A 3-0 win and another positive result for the house that Gillis built seems to be proving the madness to his method is working out just fine.
Grabner again didn't look out of place, but didn't really stand out much either—other than moving the puck well, playing the point on the powerplay, and of course, his speed. Unfortunately for him, that earmarks him more as a serviceable call-up than a full timer. Shiro's still in the lead after game two for the temp position (with opportunity for full time work) filling in for Demitra.
Kesler and Bernier stood out most for my eyes as being the forwards most ready for the season to start. Bernier's upgraded and down-sized physique seems to fit him well. He looked faster out there and I can't be the only person pleasantly surprised to see him not whiff at but actually hit that puck into the net in front of Giguerre. Kesler looks like he hasn't missed a beat and seems full of confidence. Good news, if he hopes to repeat his numbers from last season.
Wellwood and Raymond both looked good as well. Wellwood is as shifty as ever and looks to be a bit faster and have a bit more grit in him despite his smaller heft. Raymond started off a bit slow but as he got into the game, utilized his speed and looked like he had more confidence heading to the net and playing less of a perimeter game. His pass on the Rome's goal was quite lovely as well.
Samuelsson, looked good at times and mediocre at others. To my eyes, he looked like he's still settling in and might take a week or two to develop some chemistry. My guess is once he does, he'll be a solid contributor. The good flashes he did show, if he can maintain them consistently with some matching team mates, bodes well for the Canucks.
As for the defense, Bieksa had an excellent game in my opinion. He, like Kesler, looks to have not lost his edge since last season and seems brimming with confidence. That was an excellent shot through traffic on his (Pope's?) goal.
What surprised me most, pleasantly, was how well Rome and Oberg fit in on the back end. Oberg had a couple defensive lapses on offensive forays but the speed and poise, not to mention offensive ability they both showed, was pretty exciting to see. I would not be at all offended if Gillis decided to keep them around as 7th/8th guys. Let's just say I'm glad I don't have to sit down and make the call on who gets traded/waived off the blue line.
Now we get to the netminders. If Luongo can use those two periods as a springboard to start this season, he may finally have broken his slow start curse. He was in midseason form and looked formidable. Schneider did a commendable job coming in cold in the third and tidily handled a less rambunctious Anaheim team, including a penalty shot that he looked like a Hindu cow on.
In coming days, we should get to see both the re-upped twins and Hodgson's 09/10 debuts and start to get glimpses of who will be on the final roster. It's shaping up to be a pretty positive year for the green and blue.
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