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Scenes from Canucks AM skate: Tocchet talks defending hungry Oilers as DeSmith starts in goal for Vancouver

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
6 months ago
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The feeling Canucks fans have had over the past 72 hours is one they’ll never want to let go. It’s a feeling they haven’t had in what feels like years, and one they’ll be chasing all season long. Okay, maybe that’s a tad dramatic, but you get the point. The past 72 hours were as good a time as any to be a Vancouver Canucks fan.  Opening night was memorable for fans, but the Canucks have already forgotten about it as they prepare for game two of their season and game two against a very hungry Edmonton Oilers squad.
Here’s what went down at morning skate, live from Edmonton!

What we saw

The big story is obviously that Casey DeSmith will start in goal after Thatcher Demko left — on his coach’s orders — Wedensday night’s game after throwing up in his mask. A flu has been going through the Canucks’ dressing room, and has affected eight or so players. Tocchet said he hopes Demko is the final player who will be affected by the bug. The Canucks’ bench boss added that DeSmith has played well, and was going to start either tonight or in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Stuart Skinner, who appeared in relief of Jack Campbell on Wednesday night, starts for Edmonton tonight.
Unsurprisingly, the Canucks’ lineup remains basically the same as what we saw Wednesday night in Vancouver.
Carson Soucy skated lots today and although he’s still “day-to-day”, Tocchet said Soucy had a good day.
Speaking of what was said…

What was said

We were in Edmonton today, which allowed us lots of little conversations with various players.
Elias Pettersson told me he’s up to a 102 stick flex, which is obviously very high for a forward. At training camp, Pettersson said he was using a 95, up from 87 last year, and told me he “might go higher.” Pettersson explained that he keeps getting stronger and feels like he can play his game with the higher flex, which can help on faceoffs and the defensive side of the game. Pettersson coyly said “it seemed to work last game” when I asked if he felt strong enough to use a 102 flex consistently.
Fair enough.
Tonight will be the first time in his NHL career that Quinn Hughes will play on his birthday. The Canucks’ captain turns 24 today, and wasn’t sure if he’d ever played a game on his birthday at any point in his life prior to today. Hughes spoke about how he thought he and Filip Hronek played on Wednesday night:
“It felt really good. Great player, really smooth, can defend, sees the ice well, good skill, jumped on the rush a couple of times there, that kind of opens things up for me as well. I thought we were great. I mean, our whole game was pretty solid on Wednesday, and we just got to keep pushing.”
Hughes also spoke about how important it is that his squad forgets about Wednesday’s result.
“I think we totally need to forget it. I mean, there’s a little part of it that should give us a little bit of confidence in our system and who we are as a team, but also in saying that, you got to totally forget about it and just keep pushing forward because like I said, it’s only one game.”
Rick Tocchet echoed those same thoughts, and spoke about how not having the advantage of last change like they did on home ice on Wednesday may affect how the Canucks roll their defence pairings.
“Well, I think Footy does a nice job,” said Tocchet. “He’s gonna have to mix and match, you know, I’m sure they [Hughes and Hronek] are gonna play together a lot tonight, but we’re also gonna have to split them up every once in a while till we get some healthy bodies back. I thought the other guys held the fort [on Wednesday], but obviously offensively, we get more puck possession time when they’re together. I mean, when you’re out there as forwards, you’re gonna get the puck on your stick, you’re gonna get some chances around the net, so you might as well take advantage of it.”
“It’s a big task for us,” said Tocchet about playing a hungry Oilers team in their home opener tonight. “We have to play uncomfortable tonight. You know, it’s a game everybody wants to see. They want to see what the Oilers do and they want to see what we do. It’s one of those games [where] each individual has to prepare themselves. They know the game plan, and that’s really what it comes down to. You know, that game’s over.”
Puck drop is at 7 PM Pacific tonight from Rogers Place!

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