Canucks coach addresses underdog narrative before Oilers series

The Vancouver Canucks are one step away from the 2024 Western Conference Final. In their way is one of the most high-powered offensive teams in the NHL. Rick Tocchet and his team are taking on Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Entering this series, the Oilers are likely the favorites to move on. Edmonton has two of the best players in the world in McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. They also dominated the Los Angeles Kings in five games during the first round. Being the underdog is nothing new to the Canucks, though.

Many did not expect the Canucks to make the playoffs this season, which Tocchet acknowledged on Sunday. There were doubts they could defeat the Nashville Predators, as well. Nashville entered the Stanley Cup Playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the league. Still, Vancouver sent them home.

Tocchet told the media on Sunday that he does not mind being the underdog. “I love being doubted,” the Canucks coach said, via after an optional skate. “I just think we kind of like that underdog role and I think players should embrace it, I really do.”

Rick Tocchet addresses the doubters

Vancouver Canucks celebrate the win against the Nashville Predators during game six of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Rick Tocchet continued to address those who doubt his team on Sunday. His team had question marks around their legitimacy as contenders all season long. Now, the Canucks head coach certainly isn’t letting those question marks die off in the wind.

“At the start of the year, if you asked, ‘Is Vancouver going to make the playoffs?’ A lot of people said no or a bubble team. So, we were underdogs there. As the season went on, when are they going to fall? Now, same thing,” Tocchet pointed out, via, when he spoke to the media on Sunday.

The team certainly still has some doubters heading into this matchup with the Oilers. Still, Rick Tocchet and his team are not going into this blind. This is the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and a trip to the Western Conference Final is on the line. The Canucks head coach and his players are confident in themselves ahead of Game 1.

Canucks understand gravity of Oilers matchup

Vancouver began the season as one of the best teams in the NHL. Edmonton, though, had the complete opposite start. They began the 2023-24 campaign in nightmarish fashion. In fact, their poor performance led to the firing of head coach Jay Woodcroft in November.

The coaching change breathed new life into Edmonton, however. They went on a 16-game winning streak at one point during the regular season. And they gave Vancouver a bit of a fight for the Pacific Division title. “They shatter records. It’s a different team and they just got off to a bad start early,” Tocchet said of the Oilers, via

All that said, the Canucks feel no pressure to make major changes. Their current style of play got them into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And they feel as if this style can help them take on the Oilers in this second-round matchup.

“You could talk about playing defense and shutting whoever down, but when we play Canucks hockey, we’re in your face and play in their end more than in our own,” Canucks star J.T. Miller said, via “You’re not going to eliminate all the looks when you play a guy like Connor, but we’ve proven this year when we focus and play our game and worry about ourselves, we can have the results. So, try to keep it 5-on-5 and bear down and win your 1-on-1 battles. The message doesn’t really change.”

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