Nils Höglander and Vasily Podkolzin: Tips for Their Every Day Extra Work

Vancouver Canucks practices are fast-paced and full of detail from the assembly of coaches on the ice.

There is plenty of time spent on breakouts, battle drills, odd-man rush situations, forechecks, and special teams.

Aside from the hour or so that practice typically is, there is a lot of extra work put in before and after the drills.

Nils Höglander is a player you can find on the ice early on most days.

His goal for the extra work is to accomplish some of the things he cannot do during a full-team practice.

“I think it makes me get ready for practice and get a little bit warm before,” said Höglander. “Little things to be better like work on stickhandling or tipping pucks. In practice, you don't really have those opportunities to do those. So, before practice is a good time to do it.”

Höglander likes the fresh ice before practice, and he is out early every day putting in the extra work.

You will often spot Höglander working out with his close friend Vasily Podkolzin. Höglander and Podkolzin will spend 20-40 minutes before practice working on passing plays and tip drills with each other and some coaches.

Podkolzin was out early with Sergei Gonchar this past Thursday ahead of the Montreal Canadiens game and had a focus on working against bigger defencemen and picking up some tips from Gonchar about how to attack from the wall on a bigger body.

“If you want to get and stay at this level you’ve got to practice and you have to work out harder and more,” said Podkolzin. “When I was a kid, I watched Sergei and the Sedins on TV at the Olympics and World Cups. It's pretty funny to think about now being able to work with legends and be listening to advice. Even today, Sergei and I were here trying something new.”

Podkolzin and Höglander spend time rotating and sending shots to each other while working on tipping pucks while skating to the dirty areas of the ice.

“I especially like to work on tips because you will only get one or two in a normal practice,” said Podkolzin. “But it is a big part of the game and maybe our work will give us one or two goals on the season. And goals are always fun.”

Head coach Rick Tocchet likes to see some of his younger players putting in the extra work before practice and did not want to compare Podkolzin to his former teammate Jaromir Jagr, but Tocchet certainly appreciates Podkolzin’s work ethic.

“Podzy craves it. You almost need to kick that guy off the ice,” said Tocchet. “He has to find the balance because he will stay out there all day. I’m not comparing Podkolzin to Jagr, but in his early years, you had to kick him off the ice because it was actually too much. We have to make sure Podzy doesn’t get too much information because he is at his best when his mind can be free.”

Tocchet also praised Höglander for the extra work he has put in and noted that the work he is putting in before practice is beginning to show up consistently in his play.

The two players from the 2020 NHL Entry Draft were selected for their skill at the time but both Höglander and Podkolzin had the stamp of ‘Rink Rat’ on them even when they were young teenagers.

Now, as 22 and 23-year-olds, they continue to get as much ice time as they can but are primed to make the right steps in their game with their extra work due to the guidance of the Sedin twins, Sergei Gonchar, Rick Tocchet, and the rest of the coaching staff.