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Canucks Skate: Isles Prep, Boudreau says Höglander Needs to Re-focus

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Vancouver Canucks, New York Islanders
The Vancouver Canucks conduct morning skate at the UBS Arena in preparation for Thursday's game against the New York Islanders.

Phil Di Giuseppe will once again be the Vancouver Canucks extra forward for tonight’s game against the New York Islanders at UBS Arena. Here are the lines from morning skate.

Elias Pettersson, Conor Garland, Nils Höglander

Juho Lammikko, Tyler Motte, Matthew Highmore

Bo Horvat, Vasily Podkolzin, Alex Chiasson

JT Miller, Tanner Pearson, Brock Boeser

Vancouver Hockey Now asked Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau after the morning skate about whether he’s still tempted to use the offensive minded “Baltic Line” of Pettersson, Podkolzin, and Höglander.

“I actually did (like them), but ‘Petey’ sometimes is playing really good, and one of the guys on that line isn’t,” Boudreau said about Nils Höglander. “It’s difficult sometimes, you want to put Petey, when he’s maybe your second best offensive player, you gotta try to find guys that can finish for him.”

And Höglander has definitely not been that guy. It’s triggers an old hockey joke/saying, “he’s all Swedish, no finish.” His last goal came on January 1st, 21 games ago.

Höglander is gripping his stick.

“I think that’s probably part of it,” Boudreau continued. “It’s happens to a lot of second year guys. He’s not playing 18-minutes a night, but he starts out on a regular shift and if he misses something early he gets frustrated and then it affects the rest of his game. The best thing in the world that could happen to him is, one bounces in off his head or something and goes in the net and I think that would change things.”

Confidence is all powerful in hockey. We saw it grow in Brock Boeser when Boudreau first showed up, and we saw it recently from teenager Vasily Podkolzin when he broke a 16-game goalless drought against the Seattle Kraken on February 21st. He scored again three games later against the New Jersey Devils and has nine goals on the season. Höglander has eight.

“You look when ‘Pods’ took so long to score a goal, that he got one in (another) game, he’s getting opportunities now,” Boudreau said. “His confidence is a little bit up there.”

Boudreau says Höglander needs to adjust his focus.

“I think he thinks a lot about the goals and assists, where I just want him to think about the game, and the other stuff will come when you’re playing well in the other aspects of the game,” Boudreau added.

The Vancouver Canucks enter action Thursday night five points back of the 2nd Western Conference wild card spot and six points behind 3rd place in the Pacific Division.

The Islanders are essentially out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, 17 points out of a position. They rode a five-goal first period to a 6-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on February 9th in this season’s previous match-up.

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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