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Canucks’ Arshdeep Bains assesses first week in NHL: ‘I’m not completely satisfied’

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
1 month ago
One week ago, Arshdeep Bains had yet to play a game in the National Hockey League. Recalled from Abbotsford by the Vancouver Canucks for the first time on February 16th, Bains has just come through a whirlwind week that included his NHL debut, having his father experience it as part of the Canucks mentors trip, road games in Colorado and Seattle and his first home game – and first win – against the Boston Bruins.
It’s been a lot to process. But it’s also been a dream come true and everything Bains had hoped for when he signed with the Canucks as a free agent two years ago.
The 23-year-old got the opening face-off assignment in his first game in Denver and, by his second game, had been promoted to play alongside JT Miller and Brock Boeser.
On Saturday, the rookie found himself with new linemates for the third straight game, skating alongside Elias Lindholm and Conor Garland. That’s where he was slotted again at Sunday’s practice at Rogers Arena.
Through three games, Bains has averaged 12:33 of ice time, has registered three shots, four hits and taken a pair of penalties. There has been a lot to like in his game, but there’s still plenty of room to grow that game. And Bains isn’t satisfied to simply be in the NHL. He wants to make sure he stays in the best league in the world.
“I’m not completely satisfied if I’m being honest,” Bains said matter of factly when asked to assess his play. “I feel like I can do a little bit better. But at the same time, I’m pretty proud of the way I’ve been playing. There’s more for me to give and that’s the exciting thing. I feel like I’ve had some looks, some scoring chances, there’s been some opportunity there and I’m getting good ice time. I think it should be a good recipe if I keep heading this way and good things should happen.”
Bains is still looking for his first NHL point, but isn’t letting that weigh on him in any way. He knows production will come if he continues to do the things that earned him this opportunity in the first place.
One of the things that excites Bains most about his first week on the job is that he hasn’t felt out of place and hasn’t been swallowed up by the moment at any point despite sharing the ice with the likes of Nathan MacKinnon and Brad Marchand, among others. And Bains says he likes the fact he’s been able to play his game at the NHL level.
“At times, I feel like I can really make plays and be smart with the puck and use my work ethic and speed,” he explained. “At times, I’m maybe a bit behind the play. But that’s just the learning curve. When you first come to this league, it’s a tough jump. For me, at all levels, it takes me a little bit of time to learn about the speed and how it works. Hopefully, I’ll hit the ground running here.”
Bains has already caught the attention of the man that matters most: Rick Tocchet.
The Canucks head coach’s eyes lit up when presented a question about what he’s seen from Bains through his first three NHL games.
“I’m a big fan, I like him a lot,” Tocchet raved. “I think there’s another level. He’s earned his spot right now. I don’t know how long it’s going to be. Maybe it’s the rest of the year, but he’s earned his spot. I know guys enjoy playing with him. I’ve had a couple of players come up to me individually and say ‘hey, don’t be afraid to throw him on my line.’ I think that’s the ultimate compliment for that kid. A lot of players want to play with him. But he’s also doing the little things that I love. He’s really good on the forecheck, he can handle the puck and he’s not scared. He gets inside.”
Bains took the coach’s praise in stride when informed of the positive feedback.
“That’s special that he says that,” Bains said. “He talked to me today. I’m just trying to earn each day and not take it for granted. I think the coaches believe in me, the players believe in me as well. If I can help this team win, that’s all I can ask for.”
Asked about the bond he’s formed in relatively short order with JT Miller, Bains was quick to gush about the Canucks scoring leader.
“He’s a hell of a player,” he said. “He’s a leader. He’s taken me under his wing a little bit. You’re going to have a good game if you play with him. He’s a really smart player. Him and Boes (Brock Boeser). It was awesome that they let me play with them (in Seattle).”
It’s remarkable for all that Arshdeep Bains has experienced in his first week in the NHL, Sunday was the first time he’d participated in a full practice with the Canucks. Between a gruelling travel schedule and the fact Friday’s practice was altered to optional status and didn’t include many of the team’s leaders, Bains had the chance to work with the eight coaches on the ice Sunday to hone his game.
There is an adjustment from the American Hockey League, for sure. But Bains feels like he’s adjusting well to everything that has been thrown his way.
“The game is faster for sure, but the guys are also faster and getting open and there’s people to find,” he said. “It’s fast and that’s the way I want to play the game. It’s good for me. It’s a good jump, but I think I’m handling it pretty well and I’ve got more to give here.”
Based on Sunday’s practice, the Canucks gave every indication that Bains will remain in the line-up for the team’s next game on Tuesday against Pittsburgh. If Arshdeep Bains hasn’t had his ‘pinch me’ moment yet, then certainly going up against Sidney Crosby will drive home the fact that he’s exactly where he wants to be.

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