‘I’m gonna have to start babysitting’: Tocchet questions Canucks’ preparedness after day off, loss to the Kraken
Photo credit:© David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
7 months ago
On a night where the Canucks arguably played one of their worst games of the season, you’d be hard-pressed to find too many people all that upset about it.
Their 5-2 loss to the playoff-bound Seattle Kraken came right off the heels of the Canucks’ official elimination from playoff contention on Sunday. The players were given Monday off with the expectation of coming in fresh for Tuesday.
Instead, they laid a collective egg on home ice.
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It didn’t look like that would be the case early on. The Canucks threw seven shots at Martin Jones in the first period and took an early 2-0 lead, but that’s when the foot came off the gas pedal.
The Kraken hammered Vancouver by an 18-5 shot margin in the second period and scored three times, including a game-tying, shorthanded goal by Brandon Tanev. With only a two-goal deficit to overcome, the Canucks could only manage six shots in the final frame.
In the early months of the season, such a performance likely would’ve been torn to shreds by folks at Rogers Arena and online. But there wasn’t much anger or disappointment from anybody. Just resignation and acceptance.
Inside the locker room, it was a different story. In the postgame press conference, Rick Tocchet called out his players’ readiness and effort, particularly coming off a day to recharge.
“If you have days off, and guys don’t know how to prepare on days off, then I’m gonna have to start babysitting a little bit more,” Tocchet said. “That’s hockey 101.”
“If you can’t be professional on a day off and come in and have energy, then obviously you’re doing the wrong things on a day off.”
Tocchet felt his player’s body language told a lot of the story in numerous situations of sloppy puck handling and slow line changes. But a lack of emotion wasn’t the only issue in Tocchet’s mind; J.T. Miller seemed to draw a little of his coach’s ire for the exact opposite reason.
After a failed breakaway attempt in the last minute of the third period, Miller made an immediate beeline for the bench and went straight down the tunnel with time still remaining. When asked if an injury were the reason for his sudden exit, Miller said he was “not 100% sure”. But Tocchet seemed to hint at a different scenario.
“I think Millsy was frustrated he missed that breakaway, I guess. I don’t know, I didn’t ask him. Something like that,” Tocchet said before diving into his feelings about body language, something Miller has been criticized for in the past.
“[Bad] body language is not mental toughness, it’s weak-minded when you have body language like that. If you do it once in a blue moon, I get it. We’ve all done it. But it’s got to be once in a blue moon, you can’t have a steady diet of it.”
While Miller’s play was singled out, he was far from the sole issue. Outside of another textbook performance from Elias Pettersson, fifteen strong minutes from new college signing Akito Hirose, and Collin Delia’s best effort to hold down the fort, no other Canuck faired much better.
If this were a one-off, it’d be easy for the team to burn the game tape and move on. But it’s no secret that this has been a recurring theme in Canucks circles for some time.
People around the organization might be checked out and ready to throw in the towel until next season. But the players themselves can’t do the same just yet, and if they do, Rick Tocchet is ready to babysit.
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