Pettersson-mania begins in Vancouver

There’s a lot of ‘first impression’ moments that stand out in Canucks lore over the years. Bure’s incredible showcase against the Jets in his first NHL game. Roberto Luongo’s stellar introduction against the Red Wings at the Joe. But this one is different.

Everyone knew Elias Pettersson was good. He dominated in the SHL as an 18-year-old, something nobody has ever done before. People had him slated as a candidate for the Calder Trophy this year, before he even came to North America for training camp. He dazzled in the pre-season and showed that he belonged. But come October 3rd, it was time to throw all of that out the window and see what this kid is really made of.

And boy did he deliver.

It’s a goal I’ve had on repeat all night. It’s a play that will be infamous in Canucks history, and should be the kickstarter for what should be one heck of a career in the National Hockey League.

Come on.

The great read in his own end to stay and wait for the chip up to him, the awareness of the 2-on-1, the hesitation and of course, the absolute snipe top corner for his first NHL goal, on his first shot, in his first game.

That could’ve been it, and it still would’ve been the buzz all night in Vancouver, but he did it again on the second goal of the game, making a heads up play in front to find Goldobin wide open at the side of the net for his first apple too.

The best part of the night though, was his reaction on the bench after his first goal, with the crowd roaring in Rogers Arena, a buzz in the building that hasn’t been felt since the Sedin’s incredible final game in Vancouver, and prior to that, 2011.

Pettersson finished the night with under 10 minutes of ice time (wyd Green?) and just one shot, but got two points, had some other great chances, and was hounding the puck all night in a 5-2 win for the Canucks.

At this point in the Canucks rebuild, it’s not about the Cup. It’s not about the playoffs. It’s about hope. Will Pettersson do this every night? Definitely not. But the hope is there, there’s a spark in Vancouver that this is a sign of things to come, much like what Canucks fans saw with Brock Boeser last year, and with Bo Horvat years before that. With Quinn Hughes probably making the jump next year, and with Dahlen, Juolevi and Demko still on the way, the future is very bright on the West Coast.

This season is all about development, moving forward, seeing the kids grow; and if opening night was any sign of things to come, this year might not be big in the standings, but huge for the future.

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Connor McDavid is the best hockey player on Earth

For some reason, there’s been discussion lately between Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid for the NHL’s best player. While I appreciate Crosby’s hardware case and the countless iconic goals he’s scored over his career, his time as hockey’s “face of the sport” is now over. With an Art Ross, Hart & Ted Lindsay already under his belt in his first full season in the NHL, McDavid is now poised to become the most dominant player we’ve seen since Wayne Gretzky. His speed, skill and overall hockey IQ puts him in a different league than everyone else.

Now, I get the argument about Crosby still being the top dog. He changed the game when he entered the league back in 2005, much like McDavid is now. He’s a three-time Stanley Cup Champion, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, a World Cup of Hockey champion and the winner of multiple individual awards in the NHL over his illustrious career. In terms of legacy, Sidney Crosby is still miles ahead of McDavid. But if we’re talking raw talent at this very moment, there’s nobody better than McDavid. Crosby’s edges, finesse and vision are still elite, and probably the best in all those regards, but McDavid’s speed, and what he can do at top speed, that makes him so deadly. He doesn’t have the best shot, but how he can make space for himself, with or without the puck, is also what makes him so special. While Gretzky’s greatest trait will always be his vision, and Crosby’s will always be his athleticism, McDavid’s killer trait will always be his speed.

We’re only one game into the season, and McDavid proved he’s the best, by scoring a hat-trick on opening night, with his second goal, being absolutely breathtaking.

McDavid topped out at 40 kilometres an hour, as he took the puck up the right wing, made T.J. Brodie look like he was skating in mud, before roofing it on Mike Smith at full speed. It’s goals like these that we’ve simply never seen before, not with this caliber of athletes anyways.  Jaromir Jagr recently said he thinks that McDavid could score 100 goals at some point in his career, and while it sounds crazy, is it really out of the question? Nobody’s come close to Gretzky’s record of 92, and I don’t think anyone ever will, but McDavid might have the best shot at coming close. It appears McDavid will probably be more of a playmaker rather than a straight up scorer through his career, but I could see him cracking 150 points at some point in his career, especially with guys like Leon Draisaitl on his line.

As a Canucks fan, it’s going to be a long 15 years with Connor McDavid in the division, but man what a treat he’s going to be to watch.