Canucks 5, Oilers 2: Captain Quinn Hughes is ready

Canucks found their groove in the second period.

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Three games into pre-season, the Vancouver Canucks were stuck in neutral.

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Turns out what they really need was their full lineup and a home game.

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The Canucks beat the visiting Edmonton Oilers, who were down their superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, 5-2 on Saturday evening at Rogers Arena.

After a slow start to the game — a worrying look coming off three games where the Canucks had been mediocre at best — the Canucks found their groove in the second period.

Mostly because their captain cranked up his effort level and scored twice in the middle frame.

Here’s what we learned…

The captain

Hughes is going to play a lot this season.

And it’s because of his ability to take shifts over, like he did on both his goals.

The first goal was him jumping up on a two on one and swatting the puck out of the air off a flipped pass by Phil DiGiuseppe.

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The second goal was him racing around, forcing everyone to keep up, then firing a backhand through Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner.

“He just needed to become captain to start scoring,” Elias Pettersson quipped, with a huge grin, about Hughes’s performance.

The time is now, vowed Hughes.

“I’m going to be 24 in October… Petey’s gonna be 25, Millsy’s 30, Demmer’s 27, (we’re) getting up there,” Hughes noted.  “We’re not little kids anymore. It’s time, they drafted us to do things and (now) got to do those things.”

The power play

The Canucks clearly have the talent to have a top notch power play.

They’ve been working on rotating around the offensive zone and both their goals came from forwards shooting from spots they’ve not often been seen on the man advantage.

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Andrei Kuzmenko scored his goal from dead in the slot, when usually he’s been a net-front presence.

Elias Pettersson’s goal came from out by the blue line, firing through a screen.

(Di Giuseppe also had a power play goal, tipping in a Ian Cole point shot at the tail end of a power play.)

The penalty kill

The Canucks held the Oilers’ power play scoreless on Saturday.

It was dicey at times, but Thatcher Demko never looked in trouble.

An interesting wrinkle is the Canucks are using a diamond formation to defend the power play, going away from the “wedge plus one” formation they’ve used in recent years.

The diamond is a bit old-school, but sometimes throwing ideas like this at modern offences will surprise you.

The scoreboard

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It’s huge.

It’s a work in progress. Twice in the first period the clock failed. And the stats package clearly needs some tweaking.

But once it’s firing on all cylinders, it’ll be something.

Canucks defenceman Carson Soucy grabs the jersey of Oiler forward Lane Pederson during the first period of Saturday’s pre-season game at Rogers Arena. Photo by DARRYL DYCK /THE CANADIAN PRESS

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