Scenes from practice: Tocchet plays coy about Canucks Game 82 line-up other than fact Demko will start

Photo credit:Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
10 days ago
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The Vancouver Canucks held a brisk 25-minute practice on Wednesday morning at Rogers Arena before jumping on the team charter to Winnipeg for their final game of the 2023-24 National Hockey League regular season.
With the uncertainty around the start date for the playoffs, Rick Tocchet wanted to make sure his team didn’t have too many days off in the lead-up to the post-season. So he wanted his guys to go for a quick twirl hours after they had clinched the Pacific Division with their 4-1 win over Calgary on Tuesday night.
If you were hoping for some indication of the line-up Rick Tocchet will ice against the Jets, you’ll have to wait until game day. There were no visible signs of possible changes based on the way the team skated and following practice the coach didn’t tip his hand.
Tocchet hinted one player may be left behind on the road trip, but the coach wouldn’t divulge any names. He also claimed he was uncertain about the way he would handle his line-up for Game 82. 
Tocchet said his plan was to give Thatcher Demko a second straight start after returning from his knee injury last night. However, Tocchet said he had to be mindful of the way the game unfolds in Winnipeg and suggested if the contest turned into shinny with teams trading chances with very little defence, he wouldn’t hesitate to take Demko out.
The Canucks will have options for Thursday night with four extra healthy bodies on the roster: Phil Di Giuseppe, Nils Aman, Noah Juulsen and Mark Friedman.

What we heard

Rick Tocchet on his line-up plans for Thursday in Winnipeg: “I’m not quite sure. It’s an hour to hour thing. We don’t know how we’re going to approach the game tomorrow. Some guys might play, some might not. I honestly haven’t made any decisions. It’s a tricky thing. You have to play all the scenarios and go from there. It’s a hard one. For me, I want to play every game to win, but you also have to be prudent how you put your line-up with the playoffs coming up.”
Tocchet on giving Demko another start ahead of the playoffs: “That one is pretty easy for us. He wants to play. He was out there today and felt great. I think it’s important that he gets his reps, too. If it turns into shinny and he has to stop 40 shots by the second period, he won’t be in there that long, put it that way. Hopefully I don’t have to make that decision.”

Tocchet on whether he’ll be glued to Dallas-St. Louis game tonight: “I watch hockey every night. Obviously, if it’s on I’ll watch it. Wherever we go for dinner tonight, hopefully they’ll let us put on the game we want. They usually do. I’d like to watch that game. I like to watch Dallas anyways.”
Brock Boeser, as the longest-tenured Canucks, on winning 50 games and clinching the Pacific Division last night: “It’s amazing. Obviously we’re sick and tired of losing and that’s why we came here early to try to set that standard and expectation. We had that great start and just kind of built off it. We’ve had our ups and downs, but I think we’ve learned a lot and we’re just getting ready for playoffs.”
Boeser on whether he ever wondered over the years if the organization would turn a corner: “It’s tough to say. I always felt like we had the right pieces to steer it in the right direction, we just never did. I felt like I always had that belief deep down inside. Thinking back on it, I always believed in Millsy who showed what he could do in this league since he came here and with Petey and Huggy and Demmer, they’re all amazing players.”
Conor Garland excited to experience the real Stanley Cup playoffs after playing two rounds in the 2020 bubble with Arizona: “That was tough. Our games were at 10 in the morning and I was eating pasta at 8 a.m. It wasn’t the most fun I’ve had in my life (laughs). This year is different, and I’ll find out.”
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