Sticking with the plan and rallying for comeback on brand for Canucks

The team has rarely panicked and stayed on task all season. Captain Quinn Hughes credits coach Rick Tocchet with creating that

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There was so much talk about the Vancouver Canucks limiting the Edmonton Oilers’ power-play opportunities ahead of their post-season match-up that it could have been a licensed trademark for the series.

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Sure enough, Vancouver took a penalty for too many players on the ice a mere 40 seconds into Game 1 on Wednesday, and gave up a power play goal just 2:11 into the contest.

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The Canucks were down 4-1 in the second period. They never wavered. They held their ground, and rallied for a 5-4 triumph, with Conor Garland bagging the winner at the 14:26 mark of the third period.

That is very much on brand for this Canucks team. This squad has excelled at staying on task, with it feeling like it would take the Jaws of Life to separate the Canucks from their game plan. They’ve been decidedly even keeled since training camp opened.

New Silovs
Dakota Joshua and Arturs Silovs of the Vancouver Canucks celebrate their win against the Edmonton Oilers in Game One of the Second Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena. Photo by Derek Cain /Getty Images

“Last night we thought we were playing better than the score was, and even when we went down 4-1,” Canucks defenceman Carson Soucy said during media availability on Thursday. “Obviously that’s not an ideal position, but we thought we were playing a pretty solid game.

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“There was a lot of time left so we wanted to just chip away. And that one goal just before the end of the second (by Elias Lindholm that cut Edmonton’s lead to 4-2) was such a huge momentum builder going into the intermission. We were saying there was time to get one, get two. We thought we’d maybe have to pull the goalie for one.”

After Wednesday’s game, fellow rearguard and Vancouver captain Quinn Hughes credited head coach Rick Tocchet getting that steady, stoic mindset in motion when he came on board midway through last season, when he was “trying to get us to believe and get the stink out of here from previous years.”

Tocchet was asked about creating that belief on Thursday, and mentioned relying on “pillars and staples.” He didn’t get into specifics, but it’s easy to guess that it’s about work ethic and team play and structure.  And then he said he doesn’t need to mention so many of those things to his group these days. 

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“There are certain things that I don’t say. I think, as a coach, if you keep saying it the players get tired of it,” Tocchet said. “They’re saying it. They are the ones actually telling you guys now. I don’t say it anymore. They say it. We’ve built that kind of relationship. 

“I don’t have go in there and tell them. Because it’s the ‘wah, wah, wah.’… let the players say it. That’s what Huggy is saying. They’re saying it now. They removed the stink or whatever you want to say. It’s not me anymore. They’ve removed it.”

Tocchet, of course, remains the tone setter. Thursday’s media availability opened with questions about Game 1. 

“It’s obviously a good feeling to come back, but we’re on Earth again,” he said. “For me, in the playoffs, you get back to Earth as soon as possible. You enjoy it last night for maybe two seconds and then you’re back because you know what’s ahead and what’s coming your way and you need to be ready for it.”

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Read more of our Canucks vs Oilers Round 2 playoff coverage:

• 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

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