Scenes from playoff practice: Demko skates again as Canucks prepare for Wednesday’s opener against Oilers

Photo credit:© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
1 month ago
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The Vancouver Canucks got down to the real business of preparing for their second round match-up with the Edmonton Oilers on Monday morning. The team skated for 45 minutes at the University of British Columbia.

What we saw

It was all hands on deck for the Canucks who flew home from Nashviille on Saturday and took most of Sunday off to recover from their physical first round series. On Monday, however, it was all about preparing for the Oilers. 
Rick Tocchet’s team skated in the same line combinations and defensive pairings used in the final four games of the opening round. 
That meant JT Miller was between Brock Boeser and Pius Suter. Elias Pettersson was at centre on a line with Nils Höglander and Ilya Mikheyev. Elias Lindholm was in the middle between Dakota Joshua and Conor Garland while Teddy Blueger skated on a line with Phil Di Giuseppe and Sam Lafferty.
With Vasily Podkolzin in Abbotsford, the Canucks have just one extra healthy forward. That is Nils Aman who participated in practice and was then skated heavily by skills coach Yogi Svejkovsky after his teammates had left the ice.
On defence, the Canucks are showing no changes to the group that held Nashville to just a dozen goals and only seven at 5-on-5 in the six games of their first round series. Quinn Hughes was paired with Filip Hronek, Carson Soucy and Tyler Myers formed a duo and Nikita Zadorov skated alongside Ian Cole. Noah Juulsen and Mark Friedman served as the extra defenders.
Practice started with three goalies on the ice – Arturs Silovs, Casey DeSmith and Nikita Tolopilo. They were joined at the end of the on-ice session by Thatcher Demko who continues to rehab from his Game 1 knee injury. Demko, still not facing any shots at this stage of his recovery, dropped into a butterfly on occasion, but most of his work was conditioning skating in full gear.
As is the custom, the Canucks started practice with several line rush drills. They ended with their two power play groups set up in opposing ends of the ice. Rick Tocchet worked intently with his first unit, spending time meeting with Quinn Hughes, JT Miller, Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Elias Lindholm collectively, and the coach also spent time working with individuals on that power play. The Canucks went two for 13 with the man-advantage in the opening round with both goals coming in a 2-1 Game 3 victory.
The Canucks skated at UBC on Monday because Pearl Jam is set to take the stage for the second of its two concerts at Rogers Arena on Monday night. The hockey club will be back in its own building for practice Tuesday and an optional skate Wednesday morning before the series with the Oilers begins on Wednesday night.

What we heard

Rick Tocchet on generating more shots against the Oilers than Canucks did against Nashville: ‘Let’s face it, the best defence is having the puck. So we like to hold on to pucks. That’s why you have to move your feet, that’s why you have to win battles, you have to keep the puck. You can’t throw pucks away, you can’t stand still. They thrive on that stuff. You have to make them stop and play defence. They like to play on the move. Even a shot down the wing, a bad angle shot and you miss the net, is not a good play. I know around here everybody talks about ‘shots, shots, shots.’ If it’s not a good shot, don’t take it. I don’t care about the shot clock. I want to keep the puck. You throw a shot at the net – a high hard one – it goes wide, McDavid just picks it up and is gone. That’s a strategy for us. You can not throw stupid shots at the net and miss the net.”
Nikita Zadorov on one key Canucks can’t afford against the Oilers: ‘Turn the puck over. That’s the main thing. That’s their food to eat. Teams turning the puck over against them, they just jump on the rush. They’re super dangerous on the counter attack. They are waiting for you to make mistakes and they just explode because they have such a fast team and they’re really good off the rush. And those players have world class skill to make plays off the rush.”
Elias Lindholm prepared for the Connor McDavid match-up if it comes his way: “His speed is really dangerous. He’s a really good player obviously. There are times when a player like that through seven games he’s going to have his moments so it’s shift to shift and focus and every time he’s out there he’s pretty dangerous.”
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