Garland downplays practice scuffle with Hronek, but thinks high intensity important for Canucks over final 15 games

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
3 months ago
Conor Garland knew the question was coming. The feisty Canucks forward didn’t meet with the media on Thursday in the aftermath of his brief practice scuffle with teammate Filip Hronek. So on Friday, after the Canucks skated at UBC, Garland was ready for what was coming his way.
“That’s basically what that drill is made for,” Garland explained with a laugh. “I think my helmet came off so it probably looked worse than what it was. It was nothing. Usually after losses a lot of teams have that (battle) drill and it’s a high level of compete. It was good for us to have that. We have to play like that. When we’re at our best, we go through people and we hit guys. You look down our stat sheet, a lot of guys have a high number of hits when we’re at our best, so it’s good to have those kinds of days.”
Garland doesn’t make it a habit of exchanging blows with teammates like he did with Hronek, but he did get into a similar training camp skirmish with Dakota Joshua. It’s all part of who he is and the way he plays. 
Garland says it’s part of his philosophy of practice hard, play hard.
“Of course, I’m not the most talented guy, I’m undersized and I’ve got some flaws, so you’ve got to play hard and compete,” he said. “When you’re the type of player like me, I think everybody does. Look at Hoggy (Nils Höglander). He’s an undersized guy. He competes. You try to get into guys and be a hard guy to play against. And I think that’s important for our group.”
At Friday’s practice, Garland, who turned 28 earlier this week, found himself skating once again on a line with Elias Lindholm and Vasily Podkolzin. The Boston native admits it has been an adjustment for him since Lindholm moved to the middle on that line and since Dakota Joshua went down with injury on February 13th.
“Playing with Dakota, you can play with your brain shut off,” Garland said. “I think I struggled when he went down just because I was thinking a little bit more. Dak is really good at holding the puck for a second and makes the right play, and Podz has been doing that for the last few games which is starting to break teams’ D down. And we’ve added Lindy which is a shot threat. With Teddy and Dak, it was two lefties and now I’ve got Lindy so it’s a lot easier for me coming out of the corners.”
Another wrinkle to Garland’s game these days is his role on the first power play unit. The Canucks have struggled with the man advantage since the All Star break (15.4%) and have cycled through a number of different formations. 
Garland spent most of the season on the second unit and now finds himself trying to adjust on the fly to fit in with Quinn Hughes, JT Miller, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser.
“It’s obviously still a learning process for me trying to get better at it,” he said. “Second unit doesn’t really go out much, so you have to get your reps and get up to speed with what they want. I think I add a good element to it with my entries. I can get in pretty well. I add some deception and quick puck movement. Obviously, it’s going to run through Millsy and my job – I don’t want to go too much into it and give the other team a free pre-scout – I know what my element is and getting pucks back and be a different player than Brock and it’s nice to have a different type of righty on the unit.”
Garland and the Canucks will see a desperate Washington Capitals team on Saturday night. The Caps are still in the hunt for an Eastern Conference wild card spot and locked down a 2-1 win in Seattle on Thursday night.
The Canucks, of course, are looking to rebound from their 4-3 overtime loss to Colorado on Wednesday. Garland, Hronek and their teammate showed some fight at Thursday’s practice. And they’ll need to bring that intensity again against Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals.

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