Coach Tocchet takes his hat off for B.C.’s Canucks fans

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Vancouver Canucks coach Rick Tocchet was talking up the Rogers Arena faithful Monday morning before the Game 7 showdown against the Edmonton Oilers, suggesting that if there was a “Stanley Cup for the fans” that the Canucks backers would be “right up there.”

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He pointed specifically to the fans chanting the names of players like Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller, Conor Garland and Arturs Silovs.

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Game 7 is tonight, with a 6 p.m. start. The Oilers had their crowd behind them in 5-1 win Saturday in Edmonton that knotted the series at 3-3.

“It pumps the guys up,” Tocchet said of the cheering section. “Does it gives us an advantage? I don’t know. It sure gives you some more juice as a player.

“I knew they were great fans but I didn’t experience this. Around town and stuff, it’s pretty special. I felt it during the regular season but it’s a different level.”

Tocchet had a decorated 18-year NHL career as a player. He played in big games galore. He talked Monday morning about seeing “some unreal players play unreal,” mentioning Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. He was an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins during their Stanley Cup runs with Sidney Crosby.

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“They’re good players but they come from nowhere and they do something. That’s who you look for, too. Whether it’s Edmonton or us there’s going to be a guy — a role player — who will be a big key tonight. I don’t know who it’s going to be but there’s potential for a lot of guys to be that guy.”

Canucks veteran defenceman Tyler Myers has played in three Game 7s in his 15-year career, and says that his advice for younger teammates who haven’t played in something like this is “to be excited and leave it all out there.”

“It’s Game 7. It’s the best game in hockey,” said Myers, 34. “Our team has some guys who have had some experience in a game like this and they’re a lot of fun. It’s a great time of year. It’s down to a one-game series and we’ve very excited.

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“The fans have been unbelievable. I still think about the first game against Nashville. Stepping on the ice gave me chills. I’ve been telling family members who haven’t been able to get out that they have to get to a game in Vancouver because it’s different. To have the fans behind us tonight is going to be great for us.

“It’s going to be tight out there. It’s going to be hard hockey. You have to be ready for it to be hard.”

Tocchet, Myers and winger Dakota Joshua all talked about how a Game 7 is a tricky balancing act. Tocchet, in particular, mentioned how it was important that the Canucks stick to their systems and staples that have made them successful all year. Joshua admitted at the same time that tonight could be “the biggest moment of most of our lives.”

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“In the back of your head, you know it’s just another hockey game. Nothing is going to be different out there than all the other games you’ve played before,” Joshua, 28, added. “Obviously the magnitude is bigger and what’s on the line is the most important.

“It’s a situation that every athlete wants to be in and it should make for great memories.”


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