Practice makes perfect.
Too much practice makes the Vancouver Canucks crazy.
Coach Alain Vigneault and his staff took a different approach to this pre-season by holding out the bulk of the team’s veterans from the first four games. Logic behind the move was that the veterans were coming off a short summer, so the more time they had to rest up and ease back into things, the better.
The players appreciate the move and they believe that playing in two of the team’s three remaining games is enough to have them ready to roll for the regular season opener on October 6 vs. Pittsburgh.
The players appreciate the move, but no more practices. It’s time to play.
“We’ve had some pretty intense practices over the past week with some scrimmages and penalty kill and power play stuff,” said Dan Hamhuis, who added that he’s fully recovered, his body feels good and he’s raring to play to get back in the flow of things.
“[I just want to] get the rust out and try to play a pretty simple game and get the game mindset, get the legs going and get comfortable again.”
Coach Vigneault confirmed after Vancouver’s loss to San Jose Saturday night that veterans will play in two of the team’s final three pre-season games, to which he added today that “quite a few veterans” will be in the line-up Wednesday, including Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Mikael Samuelsson, Hamhuis and Roberto Luongo.
Despite not having played any pre-season games, Luongo said he’s been treating practice with the utmost importance. That has produced a confident goaltender, one pleased with merely playing in two of the team’s eight pre-season games.
“It doesn’t really matter what the formula is, it all begins in practice and making sure that you treat practice like a game and making sure you take every shot and every situation and play it like a game," said Luongo. "That’s where you get most of your work done anyways; the game situation is more about a feel for rhythm and flow type of things.”
Thursday’s line-up remains a bit of a mystery, although Vigneault said forward Manny Malhotra will suit up.
Everyone is anxious to get in some game action, but Malhotra is even more so now that the healing process has taken over on his eye and he no longer needs to visit a doctor regularly.
He’s put the incident behind him and is moving on.
“Medically everything is fine,” said Malhotra. “The condition aspect of things is really starting to catch up, as well as on-ice stuff, I just feel a lot more comfortable with the puck, a lot more comfortable in decision making plays with the puck and making reads out there.”
THIS AND THAT FROM AV
-Ryan Kesler took a brief skate prior to Vancouver’s practice, but he remains out indefinitely.
-Nolan Baumgartner will be out four weeks with a broken foot suffered after blocking a shot on Saturday.
-Steve Pinizzotto remains out indefinitely; Aaron Rome’s timetable to returning from a broken finger on his right hand is four-to-six weeks.
-Alexander Sulzer was given a personal leave from the team to attend the funeral of a close friend who died in the plane crash that took the lives of 43 people, many involved with the Kontinental Hockey League's Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. Sulzer will rejoin the team Thursday.
-Nicklas Jensen remains one of Vancouver’s last three first round draft picks still with the big club and his performance thus far has earned him at least one more pre-season game. “We feel that this is a real good experience for him and in our minds he’s played well enough to be in these final 18 forwards. We’ll give him another game and see what happens.”
-Owen Nolan was released from the Canucks late Saturday night, but it wasn’t due to a lack of effort. “I thought he came in and gave it a real honest effort, but he had a bad groin, physically I’m not sure if he would have been able to endure the daily workload of the NHL at his age. But he came in here, worked real hard, showed us some good things, but we felt we wanted to go in another direction.”
-Vigneault hasn’t had to preach mind over matter to his players so far this pre-season. He said they’re a hungry group and there’s little difference to be seen from this time last year. “I think mentally everybody coming into camp was where they needed to be. They were real focused, I was hearing the exact same thing that I was before last year, they’re a group that’s highly motivated, that’s accountable to one-another and they understand that this is a new season, they understand that this is a new team and it has to be a daily process, we have to get better everyday and they want to go out and play hockey.”