Video: Winning hockey games ‘comes down to battles,’ says Torts


John Tortorella didn’t want to get himself in trouble with the league on his first official day as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, but in a question-and-answer period with fans, he did admit when presented with the following question…


…that “it was pretty much wide open as far as letting them play” in the postseason.

The officiating in the playoffs – no matter how many times the NHL says the standard doesn’t change — has been a long-running complaint in Vancouver, particularly of general manager Mike Gillis, who sat beside Tortorella for the Q&A.

So…taking into account the way the game is called and played in the postseason, and perhaps knowing that complaining has gotten the Canucks nowhere, what’s the solution for a team that’s had plenty of regular-season success, but so far has fallen short of its Stanley Cup aspirations?

“Everybody wants the offense,” said Tortorella. “I don’t think there’s one coach in this league that does not want that offense. Everybody wants that. It’s sometimes hard. The way teams defend, the way they pack the middle of the ice. It’s sometimes hard.

“You better make sure, as you’re trying to create that offense, that you’re also doing the things away from the puck, and protecting the puck, and doing the stuff on the walls.

“That’s a big part of winning hockey games consistently, is that puck – going to get it, protecting it, and when you’re in your own end zone, or in the neutral zone, make sure you’re protecting it so it doesn’t enter.

“That comes down to battles.”

Gillis, not surprisingly, concurred.

“Absolutely, 100 percent,” he said. “We need to strike that balance between defensive play and offensive play. We have good offensive players here, but we also have good defenders and we have great goaltending.

“I think when you look at the regular-season games, they are different games as you move through the first round of the playoffs, the second round, the third round, the Stanley Cup Final.

“I agree with John totally – we need to prepare throughout the course of the season for what’s going to happen in the postseason. And to do that, you need accountability, you need consistency, you need to ensure that work ethic is there every day, and that’s what we intend to do.”

Related: Canucks GM Gillis still likes ‘an upbeat, fast style of play’

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.

Canucks say Markstrom (hamstring) out another week — could it be longer?

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Bit of uncertainty out of Vancouver regarding the health of backup goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Markstrom, a late drop from the Canucks’ 5-1 opening-night win over Calgary, has suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him sidelined for another week, the club announced on Thursday.

With Markstrom out, backup duties will stay with AHL call-up Richard Bachman, who served as Ryan Miller‘s No. 2 on Wednesday.

Now, the focus turns to how long Bachman keeps those duties.

Per a Sportsnet report, Markstrom could miss up to three weeks of action with his injury. If that’s the case, Bachman will almost certainly be called into action; the Canucks will play eight games in 17 nights starting with Saturday’s home-opener against the Flames, which includes back-to-backs in Los Angeles and Anaheim on Oct. 12 and 13.

It would be asking a lot of the No. 1, 35-year-old Ryan Miller, to shoulder that entire load.

Bachman does have some NHL experience, with nearly 50 games to his credit. That includes a 3-2-0 record with the Oilers last year, in which he posted a 2.84 GAA and .911 save percentage.