They came, they saw, they conquered. Now it's time for the pre-season.
The Vancouver Canucks wrapped up their brief two-day training camp in Whistler on Sunday, an event that was over in the blink of an eye.
For the second consecutive day the players were pushed to their limits on and off the ice and heading into the team's first pre-season game of the season (the Canucks face the Oilers in Edmonton on Monday night) head coach Alain Vigneault is very pleased with what he saw throughout the weekend.
"I'm highly impressed," said Vigneault. "The effort that they're putting in right now in the practices is very pleasing for everybody within our organization. They're all battling hard and they came to camp in great shape and it's only going to get better."HODGSON IMPRESSES
Coaches and fans have been equally impressed with a number of players, 2008 first-round draft pick Cody Hodgson being one of them.
The 18-year-old skated on a line with Steve Bernier and Pavol Demitra all weekend with exciting results. The trio combined to dangle their way down the ice nicely on a few occasions on Sunday with Hodgson netting a couple of nice goals.
"He's a young player who just got drafted but it doesn't seem like he's nervous on the ice, he's playing like he was in junior," said Bernier.
"He's so calm on the ice, he can see everybody on the ice very well, he seems like he's a goalscorer too, he scored a couple of goals in practice. He's got good speed, he plays well offensively so he's going to be a pretty good player very soon.
"It's been fun to play with a guy like this and hopefully we're going to have the same lines for one of the two games next week."
Hodgson was a fan and media favorite in Whistler, he garnered a lot of cheering with his play, while the media in attendance were always looking to find out the latest on the forward.
"I'm playing with some great hockey players here so they make it so easy," said Hodgson when asked about his solid play. "They're always jumping into the holes and getting ready for the puck, that makes my job a lot easier."
Hodgson hasn't been told where he stands in terms of making the team or not, he's not fretting over it though, he received some sound advice from Vancouver's coaching staff heading into camp and he's still taking it to heart.
"Just play my game, that's the main thing. They told everyone this, if you're a scorer score, if you're a checker, check. Just play your role and hopefully you can fit into the system."
Whether or not Hodgson fits into the system or not clearly remains to be seen and fans will have to wait until Tuesday night to see what he can do in pre-season action.HEADED TO EDMONTON
Team A will be making the trip to Edmonton for Monday's game and if the lines and pairings from camp remain the same for the game, the offensive and defensive combinations will be as follows:
D.Sedin - Wellwood - Pyatt
Pettinger - Krog - Simek
Jaffray - Kesler - Gendur
Cowan - Rypien - Raymond
Ohlund - Heshka
Mitchell - Baumgartner
Rahimi - Edler
Davison - Sharrow
Manitoba Moose standout goaltender Cory Schneider
will start in net with Karl Goehring working backup duty. Schneider understands that he's in a bit of a unique situation because even if he plays a perfect game and performs well all pre-season, he will most likely be re-assigned to Manitoba because the pairing of Roberto Luongo
and Curtis Sanford are all but sharpied into the opening night roster.
"You just try to prepare yourself and you always hope for a good game, but whatever happens, happens," said Schneider. "It's out of my hands so all I can do is go out there and control what I can and that's playing a good game. If I do that, hopefully I force them to make a decision, but it's up to them and if they feel it's best for me to play more games (in Manitoba) then that's fine."DECISION TIME
Cuts are on the horizon as the Canucks head into the first few games of the pre-season with ample players, but coach Vigneault said he and his staff aren't rushing any decisions.
"We're going to keep what we have right now for the first four games, then after the Anaheim game we're definitely going to make some cuts. How many, I'm not quite sure, but probably in the range of five to ten.
"We're going to keep the players that are going to permit us to win, it's as simple as that. We're starting our exhibition games tomorrow, we'll be able to evaluate our players and from those seven exhibition games that we have, the players that permit us to win or that can contribute to that are going to stay here."
General manager Mike Gillis echoed Vigneault's sentiments about the team taking their time before deciding who goes home, and he's keeping a close eye on a lot of young players.
"We need speed in the lineup, we need energy in the lineup and if young guys can come and show us that they have that speed and energy and that they can compete at this level, they're going to make this team.
"We've seen a lot of good things out there that we like, but it's not a game and we'll see how they do in the games."
Monday's pre-season game against the Oilers can be watched in its entirety on Canucks.com. Live stream begins at 6 p.m. PST.