Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau loves it. Guys “getting after it” and after one another at an intense Wednesday practice.
After one particularly pesky sequence, Oliver Ekman-Larsson smashed and broke his stick over the boards. He’d been battling his fellow Swede Nils Höglander throughout the session.
“Today was a battle practice, everything was contentious, in a good way,” Boudreau said after. “You have to prepare for a big, physical team like Calgary … but I love the competition and I love that it was almost a friendly competition, but they both wanted to be successful. There were other ones too, you saw ‘Millsy’ (JT Miller) and Luke Schenn going at it pretty good too in the one drill.”
At one point in the final one-on-one drill of the morning, Höglander delivered a hefty shoulder hit into Ekman-Larsson’s chest. They finished the drill, Boudreau blew the whistle to end practice, and after his short message to the team they dispersed. OEL looked irked and went to the dressing room first, followed by goalie Jaroslav Halak.
The Canucks could use the intensity. They were out-worked by the Anaheim Ducks in their last crucial Pacific Division contest last Saturday at Rogers Arena and would prefer not to see a repeat. The Ducks were more physical and won the important puck battles, particularly early on. The Canucks took bad penalties in the 7-4 loss.
The Canucks bounced back with a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken on Monday, but one could make a strong argument that Vancouver’s 60-minute performance against the Kraken wouldn’t get it done against the Flames.
“Who knows if we could have picked it up even more than we did (against Seattle),” Boudreau said. “If you’re saying Seattle is not one of the stronger teams in the league and now we are playing one … we have to play much better against Calgary, I would believe, to have the same result.”
After Thursday’s match at Rogers Arena the Vancouver Canucks leave on a four-game eastern road trip. In all, their next nine games are against Eastern Conference foes. They’d be delighted to leave happy with a victory in a ‘statement-making opportunity’ against the Pacific Division Flames.
“Competition and working your butt off is a good thing,” Boudreau said, “especially since we’ve had two days off of the last three, so there was a lot of energy in the room today.
“I can’t predict the future but hopefully we bring our A-game tomorrow.”