Tocchet slams some players after Canucks cough up Game 4

They say you shouldn’t go to bed angry, but that’s exactly what Vancouver Canucks fans did Tuesday night after the team failed to show up and deliver in Game 4. The team had one task — break the spirit of the Edmonton Oilers and take a stranglehold on their playoff series. They failed to do so.

After the heartbreaking 3-2 loss, Head Coach Rick Tocchet did not hold back and openly slammed some of his players.

“We need five or six guys to get going here. It’s the Stanley Cup playoffs,” said a frustrated Tocchet. “We can’t play with 12 guys. We [have] got to figure it out quick. We need more consistent effort from more guys.”

It was obvious from the outset — the Oilers were hungry to win, and the Canucks weren’t. Tocchet also slammed the Canucks powerplay after Edmonton took a four-minute penalty in the first period.

“Not good enough. They know it. I didn’t think they worked hard … they mismanaged the puck. You have to have a work ethic and you have to hold pucks. I didn’t think we did.”

Tocchet also called out Elias Pettersson, pleading with him to play better, which has been an ongoing storyline since February.

“Like I said, there’s five or six guys … he’s got to get going. I don’t know what else to say. It’s a will to get the puck. You know the puck and where it’s going to go, you just got to get there before the other guy, and I think we’re pausing,” Tocchet said.

“Some guys are playing ‘pause hockey.’ And you can’t win if you have five or six passengers — quite frankly, that’s what it was. But saying that, that’s playoff hockey, where the next game is a new game. So, some of those guys can be a hero for us, so they got to step it up.”

Some bright spots included the play of Captain Quinn Hughes, Brock Boeser and Arturs Silovs, but not much else, including the powerplay, penalty kill and once again, a lack of shots.

“Obviously, it’s very frustrating,” said Hughes. “These things happen and [we’ve] just got to move on.”

He acknowledges the Canucks came out flat in the first period.

“In the third [period], I thought we obviously made a really good push, and we’re just going to have to do that from the first [period] next game.”

Hughes maintains they’re not falling apart after the loss.

“There’s a lot of belief in this room and there’s no quit and obviously going to the next game, we don’t want to find ourselves in that hole but, like I said after Game 1, if it’s 4-1 or 2-1 or 3-0, whatever it is, we’re going to go to the final buzzer. I think the mantra the entire year is not getting too high or low. It’s a disappointing one, but we’ll be ready to go for Game 5.”

J.T. Miller, who didn’t have a great game, spoke out afterward.

“I mean, I’m pretty upset with myself at the moment. That was a pretty big play at the end of the game. That pass should have never gotten to [Evan] Bouchard and certainly shouldn’t get past me.”

Tension during the game was certainly ratcheted up with Edmonton’s Evander Kane seemingly going out of his way to hit Canucks defenceman Nikita Zadorov, who wasn’t bothered.

Following the angst from Game 3, when Canucks defenceman Carson Soucy was suspended one game for cross-checking Connor McDavid, Oilers forward Corey Perry purposely held his stick in Boeser’s face during a scrum. Boeser, like Zadorov, didn’t react and take the bait.

The Canucks finished with 21 shots on net, compared to Edmonton’s 30. Vancouver woke up in the third period to tie the game with less than two minutes to go before Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard scored the game-winning goal with 39 seconds left.

Players need to set up to win series, analyst says on the loss

Brendan Batchelor, play-by-play commentator for the Canucks on CityNews sister station Sportsnet 650, thinks the team was resilient in the third period to try and battle back but points to obvious breakdowns that led to the game-winning goal.

“In particular, J.T. Miller blew the zone early and then didn’t get in the shooting lane well enough. Didn’t block Evan Bouchard’s shot right at the end of the game. The Canucks will need to refocus now and try to bounce back,” said Batchelor, speaking to CityNews from Edmonton.

He doesn’t think the low number of shots coming from Vancouver is concerning.

“This is a Vancouver team that has found a way to generate offence on their scoring chances, even when they don’t throw the puck at the net, compared to other teams around the league,” he explained.

“I think they’ve set a record now for the fewest shots through the first 10 games of a playoff run in NHL history since the stat has been recorded. Rick Tocchet has actually talked about how he doesn’t want them taking low percentage shots and throwing pucks away because that’s essentially the equivalent of a turnover.”

Batchelor echoes Tocchet’s comments on players needing to step up if they’re going to win this series.

“I don’t think it’s so much their top players. I think Quinn Hughes had a really good game, but it’s guys that haven’t necessarily played well until this point in the playoffs. I look at the Pettersson line. Elias Pettersson has been very quiet throughout the post-season, [he] wasn’t a big factor. Ilya Mikheyev is another one of those guys that you can put in that conversation.”

Tocchet also mentioned post-game that he’s considering some line-up changes ahead of Game 5.

“I expect Miller to bounce back. Hughes is going to step his game up in the big moments. Arturs Silovs has been good throughout the playoffs, but beyond that, there are some guys who need to start pulling their weight further down the line-up,” Batchelor said.

Batchelor believes there are some major things needed for the Canucks to walk away with Game 5.

“A strong start on home ice with the home crowd behind you. Get a lead. Force the Oilers to chase the game and then get your powerplay rolling as well.”

Following Tuesday’s loss, he doesn’t think Canucks fans should be worried.

“This is a very good Oilers team, on home ice, which was playing desperate hockey that dominated for the first two periods, but the Canucks found a way to make it a close game again. I imagine there will be more of that desperation in Vancouver’s game returning home.”

Batchelor isn’t making any predictions but says Vancouver remains in a good position to close the series out if they play well on Thursday.

“It’s now a best-of-three and two of the final three games will be on home ice for Vancouver. So, they’ve got a chance to refocus, regroup, to come back home to play in front of their home fans who’ve been great for them this year, and try to build a 3-2 series lead.

“Absolutely, they have what it takes.”

Soucy will return to the line-up for Game 5, which goes Thursday at Rogers Arena. Puck drop will be shortly after 7 p.m. You can catch the game on Sportsnet, and hear the call on Sportsnet 650.

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