When I went to UBC to watch the first day of Canucks training camp, one of the things I immediately noticed was how frustrated Michael Grabner looked. His body language sagged and he muttered under his breath with every missed scoring chance – odd responses considering that he was coming off his best season in the AHL. His frustration and lack of confidence has obviously carried over into his preseason play.
While guys like Mason Raymond, Sergei Shirokov, and to lesser extents, Cody Hodgson and Jannik Hansen have stood out positively in the last week or so, Grabner has grabbed attention for all the wrong reasons. Take Saturday night’s game against Ducks for example. The Canucks won 3-1 and extended their preseason record to 4-0, but Grabner was practically non-existent.
With Shirokov out with a knee injury, Grabner will get yet another chance to turn his preseason around. He’ll dress against the Flames tonight and play alongside Cody Hodgson and Steve Bernier – the opportunity to impress doesn’t get much better with linemates like that. And in case Grabner didn’t get the message, Alain Vigneault added:
“I saw him last year in Manitoba and he was a dominant player in that league [AHL] with his speed and being able to use his shot to create scoring opportunities,” Vigneault said about Grabner.
“He hasn’t been able to do it so far at our level. If his expectations are to be with us this year, he’s going to have to have a better week.”
Like a lot better.