Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Canucks’ Pettersson responds to non-call in overtime vs Blues and to Tocchet’s comments on his recent play
1 month ago
A day later, Elias Pettersson wasn’t interested in getting into debate about whether a penalty should have been called on Wednesday night’s overtime game winner. The Vancouver Canucks centre was clearly knocked down at the edge of the crease by St. Louis captain Brayden Schenn who then took advantage of the situation to fire home the winner 1:54 into the extra session.
Upon reflection, Pettersson was more concerned about his role in the events that led to the Blues having the chance to go to the attack in the first place.
“Looking back on the clip, I had two turnovers to get them the puck back when we had the puck on the three on three,’ Pettersson said after practice at Rogers Arena. “Whether it’s a non-call or not, it’s not up to me, I have to do a better job before then.”
The Canuck forward also acknowledged the hockey club had to do more earlier in the game rather than leaving the result to chance in overtime. But when pressed on whether he felt the on-ice officials missed what should have been a penalty, Pettersson admitted Schenn and the Blues likely got away with one.
“Yeah, maybe,” he said of being knocked over without the puck. “At the end of the day, you can’t leave it to the refs. It is what it is, they took advantage of it.”
In the aftermath of the loss in which Pettersson was held without a point for the second straight game, head coach Rick Tocchet bluntly stated he needed more from his star centre. To put Pettersson’s so-called struggles in perspective, however, this is just the second time all season he’s gone back to back games without finding the scoresheet and it comes just 10 days ago he was the NHL First Star of the Week.
So while it’s clear the Canucks are a better team when Pettersson is producing, it’s not like he’s completely lost his way.
Still, he acknowledged that like others who have had their games critiqued publicly by the coach, he’s not above criticism.
“Yeah, we play a professional game and if the coach wants more from me, I’m going to try to do a better job next game,” he said. “It’s history now and I’m just looking forward to Columbus next game.”
For his part, Tocchet was a little surprised at the reaction his post-game remarks garnered in the market. He was asked questions about Pettersson’s performance on Wednesday night – and over recent games – and responded with candour and a frank honesty that has been well received by both media and fans alike.
On Thursday, Tocchet felt too much had been made of his comments.
“If Hoggy (Nils Höglander) has a bad game or a couple of bad games, I say it but it’s not in the paper,” Tocchet said. “Petey is a big man. He had a tough night skating-wise, I thought. But it’s over with. He played 21 minutes. He’s not at the end of the bench, so we’re taking this to another level. I was on your side as a media guy. I get it. But you guys have to analyze the game, too. You have to understand certain things, too.”
Tocchet went on to underscore the fact that he saw something lacking in Pettersson’s game on Wednesday, but that’s all it was. And he was simply trying to answer a question about Pettersson’s game directly.
“It’s not Tocchet has a problem with Pettersson,” he added. “You asked me a question who was good and who was bad. I have to be careful. If you’re going to ask me questions about a player, I’m going to say ‘no comment.” I’ll let you guys analyze it. It’s not a big deal. He’s out there smiling, it’s not a big deal. Maybe it’s a story because we’re winning a lot and we’re looking for negativity. That’s how I look at it.”
Tocchet once again had Pettersson skating with Andrei Kuzmenko and Ilya Mikheyev at practice on Thursday. While the coach wants more out of Pettersson he clearly needs some production from the two Russian wingers neither of whom has found the back of the net since Christmas. Mikheyev has gone 16 games without scoring (his last goal came in Chicago on December 17th) while Kuzmenko’s drought is up to a dozen games since potting a pair against San Jose on December 23rd.
The Canucks will take Friday as a team day off before hosting Columbus on Saturday night at Rogers Arena in the final game before the team’s bye week and the All Star break.
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