Head Coach Bruce Boudreau needed to push a few buttons along the way but for the most part the Vancouver Canucks practice on Monday was festive and effective.
“If we’re practising and other teams are not because of Covid we’d certainly like to take advantage of it, but I completely understand, quite frankly, when you’ve been off as much as we’ve been off, we’ve basically just played games for the last ten days and haven’t had practices, usually they’re a little sloppier,” Boudreau said. “I was just trying to indicate to them that I thought it was a little sloppy today.”
There have been no new positive Covid tests for the Vancouver Canucks in the last three days. The practice included 17 skaters and two goaltenders, including the return of defenceman Luke Schenn, the first Vancouver Canucks player to hit Covid protocols about a week ago.
“Sick for maybe three or four days in there, just general flu or cold symptoms that you’d have in the wintertime, some body aches,” Schenn said. “Takes a little while to get your lungs back into it, your legs, and to just get that feel, and timing wise it worked out well that I got a few extra days here (before games) that we didn’t anticipate. There’s no question I’m excited to get to come to the rink again and happy to be around the guys, no one likes to be isolated by themselves and relying on people communicating through texts and phone calls.”
“It was good to have him back,” Canucks captain Bo Horvat said. “We all know what it’s like to go through something like that, it’s not easy to have ten days off and then do a hard skate like that. So, it’s gonna take a little time to get back into it but he did good for being off the ice for as long as he was.”
Schenn said that this was the first time he had Covid and he was told it was the Omicron variant.
Teammates waiting to return from positive tests include forwards Juho Lammikko and Tyler Motte and defencemen Brad Hunt, Tyler Myers and Tucker Poolman.
With players being absent, the team views the NHL game postponements as a blessing in disguise.
“It think if anything it gives us a chance to get guys back in the line-up and for us to pick up where we left off,” Horvat said. “For us it’s just keeping that mindset, what we had going into this pause, and get right back into it.
For the new head coach who joined the Canucks on the fly, it’s like having a mini-camp.
“We’ve just ad-libbed a few situations,” Boudreau said. “I’d like to get it to where we know what we’re doing all the time. Even this week, if we have time to go over face-offs, playing them a little bit differently than we have been. Like I said last week, it’s amazing how you don’t think about how important training camp is, but it certainly is important when you want to implement new things.”
“Implementing systems that he wants us to do better and tightening up our game a little bit,” Horvat added. “Obviously a couple new systems, couple new things that Bruce wants to try, and I think it’s good that we get to practice before heading back into a game.”
The Vancouver Canucks last victory came on the road, a 5-2 win against the San Jose Sharks last Thursday that stretched their winning streak to six games.
Barring further delays, the date to return to game action is December 27th at Rogers Arena against the Seattle Kraken.
“I can’t read the future and say we might not be playing,” Boudreau said, “I’ve gotta prepare as if we’re playing for that date. We just have to stay strong mentally and be ready for the next ones.”