Kassian trade story has seemingly come to an end.
At the beginning of the season, McDavid was involved with 80-90% of all Oilers goals. In the past few weeks, this number has gone down to a reasonable 53% with McDavid contributing to 19 of Edmonton’s 36 goals. For the Oilers to have any chance at a return to the playoffs, they need someone not wearing 97 to be on the ice when Edmonton scores.
Meanwhile, Leon Draisaitl has 2 goals and 3 assists in his last five games and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has 1 goal and 6 assists in his last six, but the rest of the team hasn’t followed suit. Milan Lucic hasn’t scored a goal in 27 games, and Kailer Yamamoto has just one goal so far this season despite seeing regular ice time with McDavid. On Thursday night, Drake Caggiula became the latest lottery winner on the team to get the chance to play with Connor and Nuge. Scoring two goals in his first game with the two, he is making the most of the opportunity, but so did all the other guys before him.
Edmonton is starting to resemble a poor man’s, top-heavy Colorado Avalanche. Aside from McDavid, Draisaitl, and Nugent-Hopkins, Tobias Rieder is fourth in team scoring with 7 points.
While it’s been a positive week or two for Edmonton, there is a lot of work to be done and a ton of goals that need to be scored by somebody else. And what about those odd Zack Kassian rumours?
On the show this week, we also discussed the strange news out of Edmonton that GM Peter Chiarelli had given Zack Kassian the green light to seek out his own trade. After allegedly requesting a trade, Chiarelli told Kassian he could test the trade waters on his own (has that ever happened in the NHL before?) after Zack’s rough start to the season and being a healthy scratch.
Kassian has addressed these rumours, both to the media and to the Oilers themselves. “The first thing I did as soon as the rumour came out was address all the guys in this room. That’s all I truly care about,” Kassian said to the media on Tuesday.
Whatever went down behind the scenes has been put to rest and Zack Kassian doesn’t have to shop himself on the open market. Can you imagine how awkward that call would have to be? I wonder what those cold calls would sound like? “Hey there. Sandpaper guy with tons of upside and upwards of one goal so far this year. What do you think?” *click*
Positives in Edmonton for sure, but we’ve got a long way to go.