Competing to be the best of the rest in the NHL’s weak Pacific Division is the main goal for the Vancouver Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers entering the 2021 season. Their respective journeys to finish behind likely Pacific pacesetters the Vegas Golden Knights begin at the Oilers’ Rogers Place arena in Alberta on Wednesday.
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In the United States, the game (10 p.m. ET start time) won’t be televised, but anyone in the US can watch the Canucks vs Oilers live on ESPN+:
ESPN+ includes every out-of-market, non-nationally televised game (about 1,000 games in total), as well as 75 exclusive national NHL games (no blackouts for in-market viewers) this season. It also has dozens of other live sports, every 30-for-30 documentary in existence and additional original content (both video and written) all for $6.99 for a month or $69.99 for a year (or about seven cents per NHL game if you want to look at it that way). It’s a clear must-have option for NHL fans in the United States.
If you also want Disney+ and Hulu, you can get all three for $13.99 per month. Separately, the three streaming services would cost a total $20.97 per month, so you’re saving about 33 percent:
Once signed up for ESPN+, you can watch the Canucks vs Oilers live on the ESPN app on your Roku, Roku TV, Amazon Fire TV or Firestick, Apple TV, Chromecast, PlayStation 4 or 5, Xbox One or Series X/S, any device with Android TV (such as a Sony TV or Nvidia Shield), Samsung Smart TV, Oculus Go, iPhone, Android phone, iPad or Android tablet.
You can also watch on your computer via ESPN.com.
Canucks vs Oilers Preview
This has all the makings of a goal-laden affair because of the talent across both teams’ top lines. Edmonton’s offense is all about the brilliance of center Connor McDavid. Nobody scored more points than the 105 that earned McDavid the Art Ross Trophy last season. His keen eye for goal and ability to create chances are ably supported by Leon Draisaitl. The German forms a formidable partnership with pal McDavid on the power play, and few teams in the division will contain this duo.
While McDavid and Draisaitl are exceptional, the Oilers’ season will hinge on getting more goals from other sources. The strongest candidate to chip in has to be winger Zach Hyman, who put his name on a seven-year contract to leave the Toronto Maple Leafs back in July. Hyman assisted 18 goals last season, while also finding the net 15 times. He’s the key to transforming the Edmonton offense from a highly capable unit to one the rest of the league will come to fear. That ambition can also be helped by another offseason acquisition, Derek Ryan. The 34-year-old was a skilled center with the Calgary Flames, and he if he can take some minutes away from McDavid and Draisaitl without a significant drop off in quality, the Oilers will be in fine fettle this season.
There isn’t the same strength in depth up top for the Canucks, but Vancouver can still rely on the magic of Elias Pettersson. He’s still only 22, but the Swede has firmly established himself as one of the league’s true stars since being drafted fifth overall in 2017. Creative and prolific, Pettersson will likely be overburdened by having to carry the load in attack. Brock Boeser should help solve that problem, but the winger is set to start the campaign on injured reserve thanks to an undisclosed injury, per Sportsnet.
Boeser’s absence is a blow for a Canucks team likely itching to put 39-year-old Oilers goaltender Mike Smith through his paces. Edmonton general manager Ken Holland failed to upgrade the position during the offseason, so Smith is going to need a new lease of life in the winter of his career.
Smith’s task won’t be as tough as the one facing those tending goal for the Canucks. Vancouver’s blue line is a shambles behind skilled defenseman Quinn Hughes. Players like Tyler Myers and Tucker Poolman have seen their best days, leaving this a top-heavy team lacking the necessary balance to win games consistently.
The Oilers enter the season with the stronger opening-day roster and also have the psychological edge, after beating the Canucks 3-2 on home soil during preseason. This one won’t be a favorite with connoisseurs of strong defensive play, but McDavid and Pettersson will at least put on a show.