Much like the two men in this photo, the Canucks powerplay was once very productive. Gone are the days of the booming shot from the point by Sami Salo, a monolith in front of the net in the form of Todd Bertuzzi, the snipe from the top of the face off circles by Markus Naslund or heck, Henrik and Daniel Sedin just cycling their way to an easy goal. What started fairly hot this season with Hank, Danny and the VRB; has turned into nothing more than a fun exercise in passing. The Canucks PP is in serious need of a recharge.
As of Wednesday Dec 10, Vancouver was ranked 16th on the PP at a 18.3% clip. With 3 PP markers in the first two games, the tease of something finally working again was easy to buy into. Radim Vrbata fit in quite nicely as the final play when the Sedin’s were done goofin around with the puck and adding ex Los Angeles Kings AHL star Linden Vey to the first unit had an immediate impact. Had we figured it out, was the farce over? No it wasn’t actually; but the positive start gave us something to work back to.
Amazing how these two are related isn’t it? You can sense the bitterness built up from years of failure, false hope and pure unadulterated anger. Considering games are won and lost in the playoffs on special teams, you’d figure that would be a key focus point. We remember the good days of being spoiled with Nazzy, Bert, Morrison and Salo. They just made it look so flipping easy.
When you look at the Capitals power play, they have it figured out; they have Alex Ovechkin at the blue line and everyone’s job is to essentially get him the puck so he can blast it into the net. It’s worked pretty well too! They’re 2nd in the league with a 28.8% success rate. Not bad. Ovie has 6 goals thus far with the extra man and my guess is that climbs higher.
In 2010/2011, Vrbata had 10 power play goals, he’s at 5 already this year. Maybe they need to tweek how they setup and have him at the blue line. His shot is so hard and when it’s up close it takes more work for him to get that final pass. Set him up like Ovechkin and let it rip. Get Linden Vey down low with the Twins or at least work him into a position where Vrbata can set up at the back.
They aren’t reinventing the wheel here folks, there have been proven ways to make the power play work. It usually starts with the faceoff, so maybe throw in Bo Horvat as an experiment, his focus at the dots is amazing and who knows, maybe he can turn it up. But that just gets the first unit going.
When the A team doesn’t get it done, there isn’t an answer behind door #2. Sure, its a bit of a case of yips but there needs to be the same hustle and dedication as the first group. Nick Bonino, Alex Burrows and Chris Higgins have been criticized lately for their lack of well, anything. Clearly everyone can see that Brad Richardson, Jannik Hansen and Shawn Matthias are blowing up on the radar so give them their due and blend them in.
Burrows may have hit his production wall and could easily be on the decline so if it IS broke, fix it. Have Bonino, Richardson and Higgins as a unit. Chris Tanev can help but maybe its the whole setup that’s wrong. There is a fix here and all the armchair coaches have their opinions. Go back to the strengths and just exploit them. This Canucks team has a lot to offer still, they just need to find their way….maybe tomorrow would be nice.