Virtanen didn’t score a goal for the Utica Comets, or even get a point, but he did register six shots in Saturday’s game against Hartford, and that’s a lot more than he’d been doing at the NHL level.
“I got my speed back and was getting in behind the defense and retrieving pucks, and I’ve got to bring that confidence level back up here,” the 20-year-old winger said Monday, per The Province. “You’ve got to be consistent every shift of every game and that even carries over to practice. I’m ready to do that and with a positive attitude.”
Just reading between the lines, it sure sounds like the Canucks have talked to Virtanen about his practice habits and attitude.
It remains to be seen when Virtanen will actually play a game for the Canucks. Tonight at home to the Rangers, head coach Willie Desjardins is likely to stick with the same 12 forwards that won last week at MSG and also Sunday against Dallas.
“It’s not that this guy can’t play,” Desjardins said. “He just has to be consistent and we’re still day-to-day with him in our evaluation. … He was good today. If he practices every day like that, he’ll be fine. It’s what is going to propel him to do that every day?”
Virtanen was the sixth overall draft pick in 2014, so it’s vitally important to the Canucks that he pans out. If he doesn’t play tonight, his next opportunity to get into a game will be Thursday against the Coyotes.