For a young coach, Travis Green’s camps are what many would consider a retro throwback. On July 15 — and multiple times after that — the Canucks’ social media team released a video showing a punishment for the losing team of the scrimmage (seen below). The grueling and mildly humiliating punishment, had the players (literally) crawling to get off of the ice. From that demonstration, here is why I think Green’s approach to camp is spot on and that the Canucks are going to be well-prepared to take on the Minnesota Wild.
Playing to Their Strengths
If the Canucks are going to beat the Wild, the obvious cliche is that they need to outwork them. With many stars of the Wild players ageing fast, the Canucks’ speed and skill are their most significant advantages as their young core faces their first test.
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With the potential exception of Brock Boeser, the Canucks’ core is fast, with and without the puck. Their most significant advantage is making sure their play style favours this raw, physical style, and that their bodies, therefore, are ready for it.
If the Canucks can beat the Wild in the physicality battle, it sets them up well for the series. Making the players sweat throughout their training camp is a sign of things to come, and maybe is the best way to get the Canucks ready for their first playoff action in a long time.
The Young Guns’ School of Tough Love
We touched on the physical style of this torture, but what about the mental aspect? Well, to understand this, we are going to have to take a more in-depth approach. For this analysis, we are going to divide the reaction’s into two camps — the one’s who thrive and the one’s who dive.
In the group that thrive, we have some obvious candidates, and some pleasant surprises as well. Everyone expects players like Bo Horvat to lead the way, but some of the names I’m about to mention certainly caught me off guard.
Zack MacEwen has had an exceptional camp and has definitely thrived from the pressure Green has put on him. He has shown a lot of promise and seen himself take Jake Virtanen’s role in some of the scrimmages. He has performed so well, that one The Hockey Writers Canucks analyst feels certain he will be in the lineup once the series starts with Minnesota.
Adam Gaudette is another name that has impressed, with a lot of discussion surrounding how the former Hobey Baker winner should get more defensive responsibility in order to lighten the load on the star players. He is a centre that could play up or down the lineup, and he has consistently developed since arriving in the NHL two seasons ago.
The Veterans Leading the Way
From camp, there are many reports that Jay Beagle and Loui Eriksson impressed in Canucks’ training camp, showing their maturity and composure that fueled the hype for initially signing them years ago.
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The resurgence of these two players makes the battle for the bottom-six spots evermore exciting as there are seemingly endless possibilities to choose. In my view, I expect Green to lean on the veterans, and keep MacEwen, Tyler Motte, and even Virtanen as super-subs to provide a spark when called upon.
Between Beagle, Eriksson and Brandon Sutter, they have well over 100 games in combined playoff experience, and I expect it to show come August 2. Against a deep Wild team, the Canucks are going to need all the help they can get if they want to impress in their first playoff appearance in years.
The Rundown From Camp
Selection dilemmas, breakout performances, and nightclub appearances have all but smothered the talks of losing for that 12.5% chance at Alexis Lafreniere. The excitement surrounding the Canucks on social media is well deserved, as the amount of positive story lines coming from training camp 2.0 is enough to make anyone excited.
What do you think about the Canucks’ training camp now that it is over? Has anyone impressed you? Has anyone disappointed you in their conditioning and their play on ice? It’s crazy to think that hockey is less than a week away, and when it happens, all of these questions are going to be answered and more.