Netminders Braden Holtby and Thatcher Demko were the stars on Saturday as the Canucks hosted their second – and final – mock training camp game, a 2-1 shootout win for the “Blues” that was decided by the post. -and- Elias Pettersson. in shooting as the tiebreaker.
Without an exhibition game to help goaltenders follow the pucks and see the shots at NHL speed, it was important that Holtby and Demko got all they could from those two intra warm-up games. -camp. Each played every minute of both tune-ups, and each was noticeably sharper on Saturday than they were in Wednesday’s 6-4 game, which was also three periods of time out and refereeing in the NHL, after full morning skates.
Adjusting to a dramatic turn in his career after spending the last decade with the Washington Capitals, Holtby has done better and better every day during camp and will likely be the Canucks starter when Vancouver opens its 56-year regular season. return-to-return games in Edmonton, starting Wednesday.
He allowed Justin Bailey just one penalty goal early in the first period on Saturday and made a handful of excellent saves. Demko was beaten by a Brandon Sutter tap-in after Jake Virtanen slipped into the net with the puck in the second period as the “Whites” attacked five-on-four after Virtanen’s initial point shot stung defender Jack Rathbone.
After losing starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom to rival Calgary Flames in free agency, guarding the Canucks will be a story – good or bad – all season long. This is by far the least certain position of a team whose defense has been improved and the front lines are largely intact from last season and led by young attacking players.
In his second full season in the NHL, Demko, 25, will eventually have to prove he can start at this level. And Holtby, 31, has to show he can be the starter he was before a dismal final season in Washington. At least they’ll go into this amazing regular season feeling good about themselves.
– Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) January 10, 2021
Canucks winger Tyler Motte, who emerged in last summer’s playoffs as something more than just an energy player, isn’t trying to earn a spot in camp; he’s trying to gain a bigger role. But he was probably trying too hard on Saturday when he threw his feet under the players twice.
The second victim of the swivel foot, Adam Gaudette, stood up and challenged Motte. It was the Canucks’ first fight, not counting Twitter.
Gaudette briefly went to the locker room before returning to finish the match, but Jayce Hawryluk, knocked down by Motte against his teammate Kole Lind in the second period, was unable to continue. Hawryluk tries to earn a deep role, at least high enough to be part of the six-man taxi team.
These training games were intended to bring the greatest possible intensity to players unable to let off steam against real opponents until the start of the regular season. Motte is already at playoff intensity.
Defenseman Travis Hamonic, who completes the weeklong quarantine prescribed by the NHL after accepting a pro try with the Canucks on the eve of training camp, is expected to be allowed to train with his new team on Sunday.
Monday is scheduled as the day off, but there will be a final practice Tuesday before the Canucks charter to Edmonton. Hamonic and the Canucks have already signed a contract – supposed to be a one-year contract for around $ 1 million – and a job offer: to replace Chris Tanev as the defensive partner of Calder Trophy finalist Quinn Hughes.
Minor League Jalen Chatfield was back alongside Hughes on Saturday after being ousted from that spot by Brogan Rafferty for Friday’s 23-man NHL training. But if things go well for Hamonic on Sunday and Tuesday, the former Calgary Flame will line up with Hughes on Wednesday.
The Canucks are expected to reduce their roster at training camp following Sunday practice. There really isn’t much of a mystery to the Vancouver opening night roster, but coach Travis Green and hockey operations staff have some critical decisions to make about the taxi team. , which essentially expands the Canucks’ usable roster to 29 players from 23.
The Canucks, Flames and Edmonton Oilers will all be at a disadvantage this season compared to the rest of the Canadian Division because their American Hockey League teams are based in the United States. With the federal government’s 14-day quarantine requirement for international travelers, Utica’s comets might as well play in a galaxy far, far away.
Any immediate help the Canucks need due to injuries or poor performance will have to come from the six-man taxi squad, which isn’t big enough to accommodate all of the options Green would like to have.
Among the 23 NHL players and the taxi team, the Canucks will have three goaltenders, including minor Mike DiPietro. Of the 26 other places, appears that of Vancouver with 10 defenders and 16 forwards.