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Canucks brief playoff run rekindles passion for fans

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The Vancouver Canucks third-period comeback attempt came up one goal short in their 3-2 game-seven loss against the Edmonton Oilers.

Despite the team failing to advance past the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, fans brought passion back to Rogers Arena this spring – and the players felt it.

“I’ll tell you what, it hit me emotionally at the end of the game when they were cheering for us and clapping,” forward JT Miller said about the rousing send-off the team got after the game. “When you see that, you know you are in a good place, in a good market and it’s just the beginning of really good things here in the future.”

Picked to miss the playoffs altogether by most pre-season pundits, the plucky Canucks punched above their weight all season – winning the Pacific Division title, handily dispatching the Nashville Predators in the opening round, and pushing the talented Oilers to the brink of elimination.

“They played good. We didn’t expect them to get this far,” one fan told CTV News after the game. “It’s disappointing but they came back and they had a chance at the end.”

In his first full season behind the Canucks bench, head coach Rick Tocchet led his team to within one win of the conference finals.

"I told them before the game, they put respect back in that jersey and the city,” Tocchet said. “Fans have got something to be proud about and it's all because of the players."

The emergence of Arturs Silovs, who spent most of the season in the American Hockey League with the Abbotsford Canucks, as solid NHL netminder was one of the biggest stories of the Canucks playoff run.

Pressed into service after starter Thatcher Demko and backup Casey DeSmith went down with injuries, the 23-year-old Latvian rookie started 10 playoff games.

Silovs five wins in those matches actually put him in sixth place among Canucks goalies for all-time playoff wins.

"Arty played his ass off for us. What a playoff for that kid,” said Tocchet. “What about his growth? So, there's a lot of positives out of that."

With the sting of the painful loss still setting in, team captain Quinn Hughes had a hard time looking on the bright side.

"I'm sure in the coming days we'll look at it but it's hard to know what to say right now,” he said.

Outside the arena after the game, fans were sorry to see the post-season run come to an end, but proud of the way the team performed.

"They tried their best and that's all that matters,” one fan said.

“Better luck next year. We know what it takes now to win some series, so these guys are going to do it next year for us. Go Canucks Go!” added another.

For the first time in a long time, the city united behind the team – and heading into the off-season there is a real sense of optimism about what the future may hold.

  

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