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Canucks coach Tocchet scratches top player to shake up team

Published May 16, 2024 at 12:56
BY FRED MALTES
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In an unexpected move, Canucks coach Rick Tocchet has decided to bench Ilya Mikheyev for tonight's crucial playoff game.

The Vancouver Canucks, currently locked in a tight best-of-three series with the Edmonton Oilers, are shaking up their lineup in hopes of invigorating their team. Mikheyev, a key figure in the Canucks' top six forwards, will be sitting out along with Sam Lafferty and Linus Karlsson, as the team seeks a much-needed boost.


Stepping into the fray are Phillip DiGiuseppe and Nils Hoglander, with Hoglander joining the all-Swedish second line featuring Elias Lindholm and Elias Pettersson. This strategic adjustment extends beyond player swaps, impacting the structure of the remaining lines and potentially the team's dynamics during play.


Coach Tocchet's decision follows a pointed critique of his players' performance, labeling some as mere 'passengers' unaware of the high stakes of playoff hockey. Mikheyev, despite his top-notch speed and puck-handling skills, has been criticized for his lack of physical engagement and a tendency to aim shots directly at the goalie—a habit that may have contributed to his omission from tonight's game.

While the Canucks might find better synergy in their 5-on-5 play without Mikheyev, his absence could be felt during penalty kills where his skills have traditionally shined. The Oilers could seize this opportunity to exploit the gap left by his absence.


The sidelining of Mikheyev is just one of several significant decisions made by the Canucks as they prepare for tonight's game 5. Despite hopes for goaltender Thatcher Demko's early return, he was absent from the main group at today's practice. Reports suggest, however, that his recovery is progressing well, raising hopes for his availability in game 6.

Tonight's game at home is pivotal for the Canucks, and with the strategic changes, they are poised to deliver one of their strongest performances of the series. As the Oilers gear up to counter Vancouver's revamped lineup, they must remain focused on maintaining their strategic edge to take the series lead and aim for a victory back in Edmonton.
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May 16   |   22 answers
Canucks coach Tocchet scratches top player to shake up team

Do you think the Canucks should have scratched Mikheyev?

Yes, he wasn't playing good enough1568.2 %
No, too valuable on penalty kill418.2 %
See Results313.6 %
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