Skip to content

THE MOJ: Canucks have to screen out noise as they continue to earn the day

There is plenty of reason to believe this Canuck team is for real
Vancouver’s Nils Hoglander celebrates with teammate Dakota Joshua after a goal during the game against the Arizona Coyotes Thursday night at Rogers Arena. Joshua’s goal late in the second period would give the Canucks a 2-1 win over the visitors. Vancouver Canucks photo

As the Canucks embark on the second half of the season, the noise is going to get louder.

No, we’re not talking noise as in the roar of approval the 19,005 in attendance at Rogers Arena on Thursday night gave the Canucks after they defeated the Arizona Coyotes by a score of 2-1.

We are talking about the noise away from the rink.

As the Canucks continue to defy pre-season predictions and meet every challenge in front of them, more and more people are noticing on a league-wide scale - whether it be fans or the media.

With that comes a lot of attention and pressure.

For most of the players on this team, it’s uncharted territory.

The only meaningful games that the likes of Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Thatcher Demko have played in was in 2020 when Vancouver was part of the NHL bubble in Edmonton due to the Covid epidemic. The three playoff rounds that Canucks participated in were in the cold and sterile environment of Rogers Place with no fans attending and obviously no travel taking place.

Of the current core group, only J.T. Miller has some true playoff experience, participating in the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals with Tampa Bay.

If the Canucks want continued success, this group will have to remain focused which reminds me of a great story that Troy Aikman once told us about his Dallas Cowboys and his first-ever Super Bowl appearance with America’s Team against the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII.

At the start of that week, Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson walked into the locker room with a 2x4, threw out on the floor, and then asked how many players could walk across it. Of course, every player raised his hand. Johnson then asked who would walk across the same 2x4 if it was between two buildings ten stories high. Needless to say, there weren’t as many hands being raised.

“You’ve been walking across this 2x4 all year long,” Johnson proclaimed. “Block everything else out and just keep doing what you are doing.”

If the Canucks are going to continue at the level at which they are playing at, they will need to adhere to that principle.

“I’m at the stage now where can this be a special team. I’ve heard that word special. To be a special team, you have to do special things. That means discipline and (sticking to) the staples. We have to do those things consistently to be special. You come to the rink and don’t feel like practicing but special teams do. You have to do extraordinary things to be a special team. We are trying to strive for that,” Tocchet explained.

What does bode well for this Canucks team is that it hasn’t bought into any of the hype of how good they are and is a group that continues to stay in the moment.

The players don’t look back nor do they look toward the future – it’s only about today according to Pettersson.

“That’s all we can focus on and dictate - what we do today. I think the coaching staff has done a very good job with that and with the culture,” he noted.

Tocchet and his staff coined the expression ‘earn the day’ during training camp and that mantra will be tested as the games become bigger and the noise becomes louder.

“I guess that’s just down to the individual. We talk all the time about being day-to-day. Nothing has changed. We feel like our record is 0-0 - we go into every period like it’s 0-0. I think it’s a great mindset for our group and it’s worked for the most part for us. We’re happy where we are at. It’s everything we worked for in the summer yet at the same time we haven’t achieved nothing yet. We’re not a satisfied group,” said Miller.

“There has to be a maturity level…being a professional…knowing what to expect from yourself and your teammates and also just focusing on what you need to do which is just doing your job,” added Hughes.

As we mentioned in a previous column, this hockey club has a new mindset and if you ever need more proof of it, all you had to do was talk to some of them about the recent Eastern road trip in which the Canucks went 5-1-1.

“I think the thing with me is that I feel like we should have won every game. We should have gone 7-0,” said Hughes, who went on to refer to how they could have won the first game in St. Louis and the last one in Columbus.

“After that St. Louis game, no one was happy and we were all pretty pissed off but I thought we had a really good bounce back game (against New Jersey) and that kind of built that little win streak from there,” added Boeser.

Tocchet is happy with the approach his team is taking but is even happier that it’s originating from the players themselves.

“Guys were happy (about the trip) but I didn’t see guys pounding their chest. Guys were like ‘great win but we’ve got to do this tomorrow.’ It’s that mantra right now, and honestly, it’s not like we’re pounding it down their throat. They’ve taken that over. It’s a very even keel team,” said Tocchet.

“Any time we lose, we try and learn from what mistakes we made in that game and try and be better in the next game. I just feel we have guys that aren’t satisfied with winning one and losing one. We just want to continue to win and keep driving the bus,” noted Boeser.


* Pettersson and Dakota Joshua scored for the Canucks while ex-Canuck Travis Dermott notched the only Arizona goal in a somewhat chippy affair that featured a fight between Vancouver’s Nikita Zadorov and Arizona’s Liam O’Brien.

* Boeser was pretty giddy about his Green Bay Packers destroying the Dallas Cowboys 48-32 in the NFL playoffs last weekend. His enthusiasm was quickly tempered when asked how the Packers could beat the San Francisco 49ers this Saturday. “Oh boy,” he paused. “I think the Packers should pray…and hope that (Christian) McCaffrey doesn’t show up that day.” As big of a Packer fan as he is, Boeser has never made the pilgrimage to Lambeau Field because of the obvious conflict but insists it’s on his bucket list.

* Montreal Canadiens Director of Pro Scouting Eric Crawford took in the game Monday night. The younger brother of former Canucks head coach Marc Crawford, Eric Crawford spent 16 seasons in the Canucks organization in several roles before moving to the Habs and is now based in his hometown of Belleville, Ontario.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media.

READ MORE: Joshua nets winner, Canucks beat Coyotes 2-1 for sixth win in seven games

READ MORE: THE MOJ: Success of gruelling road trip more evidence Canucks are for real

Black Press Media Staff

About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

Read more