Canucks vs. Oilers Game Day: Resiliency, composure could build lead

There’s something special going on with a team that dares to dream and silence its doubters. A resounding comeback win in Game 1 was proof

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Vancouver Canucks vs. Edmonton Oilers

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Round 2, Game 2, Stanley Cup playoffs

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7 p.m., Rogers Arena, TV: SN Pacific. Radio: Sportsnet 650

The buzz: Rick Tocchet’s mantra is earning the day, owning the day and prepping for the next day.

The laser-like focus of the Canucks’ bench boss is something akin to a marine drill sergeant. Square jaw and eyes fixed on finding the next level. A tough taskmaster with a serious demeanour that depicts pushing the performance envelope. All business all the time.

And then came Wednesday night.

The euphoria of a stunning and satisfying third-period rally to cement a 5-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers in the opener of the second-round NHL playoff series turned the bench into a party zone. Tocchet even let down his guard to whoop it up and punch the air and high-five fans in an amazing release of adrenalin.

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It was something to see.

And, of course, Tocchet took a step back in his post-game address and was somewhat apologetic for a rare display of raw emotion. He knows the Oilers will have a big pushback in Game 2 on Friday. Every game has its own flow and he wants to ensure his club remains resilient and consistent.

Still, that celebration. Where did that come from?

“That’s usually not me” said Tocchet, the Jack Adams Award favourite. “I just like the demeanour of our guys, and I don’t know, I just let it out. But it’s just Game 1. I don’t like to see myself doing that, to be honest.

“Not Game 1. I’ve got to find some fun and do something else.”

Successful teams often take on the personality of their coach. That’s good. Hard to imagine Connor McDavid will be held shotless again. He’s also a prime-time playmaker after racking up 100 helpers during the regular season en route to 132 points.

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Casey DeSmith gets a hug from Ian Cole after backstopping a 2-1 playoff series win in Game 3 at Nashville on April 26. Photo by Andy Lyons /Getty Images

The goaltending: What is Ian Clark thinking? That’s what we need to know. Tocchet defers netminding decisions to Clark, who’s like an elite car mechanic. A tweak here, an adjustment there and rookie Arturs Silovs should be ready for his fifth-consecutive post-season start.

Or, maybe not.

One thought is the frenetic pace in Game 2 may have got to Silovs. However, two weird goals off stick deflections and a double-screen shouldn’t overshadow how he battled back when his club was down 4-1. The Canucks could give veteran Casey DeSmith the net or save him for Game 3 on Sunday.

DeSmith made 32 saves in an impressive playoff-like 3-1 win at Edmonton on April 13 with the Oilers still within striking range of capturing the Pacific Division title. McDavid didn’t play, but prior goalie performances often resonate with coaches.

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“He (Silovs) has earned the right to play right now, but we haven’t officially made our decision yet,” Tocchet said Thursday. “We have Casey and he could play tomorrow.”

The Joshua Three: The line doesn’t like monikers, but this one fits. Dakota Joshua had three points (1-2) and eight hits in Game 1 and combined with Conor Garland and Elias Lindholm for six points (3-3) and nine shots, and Lindhlom won 14 of 18 draws. They were good in matchups and great in transition.

The hope: The Canucks had four shots on three ineffective power plays in Game 1 and are 2-for-16 in the post-season. That’s not going to get them past the Oilers. Screens, tips, deflections are the order of the day.

The fear: The Oilers struck on their only power-play chance Wednesday. They’re a gaudy 10-for-21 in the playoffs because passes are accurate and finishes come from sharp angles. They attack the net.
The wounded: Canucks: Thatcher Demko (knee, week-to-week). Oilers: Adam Henrique (ankle, day-to-day), Leon Draisaitl (back, day-to-day).

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The quote: “We’ve come back before so there’s a confidence and composure level there. That (Oilers) team is one you don’t want to have to do it against a bunch.” — Garland on Game 1 effort.

The lineup:




Di Giuseppe-Blueger-Lafferty




The prediction: The Canucks expect a big pushback, but strong defensive structure will keep them in the fight, regardless of circumstances. They smell blood. A 4-2 win to control series.

(FAN FORUM: Do you have a specific question for a player? Pass it along to @provincesports and we’ll get it in a future edition.)
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It’s game day! Read more of our Canucks vs Oilers Round 2 playoff coverage:

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• Vancouver vs. Edmonton: Here are 8 things each city is ‘winning’
• Canucks vs. Oilers: Arturs Silovs or Casey DeSmith, who’s your goalie for Game 2?
• Canucks vs. Oilers: Kindergarten class in Carson Soucy’s Alberta hometown is divided on series
Canucks viewing parties: Here’s where to watch the Canucks vs. Oilers Round 2 playoffs
5 crucial questions facing the Canucks in Round 2
Could Thatcher Demko really play vs. the Oilers?
Canucks vs. Oilers: All a bloodless rivalry needs is a playoff series
ESPN seems to hate Vancouver
Canucks this week, playoff edition: Underdogs against the Oilers — just the way we like it
Pearl Jam leaves Vancouver with special Canucks message
Like Rocky Balboa, Arturs Silovs wants to go distance against Stuart Skinner
After half a century on the back burner, might Oilers-Canucks rivalry finally be heating up?
How Pius Suter makes the Miller line go from good to dominant
‘I can’t stand’ it: Canucks coach Rick Tocchet tired of embellishment in playoffs
Underdogs? Quinn Hughes ‘prepared to play my best hockey’
J.T. Miller on matching up against Connor McDavid: ‘He’s different than anybody’
Unplugging Edmonton’s potent playoff power play is top priority

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