A season that has already netted the Canucks the top seed in the NHL and the Presidents' Trophy wasn't enough for Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault to accept the effort he was getting from his players at practice Monday.
Following a rare home defeat to the NHL's worst team Saturday night and unimpressed with the lacklustre start of practice, the coach pulled the players aside for a brief message before starting up practice again.
"It wasn't a huge message. It was just basically a 'what are you guys doing out here? Let's wake up and play the way we want to play.' We've been professionals all season long and these last three games are still part of the regular season. So it's up to us to stay focused," said defenceman Kevin Bieksa.
"The start of practice wasn't good enough and we realized that too. After that it was fine. I think after last game we needed to sharpen up," said captain Henrik Sedin.
With nothing left to play for - save for individual accolades - the Canucks find themselves in a position of waiting for the playoffs to begin, but needing to keep that level of play that vaulted them to a franchise-best season.
"To stay sharp you've got to execute and you've got to work hard every day. If we do that we'll be fine," said goaltender Roberto Luongo. "If we lay off the gas and go through the motions the next week, then we might have a little bit of trouble getting going next week."
Vigneault didn't seem overly concerned with stopping practice.
"If a coach only has to stop practice one time during the year because he's not happy with execution or total involvement, it's been a pretty good year," he said.
The Canucks finish their regular season with games in Edmonton on Tuesday, their home finale Thursday against the Wild, and they end their regular season in Calgary Saturday night. The players are eager to finish the campaign off strong, regardless of result.
"If a team comes in and just plays better than us we'll accept that," Bieksa said. "But when we're not putting our best game out and putting an effort out like that last game, that's unacceptable. We're looking to build good habits in the last three."