Canucks’ power play needs to disrupt the box

Alex Burrows is open. Get him the puck!

Two major problems from Wednesday: the Canucks were dominated in the slot at even strength and they also lost the powerplay battle. The Canucks’ struggles with the man advantage have been evident for some time, but one thing stood out in Game 1: they aren’t doing enough to penetrate the Kings’ defensive structure.

Read on past the jump.

Think about Alex Burrows’ first period goal. Though scored at even strength, Burrows did exactly what the Canucks need to do more of. He got himself into the slot, in between the Kings’ defenders and created confusion as a result.

In many ways, this picture shows a good approximation of a power play set up. Even at even strength, we can see the Kings want to keep the Canucks to the outside. Take away the man checking Henrik in the corner, and we see a lineup that is almost the Canucks’ first unit. Alex Burrows found the soft space between the Kings’ defenders. (This is the shot that created the rebound for his goal.)

Shots from the slot will be the key in tonight’s game. Getting the puck into the middle, and directing it on net must be the Canucks’ key offensive focus.

The Canucks generated just three chances in their five power play opportunities. The second unit managed one (a borderline chance off a shallow Dan Hamhuis points shot) in the Canucks’ second man advantage of the game, and the first unit managed a pair in the fourth power play chance, midway through the third period. It was remarkable how high-leverage each powerplay opportunity was. The first came just two minutes in, providing the Blue and Green with a chance to blow the doors off the game. Instead, nothing.

The second powerplay the Canucks received, had they capitalized, would have given the Canucks a 2-0 lead. Against a team like LA, which had trouble all year coming back, this would have shifted things dramatically. Instead, the Kings killed off the penalty and managed to tie things up just minutes later when the Canucks got themselves into penalty trouble.

Powerplay number 3 was early in the second. The Canucks played very poorly in the first, lacking discipline and fortunate to be still tied. A goal to start off the middle frame, again, would have altered the game’s focus. Again, this Canucks power-play produced bupkus in the way of scoring chances.

Powerplay number 4’s failure was especially hard to take because the team started the period off so well. It was another early-period opportunity wasted, with no threats to be found.

The last power play came later, with the game still knotted. The game was tight, with just a handful of chances each way. It’s a cliche to say that a goal here would have been vital, but it is also the truth.

Even looking at ESPN’s shot tracker shows us the difference in the two teams’ games. The Canucks need to get to the net.


The Canucks’ shots in the Kings end? There’s a dearth from the slot, especially when you see how many shots the Kings got off in the Canucks’ end.

Bottom line, the Canucks need to get into the middle of the Kings’ penalty kill, disrupting the Kings’ disciplined approach if they want to generate chances and offense.