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WWYDW: The Power Play

The Canucks’ power play was an area of strength last year. They finished the season with a conversion rate of 21.4%, good for ninth overall in the league. This year, that figure has dropped to 19.2, good for just 18th overall. The addition of Elias Pettersson this season should theoretically be a boon to their ability to create offense on the man advantage, but the absence of Alex Edler has hurt them more than one might expect. In his place, we’ve seen a lot of Derrick Pouliot and Ben Hutton, with varying results. Who would you like to see man the first unit in Alex Edler’s absence?

Last week I asked: Where would you play Virtanen in a healthy lineup?


Several people, myself included, answered this last week, and I’ll stick with last week’s answer. I’d bounce Virtanen between Horvat’s wing and the third line wing (whether that’s Gaudette or Sutter), based on his play and Eriksson’s play. I imagine that’s exactly what Green’s going to do, too.


So long as Boeser is a Canuck Jake will become a highly respectable top 6/ 2nd line RW and quite soon. Presently Loui and Virtanen are interchangeable on the second and third lines according to what Green may require for any given situation. Jake was a special project for this club and Travis Green wasn’t exactly Barney to him in Utica…and it seems to be working. Fans wanted immediacy with JV#18 and his performance and I get it. After all he just turned 22 and am glad for him.


If and when this team is truly a Stanley Cup contender, Jake should be playing in the third line with Gaudette and someone like Lind on a versatile line that can shutdown, be a spark, and contribute offensively.


I see Virtanen as someone whose production is stronger off the rush than pretty cycles or tic-tac-toe passing plays holding possession in the zone.

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Stylistically I think Boeser is a better fit for Eriksson. Virtanen’s strength off the rush fits better with Horvat or even Sutter. His recent production may suffer from being a small sample but unless and until it dries up I’d be inclined to avoid putting him with Beagle or Gaudette at center unless there is reason to do it in a defensive situation.

Line combinations don’t remain static but with that proviso, as things are right now I’d play him with Horvat.

Defenceman Factory:

Virtanen should be tried on a line with Horvat. Both are strong, fast and tenacious. Getting consistently matched against the same D pair over a game will wear down defencemen. Baertschi can take LW.

Virtanen’s offensive abilities have out grown the strictly shut down roll. Playing with Sutter does/will repress his offensive upside. Boeser is a better winger for Pettersson. Virtanen’s style of play is not a great match for Pettersson. He isn’t scoring with Virtanen on his line and Virtanen’s goals aren’t coming from Pettersson set-ups. He scores off the rush and on the 2nd unit PP. Not sure EP even has an assist on a Big Tuna goal.

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Goldobin has done well at times on a line with Pettersson and Boeser but if his giveaways continue or he reverts to passenger mode move Ericksson or Granlund onto that LW.

Robson Street:

Looking at who’s controlling shots at 5v5 is revealing.

Believe it or not, Goldobin and Pettersson move from fair to excellent in outshooting the opposition when Virtanen has joined their line (only 34 minutes though). To me that says that Virtanen might be a victim of bad timing, getting an audition just as Pettersson’s unsustainable hot streak is ending.

The other interesting centre (in a small sample) is Gaudette. They’ve also controlled the shots at 5 on 5 together.

In contrast, Virtanen hasn’t moved the needle one way or the other when playing with Horvat this year.

If Jake is going, I’d goose his minutes and play him up with Pettersson. On other nights, play him with Gaudette.

(Source: hockeyviz WOWY charts)


I think playing with Bo is a no brainer. EP plays a cerebral game that requires passing as an option. Jake would get a few break always because of EPS passing and Jakes speed, but Bo plays a fast rush game with strength. That’s Jake’s jam!

  • Kanuckhotep

    The Petey/Brock/Edler/Goldobin/Bo configuration once all healthy seems to be Green’s choices for PP unit#1. And you’d have at least Gagner and Hutton for the second unit with a cast of others. (Take your choice) One of these days the Canucks will get a 5 min major penalty PP or 4 min double minor and see them light ‘em up then. To my knowledge hasn’t happened this season. And, yes, no Pouliot on the PP anymore IMO.

    • Gino's 3rd Cousin

      His shot is about as threatening as Tanev’s. Otherwise he is pretty good at distributing the puck…I would start him with the second unit and see where that goes.

  • crofton

    Hutton has proven that he can dish the perfect pass to Elias for his one timers. Edler could never get that pass in the right spot, either for Elias or Brock. He’s a keeper.

  • Defenceman Factory

    Right now it is Hutton.

    Poulliot had his chance but his error rate is just too high. How does Hutton compare to Edler on the powerplay, SOG, zone time etc.?

  • bmg01

    I definitely think that Hutton deserves to be on the first line PP. He had the primary assist on both of Pettersson’s PP goals against Montreal and Winnipeg and has proven that he can make those perfect passes right into the wheelhouse of players. Can’t wait to see the PP once Boeser gets back. Any defenseman should be able to do good with both of them to their side.