Kole Lind has himself a day at scrimmage as Canucks' roster decisions loom
Training camp is nearly complete! On Sunday, all 24 NHL playoff teams will fly to their hub cities on a tightly-controlled schedule. They'll be completely isolated from each other for the first few days, and the sense is that there won't be a lot of friendly chit-chat once players are allowed to move about a bit more freely inside the bubble.
Bo Horvat told reporters on Friday morning that he's not sure how he'll handle chance meetings in the hotel lobby, while Quinn Hughes mentioned that he's looking forward to seeing a couple of friends who play for the Chicago Blackhawks.
While their series is going on, it makes sense that the Canucks will probably keep their distance from the Minnesota Wild. They'll be staying at the same hotel, but will be on separate floors and will have their own meeting rooms and lounge areas. But I think for all of us, it's exciting to see new faces these days, after we've all been so isolated during these pandemic times. I expect there will be some pleasantries between players who aren't competing directly against each other — although hopefully they'll keep the hugging to a minimum.
On Friday night, the Vancouver Canucks will hold what I assume will be their last evening scrimmage at Rogers Arena. The team is also required to submit the list of its 52-person travelling party to the NHL on Friday, including the 31 players that will be going to Edmonton.
That means a few will be left behind — and at Scrimmage No. 3 on Wednesday, Kole Lind made the best case he could to not be one of the cuts.
Since Lind was a late addition to the roster after Sven Baertschi opted out of the Return to Play, I figured he was probably skating on the thinnest ice, so to speak, in terms of booking a spot to Edmonton. But, playing on a line with Jay Beagle and Tyler Motte, Lind had a terrific showing at Wednesday's scrimmage. He scored on a breakaway, set up another goal and drew a penalty, to name just a few moments where he stood out.
If you'd like, check out my livetweets from Wednesday. You'll see Lind's name a lot:
And here's the highlight package from the game — which was expanded to a regular-sized 60 minutes, with three 20-minute periods.
As we've discussed so many times — with all the extra wingers that the Canucks are carrying, that's the most likely area where multiple cuts will be made.
And speaking of all the wingers — I also thought Micheal Ferland took a noticeable step forward at Wednesday's scrimmage. His speed was apparent, and he seemed much more willing to skate into traffic and get involved in the play.
On Friday, Green told the media that he has kept Ferland in mind for his Game 1 lineup all along, and that he likes what he has seen from the winger over the last little while. Lining up with the energy I saw in Ferland's game on Wednesday, Green indicated that he's had a spring in his step for the past few days that they haven't seen for awhile and that he's happy to see it, because Ferland can be a "handful" when he's on his game.
With both Brandon Sutter and Tyler Myers back in action on Wednesday, here's how the two teams were deployed:
Count 'em up, then add in backup goalies Louis Domingue and Michael DiPietro and defenseman Jordie Benn (whose baby STILL hasn't come) and you've got 34 players in total —12 defensemen, 18 forwards and 4 goalies. I assume all goalies will go to Edmonton. It'll be interesting to see how things break down from there.
Because teams are only getting one exhibition game before jumping into the games that matter, they'll be allowed to carry an extra forward and an extra defenseman on their bench for that game — in the Canucks' case, against Winnipeg next Wednesday night.
On Friday, the NHL held a media availability after releasing a 50-minute long video that outlines many of the protocols that will be in place in the hub cities, both on and off the ice.
You can find the video, and a breakdown of what's included, here:
A couple of interesting notes:
• It was confirmed that Rogers Place in Edmonton will be good to go after the water damage it sustained during that nasty storm last week.
• Sounds like there are still some issues to be worked out with the health authority in Alberta, in particular, about keeping the bubble tight. For the moment, nothing has quite been pinned down about the process that will be involved when families are supposed to be allowed to join players in Edmonton during the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final — and it sounds like there are also questions surrounding the safety of those out-of-bubble excursions that the players were promised. Gary Bettman also mentioned that he and Bill Daly have elected to stay put for the time being, rather than being forced to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Canada.
• I think game presentation is going to be fascinating. The league released a rendering of what the arena will look like, with huge LED screens along one side opposite the main TV camera bank. And they're promising completely different looks for each game, with home teams getting their own goal horns and songs and even virtual cheers from their fans.
Finally — one other fun piece of content, if you missed it — a glimpse into how and why J.T. Miller has established himself as one of the Canucks' most vocal leaders in his first season with the team.