The Vancouver Canucks released their full training camp schedule yesterday, announcing there will be a scrimmage on Saturday night that will be live-streamed online. The game will almost certainly be streamed via the team’s Youtube channel. Today, however, the club was back at it in the morning as they continue to prepare for their season opener against the Edmonton Oilers which is fast approaching.
Today group A and group B were mixed up as we got our first look at what the final roster may look like. The first group on the ice consisted of the NHL regulars along with a few faces from Utica and one from the SHL.
As we have quickly become accustomed to seeing, Nils Hoglander was once again stapled to Bo Horvat’s wing, and once again, he looked dynamite. Expect to see him in the scrimmage tomorrow.
Here’s exactly who skated in the main group:
It was interesting to see Brogan Rafferty — who had a quietly good scrimmage on Wednesday — skate with the first group over Jalen Chatfield, who was getting a ton of love from the coaching staff through the first five days of camp.
Jordie Benn skated alongside Quinn Hughes, which appears to be the placeholder spot until Travis Hamonic completes his quarantine.
I’d say the only roster question that remains is which of Brogan Rafferty or Benn stay on the main roster, and which of them goes to the taxi squad. Rafferty is waiver exempt, so he’s the likely culprit to end up on the taxi squad, but that’s really the only roster question that remains, based on today’s skate.
The goaltenders are looking increasingly more comfortable, which is certainly a welcome sight for Canucks fans. It’s likely that fewer than ten goals are let in on Saturday night’s scrimmage as both goaltenders continue to get more comfortable.
Solely because he’s had more time to implement goaltending coach Ian Clark’s philosophies in his game, I’d guess that Thatcher Demko is the early favourite to start game one against Edmonton on Wednesday night. As has been written countless times, however, the Canucks will need both goaltenders all season long, and Holtby will almost certainly get the next game against the Oilers on Thursday night.
The final interesting thing to note today is that the special teams got their first reps in today. The Canucks first power play unit — which JT Miller said he believes can be the best power play in the league this season — looks close to being in midseason form.
Hoglander and Rafferty got some time on PP2 while Brandon Sutter, Jay Beagle, Tanner Pearson, Adam Gaudette, and Jake Virtanen were the penalty-killing forwards. Tyler Myers, Alex Edler, Nate Schmidt, Jordie Benn and Olli Juolevi got PK reps in on the back end as the Canucks attempt to figure out their special teams.
After most had left the ice, Olli Juolevi, Zack MacEwen, Jake Virtanen and NIls Hoglander stayed out, with Hoglander giving MacEwen and Virtanen some tips on how to pull off his signature goal:
Hoglander got some love from captain Bo Horvat after the session when he was asked if he feels his new linemate is NHL ready.
“I think so,” Horvat said without hesitating. “He’s got tremendous speed and skill. He’s a smart player, but his work ethic is the biggest thing I noticed. His smarts, his willingness to get to the dirty areas says a lot about him.”
The Canucks will have another simulated game day tomorrow, with a morning skate before returning in the evening for their final scrimmage before the games matter. and we will have a full recap available shortly after the final whistle.
Group B will hit the ice soon, and we will have you covered if anything worth noting happens.