Vancouver’s Young Stars hit the ice Wednesday morning for a brief 30-minute game-day skate; the team worked on a few breakout drills before breaking into two groups to practice one-on-one play coming out of the corners, faceoffs and passing.
The Canucks face the Anaheim Ducks this afternoon, 4 p.m. puck drop live on Canucks.com. The Ducks are the only team without a win in the Young Stars Tournament, they dropped a 4-1 decision to the San Jose Sharks before Calgary made quick work of them a night later in an 8-4 Flames win. Anaheim has scored a tournament-low five goals and allowed a tournament-high 12 goals, that’s led to 56 penalty minutes out of frustration, the second-highest total of the five teams.
Vancouver is looking for its second consecutive win after beating San Jose 5-3 Monday night. The Canucks have scored just one more goal that the Ducks this tournament, although they’ve allowed five fewer thanks to the stellar play of goaltender Eddie Lack.
If Lack makes an appearance in goal tonight, it will come at the expense of Michael Houser, who coach Claude Noel has given the start. Houser allowed two goals on six shots in 26 minutes of play against the Edmonton Oilers.
“I thought he was a little nervous in game one and he’ll start tonight, we’ll see how it goes,” said Noel. “I want to see the workload really to see if he’s going to be really busy, Lack may play a portion of the game, I’m not sure if it would be half, none or the third period. We’ll just wait and see.
“From Houser’s standpoint, he’s young and we’d just like to see him get another chance and a start from the beginning of the game. He’ll be able to prepare himself for that and we’ll see how he does.”
Other lineup changes include Alex Friesen replacing Jordan Schroeder on the top line between Bill Sweatt and Pierre-Olivier Morin; Kevin Clark, Stefan Schneider and Matt Fraser make up the second threesome; Dan Gendur replaces Kellan Tochkin on the third trio with Aaron Volpatti and Steven Anthony; while Brad Smith will compliment James Henry and Tayler Jordan.
On defence, Evan Oberg fillis in for Kevin Connauton alongside Chris Tanev; David Fischer slots in for Adam Polasek; Taylor Ellington and Sawyer Hannay remain in tact.
Rai, Schroeder, Tochkin, Connauton and Polasek are scratches for this afternoon’s game, which coach Noel is hoping his team uses to put forth another solid effort.
“We’d like to try to improve every game and get a little bit better. It would be nice to see, for example, the power play get on the board, the penalty killing to get a little bit better, and just good games from everybody. As they get more comfortable, I think you want your players to play better and I thought we were quite a bit better the second game than we were the first so hopefully we’ll play a solid 60 minutes in this game and get even better.”
LIKE A SPONGE
The players get more comfortable with each new game, but so does Noel, who was named coach of the Manitoba Moose in June and isn’t overly familiar with a lot of Vancouver’s prospects.
Baby steps, both for the coach and the players.
“You just don’t have great opinions on players so you have to take time to see how they are and I have to end up having some dialogue with, for example, some scouts and other personnel to find out, like after game one, is this their A-game or B-game, what are we seeing from these guys, I don’t know these guys.
“We had some good conversations so I have a way better idea and then after the first game, they played quite well the second game so now I see a real difference in their games.
“It’s not that difficult, I think for me you make an assessment on people and players and how they do and you watch a lot more closely on their conduct and responses to motivation. It’s all new, I’m just like a sponge taking in information.