Welcome to a new feature here on Canucks Army and all sites on the Nation Network: What Would You Do
Wednesday THURSDAY, where we put you, yes YOU, in charge of your own imaginary Vancouver Canucks. We’ll present you with a different scenario each week, and you tell us how you’d solve it in the comments section below. Give props to the answers you do like and trash the ones you don’t. Easy! So let’s get started:
Due to the Christmas season, this is our first What Would You Do post in a couple of weeks. In case you don’t remember, we asked you how to get Vancouver’s anemic powerplay going last time around, and as always you responded with some great ideas. The best one, as chosen by you, came courtesy of Waffles:
First of all, I’m happy with the PP personnel and think we have the players that can make some magic on the man advantage.
Vrbata needs to consider taking more one-timers. He usually settles the puck first before taking the shot. This allows the goaltender to reposition across the crease and be set for the shot. It also allows defenders to cycle over to the other side of the ice and position themselves to clear rebounds. It’s in this type of scenario that defenders typically gain puck possession and are able to clear the zone getting some fresh legs out on the ice.
Speaking of which, there are a low amount of rebound opportunities generated on the PP in its present state. A lot of PP goals are really dirty – unfortunately the Sedins naturally strive for clean, pretty goals. Put some bodies in front and start taking some more one timers. A little better positioning in the front of the net with a quicker release on the shot should generate more rebound opportunities where defenders and the goaltender are out of position. This increases the shooting percentage and will result in more goals.
The PP has still been generating some solid chances and only needs some minor tweaks to make it successful. It was a strong PP at the beginning of the season with the same personnel and I think it can get to that level again without any personnel changes.
The call for “dirtier” goals has been something that seems to have been repeated a lot of late as Vancouver’s offensive game seems to be drying up. Even though they’re still among the NHL’s best offensive teams, scoring an average of 2.89 goals for per game, their output saw a drop-off in December. Taking out the outlying performance against Arizona, Vancouver scored just two goals per game on average.
While it doesn’t begin and end with the Sedins (after all, Nick Bonino had half as many points as Derek Dorsett this past month), it’s worth pointing out that Henrik Sedin is currently carrying his lowest points/60 rate of his NHL career, and Daniel, while improved from last season, is also producing points at a rate lower than the average 1st line NHL forward. If the purpose of Radim Vrbata was to help get Daniel and Henrik’s offense back to pre-Torts levels, it simply hasn’t worked.
But the Canucks still have a trump card to play: Alex Burrows. Burrows skated on the fourth line against San Jose last game, helping Bo Horvat open the scoring through some hard work out front. He’s also the second most efficient scorer on the Canucks so far this season at 2.06 pts/60, and has traditionally worked well with the Sedins. The problem is whether the rest of Vancouver’s lineup is strong enough to withstand the loss of Burrows to a 1st line role.
Burrows’ impact on his centres can’t be understated. Other than Henrik Sedin, who he’s spent the least time with, Burrows has had a positive impact on the possession numbers of all three of Vancouver’s other centres. When sharing the ice with Burrows, Nick Bonino has seen a Corsi boost of +5.1%, Bo Horvat has seen a boost of +11.9%, and Brad Richardson also benefits, seeing a boost of +1.5%. In short, Burrows is a guy who takes teammates getting routinely outplayed and allows them to outplay the opposition.
So what would you do with Alex Burrows? Do you bite the bullet one way and play him with the Sedins in hopes to summon more scoring from them in the form of some good ol’ fashioned hard work and grit? Or do you bite the bullet the other and keep your other nine forwards’ heads above water? Let us know in the comments below!