Canucks’ Markstrom is physically ready, but aware of the mental challenges ahead

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VANCOUVER – For a guy who was always trying to prepare, Jacob Markstrom looked fully prepared physically as the Vancouver Canucks played a mock game Wednesday afternoon at Rogers Arena.

The regular-season team goaltender and MVP saved four penalty shots and made a handful of other solid saves as his White team beat the Blue Canucks 5-2 in a 60-minute scrum , Vancouver’s longest summer training camp.

Including Sunday night’s scrum in two 25-minute halves, Markstrom allowed just two goals in 110 minutes of tune-up work.

“Really good, he looked sharp,” Canuck coach Travis Green said. “It’s encouraging, but it’s not at all surprising. He’s ready to go and I don’t expect him to be anything but himself. It’s no surprise, however, that he looks sharp.

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Markstrom, who at 30 is still waiting to play his first National Hockey League playoff game, was not available to the media after Wednesday’s scrum, but told reporters on a Zoom call Tuesday that the preparation mentality will be vital during the extraordinary Stanley Cup tournament. starts August 1.

“It’s also a big mental challenge, especially when you’re in quarantine for two weeks in Edmonton,” Markstrom said of the Canucks’ downtown destination. “It’s not just the physical aspect of getting in shape and preparation, it’s also the mental aspect. I had a meeting with Clarkie [goaltending coach Ian Clark] and we talked before the last game because it’s weird to play in the scrums. It’s weird when, of course, there are no fans in the stands. For the adrenaline rush you know when it’s a hockey game [because] you have 20000 [fans] and it’s loud and it helps you get started.

“You won’t get that help in a few weeks here when we start playing against Minnesota. It’s really important… to be able to get started and not depend on and wait for the fans to help you.

After struggling early in camp – not surprisingly for goalies who need to follow the pucks and read the games as much as they react to them – Markstrom has been excellent this week.

“I think you all know Marky is a player,” said winger Brock Boeser. “He’s going to be huge for us, and I know he’ll be ready.”

The Canucks and Wild are the same as opponents, the goaltender emerges as a position that could tip the qualifying series in Vancouver’s favor. Markstrom posted a career-best .918 save rate in his third full season as an NHL starter, while Minnesota’s top goaltender is career substitute Alex Stalock, who helped save the season. Wild by winning 20 of 36 starts while saving 91 percent on shots.

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FERLAND WINS SPEED

After surviving Sunday’s scrum, his toughest night of hockey since December, winger Micheal Ferland skated better on Wednesday and netted a late goal against Markstrom as he rose to Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson.

Signed last summer on a four-year US $ 14 million free agent contract, Ferland has played just five periods of hockey in eight months after suffering a career-threatening concussion in a fight on Last October 30.

Green said he’s not sure what to expect from Ferland at this camp.

“A bit of a blank canvas, to be honest,” he says. “I just think to wait and see how he’s doing, how his conditioning is, how he feels on the ice. I just want him to play and feel good, then we’ll take the next step.

HISTORY LESSON

A post-scrum question referring to John Druce failed defenseman Troy Stecher, who was not born when Druce scored 14 goals in 15 playoff games for the Washington Capitals in 1990. Stecher, who is 26, has declined to name a Canuck from the bottom half of the roster who could be a playoff scoring hero.

“You can choose anyone,” Stecher said. “I think anyone can score. I mean, I can’t shoot the puck and I’ve scored five times this year.

True.

LIND OBJECTIVE

With so many NHL players trying to squeeze their way into the Vancouver playoff lineup – Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter and Jake Virtanen have watched the fifth forward line into the fray – it will take a few injuries for anyone. which the Canucks minor league calls to play against Minnesota.

Still, it has been an especially encouraging camp for the prospects.

Olli Juolevi looks much closer to being NHL ready than he was last September, defensemen Brogan Rafferty and Jalen Chatfield have had good practices, seasoned minor league forwards Tyler Graovac and Justin Bailey have been strong and consistent, and Wednesday winger Kole Lind had a goal and an assist and easily his best day so far.

“It’s a huge opportunity for me to be a part of those scrums and show the confidence I’ve gained this season,” the 21-year-old second-round pick told reporters. “It’s obviously huge for me to be here, just to see the way these guys work. The work they do on and off the ice to be where they are is pretty special.

READY NOT READY

The Canucks take another day off Thursday, then practice Friday and play again Saturday before leaving Vancouver for their Edmonton hub.

Green said he believes the teams can dress up an expanded roster when the Canucks face the Winnipeg Jets next Wednesday in their only warm-up game. Vancouver’s series against Minnesota begins on August 2.



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