Today, the Vancouver Canucks made the trip out to Burnaby for a practice that was well-attended by fans and spectators at Scotia Barn — more commonly known as 8 Rinks.
Here’s what we saw.
Line rushes and stuff
The big stories of the day were Brock Boeser and Matthew Highmore taking part in a full practice, along with Vasily Podkolzin slotting in at the net front position in Bo Horvat’s absence.
The Canucks’ captain blocked a shot from Anton Stralman during Thursday night’s win over the Arizona Coyotes and will likely be out until at least the end of the regular season.
It’s a big blow for the club as they lose their leading goal scorer, best faceoff man, and an integral part of their red-hot power play which has been a driving force of their recent success.
Vasily Podkolzin, who appears to be playing with a ton of confidence right now, skated with the first power play unit, skating in Bo Horvat’s spot on the bumper with J.T. Miller on the left and Elias Pettersson on the right side. Chiasson is down low at the net front/ below the goal line.
As he typically does, Podkolzin stayed out late after practice and put on a bit of a show hammering home one-timers on an empty net.
Podkolzin then stuck around to try to give pucks to the fans despite the layout of Rink 1 at 8 Rinks not really making that all that easy of a task.
The puck Podkolzin ended up tossing after asking the recipient “you sure?” when they requested he throw it unfortunately landed on the other side of the glass, but Podkolzin made sure Canucks staff got the kid his puck.
What was said
Head coach Bruce Boudreau wasn’t exactly pleased with the Canucks’ effort level at practice on Friday. Boudreau was wearing a mic that broadcasted his audio throughout the arena speakers to shareholders and guests who were invited to practice, so had to bite his tongue a bit when talking to his group.
But today, Boudreau says he liked the way his team practiced, and expects them to be ready for Monday night’s game against the Dallas Stars.
“Really good today, a lot better than yesterday,” said Boudreau. “I think days after games are tough practices at this stage, but I mean, with a little bit of rest, I thought they practice hard today.”
Boudreau also talked about the loss of Horvat.
“What are you gonna do, right? I mean, quite frankly, it’s happened all year. You wish people weren’t injured, but it’s next man up. Everybody says it but we’ve been doing it quite successfully and hopefully we can continue to.”
More specifically, Boudreau talked about slotting Podkolzin into Horvat’s spot in the bumper position on the first power play unit.
“Somebody’s got to replace Bo right? I don’t think anybody can replace him at that spot, because he’s very good at it and he’s great at faceoffs and retrievals but, Pods has been doing pretty well and he’s hot, so let’s see if he can continue it.”
Elias Pettersson says he’s happy that Vasily Podkolzin is the one getting a shot on PP1.
“He has a good shot,” said Pettersson. “I mean, he’s been playing fantastic lately, so I’m happy he’s getting the minutes on the power play because he’s been deserving of it.”
It’s worth mentioning that Pettersson and Boudreau both stayed behind for photos and to sign autographs for fans after practice today.
Before he was hurt, Horvat himself said he thought that Podkolzin had the hardest shot of anybody on the Canucks, and fans are certainly going to be hoping that Podkolzin can help hold down the fort in Horvat’s absence as the Canucks continue to try to pull off the improbable.