“He’s not frustrated”: Tocchet thinks Pettersson can be better for Canucks in Game 2

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Elias Pettersson’s first playoff game at Rogers Arena didn’t go completely according to plan. While the team pulled off a 4-2 comeback win, the forward had zero points and didn’t make much of an impact.

The Canucks were outshot 8-2, controlled just 29.47% of the expected goals, and surrendered a team-high five high-danger chances against with Pettersson on the ice at five-on-five in Game 1.

The Swedish superstar Game 1 struggles continues a pattern from the past few months as he had just 25 points in his final 33 regular season games.

His line with Nils Höglander and the recently promoted Sam Lafferty had a defensive breakdown that led to the first goal against and didn’t create much offensively.

“We’ve got to help them; it’s my job. I’ve got to try to get him in a good frame of mind every night,” said head coach Rick Tocchet yesterday morning about the trio.

“They struggled a little bit, I thought Hoggy was caught in between, I don’t think Hoggy helped, I’m not blaming Hoggy, but I think the forecheck they were just disconnected.”

“When they’re connected, they’re a good line.”

The combination of Lafferty and Höglander is one that the Canucks used sparingly during the regular season but turned to for Game 1.

“If each guy [could] do their job, whatever that job is, just stick with it. It might not happen in the first two shifts, and I think sometimes they abort it too quickly,” the 60-year-old head coach continued.

“I had a good talk with Petey after the game; he’s not frustrated; he knows what he has to do better.”

“But the forecheck for me on that line was just okay and when you’re not forechecking, you’re not coming up with loose pucks, what are you doing? You’re chasing the game. So I think they’ve got to stick with the system, and when there’s a chance to be creative, be creative.”

Sunday night was the first playoff game in front of fans for both Pettersson and Höglander. The duo had much more success during the regular season as they outscored opponents 23-13 across more than 360 five-on-five minutes.

While that line didn’t play great in Game 1, there’s plenty of time to turn things around and make an impact on this series. Tocchet made it clear yesterday there’s not going to be space for hangers-on, and everyone will need to contribute at some point during the postseason.

“I still think there’s four or five guys that could really help us,” continued Tocchet yesterday after practice. “I thought they were just okay yesterday; I’m going to really lean on them. I think they need to bring the juice for us.”

“That’s what happens in the playoffs; you’re not going to have the same guys do it every night; it’s hard. But there’s some guys, ‘It’s my turn, I gotta get these guys up,’ and we’re looking for some individuals to really step up.”

The Swedish star had 18 points in 17 games during the 2020 bubble playoffs and has shown the ability to rise to the occasion in the past. Game 2 starts tonight at 7 pm PT, and the Canucks will be looking to their assistant captain to provide the spark needed to take a commanding two-game lead.