Young Canucks learning what it takes to play at this level

 

Figuring out how to fight through the fatigue part of being a pro, says Bo Horvat

 
 
 
 
Vancouver Canucks’ Bo Horvat chases the puck against St. Louis Blues’ Robby Fabbri during Saturday’s 3-0 loss at Rogers Arena. Horvat says the Canucks younger players have to learn to fight through the fatigue of a long season and learn to maintain maximum effort.
 

Vancouver Canucks’ Bo Horvat chases the puck against St. Louis Blues’ Robby Fabbri during Saturday’s 3-0 loss at Rogers Arena. Horvat says the Canucks younger players have to learn to fight through the fatigue of a long season and learn to maintain maximum effort.

Photograph by: BEN NELMS, THE CANADIAN PRESS

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It wasn’t so much an accusation as an intervention.

Daniel Sedin was trying to send a message when he talked after the Vancouver Canucks’ 3-0 loss Saturday to the St. Louis Blues about his teammates’ unsatisfactory effort, which has been an issue for a while. Bo Horvat gets it.

“It’s tough to keep your motivation high and keep wanting to make a playoff push,” Horvat said. “At the same time, you can’t have that feeling like ... we’re done, who cares? You’ve got to keep going. You’ve got to prove yourself, especially for young guys. For spots next year, you’ve got to prove yourself and prove you can play in this league, and I think that’s what Dan means.”

Horvat, the 20-year-old centre in his second National Hockey League season, was identified by coach Willie Desjardins as one of the Canucks who battled through shutout losses Friday in Edmonton and Saturday in Vancouver. So let’s assume he’s not one of the unnamed offenders who don’t realize how hard they have to work each night in the National Hockey League.

With seven rookies and another handful of young 20-something players trying to establish themselves in the NHL, the problem for the Canucks is ignorance, not apathy.

“It’s a very tough time of year,” Horvat said, recalling his rookie season. “Even last year, even though we were still winning games (in March), it was so gruelling and hard on the body. Right now, it was crunch time and you had to get games to clinch a playoff spot. It’s the toughest time of the year. Guys are playing through injuries and stuff like that. If I had any advice, it’s like Daniel says: Win your one-on-one battles and do the little things right.”

Desjardins referenced mistakes by 19-year-olds Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann when asked last Wednesday about those rookies’ shortened ice times during a 3-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. But forwards Linden Vey, 24, and Emerson Etem, 23, still haven’t shown they can be NHL regulars. Nikita Trymakin, 21, who played well on Saturday, has just come to the Canucks from Russia, and Brendan Gaunce, 21, Andrey Pedan, 22, and Alex Grenier, 24, are all up from the American League and have logged only 20 NHL games between them. Sven Baertschi, 23, and Alex Biega, 27, weren’t NHL regulars until this season.

There’s a pile of Canuck players learning about effort and what it takes to play at this level.

“You can not be satisfied with yourself right now, when we’re losing games and you’re not producing,” Horvat said. “You can’t be satisfied with how we’re playing. If you are, then there’s a problem.”

After taking Sunday off, the Canucks will ractise Monday before flying to Winnipeg for a difficult three-game, four-night road trip that starts Tuesday. After facing the Jets, Vancouver plays seven straight games against playoff teams.

imacintyre@postmedia.com

 
 
 
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Vancouver Canucks’ Bo Horvat chases the puck against St. Louis Blues’ Robby Fabbri during Saturday’s 3-0 loss at Rogers Arena. Horvat says the Canucks younger players have to learn to fight through the fatigue of a long season and learn to maintain maximum effort.
 

Vancouver Canucks’ Bo Horvat chases the puck against St. Louis Blues’ Robby Fabbri during Saturday’s 3-0 loss at Rogers Arena. Horvat says the Canucks younger players have to learn to fight through the fatigue of a long season and learn to maintain maximum effort.

Photograph by: BEN NELMS, THE CANADIAN PRESS

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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