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‘We have to be better’: Tocchet talks Elias Pettersson, Canucks’ mindset going into game five, and more

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Photo credit:© Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Jagraj Lalli
1 month ago
The Vancouver Canucks’ victory in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Nashville Predators was nothing short of dramatic. Despite being outplayed for most of the game, the Canucks managed to snatch a 4-3 overtime win, taking a commanding 3-1 series lead.
However, the win wasn’t without its challenges.
Throughout the game, the Canucks found themselves outshot, outskated, and generally outclassed by the Predators. For 57 minutes, it seemed like victory was slipping away. But then, in a stunning turn of events, the Canucks scored twice in the last three minutes of regulation time with their goalie pulled, and went on to win in overtime. Arturs Silovs, was unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight due to injuries to Thatcher Demko and Casey DeSmith, and he certainly played a pivotal role in keeping the Canucks in the game.
Silovs’ performance was particularly impressive considering the circumstances. As a goaltender who likely expected to be playing for the Abbotsford Canucks in their playoffs at this stage, being thrust into the high-pressure environment of the playoffs was a daunting task. Yet, Silovs rose to the occasion, taking inspiration from his time with Latvia at the World Championships in 2023.
Despite Silovs’ heroics, the Canucks still faced significant challenges. Elias Pettersson was struggling to make an impact, while Quinn Hughes was getting hit hard by the Predators. However, head coach Rick Tocchet remains optimistic about the team’s prospects moving forward. While acknowledging the physicality of the Predators, Tocchet emphasized that the key to victory lies in winning battles and holding onto the puck, rather than returning the physicality.
On Pettersson, Tocchet spoke on urging his star centre to simplify his game and focus on agility.
“He should ease up on overthinking. Just focus on moving your feet. If you move your feet, everything will flow naturally. We’ll review some tape tomorrow, but pay attention tonight, watch players like McKinnon or McDavid —they’re constantly moving their feet, creating threats everywhere. Especially against a team like Nashville, if you don’t move, they’ll be on you quick. But if you can evade them with agility, new opportunities will arise. It’s all about mindset, keeping it simple. He shouldn’t be juggling ten thoughts tomorrow.”
One aspect of the Canucks’ performance that Tocchet particularly appreciated is the team’s attitude after a win.
“After we won, everyone’s high-fiving, but five minutes later, guys are already focused on the next task. It’s like they come back down to Earth. I appreciate that attitude. There’s no lingering celebration, just an immediate shift to, ‘Alright, how do we improve?’ That’s been the attitude of this team all year, and I respect it. There’s no cockiness or satisfaction. Guys are always looking to elevate their game, not blaming others for shortcomings. That’s a positive for us.”
 
Reflecting on game 4, Tocchet knew that the team’s performance was merely average, which, in his words, somehow eased any nervousness he was feeling.
“I’m actually more comfortable heading into tomorrow’s game because we played average. If we had played exceptionally well, I might be a bit more nervous. But honestly, I’m not feeling nervous at all. I think we’re going to be ready tomorrow to play a lot better than we did last game and I think that’s a good thing.”
While playoffs provide the chance to make adjustments on a game by game basis, Tocchet emphasized the importance of sticking to the fundamentals for his lineups.
“We’ve considered making some changes, but honestly, we just need to focus on the basics. It’s about winning battles and keeping our feet moving. There are options available, but it’s not about complex strategies. Maybe we’ll shuffle some players around, either now or later, even during the game. But overall, I’ve been pleased with how certain lines have performed in this series—JT’s line, Lindholm’s line, Teddy’s line—they’ve all done well. Petey’s line will (get going) too. So, I’m not entirely convinced that rearranging things is the solution right now.”
As the team prepares for game five on Tuesday night at Rogers Arena, they have the significant opportunity to clinch a series in Vancouver for the first time since the Western Conference Final in 2011.

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