Scenes from Canucks practice: Did Tocchet tip his hand about new-look Game 7 line combinations?

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
1 month ago
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The Vancouver Canucks held what could be the team’s final practice of the season on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Arena. Of course, it could also be the springboard to a Game 7 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night. Through six games, the series has been that close and shouldn’t come as any surprise if Game 7 is a tight affair, too.

What we saw

JT Miller, Brock Boeser and Tyler Myers all took the day off to rest and recover. All have played a lot in the playoffs and Rick Tocchet felt it was best for that trio to take maintenance days to ensure their readiness for Game 7. 
Without his full roster, Tocchet was forced to improvise at practice, but he may have provided a glimpse into the way he’s contemplating icing his lineup for the one game winner take all showdown. 
Tocchet confirmed that Ilya Mikheyev, who has been out of the lineup the past two games, is healthy enough to be considered an option for Monday night. Mikheyev skated on Sunday with Elias Pettersson and Vasily Podkolzin. Linus Karlsson swapped in for Podkolzin during some of the drills. The coach also mentioned that with last change and the ability to dictate matchups, he likes the idea of Elias Lindholm returning to the middle with Dakota Joshua and Conor Garland.
Based on the combinations shown on Sunday, it’s conceivable that Nils Höglander, despite scoring the Canucks lone goal in Saturday’s 5-1 loss in Edmonton, could come out of the lineup once again as he did earlier in the series. 
As for Tocchet’s mood on the eve of Game 7, the coach brought jokes to the podium after practice when he announced Thatcher Demko as his starting goalie for Monday night. He doubled down when questioned by the media if that was really the case. He then quickly walked that back and made sure everyone understood that it was merely a way to break the ice and ease the tension. Demko was not on the ice with the group on Sunday and will not be dropped into this series at this late stage.
Arturs Silovs will be the Canucks’s Game 7 starter. The 23-year-old Latvian has never lost consecutive games in his brief National Hockey League career.
Prior to practice starting, Tocchet held a lengthy on-ice chat with captain Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson. Those two combined for 51 goals in the regular season but have just one between them in the playoffs. That was Pettersson’s power play goal to open the scoring in Game 2 of this series.
Sunday’s practice was conducted under the watchful eye of the Canucks entire upper management group watching from the stands. That included owner Francesco Aquilini who has kept a relatively low profile around the team during the post-season.

What we heard

Rick Tocchet on the focus of his team heading into Monday’s Game 7: “Confidence. It’s all about confidence. Believe in what you’re doing as an individual and as a team. When you get out there, you want to be a difference maker and you want the puck. I feel like when we’re at our best – Game 5 – everybody wanted something.”
Tocchet on possibility of reuniting Lindholm with Joshua and Garland: “I like that line. We’re at home. A little match-up here and there. Whether I stick with them I’m not sure, I’ll talk to the coaches. Just some things that might help us.”
Arturs Silovs on being thrown into the ultimate pressure situation: “You just have to face it, right? I think every single game there’s going to be pressure. It doesn’t matter who you play or what you play for, it’s always going to be like that. Just play my game. Have trust in myself and things are going to happen.”
Carson Soucy on Canucks ability to bounce back all season long: “We’re fighters. From training camp, we came in with a mindset that this year was going to be different. We showed that through the year (with) the ups and downs we came back next game ready to play. I think it’s going to be a really good game tomorrow.”
JT Miller on testing Stuart Skinner more than they did on Saturday with just 15 shots on goal: “We’re not a high volume shot team, I think we’ve learned that in general so it’s not a huge panic for us. So I just think when we’re on our game we get more looks and we shoot the puck. But it’s not like we’re going to cross the blueline and start shooting every single puck on net. Obviously we need to be better, we know that. Good news is we can turn the page and it’s one game to do it and try to earn it.”
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