7 Canucks who've received an early boost from Rick Tocchet

Feb 17 2023, 5:55 pm

It’s been a perfect start to the Rick Tocchet era.

The Vancouver Canucks have kicked off Tocchet’s tenure with a 3-5-1 record, keeping their dreams of drafting local product Connor Bedard, the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, alive and well.

Despite racking up the losses, the team’s underlying results have been much better.

Under Tocchet, the team has controlled more than 55% of shot attempts at 5-on-5. They also have an expected goals rate of 54.2%.

Although it’s only been nine games, both of those rates would be top five among NHL squads.

Horrid goaltending and penalty killing are the main culprits behind the Canucks’ losing record under the new coach, but there are things to like about the process and some individual performances.

Here are seven players in particular who have benefitted from playing under the Canucks new bench boss.

1. Anthony Beauvillier

Not many guys are newer to Vancouver than Tocchet. Anthony Beauvillier is an exception.

Beauvillier was acquired by the Canucks in the Bo Horvat blockbuster just eight days after Tocchet was hired.

Despite just joining the Canucks, Beauvillier already leads all Canucks forwards in the Tocchet era, averaging 15:10 of ice time at even strength per game. He’s also had the benefit of spending most of his ice time alongside Elias Pettersson.

Beauvillier has two goals and four points in six games since joining the Canucks.

2. Dakota Joshua

It didn’t take long for Dakota Joshua to get into Tocchet’s good books. During Tocchet’s first game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Joshua was one of the players who stood out.

He threw a couple of big hits, mixed things up with Max Domi, got elevated to the second line and scored in a victory against Chicago.

Joshua has two goals and five points in nine games since Tocchet took over. He’s also averaged 12:13 in ice time per game, compared to 10:24 under Bruce Boudreau.

3. (and 4.) The Quinn Hughes/Ethan Bear Pairing

So far this season, Quinn Hughes has spent almost two-thirds of his even-strength ice time playing with Luke Schenn. That has changed under Tocchet.

Hughes has primarily been paired with Ethan Bear. When the two defenders are on the ice at even-strength, it’s about the only time the Canucks are able to score with any consistency.

With Hughes and Bear together, the Canucks have scored 4.80 goals per-60 at 5-on-5. Without them, the Canucks have scored 1.90 goals per-60 while sporting a disastrous 26.6% goals-for-share.

5. Vasily Podkolzin

It was pretty clear that all Vasily Podkolzin needed was a little confidence boost. Although the points haven’t been there since returning to the NHL (one goal in six games), it’s evident that Podkolzin is playing much better.

Since returning to the lineup, the 21-year-old leads all Canucks with a Corsi-for percentage of 62.1%. He’s also found a home on Vancouver’s most commonly used trio of late, alongside J.T. Miller and Conor Garland.

While the trio needs to do a better job of allowing fewer high-danger chances against, they have controlled 59.7% of shot attempts when they’re on the ice together.

6. Nils Aman

No one expected Nils Aman to play NHL games this season. However, after surprisingly making the Canucks roster out of camp, Aman’s effectiveness had dwindled before being sent to the minors just after Christmas.

Since returning to the Canucks however, he seems to be playing with some extra juice.

Aman was last among all Canucks forwards with a 40.6% shot attempt differential before being demoted. Since returning, he’s helped control 52.1% of shot attempts.

Another Achilles Heel of his game was also in the faceoff dot. He’s still at 37.6% on the season, but Aman has won 55% of his faceoffs since returning.

7. Riley Stillman

Riley Stillman has seen a pretty drastic increase in ice time, averaging 18:37 under Tocchet. When Boudreau was at the helm, Stillman averaged just 15:19 per game.

The defensive gaffes in Stillman’s game are still evident, but he’s had some good moments under Tocchet. He set up Curtis Lazar beautifully for a goal against the New Jersey Devils on February 6, which was his first primary assist of the season.

And against the Detroit Red Wings on February 13, Stillman was the only Canuck who wasn’t on the ice for a goal against. He managed that despite playing the third most even-strength minutes among Canucks defenders.

Although he’s a flawed player, he’s certainly getting more opportunities under Tocchet.

Trevor BeggsTrevor Beggs

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