The Vancouver Canucks practiced with excellent speed and intensity on Saturday in Burnaby, knowing a new hurdle exists as the team prepares for the next step in its quest for an unlikely playoff spot. Still no forward Tanner Pearson, and no leading goal scorer and captain Bo Horvat.
“I thought it was really good today,” Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said in reference to the practice intensity. “A lot better than yesterday. I think days after games are tough practices at this stage, but with a little bit of rest I thought they practiced hard today.”
Pearson’s upper body injury kept him away, as did Horvat’s ankle injury, suffered when he was struck by a slapshot in the second period on Thursday night against the Arizona Coyotes.
“It’s extremely tough, he’s our captain,” Canucks forward Elias Pettersson said after practice. “A play like that, it happens all the time, it’s so unfortunate, but I mean, we can’t dwell on it, everybody’s gotta step up.”
“You wish people weren’t injured, but it’s next man up,” Boudreau added. “Everybody says it, but we’ve been doing it quite successfully and hopefully we can continue to do it.”
The Canucks should have definitive word, or at least release word, on the extent of the injury come Monday.
Meanwhile, wingers Brock Boeser and Matthew Highmore did return to full practice and are expected to be available Monday at Rogers Arena against the Dallas Stars. They don’t offer up what Horvat offers up in the middle, dominating face-offs, and leading the team in goal scoring, but Boeser brings a sniper dynamic to the power play on the wing and Highmore’s been an effective energy forechecker.
Boeser last played on April 3rd at home against the Vegas Golden Knights. He hasn’t scored a goal since the game in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche on March 23rd. He was pointless in his last four matches before getting hurt.
Highmore has been out since the game at the Minnesota Wild on March 24th. He was back skating on Saturday with centre Juho Lammikko.
Saturday’s practice lines:
Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, Conor Garland
Vasily Podkolzin, JT Miller, Alex Chiasson
Will Lockwood, Juho Lammikko, Matthew Highmore
Jason Dickinson, Brad Richardson, Nic Petan
Extra: Sheldon Dries
The D-pairs rotated around continuously.
Even with a five game winning streak the Vancouver Canucks are finding it difficult to catch up to the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators. The LA Kings now seem the most vulnerable of the teams currently in a playoff spot, but now Vancouver has to be concerned with also hopping past the somewhat reinvigorated Vegas Golden Knights.
That said, the Edmonton Oilers did the Canucks a favour on Saturday afternoon, beating Vegas 4-0.