The Vancouver Canucks were again on the ice Saturday going through two ice sessions and two video meetings, before an off-ice workout and media availability. The first group to hit ice Friday was second on Saturday, and vice-versa for the second group.
The fans, fans in the stands were once again rowdy making the atmosphere inside the CN Centre quite electric.
NOT IN PENTICTON ANYMORE
All eyes were on Jake Virtanen even before he nailed Connor McDavid in Vancouver’s first game of the 2015 Young Stars Classic last week in Penticton, BC. Since then the spotlight has been even brighter on the 19-year-old, and he hasn’t disappointed.
Skating alongside Alex Burrows and Cole Cassels, Virtanen moved the puck well and looked right at home with a veteran like Burrows. That being said, it’s clear he’s not in Penticton anymore.
"It’s a big difference,” laughed Virtanen. “They’re men here so we’re playing against bigger guys who can hit, they’re more physical for sure. It’s definitely a lot different, but the Penticton tournament is important because it builds your confidence coming into main camp here. There’s a lot of good players here, you’ve just got to work hard, have fun and give it your all.”
The Hit on McDavid has been a topic of conversation ever since Virtanen delivered it, but he got a taste of his own medicine from Dane Fox Saturday during a series of battle drills. Fox hit Virtanen along the boards and definitely cleared the cobwebs.
“Dane gave me one there, but you give some, you take some. It was a good battle drill.”
Virtanen doesn’t want to discuss his hit on McDavid any longer, he said. Sounds like he's planning on giving everyone something new to talk about real soon.
If he makes the Canucks, he’ll accomplish that indeed.
”Today felt really good, I felt really comfortable out there and it’s been a good two-days here so far. I’m looking forward to getting into the intersquad game Sunday and then the pre-season games the rest of the week.”
DORSETT VS. PRUST
You’ve seen the tilt, but it’s worth re-watching.
Both Derek Dorsett and Brandon Prust were asked about this playoff fight from May 22, 2014, when Dorsett was with the New York Rangers and Prust was a member of the Montreal Canadiens.
”Call it a draw,” smiled Dorsett.
”Call it a draw – edge Prust,” rebutted Prust.
”Look how long his arms are,” replied Dorsett, “he can scratch his ankles standing up!
”He’s got a pretty face,” laughed Prust, “I didn’t want to mess it up too badly.”
Verdict: watching Dorsett and Prust is going to be a lot of fun this season.
Dorsett and Prust have skated on a line with Linden Vey through the first two days of camp and both tough guys like the chemistry they’re building. That and they’re enjoying the rise of intensity in practice.
“The battle drills are huge, especially for guys like me,” said Prust. “You can skate all summer, but until you get down into the corners and start battling, it’s something you can’t really practice for. It’s good, I enjoy those practices, they’re tough and it’s a grind, but I like it.”
Both Dorsett and Prust are now counting down the minutes to the start of pre-season, but is that when bodies hit the floor? Or do they save that for the regular season?
”I try to play with one gear,” smiled Dorsett, “but sometimes you don’t want to be fighting and you’ve got to pick your spots and make sure you’re being smart out there.
”Obviously you want to be healthy going into the season, but at the same time you want to push yourself to make sure you’re ready to go for the regular season. You don’t want to be on your heels only giving it 75 per cent going into the season; it’s hard to crank it up to 100 per cent if you don’t go right away.”
It’s a balancing act, one that begins Monday with the Canucks taking on the San Jose Sharks in their first pre-season game.