Scenes from Canucks practice: Podkolzin putting in work at the bumper spot, Demko speaks about the PK struggles

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
1 year ago
Coming off a game that the club feels was a potential turning point for their stagnant power play, the Vancouver Canucks took the ice for practice at Rogers Arena ahead of their Tuesday night game against the Anaheim Ducks late Monday morning.
On their first homestand of the season, the Canucks are 2-4


Unsurprisingly so, the Canucks’ 5-on-5 lines and penalty killing lines remain rather unchanged from last night’s victory.
The one change that was made is Conor Garland and Vasily Podkolzin swapping sides on the third line. Rather than their strong sides, both players are now playing on their off wings.
Head coach Travis Green was very vocal at practice today.
The main thing people are watching lately is obviously the penalty kill and power play, but also Vasily Podkolzin’s progression in the bumper spot on the man advantage.
I took a few videos at practice today, but I think this one best displays the intelligence that Bo Horvat talked about Podkolzin possessing when the captain spoke yesterday:
Podkolzin is moving around and filling all the correct lanes. At the end of the clip, he turns himself into a legitimate scoring option that the PKers have to contend with while also keeping an eye on the puck carrier.
It’s little things like that that will make Podkolzin successful in the bumper spot.
Aside from what you can see in this video, Podkolzin also displayed an astute ability to know how much time he has in this spot. If the PKers quickly converged on him, he neatly and quickly executed a pass out to one of his wingers or point man on multiple occasions.
“There is an art to being in the middle a little bit, to know where to go and hit those holes,” said Bo Horvat yesterday. “I think [Podkolzin’s] smart enough to know that and I mean, he’s got a lot of good hockey players on his unit that are gonna be able to find him. He’s got probably one of the hardest shots on our team, so if they can get it to him, it’s probably gonna be in the net.”

What was said

Travis Green said the Canucks “expected it to take a little bit” for Podkolzin to get comfortable and up to speed with the NHL game, but reiterated that he really likes the progression in Podkolzin’s game.
“He’s a strong skater, a top-end speed fast guy,” said Green. “I think he’s adapted well to the quickness part and getting places. Part of it his feet, but also his mind. We’ve thrown a lot at him from day one. You know I think during the game, I probably go up to him five six times just on little things that we see, just to make sure he’s grasping them. We’ve thrown a lot at him, but we’ve tried not to overload him as well.
Jason Dickinson is having trouble sleeping because of how dreadful the Canucks’ penalty kill has been.
“Honestly, l didn’t sleep very well after the the game on Friday,” said Dickinson. “It killed me because right there — there’s the difference. If we’re able to get those kills, we’re looking at a different hockey game.”
Dickinson is absolutely correct in that the Canucks’ penalty kill needs to be better. The penalty kill ranks dead last in the league and Dickinson has struggled early on. For a closer look at this, you can read today’s Monday Mailbag by clicking here.
Bo Horvat is confident that the power play success the Canucks’ first unit found last night is sustainable.
“I think we’re just happy to be back together and happy that the coach has faith in us — that we’re going to be the five guys to make a difference,” said Horvat. “And I think we didn’t want to let our team down. We didn’t want to let each other down in the room. I think that translated on the ice and is why we were successful last game, but again, we got to do it again.”
The Canucks’ best penalty killer has undoubtedly been Thatcher Demko, but according to the Canucks’ goaltender, he needs to be even better.
“I think we all just got to be a little bit better as a unit, myself included in that,” said Demko. “If you look at the last handful games, maybe four or five games, it seems like pretty much every goal that we’ve let in has been on the PK, so if we can clean that up, I think the rest of our game has looked pretty good. We’ve been chatting about it and we all know that it’s an important part of the game. It’s something that we got to be better at, and look to next game to take that first step in that direction.”
The Canucks will look to build off their momentum from last night in their final game of this seven-game homestand in a date with the Anaheim Ducks. Puck drop is at 7 PM from Rogers Arena.

Check out these posts...