Not that they’ve played perfectly, far from it, but the Vancouver Canucks have managed to start the season 2-and-0 with work ethic and sticking to their game plan.
“I think it’s important we understand the last game, we didn’t bend. I know they (Oilers) got two power play goals, but I thought our penalty kill was good, that 5-on-3. Timely goals, a guy like (Sam) Lafferty, who I think’s been a great addition for us, adding that stuff, key goals, but I think there’s some stuff there, our puck possession, we’re not holding on to pucks, we got out-battled … I still think there were things we’ve got to clean up,” Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet said while covering the gamut.
It’s a homecoming for Tocchet as he returns to face the team that drafted him, developed him, and for whom he competed for the first 7-and-a-half seasons of his NHL career, plus parts of two more at the end. He definitely has a soft spot for Philly and their great fans and a clear respect for Flyers head coach John Tortorella.
“Torts” coached the Canucks in 2013-’14 and finished one game above .500.
Canucks Game Facts
Tonight: Vancouver Canucks at Philadelphia Flyers
Where: Wells Fargo Center
When: 3 pm pacific, with puck drop many minutes after that, as this is Philly’s home opener.
TV/Radio: Sportsnet / AM-650
Starting goalkeepers: Thatcher Demko for Vancouver, Carter Hart expected for Philadelphia.
The Canucks might see defenceman Carson Soucy in the regular season line-up for the first time, finishing up a quick recovery from an ugly looking leg injury suffered in the preseason finale. He’s a game time decision.
What that D-corps might look like:
Quinn Hughes – Filip Hronek
Ian Cole – Tyler Myers
Carson Soucy – Noah Juulsen
Oddly enough, if he’s available and they ease him back in, Soucy will be in a third pair slot like he was with the Seattle Kraken for two seasons. He’s seen time in the preseason higher in the pecking order and there’s a good chance he’ll get opportunities.
Tocchet said injured winger Ilya Mikheyev should see game action later in the road trip, which would mean coming off injured reserve. Bottom six center Teddy Blueger remains day-to-day.
Canucks top line center Elias Pettersson looks to continue an all-world start to the season in a contract year. He was named the NHL’s 2nd-star of the week last week.
Meanwhile, the bottom-six forwards for Vancouver should once again look like this:
Dakota Joshua – Pius Suter – Anthony Beauvillier
Nils Höglander – Sam Lafferty – Jack Studnicka
The Flyers are without D-men Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen, both on injured reserve.
The Canucks are ranked number-one in the NHL at 44.4% on the man advantage, going 4-for-9 against the OIlers over the two games.
The Canucks flipped the script during the first game of the season while going 3-for-6 on the power play and holding the usually lethal Oilers power play to 1-for-4. In the 2nd game Edmonton scored twice on the man advantage but Vancouver killed off five other chances. Overall the penalty kill was successful 8 of 11 times. (72.7%)
The Flyers PK is worse than that, giving up goals three times on nine chances. (66.7%). Their power play is an abysmal 1-for-11. This fits the recent pattern. The power play was dead last in the NHL last season – Tortorella’s clubs generally don’t do well on the man advantage – and the penalty kill finished 26th in the league.
Canucks: 2-and-0. In their last game, they beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 on Saturday night.
Flyers: 1-and-1. They lost 5-2 to the Senators in Ottawa on Saturday.
— Simmer’s Canucks Sunday 9 – Boudreau Chirps, ‘The Kid’, Babs, Melrose Jokes
— The last “Simmer and Gabby” podcast with Rob Simpson and Bruce Boudreau …