The Vancouver Canucks, for once, are having a good start to their season.
After back-to-back awful starts to their season, the Canucks talked a lot about knowing they had to get their best foot forward to start the current campaign.
And that they did, winning three of the five games on the recent road trip.
Is Canucks coach Rick Tocchet responsible for the about-face, fans are starting to wonder?
Here’s a couple of queries on that topic in this week’s mailbag:
“Love Tocchet. Think he is the difference. My brother says it’s his charm, but to me his charm reminds me of the phrase: ‘Everything’s fine until someone punches you in the face.’ “
Kerry D. by email
Tocchet absolutely loves his job.
He’s one of the first guys on the ice. On Thursday, for example, he came out early to help director of goaltending Ian Clark work with Casey DeSmith.
He then shifted to working with the first few skaters on the ice, working on attacking-zone details.
He’s very, very engaged.
For his part, Ilya Mikheyev says he’s really enjoying Tocchet’s approach. He got a very short dose of Tocchet last year before he had knee surgery, so this is his first real, day-to-day experience with him.
And coming into the lineup later than everyone else means he does have some catching-up to do, but the amount of information Tocchet and his staff are throwing at the players is very welcome to the Russian veteran.
“It’s how we should play. More tactics. And everything,” Mikheyev said. “Everybody understands what they need to do. It’s more easier when you step in.”
Tocchet, it’s clear, cares a lot about the learning environment his players are in. He has lots of coaches on the ice, ready to give notes to the players. Off-ice that conversation continues.
It’s a very engaged, very player-centred setup.
“I’ve always been a bit concerned that Tocchet is too defensive and making J.T. Miller and others play that way will cause the offence to dry up. His old Phoenix teams weren’t fun to watch. I would have gone for a younger coach myself, but we’ll see.”
Nick by BlueSky
Tocchet certainly has a reputation as a defensive coach, but other than his early coaching stint in Tampa Bay — when his team played a very dull style, taking few risks — that actually hasn’t proven to be the case.
In his four years at Arizona, his Coyotes were actually pretty much league-average for the quality of shots taken on their net and on the opponent’s net.
The issue in Arizona was the overall depth of talent wasn’t that great.
This is just about the most talented team he’s ever coached, certainly at the top with the forwards. The most points in a season any of his players ever had was 65 for Clayton Keller in 2017-18. In the COVID-19-shortened 2020-21 season, he had an aging Phil Kessel, who posted 43 points in 56 games that year.
Tocchet is looking for a high tempo from his current team, to press all over the ice.
“Make the best players on their team defend in their end,” he said Friday is the main goal.
The bet here is that his best players will be able to deliver. The top players, the Elias Pettersson and Miller lines, have delivered so far. But they’re also in a bit of a scoring bubble — and it would be foolish to expect that to continue, as good as these players are.
The main lesson in all this: the Canucks still need to improve their play in all zones, they need to improve the quality of their offensive looks, retain possession more and they need to keep refining their defensive shape.
“Is there an official adjustment to the protocols if a player has a seizure on the ice or cracks their skull? Like degrees of severity?”
BlogTrot by x, formerly Twitter
This is about Vasily Podkolzin. The young forward is in the AHL; he hit his head on the ice during a game Wednesday and was knocked unconscious for a brief spell.
The good news is the early prognosis appears promising. He seems to feel OK so far, the Canucks say. The team wants him to be 48-hours’ symptom free before slowly ramping-up his activity.
The standard return-to-play protocol calls for the athlete to go symptom-free in the 24 hours after their first post-concussion exertion, and then they can start doing more.
There are several steps to clear, with the final step being a full practice, for a player to be ready to play again. And at each step, the player must go symptom-free for the ensuing 24 hours.
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