Scenes from practice: New-look lines, no Myers, and Canucks loading up the power play again

Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
4 months ago
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While Elias Pettersson’s contract news dominated the discussion around the Vancouver Canucks, the team, itself, had other business to conduct. The players and coaching staff hit the ice on Saturday morning for a practice before an afternoon flight to Anaheim for the start of a three-game road trip on Sunday night.
There were plenty of moving parts – and a sizable surprise – on the ice at Rogers Arena.

What we saw

In addition to a new contract, Elias Pettersson had a new linemate at Saturday’s skate as Rick Tocchet shuffled his line combinations once again. Pettersson found himself on a line with Pius Suter and Nils Höglander. Suter and Pettersson spent some time together earlier in the season. 
With Suter on Pettersson’s line, Ilya Mikheyev was moved to the left side with JT Miller and Brock Boeser. Miller and Boeser have been two of the hottest Canucks offensively while Mikheyev has gone 30 games without a goal.
The Canucks bottom six had Elias Lindholm centering a line with Conor Garland and Phil Di Giuseppe while Teddy Blueger skated with Nils Aman and Sam Lafferty. After returning Arshdeep Bains to AHL Abbotsford on Friday afternoon, the Canucks had just 12 healthy forwards at practice. Rick Tocchet said the team will call a forward up for the road trip.
Tocchet also reunited his top guns on one power play unit, but added the wrinkle of Conor Garland to that group. So Quinn Hughes, JT Miller, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser who had been split for a couple of games were all back together. On the second unit, it was Elias LIndholm, Filip Hronek, Nils Höglander, Pius Suter and Sam Lafferty. Ilya Mikheyev’s cold streak looks like it has finally cost him a spot on the power play.
On defence, with Tyler Myers missing from practice (week to week – lower body injury), the Canucks moved Mark Friedman to a pairing with Ian Cole while Nikita Zadorov and Noah Juulsen were re-united. Tocchet said Friedman will play on Sunday in Anaheim.
Carson Soucy took part in his first full practice with the group since suffering a broken knuckle against Toronto on January 20th. Soucy was involved through the session including penalty killing against the Canucks top power play unit. He is close to returning to the line-up and will travel, but is not expected to play on Sunday.
And perhaps the best news of the day (non Elias Pettersson category) was the sight of Guillaume Brisebois on the ice with his teammates for the first time since suffering a head injury in a preseason game against Seattle in Abbotsford. Brisebois wore a red non-contact jersey and lasted about half the session before leaving. His gear has hung in his stall in the locker room all season and he’s been seen around the rink periodically. But this is a big step in the right direction for his recovery and hopefully he came through the skate unscathed. It’s unlikely that he will see any game action at any level over the balance of these season. But, even for a day, it had to feel good to be back on skates and around his teammates. 

What we heard

Rick Tocchet on team’s focus heading out on the road for next three: “I don’t think we’re thinking of the next three, I think we’re looking at the first period against Anaheim. Get back to our game. I think we have to defend better without the puck and defend in certain situations where we have people in the middle of the ice. We have to get back to giving what we’re supposed to give and take pride in it.”
Tocchet on loading up power play again: “Doing the other way was a temporary thing. You’d have to be crazy, when you need a pressure goal you have to have your best players on the ice. Hopefully this will help the connection and the buy-in. If things don’t go your way, you have to have the resolve to keep with it.”
Tocchet on what he’s looking for from Mikheyev with Miller and Boeser: “There are four or five wingers, we’re looking for chemistry. We’re looking for guys to up their games. That’s why we’re rotating guys in and out. That’s just the world we live in. We’ve got some really good centremen. Can Mik go in there? Millsy has been going pretty good. Brock has scored the last couple of game. Can they elevate Mik’s game? Maybe that’s a possibility.”


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