Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Last Dance: Hughes shines, Ferland rips twine and Virtanen just falls behind in Canucks final scrimmage

Friday night was the most important night of training camp.

Team blue played team white in what would be the final scrimmage for the Canucks before they flew off to Bubbletown West. A few major questions still needed to be answered before the exhibition game against the Winnipeg Jets.

Is Jake Virtanen going to be a healthy scratch? Will Zack MacEwen and his 21 career NHL games be a starter in a play-in series? Is Micheal Ferland really healthy?

These questions and more were going to be addressed and possibly answered on Friday night as head coach Travis Green wanted to push his players to the limit with a full three period game.

Here’s how the teams looked as the Canucks hosted the Canucks:

Let’s go!

First Period

The first period was action packed with a good amount of chances for both teams. Louis Domingue was the goalie for team white as Thatcher Demko was given the night off. Jacob Markstrom held the crease down for team white and looked good through one period. Markstrom faced a handful of shots and did not allow a goal. The best chances for team white came from the line of Tanner Pearson, Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser.

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Boeser had a couple good chances but this one was probably his best of the first period.

The period belonged to Quinn Hughes as it looked like he didn’t leave the ice at all in the first 20 minutes.

Hughes’ skating looks like it has somehow improved.

That sounds crazy, but it looks true when you see him wheeling around with the puck in the offensive zone. Criss crossing with Chris Tanev enough that I’m pretty sure I saw his pockets on the frontside of his jean pants after the game.

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Though Hughes was the best player in the first period, the best forward was Micheal Ferland.

Ferland scored the only goal of the first period.

He looked to be skating with pace and the speed of the game was not a challenge for him. Ferland was playing on a line with Antoine Roussel and Adam Gaudette. This line was very interesting to me as it looked like a real possibility for Travis Green to use that trio to round out his top nine.

What appeared to be the fourth line was run by the trio of Tyler Motte, Jay Beagle and Zack MacEwen. This trio got a lot of fans excited.

It’s always fun to see how people react to Brandon Sutter being taken off of the fourth line.

Here are a couple of other clips from the first period of action:

This is how the first period ended as JT Miller took a Tyler Myers shot off the hand.

Second Period

The intensity picked up and the goaltending dropped off.

Thatcher Demko came in to relieve Louis Domingue of his duties. Tonight was the first game action Domingue got during training camp.

There were three goals in the second period and Zack MacEwen opened the scoring when he went top shelf on a penalty shot. This tied the game up. 1-1.

Adam Gaudette scored the second goal of the game as Quinn Hughes did some dancing around in the offensive zone and then found Gaudette with some space on the left side and he made no mistake with his potent one-timer.

Here’s the biggest highlight of the first 40 minutes.

Loui Eriksson made it 3-1 for team blue late in the third period as he was banging away around the net. Unfortunately, both Farhan Lalji of TSN and myself missed the Loui Eriksson goal.

Aside from the goals, there was more physicality in the second period. Jay Beagle and his line were getting involved pretty hard on defencemen.

Virtanen and MacEwen had a little slashing match against each other in the middle of the period. Virtanen stuck his blade down MacEwen’s glove and MacEwen went back at him with a cross-check to the back which was followed by a spinning swing of the stick by Virtanen.

Twitter reactions are great and I missed than at game time…

It’s good to be back y’all.

Here are a few other clips from the second period before we move forward.

As the physicality and offence rose, it was getting everyone very excited for what was to come in the third period. Let’s go there now.

Third Period

The third period was very different as the teams got special.

We saw the powerplay go to work in one-minute intervals for about six minutes and then the penalty kill followed them up with about six minutes of their own work. Time was stopped after every minute and the special team groups would practice until a puck was cleared from the zone.

Here is what the powerplay units looked like:

We will get into the major storylines of the day but wow, I just have to say it now.

Micheal Ferland really had a day today.

He was a mainstay on the second unit and looked solid with Gaudette and Boeser around him. Ferland found himself in the bumper position and did not look out of place.

The third period was kind of boring, to be honest.

Here’s one clip from the period you may enjoy before we get into the major storylines of the night.

There were a couple of big stories from Friday night, let’s get into them.

Quinn Hughes is very good

This is known but he may be better than we remembered. Today Quinn talked about feeling a few pounds heavier and maybe that is improving his ability to power around the corner with some of his spin moves.

Hughes looks good and I can’t wait for the playoff competition to force him to elevate his game even more. Canucks fans should know that they are about to get the best Quinn Hughes they have ever seen in a week’s time when the Canucks face the Minnesota Wild.

Micheal Ferland looked very good

I mentioned it in the first two periods and after the full two hours of ice time that the Canucks had I can safely say that tonight belonged to Micheal Ferland.

It was his night.

He opened the scoring in the first period, brought some intensity in the second period and found his way onto the second powerplay unit in the third period.

It was absolutely his night.

I still struggle to believe that he is fully healthy but everything I saw from tonight points in the direction that we will see him on opening night against the Wild.

The exhibition game against the Jets will certainly tell the final chapter of Ferland’s camp story, but as it stands, I think it’s going to have a happy ending.

Micheal Ferland and Zack MacEwen could end up being in the opening night play-in series lineup.

Jake Virtanen was not very goodΒ 

Tonight was a great night for a lot of Canucks. Jake Virtanen was not one of them.

Virtanen looked out of place in the scrimmage, was slashing around with teammates like MacEwen and Alex Edler and looked like a player who had packed it in and decided to let the cards fall where they may and accept his fate.

He didn’t bring any extra intensity like MacEwen, Beagle or Ferland and he just looked disinterested at times.

I don’t think Travis Green will be putting Virtanen in his play-in series lineup and it’s due to the bad camp that Virtanen had.

I’ve talked a lot this season about the progression that Virtanen has made this season. I wanted this kid to become a hometown favourite and rip it up these playoffs.

I was rooting for him.

But now I’ve come to accept that he will likely have to impact this team’s playoff run as a 13th forward.

It was a good night for some and a poor night for others. At the end of camp, we saw some rise to the occasion and others fall back. Now we wait as the Canucks travel to Edmonton on Sunday and will play the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday at 7:30 pm.

See you all there, I hope you’ve enjoyed CanucksArmy’s coverage of training camp 2.0!