Canucks: Conor Garland will get final pre-season look on Elias Pettersson's wing

Within the last tuneup for the 2023-24 NHL season, Conor Garland is getting an enormous alternative.

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It appears like the ultimate audition for somebody to play left wing on Elias Pettersson’s line within the 2023 NHL pre-season can be Conor Garland.

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The inventive American winger was skating on Pettersson’s wing at Friday’s Vancouver Canucks morning skate, forward of the staff’s last pre-season contest in opposition to the Calgary Flames.

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With Ilya Mikheyev not but able to play — he as soon as once more skated Friday in a non-contact jersey — it’s been an open query who will play on Pettersson’s different wing, a task that’s about puck retrievals and all-around laborious skating off the puck.

To open the pre-season it was Nils Höglander lining up alongside Pettersson and Andrei Kuzmenko.

Then it was Anthony Beauvillier, who skated just a few occasions with Pettersson and Kuzmenko final season.

However on Friday evening in opposition to the Flames, it was Garland who acquired a glance, in a spot he’s stuffed from time-to-time.

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Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet tried to minimize the choice a little bit when he met with the media after the morning skate at Rogers Area, noting that each Pettersson and Kuzmenko had been coping with a minor virus this week (Pettersson missed two days of observe).

“Garly (Garland) as been a little bit little bit of a buzz noticed in coaching camp and I need to see possibly carry some life to that line,” Tocchet mentioned.

He is aware of Garland very nicely, having additionally coached him with the Arizona Coyotes.

Garland, after all, mentioned he relished the prospect to skate with two top-end gamers, however he’s completed that many occasions earlier than, going all the way in which again to his time in Arizona.

“They’re such elite gamers,” he mentioned of Kuzmenko and Pettersson. “I performed with Keller and Schmaltz in Arizona. These two (Pettersson and Kuzmenko) are very related within the kinds they play by way of lugging the puck, and the poise and talent they play with.

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“I perceive my function once I play with top-end gamers like that,” he mentioned, then laying the function out in easy phrases: forechecking laborious when his line didn’t have the puck and getting the puck to Pettersson and Kuzmenko in good spots.

Garland mentioned he simply needed to play a accountable recreation and wasn’t pondering a lot about the concept this could be an audition for an opening-night function. He had largely skated alongside Pius Suter on the third line thus far within the pre-season.

“I simply need to exit and play nicely,” he mentioned. “These two guys (Pettersson and Kuzmenko) play nicely with anybody.”

It’s additionally been a falling away of kinds for Höglander, who Tocchet spoke extremely of early within the pre-season. The top coach questioned if placing Höglander with Pettersson had prompted the little Swede to vary the way in which he must play a little bit bit.

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In Tocchet’s understanding of issues, Höglander must be a hustling, hard-working participant, one who’s relentless on the forecheck, able to retrieve free pucks.

A buzz noticed, in different phrases.

“I’ve seen a few of it however not sufficient consistency,” he mentioned. “It’s a little bit little bit of a numbers’ recreation with him. I need him to attempt to discover an id. I nonetheless acquired to get him to grasp his id proper now.”

Höglander will play, he might even nonetheless play subsequent Wednesday when the Canucks open their regular-season marketing campaign at residence in opposition to the Edmonton Oilers, Tocchet mentioned, however in the intervening time the coach is seeing extra from different winger choices.

Dakota Joshua, as an illustration, must be within the lineup, Tocchet mentioned. The burly winger was referred to as out by the top coach final week however is again in Tocchet’s good books and will characteristic on the Canucks’ third line, alongside centre Suter and Beauvillier, to open the season.

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BRISEBOIS BANGED UP: The Canucks nonetheless have 9 defencemen in camp. One is definite to go, although who it will likely be stays unclear. Guillaume Brisebois wasn’t on the ice Friday, however Tocchet mentioned he was coping with a knock he took in Wednesday’s recreation in opposition to the Seattle Kraken … Tocchet mentioned he hadn’t but determined if he would maintain seven or eight defencemen to start out the season. The opening evening roster must be set by Monday, which means any gamers who must be waived earlier than then have to be on waivers by Sunday morning.

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