Instant Reaction: Tocchet’s tough love, Pettersson’s Halloween hat-trick star in 5-2 victory over Nashville
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
26 days ago
Welcome back to Instant Reaction — the series here at CanucksArmy where we bring you our instant reaction from every Vancouver Canucks game and encourage our readers to do the same in the comments section below! Wyatt Arndt is writing The Stanchies tonight, which will be posted later tonight. The Statsies — CanucksArmy’s analytics-based post game report by Mike Liu will be posted tomorrow morning.
When the game started with Liam Foudy toe-picking Rogers Arena’s infamously questionable ice surface while attempting a penalty shot during the first two minutes of the first period, you knew you were in for one hilarious Halloween hockey spectacular!
Foudy earned the penalty shot after the Canucks were caught attempting an early graveyard smash. With four skaters pressuring deep inside the offensive zone, an uncharacteristically weak pass from Elias Pettersson to the blueline to Tyler Myers gave way to a Predators 3-on-1 in a flash! Myers did what he could on the backcheck but had to resort to a monstrous mash, going stick-on-wrist to hook Foudy and thwart his scoring chance.
It was a fairly hilarious sequence of events to start a hockey game. Less hilarious was Conor Garland clapping iron midway through the first frame. Even less hilarious was the refs from the Rangers game making an appearance when they missed a blatant trip from Colton Scissons against Pettersson.
Then, Sam Lafferty scored the opening goal of the game (sort of) when a Quinn Hughes slapshot ricocheted off his bucket and into the net.
Before the game started, the Canucks honoured the life of Lafferty’s former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins teammate Adam Johnson, highlighting a picture of the two when they’d scored their first AHL points in the same game together. Fitting that he would get the game opener.
Unfortunately, the bad passes and bad bounces reared their head in the back nine of the opening frame. After getting a new lease on life after the earlier non-tripping call, Colton Scissons made history when he scored a goal against the defensive pairing of Hughes and Filip Hronek, just the third time that’s happened through nine games!
One minute later, the Preds took advantage of the reeling defensive pair to score their second goal of the period!
After 20 minutes against Nashville at home, Hughes had doubled the number of goals against that he was on the ice for, from two to four! For those keeping track at home, those two goals-against dropped Hughes from 1st to 2nd among NHL skaters who’ve played over 190 minutes of ice time across all situations. Only Adam Fox has been on the ice for more minutes and fewer goals against across all situations (3).
Between the early 3-on-1, the flubbed penalty shot, the shot off of Lafferty’s head, Hughes’ defensive collapse, and dual minor penalties to J.T. Miller, the vibes for the first period were totally off.
Maybe the first period was about sweating the excess booze from their systems following the team’s annual Halloween rager Saturday night, following the overtime loss to New York?
Maybe the first period was about burning the excess Halloween candy from their systems.
Or maybe Rick Tocchet just really laid into them for the lackadaisical puck management during the intermission?
Whatever it was, the Canucks quickly things up on the 4-on-4 thanks to a heater from Pettersson.
The rest of the middle frame played out similarly to the first. The Canucks struggled to establish meaningful cycles inside the offensive zone, struggled to create scoring chances, and generally appeared on the backfoot against Nashville. Approaching the midway point of the second, J.T. Miller took his third minor penalty of the game, an unnecessary high-sticking penalty against Roman Josi while forechecking inside the offensive zone. The Preds had played the puck back to the half wall, and a frustrated Miller dished a retaliatory high-stick on Josi after knocking him over. Miller’s play was a roller coaster of highs and lows. In some shifts, the guy looked like his dominant two-way self. On the other shifts, Miller played angry, frustrated, and, at times, downright lazy hockey.
After killing off the Predators’ third power play opportunity, Ian Cole drew an offsetting minor against Alex Carrier to give Vancouver their first real power play of the game. The power play was noteworthy because Miller was noticeably removed from PP1. Tocchet had taken note of the forward’s struggles through 40 minutes and made the bold call to begin limiting his ice time.
The ploy worked because Pettersson scored his second of the night via the power play to give Vancouver their second lead of the game.
While Miller manned the bench door for his linemates through the final four minutes of the period, Pius Suter took his place as the centre for the PB&J line—Phil (Di Giuseppe), Boeser, and J.T.
Twitter was quite level-headed about the benching! For years, Canucks fans’ pulled their hair out watching the Willie Desjardins, Travis Green, and Bruce Boudreau eras wondering how the players that showed the least engagement on a night-to-night basis could avoid the healthy scratch list or even a simple reduction in ice time. All it took was missing the final four minutes of the second period for Miller to get his head back in the game.
After a relatively weak penalty call against Nils Höglander for interference, Miller drew an offsetting interference penalty against Filip Forsberg to negate the penalty. During the 4-on-4, Miller got the final touch of a Brock Boeser wrist shot to give Vancouver a two-goal lead.
With the reduction of Tyler Myers’ role and total ice time and Miller’s benching during the second period, Tocchet had officially done more in nine games than the previous three head coaches ever did to address the Canucks’ in-game performance issues.
Another player who has been on the receiving end of Tocchet’s tough-love coaching style is Dakota Joshua. Despite being the low man for ice time on Tuesday night, Joshua nearly squared it away for Vancouver in the third period off a brilliant backhand centring pass from Conor Garland. Tocchet has been very vocal about wanting to see more out of Joshua. With four hits, three shots on goal, and the aforementioned scoring chance, Tuesday night was a good start for the struggling forward in doing more with the minutes he’s been given.
At the end of the day, it was the one player who has never needed tough love to milk an impressive performance to win a game.
Elias Pettersson, with three minutes left in the game, scored the second hat-trick of his career.
5-2 was your final score this Hallowed evening.
Though it wasn’t a perfect game, it was another identity-defining win from Vancouver. The club refused to go down with a fight, overcoming an early deficit, suspect refereeing, and some poor individual performances to finish the night as the second-best team in the Pacific Division and fourth-best team in the Western Conference by points percentage.
Was it Miller’s Playboy Bunny costume? Was it the candy? Was it Tocchet’s tough love?
What’s your instant reaction to tonight’s game? Let us know in the comments section what you thought was the difference in tonight’s big win!
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