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THE MOJ: ‘Pretty good’ start for the Canucks, but focus already on next game

Tocchet says team stuck to its game plan in thumping Edmonton 8-1 to open the season
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Brock Boeser celebrates the first of four goals on the night as the Vancouver Canucks defeat the Edmonton Oilers 8-1 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Wednesday. (courtesy of Vancouver Canucks)

“Pretty good.”

That was Brock Boeser’s comical response when asked where his confidence level was at after he scored four goals in the Vancouver Canucks 8-1 season-opening victory against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night at Rogers Arena.

When pressed on the question, Boeser talked about rededicating himself this past summer.

“I think I kind of got to that mindset again in the summer of just that I have got to be a better hockey player and really work hard. I came back and it continues each and every day” said Boeser, whose focus at times last year wasn’t there, and for good reason as his father Duke went through health issues before passing away on May 27, 2022.

“I have to have that same mindset tomorrow and the next practice and the next morning skate and I just got to keep it going. I think just changing the mindset and being really motivated helps a lot.”

Boeser’s four goals marked the 13th time a Canuck had achieved that feat – the last being Daniel Sedin on Feb. 24 in 2004 against Detroit.

“Probably bantam,” was Boeser’s response when asked the last time he scored four goals in a game.

Boeser told us afterwards that he thought he had a record-setting fifth when presented with a nice opportunity in third period but he failed to capitalize.

All in all, it was a complete team win from the Canucks with just about everyone contributing at some point in some way, shape or form.

“I thought the guys managed the game. You know that’s something we’ve talked about. We had a really good game plan and I thought our guys stuck to our game plan,” Canucks Head Coach Rick Tocchet said post-game.

Part of that plan was to somehow neutralize the Oilers high-octane attack featuring Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and the Canucks did so, with Draisaitl scoring the only goal of the night for Edmonton.

“We held the fort. It was a little rope-a-dope. Sometimes by playing in structure and giving them the outside and I thought some guys did a nice job in that,” replied Tocchet when questioned on how his team shut down the Oilers offense.

The game could have had a different outcome if the Canucks penalty kill unit hadn’t taken care of business when the game was still scoreless in the first period. Tyler Myers’ delay of game penalty five minutes into the game gave the Oilers an opportunity to jump out to an early lead but McDavid and company didn’t even get a sniff on the power play.

The PK came up big again at the start of the second period with J.T. Miller off for interference and the Canucks holding a 2-0 lead. The Canucks killed that penalty as well, and when Boeser scored two minutes later at 4:03 to make the score 3-0, the rout was on.

“It was huge. We all know how the PK has been the last few years and they’ve brought in some new guys. And I think you know last year we were trending in the right direction. I think we’ve picked up where we left off – it’s a really good power play over there – so kudos to them,” Boeser said of the unit which finished the game only allowing the Oilers one goal in four chances.

As for Tocchet and his staff enjoying the best-ever opening night win in franchise history, well that was short-lived.

“Hey, good win for us but I hate to say it but tomorrow it’s back to work. Even keel – we have to be. This game can turn on you quickly if you don’t respect it. So we’ll respect this game and a good effort and we’ll come in and work tomorrow,” Tocchet said, no doubt already starting to shift his focus to Saturday’s rematch in Edmonton.

OVERTIME

* Both Miller and Elias Pettersson scored once and added three assists.

Goaltender Thatcher Demko left the game midway through the third period due to dehydration. “He really didn’t want to come out but when he puked in his mask, I said you got to come out,” Tocchet said afterwards.

* Besides Boeser and Sedin, other Canucks to score four goals in a game include Markus Naslund (twice), Bobby Schmautz (twice), Pavel Bure, Martin Gelinas, Tony Tanti, Greg Adams, Petri Skriko, Rick Blight and Rosaire Paiement with Adams and Blight also achieving the feat on opening night. Adams tallied his four goals against the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 8, 1987 during an 8-2 win in Vancouver. Blight’s four goal effort was also in a season-opener on October 6th, 1976 in a 9-5 win in Pittsburgh. Ironically, Blight finished the night at -2.

* Hughes was honored as the 15th captain in team history in an on-ice pre-game ceremony featuring former captains Orland Kurtenbach, Stan Smyl, Trevor Linden and Henrik Sedin. The team also showed video messages from Naslund and Roberto Luongo.

* Due to salary cap issues, both teams only dressed 17 skaters.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media. And check out his weekly podcast every Monday at Today in B.C. or your local Black Press Media website.

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