Vancouver Canucks v Edmonton Oilers

Oilers shine in Ryan Smyth’s final game


Saturday’s 5-2 Edmonton Oilers win against the Vancouver Canucks meant little-to-nothing in the scheme of the 2013-14 season, but it meant a lot to plenty of Oilers fans. That’s because tonight served as the final game of Ryan Smyth’s career, as chronicled in a wide variety of ways.

Naturally, that included a tribute from the team before the big day:

A nod as captain with Andrew Ference on the shelf:

An emotional locker room speech:

A fantastic gesture from his final opponent and long-time divisional rivals:

A goofy-but-endearing political ode:

And yes, as more than a few people speculated, more than a few tears from the retiring 38-year-old:

source: AP
Credit: AP

You could argue that the only thing the night was lacking was an ugly Smyth goal in front of Vancouver’s net, yet another than that, it was pretty much a perfect send-off for a winger who squeezed every bit of production and fanfare one could expect from a limited set of skills.

After healthy scratch, Severson vows to play ‘next 80 games’

Jimmy Hayes, Damon Severson
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Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.

It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.

“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”

Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.

Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.

Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.

“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”

Virtanen to make NHL debut tonight versus Kings

Jake Virtanen
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Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.

The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.

“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”

Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.

The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.

If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.