There was a lot of talk about Nils Hoglander and Jack Rathbone on Day 1 of the Canucks training camp, but it was this statement from Quinn Hughes that really got me fired up:
Inject that right into my damn veins, brother!
Ahem. Anyway, as mentioned it was a solid first impression from two youngsters that many think could crack this lineup to start the season. Hoglander was turning heads on a line with Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson.
"He's really, fast, shifty, really smart with the puck. It was really fun to skate with him," said Bo Horvat on playing with Nils Hoglander. #Canucks— David Quadrelli (@QuadreIli) January 4, 2021
The tricks and hand-eye are what excites most fans about Nils Hoglander, but watching this training camp session it’s really the lateral speed that gives him a shot at making noise at this camp.— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) January 4, 2021
I don’t read much into what I see in drills on Day 1, but his edges are incredible.
This is a great point by Drancer. Sure, the lil highlight moments will be great, but Hoglander’s value is going to come in the times that lead to them: skating and checking and setting up scoring opportunities. With team speed becoming more and more of a factor, Hoglander’s going to be another weapon that will give opposing teams fits.
And this is the advantage that Hoglander has over all others trying to crack a spot in the roster. While they’ve been working out at home preparing for camp, Hoglander has been playing in Sweden, and is in mid-season shape. The best example of this was the bag skate, where he was still standing at the end, his teammates all on their hands and knees on the ice.
Jack Rathbone was also given an opportunity to show his stuff with one of the Canucks top players as he was paired with new Canucks Dman Nate Schmidt, and the two looked very good together.
Nice job by Jack Rathbone defending against two top line NHL players. pic.twitter.com/ZiETfMUd6P— Faber (@ChrisFaber39) January 4, 2021
Some battling now as the second half of the first practice is underway.— Faber (@ChrisFaber39) January 4, 2021
Nate Schmidt with the pinch and a nice little back pass from Jack Rathbone. pic.twitter.com/v7UBUIGWNL
Little but of half zone offence featuring some Nate Schmidt and Jack Rathbone. pic.twitter.com/s5SEur7gRD— Faber (@ChrisFaber39) January 4, 2021
As the identity of this team continues to evolve, the addition of Nate Schmidt to the Canucks is going to alter not just how others perceive this team, but how we perceive them. We got a glimpse of fun hockey last season, and Schmidt appears to be the kind of guy who’s gonna turn things up a notch.
"I think I've warned enough guys. It's been awesome. He showed his energy already, and that positive energy is going to be infectious to this group." - Braden Holtby on Nate Schmidt— Brendan Batchelor (@BatchHockey) January 4, 2021
Schmidt responds: "aww thanks man!" #Canucks @Sportsnet650
"We're still getting to know him. He's getting to know us. He's got a lot of positive energy...you would put him in that category where there's not a bad day at the rink." - Green on Nate Schmidt #Canucks @Sportsnet650— Brendan Batchelor (@BatchHockey) January 4, 2021
Let’s check in on the Six Million Dollar Meh and see how he’s...
You know we're moving closer to normalcy because Loui Eriksson had the net wide open on a rebound within a foot of the goal in a drill and completely flubbed it -- two casual whacks and fanned on it— Harman Dayal (@harmandayal2) January 4, 2021
Not quite a photo finish for Loui Eriksson who has been last in each bag skate. pic.twitter.com/ePkYd46IoB— Faber (@ChrisFaber39) January 4, 2021
“Loui could get to sent to Utica if he doesn’t have a good camp, forget the taxi squad” ~ @SatiarShah— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) January 5, 2021
Sat on #TheProgram about the roster limbo Loui Eriksson is in.#HomeOfTheCanucks pic.twitter.com/HB8yjLSAqM
Also, this isn’t a particularly good sign out of the gate, but it’s early still.
Starting to feel sorry for Jake Virtanen. Seems to be getting demoted as camp protocol. But Nils Hoglander does look good. Day 1. https://t.co/TJRm3dEgmm— Iain MacIntyre (@imacSportsnet) January 5, 2021
Meanwhile in Edmonton last night, the Semi Finals of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championships saw Canada and the USA advance, setting up an epic showdown that everyone’s been hoping for as the top teams from Groups A and B meet to battle for the gold medal tonight.
Canada advanced with an impressive 5-0 shellacking of the Russians. They got things rolling early, as they have in pretty much every game of the tournament so far, this time a beauty snipe from for Victoria Grizzlies F Alex Newhook that fooled the goal judge, making it 1-0 Canada less than a minute in.
Newhook had missed the game against Slovakia with a wrist injury, and his return definitely fired the guys up. It wasn’t long before they made it 2-0, this time it was Connor McMicheal with his 4th of the tournament.
Winnipeg Jets prospect Cole Perfetti made it 3-0 on this beauty snipe past Yaroslav Askarov and the rout was on.
They’d add a 2nd period goal from Braden Schneider and an empty netter from Dylan Cozens to wrap his 3 point night for the win. The big story though once again was the play of Devon Levi, who has been putting on a performance for the ages in this tournament. He now has as many shutouts as he has goals against in this tournament, and his stat line has improved to a mindblowing 0.53 GAA and .975 save%.
Their opponents will be the USA, who punched their ticket after a thrilling back and forth battle in the 3rd against Finland. The Finns, who advance to the Semis after a last minute GWG over Sweden on Monday scored twice in the last half of the 3rd to tie it, only to have the USA get the winner with just 66 seconds remaining in a heart breaking loss. They’ll meet Russia tonight at 2:30pm PST/5:30pm EST for the bronze medal, while Canada and the USA will face off at 6:30pm PST/9:30pm EST for gold.