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The Vancouver Canucks Final Practice …

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Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks at practice at Rogers Arena on Tuesday morning.

… until when? Right now the Vancouver Canucks are slated to return to their dressing room and are allowed on the ice after 2 pm local time on December 26th. That would be one day before they’re also supposed to resume their NHL schedule with a game at Rogers Arena against the Seattle Kraken. Having either or both of those things happen depends on players from both teams being cleared of their positive-test-result Covid protocols while also not discovering any new cases.

At Tuesday’s practice, the Canucks were still without Tyler Myers, Brad Hunt and Tucker Poolman along the blueline and Tyler Motte and Juho Lammikko up front. Assistant coach Jason King also remains absent. There’s no definitive word on when they might be available, but it sounds like the players who have tested positive with the latest variant of Covid have mild symptoms if any at all.

For the players in attendance it meant continuing new Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau’s “mini-camp”, learning details of his systems and how he wants them run.

“His track record shows, he know the right way to play,” Canucks forward JT Miller said. “He’s holding players accountable, holding the team accountable, it’s black and white, not a lot of grey area with him, so it’s a little more old school and it’s a different look. Right now we’re implementing a lot of new stuff around the ice and I think that’s where the mistakes are happening, so that’s why we use these days to work on stuff like that, so that when we come back out of this break we’re a little bit sharper.”

“I think they understand what I’m trying to implement a little bit better,” Boudreau said after practice. “They asked a lot of questions and hopefully we answered them properly the last two days. It’s still not perfect, it’s a work in progress, but I think they’re more knowledgeable than they were two days ago about the way we want to play.

“The great thing is, they came out there with a great attitude and wanted to practice,” he added.

“Trap” is an unpopular term in hockey, but practically every NHL coach still implements one in the neutral zone when “sitting on a lead”, another old-fashioned term, and at other times. The 1-2-2 and its variations are a reality, and along with it Boudreau had the Canucks working on D-zone coverage.

He said that upon the team’s return to the rink on the 26th he’ll work on the forecheck.

After formal practice concluded, a handful of players stayed on the ice for 45-minutes to work on skills or to just enjoy the ice time. Recent forward call-up Phil Di Giuseppe put himself through some rigorous skating drills at one end while four or five other players passed and shot pucks at the other.

It was a final opportunity to go for a skate, break a sweat, and “hang with the boys”.

Or as Miller put it through a mild grin: “I think guys are just trying to sweat out a little bit extra for the holiday beers. We’ve got four days at home, so I wouldn’t look too far into that, but it’s definitely more fun when you’re winning coming to the rink.”

Six wins in a row and counting … on hold.

VHN Managing Editor Rob Simpson has been covering the NHL for three decades on live TV, radio, and as a journalist. He worked his first ever game getting postgame sound as a teenager; it was Vancouver vs. Detroit.

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