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

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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…

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…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’