Flames get another crack at Canucks

The retirement of the Sedin twins eliminated two Vancouver Canucks stars from Sweden who presented problems for the Calgary Flames, but it now looks like another Swedish standout has arrived on the scene.

Calgary fans get their first regular season look at Canucks phenom Elias Pettersson on Saturday as the Flames host Vancouver for Calgary’s regular-season home opener at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The fifth overall pick from the 2017 entry draft scored in his NHL debut on Wednesday and added an assist in the Canucks’ 5-2 win over the Flames in Vancouver, setting high expectations for his first season.

“I think you can tell the potential he has, the plays he makes and the way he sees the ice,” Canucks defenseman Alex Edler, another Swede, told reporters. “Now he just has to do it 81 more times.”

The rebuilding Canucks, who are without Henrik and Daniel Sedin for the first time in 18 seasons, haven’t been given much respect heading into the new season and are anticipated to be a lottery team come April. The Flames, on the other hand, are being billed as a contender for a playoff spot after failing to live up to expectations in 2017-18.

Pettersson, a 19-year-old center, joins Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser as the offensive leaders for Vancouver. One game in to his career, he’s already impressing.

“Nothing seems to faze him,” Horvat told the media in Vancouver. “He doesn’t get too high or too low. He doesn’t get discouraged.”

Pettersson led the Swedish Hockey League in scoring with 56 points (24 goals, 32 assists) in 44 games and was named league MVP in the regular season and playoffs last season.

Saturday’s game marks the home debut for Calgary’s new local favorite, Dillon Dube, who made his NHL debut in Vancouver. From the Calgary bedroom community of Cochrane, the second-round pick from 2017 had an impressive preseason with four goals and two assists. It left general manager Brad Treliving with no choice but to keep the 20-year-old around for the start of the regular season.

Although he was asked about his first NHL game prior to face-off on Wednesday, Dube was queried afterward about having teammate Travis Hamonic stand up for him after he was popped by Erik Gudbranson.

Turns out, that fight was costly as it left Hamonic with a fractured jaw that on Friday put him on the injured reserved and out week-to-week.

Rasmus Andersson was recalled Friday to replace Hamonic. The 21-year-old played 10 games with the Flames last season and was close to making the regular season roster this season.

“(Travis) stuck up for me and obviously I have to do a lot for him for the rest of the year. I look up to him because when you do that for a teammate, it means a lot,” Dube said.

“Gudbranson, he’s a pretty big dude. So when you go up and do that … I just hope he gets back as soon as he can.”

Hamonic had this to say about the fight when chatting with Ryan Leslie of Sportsnet on Thursday: “If that were my kid, I’d want someone to do something about it.”