Canucks’ Joshua motivated to leave more of a mark on Edmonton series than he did against Nashville

Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
1 month ago
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Dakota Joshua is ready to leave his mark on the Vancouver Canucks second round series with the Edmonton Oilers. The big winger had a strong start to the team’s opening round against Nashville scoring a pair of third period goals and also chipped in with an assist to lead the Canucks to a 4-2 win in Game 1 over the Predators. But after that, Joshua’s contributions were limited. 
He did pick up a second assist on Elias Lindholm’s Game 4 overtime winner and he was a fixture on a Canucks penalty kill that neutralized the Preds power play. Joshua led the Canucks with 25 hits in the opening round and blocked seven shots as well.
But he knows there were moments in the series when he and his line needed to be better. 
At 5-on-5 against Nashville, Joshua and linemates Lindholm and Conor Garland were on the wrong side of the shot share with the Canucks controlling 47.8% of all shot attempts, 43.1% of scoring chances and 42.9% of all shots on goal. However, based on a strong series opener, that line was able to tread water over the course of the six game match-up scoring three times while getting scored on three times.
For much of the season, the Canucks third line was a huge part of the team’s blueprint for success driving play and outscoring opponents. 
Joshua wants to get back to that type of performance as Round 2 against the Oilers opens on Wednesday night.
“That’s definitely the plan,” he said after practice Tuesday at Rogers Arena. “We want to play better than we were last series as a whole. A couple of good moments, but overall not too happy about our performance. I expect us to be better in this one.”
An 18-goal scorer in the regular season, Joshua managed just four shots on goal in the series with Nashville and none over the final four games. He knows he needs to use his size more effectively down low in the offensive zone to win puck battles and also needs to use that size to work his way to the front of the Oilers net.
“Getting pucks and holding on to them down low – not so much one and done,” he explained of his line’s issues against the Predators. “The best way to play defence is to be on the offensive. The more that we can have puck possession time should lead to our favour.”
It was no secret that head coach Rick Tocchet took a shine to Joshua when he took over behind the Canucks bench in January 2023. Joshua quickly bought into Tocchet’s staples of winning board battles and being hard to play against. After a spotty training camp and a rough start to this season, Joshua found his game and contributed offensively and became a big part of the Canucks penalty kill.
But the coach agreed that the big winger’s play dropped a notch against the Preds.
“I think Dakota gets in trouble when he doesn’t move his feet and I know we say that about a bunch of guys, you’ve heard me say that all the time,” Tocchet told the media. “After that first game, it wasn’t that he played bad, I thought he was fine. But the way he’s played the last bunch of games of the season he was one of our best forwards. I thought he was just a little bit slow on his movements. I think it’s just a mentality for him. Maybe he understands now it’s going to be another level and I’ve got to start to move my feet. That’s it. He’s going to be fine. He’s going to be huge for us in this series. Huge for us.”
Tocchet is likely to use Joshua and his linemates in a match-up role against Edmonton. It’s quite possible that trio sees Connor McDavid. If not, then they’ll likely get their fill of Leon Draisaitl. 
Joshua is one of the few Vancouver forwards that can hold his own physically against Draisaitl and the Canucks will need him to engage from the drop of the puck on Wednesday night.
Joshua believes he’s ready for whatever challenge comes his way in this next round.
“No matter who we’re put up against it’s going to be a tough task, but it’s something that we embrace and it’s something we’ve worked all year for,” he said. “Inside the locker room, we’re a very confident group. What you guys (media) say is out of our control and that’s just the way it is. We’re ready to go and we have all the confidence in ourselves to pull this thing out.”
And if the Canucks are able to prevail against Edmonton, it stands to reason that Dakota Joshua will have had a much more prominent series than he did against Nashville.
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