west coast express

Canucks Power Play: Insert Coin To Continue

Oh great, another Canucks power play article, super!

Things have unraveled so quickly on the man-advantage that coach Travis Green has regressed to running three units with the Sedins still being trotted out on the regular. The obvious answer early on was to get Brock Boeser the puck in a shooting position. Green has committed to putting Bo Horvat, Boeser and Sven Baertschi on his top line but it doesn’t carry over to the power play.

Like a classic game of NHL Open ice, the Canucks are going to need to put a few more tokens in the machine to continue this game.

 

Obviously, the Canucks don’t have snipers like Pavel Bure and Alex Mogilny but at least back then the coaches knew what do with them. Across the league, the top teams on the PP have dedicated gunners from “the spot” as Jeff Paterson labeled it a week or so ago. The Canucks have seen a few of these teams set up the guy on the spot, namely the Dallas Stars and Tyler Seguin.

The top powerplay producers in the league have players put in a position to score. Dallas, Tampa, New York, Pittsburgh, and Winnipeg are all in the top-five for power play percentages. Their stars Steven Stamkos, Alex Ovechkin, Patrik Laine, and the aforementioned Seguin all have schemes set up to get them the puck. How Green hasn’t figured out he already has a guy, actually a few if you include Thomas Vanek and probably Bo Horvat as well.

It’s not for a lack of opportunity either; the Canucks are three chances back of Chicago for most powerplay opportunities in the league, a dramatic improvement from a year ago where they had 25 fewer chances at this same point in the season. What seems to be hampering their chances is their inability to keep the puck in the offensive zone for longer than the initial zone entry and even then half the time it looks like a dump and chase.

Back in the day, the Sedins would cross the blue line, make their quick drop pass to the other twin and begin their cycle until the puck found its way to the back of the net. When the West Coast Express was rolling over opponents, Brendan Morrison would setup Markus Naslund at the face-off dot and pull the trigger which either went in the net directly or Todd Bertuzzi would clean up the garbage.

This new Canucks team has a few weapons that have proven to be deadly when configured properly. At the beginning of the season, it was all about quick passes and keeping the puck moving. When defenders get enough time to set up their blocks they have a better chance of… well, blocking the shot or worse, clearing it down the ice.

What the Canucks need to do is have a triangle offense where Boeser and Vanek are the face-off dot shooters, a middleman, say Horvat and a guy who can hold the line on defense which would probably be Alex Edler? Have as much potential firepower as possible on that first unit and build a complementary transition group that can maintain that speed.

Unless Green catches lightning in a bottle with Loui Eriksson or Sam Gagner, they should be nowhere near that powerplay. Gagner is too predictable, much like the Sedins are now, so having a possession-based second unit with Brandon Sutter, Michael Del Zotto and Ben Hutton as the set pieces at least until Troy Stecher returns. Markus Granlund could probably be used in there as well as Sven Baertschi and use the Sedins as a last ditch effort if things aren’t going well at all.

Seeing the Canucks’ powerplay opportunities grow is all the more reason to input the young players instead of watching a two-minute snoozer with the old guard.

Video games have a pause and a reset button, arcades make you put in more coins when you’re losing; the Canucks need to pause and reset their approach if they want to have any kind of success when they draw a penalty.

Sadly, there are no cheat codes in real life.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

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Sedins And Hansen: The New… West Coast Express – A Hot Taek

 

Its been a long time since someone has given a Canucks line a catchy name. We had the Mattress Line, Kid Line, Brothers line (but we won’t talk about that one because honestly, who came up with that one), KLM line, That 70’s line and American Express among others. Some of those aren’t even Canucks ones but after a few I realized Canucks fans aren’t that clever, they’ve also had a ton of unexciting players to name together. But there is one line that stands out above them all: The West Coast Express – Naslund, Morrison and Bertuzzi made up one of the greatest, most productive lines of all time even better than Gretzky, Kurri and Larionov. 

But that was a long time ago, over 10 years in fact, so isn’t it time to recharge that line with NEW members? Henrik and Daniel Sedin are very deserving of a new line name and with Jannik Hansen platooned on the other wing he has received a new lease on life and is producing as a true Sedin winger. Its been such a long time since the West Coast Express that many new fans don’t even remember the first one. What a great way to bring fans full circle.

Crazy idea? Probably. But think of the marketability. SEDINS NEW WEST COAST EXPRESS!!! Forget Naslund and Bertuzzi, these guys are as old as the train itself and still produce nightly. Just like the REAL West Coast Express, you’ll never lose your hat when the Sedins are rolling. Need a rest? Henrik and Daniel are there to carry the load while you get some much needed relaxation, sadly if you are playing on any line but theirs, that means you are stapled to the bench.

It’s not all about the Sedins though, Jannik Hansen brings his own trademark style to the rejuvenated line – like Naslund and Bertuzzi, Hansen is no stranger to breakaways; however Jannik is more like Skytrain than the WCE – frequent in-explainable power outages that result in long delays, in his case scoring. But fear not new West Coast Express followers, now that Hansen is on the top line, his production has never been better and at age 29 he’s well on his way to his best season ever!

This is nothing new to you though, you all have seen how well these three play together. In an article by Jason Botchford of The Province he echoes why the Sedins and Hansen just make sense. Or you could look at my last hurrah why they should be cemented together for the foreseeable future. Would it be smart to reboot the mid 2000’s “West Coast Express”? I say yes and if I’m wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

At 35, the Sedins are still a draw if you have any sense in you and if we get this thing trending on the twitter it can get legs. I mean, jeez #TweetDanielaHat trended. How vain are we? It was a great hashtag and the Bulis Boys know how to unknowingly create a trend.

The Canucks are not playing their greatest hockey right now and a welcome distraction is needed and renaming the Sedins/Hansen line is just that distraction. I’ve seen the hilites: we don’t throw hats, we start the wave when we’re losing and we DON’T THROW FREAKING HATS!!!! If we can’t muster up enough courage to do anything remotely productive, like a 16 year old in his parents basement blogging …….

…or on his latest 36 hour Fallout 4 bender, then lets bring back something that quite frankly we all used to love. Hank and Dank aren’t Nazzy and Bert but when it comes about excitement, real fans know how exciting these guys are and I would say they are definitely on par with that line in a slightly different shell.

So even though you are thinking this –

By Manny Mahal

You’re still seeing this pretty regularly –

By rapturjesuss

Henrik, Daniel and Jannik – your NEW West Coast Express.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four ……….if you still think I’m alive after this article.