Scenes from practice: Canucks keeping “one step at a time” mentality after successful road trip
Photo credit:© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
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The Vancouver Canucks’ opening season road trip went about as well as anyone could have hoped.
The team got off to the kind of start everyone was hoping for, and arrived back in Vancouver with an overall record of 4-2-0 — the fourth-best record in the West, and second-best in the Pacific Division.
Most importantly, the team avoided a repeat of last year, when they began the year with a historic number of blown leads en route to dropping their first seven games of the year.
Today, the Canucks were back on the ice as they prepared for a three-game homestand that starts on Friday night with a matchup against the St. Louis Blues.
Here’s what went down at Canucks practice.
What we saw
Unsurprisingly, the lines remain unchanged. Jack Studnicka skated as an extra, but instead of skating as an extra forward, he lined up alongside Noah Juulsen on “the fourth pairing.”
Could the Canucks be looking at an unorthodox option to help them with their thin right side? (This is a joke).
The Canucks did some power play work, some zone entry work, and squeezed in a “drill” where players came out from behind their net and took a rink-long shot at an empty net down at the other end. A lot of players missed the net. A lot of players would not be able to win a car in the intermission, it seems.
Enough about practice, let’s get into what was said after practice.
What was said
Rick Tocchet touched on the “weird” schedule the Canucks have that’s only getting weirder, and the important of having Casey DeSmith playing the way he has been as the team heads into back-to-back games on the heels of a five-game road trip.
“I know a lot of people in Pittsburgh and so I talked to Mike Sullivan just about what kind of guy he is,” said Tocchet. “I didn’t know him that well, because I wasn’t in Pittsburgh when he was there. What I liked was his training camp, like even as exhibition games, just solid. Really a smile-on-his-face type of guy…He’s a nice guy He takes shots after practice, he knows his role, but he also wants to win and I think he’s instilled confidence. Not just for the team, but even like Demmer has confidence in him to like ‘I got a mate here who can play really well for us, too.
“We can’t overplay Demmer it’s just not prudent in the league for any team. It’s hard to have goalies play 60 games and also be successful in the playoffs. Look at Vegas last year, they had three goalies and they survived. So I think, you know, we’re in a situation where we’re comfortable with out goaltending? I think we got — I’m biased — but I think we got two of the best goalies in the league.”
Tocchet also touched on something he said repeatedly prior to the start of the season.
Anytime Tocchet was asked about the importance of his team starting the season well during training camp and preseason, Tocchet always preached taking things one game at a time and not putting any more pressure on his players to perform out of the gate, given how the horrible start to last season cost them their season before it could even really begin.
“I think after the Philly game sometimes you have a game like that early in the season and maybe the history of the team in the last bunch of years, guys, the next game, they’re tight. I didn’t feel that. I felt we were a little bit better in Tampa. That’s a good sign. That they know that they didn’t play well. We addressed some things and sometimes you get tight and I didn’t see that and I thought that, like I said, I thought the players did a good job like us coaches other than game plan or teaching we stayed away from them, let them figure a few things out. I think that was big, that we’re not always in their faces, because I played the game too, you don’t want a coach’s voice in your ear every day, and I think it’s important that they took over the dressing room.”
Elias Pettersson touched on this as well as he recalled the Canucks’ opening-season road trip, and stressed the importance of keeping that same mindset all season long now that the “start” of the season is behind his team.
“Last year we started the way we did, and it’s just been a thing for us but now we’ve started good, but now it’s about keeping it going. I like to just live in the moment and today we had a good practice after a good road trip and tomorrow we’ll have a back to back on Friday and Saturday. So we’re focusing on that. Like Tocchet said, you can’t focus too much ahead.”
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