Shorthanded Canucks struggle

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:56 PM ET

Heading into the season, the Vancouver Canucks are once again expected to be one of the top teams in the NHL’s Western Conference.

On Sunday, they were made to look woefully inadequate by the Edmonton Oilers in an 8-2 loss at Rexall Place.

Goaltender Cory Schneider looked particularly vulnerable, giving up all eight goals on 33 shots.

“Obviously, as a team, we made a lot of mistakes one-on-one and put our goaltender in a tough position,” said Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. “It was an 8-2 loss and we made a lot of mistakes.”

The score could have been even worse had the Oilers not hit a couple of goalposts.

The Canucks had their hands full trying to contain the rejuvenated side that saw Jordan Eberle, Linus Omark and Shawn Horcoff collect three points apiece.

“We made some bad reads out there,” Vigneault said. “Right now we’re evaluating our players, and in training camp, I’ve mentioned this many times, we don’t cut our players, they cut themselves by their play.

“We’ll continue to assess and make the proper decisions for our team.”

With the omissions of Daniel and Henrik Sedin from their lineup, the Canucks struggled to generate anything offensively in the contest.

Manny Malhotra was awarded a goal when his shot trickled through goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and came to a rest along the post before Oilers winger Taylor Hall inadvertently poked it in.

Ryan Kesler then added another in the second as his shot from the blue line handcuffed the Oilers goaltender and ended up in the back of the net.

Apart from that, it was mostly one-way traffic as four first-period goals by the Oilers set the stage for their third pre-season win.

The Canucks had come into the contest off a 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks Saturday, where the Sedins had accounted for four points.

They stayed home for Sunday’s game and will likely be back in the lineup Tuesday when the Canucks host the San Jose Sharks in their fifth of eight pre-season encounters.

Former first round pick, Cody Hodgson made a return to the Canucks lineup on Sunday returning from a back injury first suffered during off-season training 14 months ago. The 10th overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry draft played 17:40, registered a pair of shots, and finished with a plus-one rating.

“To their credit they played hard and they’re a tough team to play against,” Hodgson said. “But I did feel good out there, but was just unable to generate more.

“I think I focused on just trying to enjoy being out there in the beginning and once you get more into the game, the game kind of takes over and your competitiveness kicks in.

“But it would have been nice to get the win.”

Hodgson, 20, who was a late cut last season and sent back to junior, only to discover later his back injury had not completely healed is expected to play in the Canucks three remaining exhibition games as he tries to earn a spot on the roster.

The Canucks have a home-and-home series with the Sharks, then host the Ducks before opening their regular season by hosting the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 9.

“The goal for me was to get healthy enough to be able to play and compete,” Hodgson said. “I’m here competing, whether I stay that’s someone else’s decision, I’m just going to go out there and do my best.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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