Twenty-nine of 30 Canucks took to the ice today for an hour-long practice; the lone absentee was forward Billy Sweatt.
Sweatt left Vancouver’s 4-3 overtime win over Calgary Monday night in the third period after taking a hit. Coach Craig MacTavish didn’t specify exactly what the injury is, instead saying Sweatt is “a little banged up.”
All signs point to Sweatt missing the final two games of the Young Stars Tournament as a precautionary measure.
“We’re just going to be real cautious and make sure that he’s as close to 100 per cent as possible when main camp gets going on the 16th,” said MacTavish. “We’re really going to air on the side of being conservative with him and make sure that he’s healthy enough to compete for a position.
“I can’t think of a circumstance that would put him in a game, unless the trainer said that he was 100 per cent and he wants to play, then we might entertain letting him play, but I think it just makes good sense to everybody to shut him down.
“I don’t think it’s too worrisome at this point, but we’ll be cautious.”
There were a lot more smiles at practice today and MacTavish said he’s noticed a jump in liveliness from his players in the last few days. Familiarity will do that as the Canucks are finally forming some chemistry with one another.
“It’s pretty awkward at the start when they don’t know anybody and for a lot of them it’s their first pro camp so they really don’t know what the expectations are and how to behave, but they loosen up after a few days and you get a little bit more energy in your practice.”
Penticton is easily one of the most beautiful places in the world.
There hasn’t been a lot of time for exploring this week, but even without looking for splendor, it’s everywhere.
That makes hearing how Billy Sweatt spent his post-game Monday night noteworthy...Spoiler Alert.
Veterans skate at UBC
By Travis Britton
With Manny Malhotra playing the role of Coach Vigneault, all the vets (minus the injured Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond) skated hard today at UBC.
Malhotra’s first class leadership skills were on full display as he led his troops through the first part of the Canucks skate. The inspirational veteran of the club was sporting a half visor, and looked in mid-season form, leading the way vocally and technically for the veteran laden group.
Most of the drills were focusing on odd man rushes, two–on-ones, three-on-twos, you know, lots of puck oriented drills.
Kevin Bieksa wasn’t giving any free passes to his net, as he was breaking up everything with his trademark snarl. He even blocked a shot midway through the drills that left him writhing in pain in front of Roberto Luongo. The few eager fans in attendance held their collective breaths momentarily, until Luongo jostled the newly inked defender.
Blue vs. Green
With the drills out of the way, and a fresh sheet of Ice, it was time to play a friendly grudge match of blue versus green. Coach Manny opted to scratch himself and Luongo from the scrimmage. This left Eddie Lack and his green squad to face off against Cory Schneider and his blue squad.
Mikael Samuelsson was sprung on an early breakaway on Schneider, who was equal to the task. Bieksa was again at his stingy best, taking away a sure goal from Henrik Sedin, on what was a nifty three way passing play by the green squad, who was coming in waves. A few minutes later Schneider was facing another breakaway. This time it was the feisty forward from Quebec, Maxim Lapierre, bearing down on Schneider, who couldn’t keep out the agitators wicked backhand.
One-zip for Eddie Lack and his Green squad.
Samuelsson gets his second breakaway of the scrimmage off a beautiful saucer pass by goalie Lack, only to be stymied again by Schneider on the first and second attempt. This proved to be a big change in momentum as the Blue team seemed to wake up after Schneider’s big save.
With the ice tilted in the Blue team’s favor, number 79, Mike Duco, went to work and scored a highlight reel goal for the ages. He didn’t actually, but I actually missed the goal, and I thought I’d give Duco the benefit of the doubt.
All tied up in this defensive chess match.
With time winding down on this tight affair, Dan Hamhuis saw his window. Hamhuis, from the point, sent in a perfect backboard shot that even John Stockton would be proud of, banking it off the end boards, off Lack and into the net for 3 points….I mean the winning goal.
Final Score- 2-1 for Schneider and his Blue squad, capturing the Battle of the Colored Cup.
Three Stars: 1. Cory Schneider (Goaltending Clinic) 2. Dan Hamhuis (Game Winner) 3. Kevin Bieksa (Defensive Beast)