Pettersson gets new winger on eve of Canucks playoffs

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The Vancouver Canucks are giving star centre Elias Pettersson a new winger as they prepare to start their playoff run tomorrow. The team had the 25-year-old skating between Nils Höglander and Sam Lafferty at their last full practice before Game 1.

The trio has played just over 24 minutes together all season long.

“I think Sam, last few games, heavy forechecking guy, I think he can jump on some loose pucks and we’ll see how it goes if he’s there tomorrow night,” said Rick Tocchet after practice.

The head coach also said that there’s probably two or three guys who will get looks in that spot. Lafferty and Pettersson have shown some chemistry as a duo this season, outscoring opponents 8-4 in 171 five-on-five minutes.

“He brings physicality, he’s speedy,” said Pettersson about what his new winger brings to the table. “Set him up with scoring chances he’ll score, so physicality and speed.”

Lafferty has 13 goals this season but just four since the calendar turned to 2024.

The complete forward lines at practice today looked as follows.

Suter – Miller – Boeser
Höglander – Pettersson – Lafferty
Joshua – Lindholm – Garland
Di Giuseppe – Blueger – Mikheyev

Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Åman skated as extras. Tocchet was out early before practice working one-on-one with Podkolzin who played in all three of the team’s final regular season games but seems unlikely to suit up tomorrow night.

“Sometimes in the first games, sometimes you might go with experience early on but that’s not saying he won’t play tomorrow,” explained Tocchet. “Things like that, gut feeling, if [Di Giuseppe] does play, I thought he played good against Nashville the first three games at the beginning of the year, I think he scored a goal. You’re looking for anything like that but experience does help.”

The Canucks did not make any drastic changes with their defence pairings.

The puck drops at 7 pm PT tomorrow as they prepare to take on the Nashville Predators in round one of the playoffs. While the Canucks swept the season series, the two teams haven’t met since December 19 and the Predators improved mightily over the second half of the year.

“[Brunette] just got the job, it took them a while to understand his system. They’re one of the better offensive teams I think in the second half, one of the better rush teams so they’re getting his system,” said Tocchet today after practice.