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THE MOJ: Canucks have to walk fine line between patience and desperation

Winning 3rd game in Nashville will be tough, but Vancouver has 2 shots at getting this right
Nashville Predators players celebrate with goalie Juuse Saros (74) as Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Lindholm (23) and Brock Boeser (6) skate off the ice after Nashville defeated Vancouver 2-1 during Game 5 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, April 30, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The Vancouver Canucks have a formidable task at hand heading into Nashville for game six of their first-round playoff series on Friday.

Winning three games in another team’s building in a series isn’t easy but that’s what the Canucks are looking to do as they try to clinch their first playoff series win since 2011.

They return knowing that despite not playing well in games three and four, they still managed to come out with a pair of victories.

“We’ve been a pretty good road team (27-9-5) all year, so I think we are comfortable playing outside our building. Sometimes we actually play better on the road,” said Vancouver head coach Rick Tocchet. “This is a tough building. We know that there were a couple of games there that maybe we didn’t deserve (to win) - just like game five (which) we thought we deserved. It’s one of those series that it really doesn’t matter (who plays better), it’s who wins the game.”

Tocchet makes a great point in the sense that the team playing the better game hasn’t necessarily been rewarded in this series.

Coaches talk about following the process and that the results eventually will be there. But that’s also over the course of an 82-game season. In a small sample size such as a best-of-seven game series, sometimes it doesn’t matter if you did follow the process and played well, your season could be over.

The Canucks just hope that they are on the right side of the equation when it all adds up.

To eliminate Nashville, the Canucks will have to walk a fine line.

You have to match the intensity of your opponent, yet at the same time, you can’t get out of your own game according to Tocchet.

“The desperation of the other team is a big one. I think you have to match it and you have to be comfortable in a tight game. I think that is really important. If it’s 0-0 late in the game – even if it’s 1-0 going into the third – you have to be very comfortable playing in that (type of game). You have to buy your time for your chances,” he explained.

“Sometimes I think when you want to close out, you push the envelope too much. The next thing you know you’re giving up odd-man rushes, power plays and things like that.”

Desperation is one thing that Nashville head coach Andrew Brunette liked about his team after game five in Vancouver.

“I think we could be better in all kinds of different areas. The one area we did bring an A+ was desperation. We had guys blocking shots. We had guys diving in front of shots. I thought we lived up to our billing of being relentless. Going down one, we kept pushing back and the belief in the group was there. It was a game of margins again and it’s been like that in every game this series,” said Brunette.

The Canucks also see some areas in which they can be better in according to Nikita Zadorov.

“Obviously it sucks to lose but it’s part of the game. Nobody said it’s going to be easy. Nobody said it was going to be (over in) four or five games. It could take seven games to win the series, so we’re taking it day-by-day. We watched some video and there are some things we can improve on for sure,” noted the Canuck defenseman.

The winner of the series will face the Edmonton Oilers in the second round. The Oilers eliminated the Los Angeles Kings four-games-to-one by virtue of Wednesday’s 4-3 victory.


* Tocchet refused to name a starter in goal for game six simply stating that the club “is still working through that” during his media availability session in Nashville but also added that he will have made a decision as of Thursday night.

* The Canucks were a loose group during their Thursday practice in Nashville. J.T. Miller hit the ice wearing goaltender Arturs Silovs dress shirt, which we will describe as peachy. “He (Silovs) has got to know better. He has to know he’s not in a nightclub in Riga, Latvia,” chuckled Zadorov.

* Rogers Arena will host another viewing party for game six. “The response and reaction from fans who attended the first Rogers Away Game Viewing Party showed us that Canucks fans are so excited for every minute of playoff action. It’s time to fill Rogers Arena, welcome everyone in, and wave those towels.” said Michael Doyle, President of Canucks Sports & Entertainment in a prepared statement.

* The Abbotsford Canucks lost game one of their AHL Pacific Division semi-final to the Ontario Reign by a score of 3-1 on Wednesday in California. Game two goes Sunday in Ontario with the series shifting to Abbotsford on Wednesday, May 8 and Friday, May 10 (if necessary).

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media.

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