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Emotional Time: Canucks looking for more intensity after lethargic effort

02/06/2015 07:07 EST | Updated 04/08/2015 05:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - A day after the Vancouver Canucks played with little emotion in a demoralizing loss on home ice, Willie Desjardins showed some fire of his own.

The usually calm and soft-spoken head coach lit into his players with a few expletives halfway through Friday's practice during a sloppy sequence.

A few minutes later, defenceman Yannick Weber and forward Shawn Matthias, perhaps spurred on by the colourful language, jawed at each other following a drill that got heated.

"We've got to play with lots of intensity in our game and I expect that in practice ... I expect that all the time," Desjardins told reporters. "I think the way you practise is the way you play."

Desjardins said he had no problem with the exchange between teammates, especially in the wake of Thursday's lethargic 5-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks where Vancouver was on its heels from the start.

"If you play hard you're going to get mad," said the coach. "If you ever battle a guy hard they're going to get upset. It's good to see the battle levels at that level and we've got to take that effort into the game."

Vancouver — which currently holds down the second wild card spot in the Western Conference — has a pedestrian 13-11-1 home record this season compared to a 15-8-2 mark away from Rogers Arena.

Starts to games have been especially troubling in recent weeks for the Canucks, who have given up the first goal in each of the five games on their current homestand and are just 5-5-0 over their last 10.

Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin said system-wise the team is playing well, but added more urgency is needed.

"I want to see us more frustrated," he said. "Go out there and be hungry and (do) whatever it takes."

Sedin said he thinks the players get "stressed" when they fall behind at home and get away from what made them one of the league's top teams early in the season.

"When we get down we're not playing the way we want to play. We're losing our focus and running around a little bit," he said. "I think guys want to do too much and they put it on themselves to create something, but that usually doesn't end well."

Desjardins said it's important the Canucks stick together through this rough patch, but also conceded he will learn a lot about his team over a tough two-week stretch that beings with a visit from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

"We don't need each other when things are going good," said Desjardins. "We need each other when things aren't going great. We're in a stretch right now where we've been OK, but OK isn't good enough in the NHL. It just doesn't do it. We need each other now."

Sedin had no problem with Desjardins barking at the team, especially after a lacklustre display against a division opponent.

"I think it's that emotion. We've got to understand where we are," said Sedin. "We're in a very exciting playoff race. We're right there with a lot of other teams, but we need wins and we've got to understand that."

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