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Scenes from morning skate: Hronek paired with Hughes, Höglander on the outs for Canucks’ final preseason game

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
6 months ago
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What a beautiful day it is today! Not just because of the weather outside, but because this is the final game of the Vancouver Canucks’ preseason! After tonight, all of the results matter, and we can get into some real excuse free hockey.
But before that, the Canucks welcome the Calgary Flames to Rogers Arena for one final game ahead of their home and season opener against the Edmonton Oilers on October 11th! Let’s dive into today’s scenes from morning skate!

What we saw

Here are my key takeaways from tonight’s lineup:
-I’ve been banging the drum for days that the Canucks’ “by committee” defence — namely on the right side of Quinn Hughes’ pairing — would at some point include Filip Hronek, but until now, we haven’t seen those two together, even in practice! They’ll get a look tonight and it will be interesting to see the final ice times among defenceman when the final horn blows.
-Sticking with the defence, this looks like Noah Juulsen’s last shot to prove he belongs on the opening night roster. Keep a close eye on him tonight.
-Like Vasily Podkolzin, Nils Höglander was given top six minutes right out of the gate in training camp, and like Podkolzin, it seems as though Höglander has come up short of the coaching staff’s expectations. He’ll be the extra forward tonight, and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if that’s where he is on opening night, too.
-Conor Garland has bounced all around the Canucks’ top nine forward group for much of his Canucks tenure, and he’ll get a shot playing alongside Elias Pettersson and Andrei Kuzmenko. It’s been a bit of an underwhelming preseason for Anthony Beauvillier, who slides down to the third line with Pius Suter and Dakota Joshua.
-Rick Tocchet said Guillaume Brisebois was dinged up the last game, and Rick Tocchet said he may have played tonight if he were healthy. Speaking of what Rick Tocchet said…

What was said

Rick Tocchet talked about the fact that he and his staff are still tinkering lines right up until the final game of the preseason.
“I understand some of the concerns, but I’m a puzzle guy” said Tocchet. “It’s okay to put pieces in here and there. I don’t think it disrupts… the great Scotty Bowman had pairs [among] forwards, he’d have two guys and he’d rotate them. When we won the Cup in Pittsburgh, I know it’s a different team, Sid had four different wingers in a week — Guentzel, Rust, Sheary, and it’s okay to do that. Hoepfully a guy has energy and he can go for three games, and if he loses energy, then somebody else can go in there. It’s a similar kind of model, a little different here, but you know, Huggy is going to plays some shifts with Hronek tonight. We’re not scared to experiment and I don’t think you have to play with this guy to build chemistry all the time. Yeah, sure, would you like three guys that play together all the time? I think the way we’re built we’re more of a committee team.”
Tocchet also talked about what he hoped to see from Höglander and what he hopes to see moving forward.
“I’m still trying to find his identity. I’ve still got to get him to understand his identity right now. Maybe me putting him with Petey early kind of made him play a little different, I thought he was getting a little fancy out there. He’ll play, he might play opening night, I’m not sure. I think what I’ve been told, he’s like a buzzsaw out there, and we need him to play that way, and I’ve seen some of it but not enough consistency. I think Dakota Joshua is somebody we need to get into the lineup because I think he’s taken my opinion of him and he’s really played a little bit better, and he’s got size, and we need size. Nils will play, it’s just a matter of when he’ll play and we need to make sure he plays to his identity.”
Puck drop is at 7 PM tonight, and then we’ll have a glorious five days to talk about this team until the Canucks’ regular season opens on Wednesday!

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