Photo Credit: © Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

How The Canucks Can Utilize “The French Press” To Maximize Their Power Play

There are going to be two kinds of people at the beginning of this piece: the ones that are wondering “what on God’s green Earth is this guy talking about?” and the ones that are thinking “how does coffee play a role in the Canucks power-play success?” If I were you, I’d be taking a bit from column A and a bit from column B.

The Canucks are currently operating at a 24.7% success rate with the man advantage, which sound pretty great on the surface. Look a little closer however, and you’ll see they’re first in the NHL in power play opportunities with 85 but they’ve only scored 21 times. They opened the season 1/14 and up until this point has been shutout on the power play in 8 of their 21 games played.

Of course, adding Quinn Hughes to PP1 along with Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, and J.T. Miller makes for a dangerous unit on paper. Although Hughes has been a big reason Vancouver has managed to stay in the offensive zone or gain access to it without requiring a drop pass, there is a lot of work to do to get this power play running at maximum capacity.

Once the Canucks establish possession in the offensive zone they set up in a 1-3-1 / Umbrella hybrid-type formation. Here’s an example below:

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A team like the Washington Capitals employ 1-3-1 setup which usually culminates with Alex Ovechkin firing the final shot:

The overload formation is next which like the name sounds, overloads one side of the ice putting all the eggs in one basket.

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So seeing these two types of setups let’s look at the Canucks:

This one finished with Boeser scoring a hat-trick goal which was great, but the current setup has become predictable. When Vancouver gains the zone and gets ready to do their thing everyone knows the puck is essentially going to Boeser or Pettersson. They did switch sides and are playing in their proper spots now but that isn’t quite enough.

Quinn Hughes has patrolled the blue line with gusto but even he can’t do it all. Three-quarters of the “Core 4” keep the puck moving around the blue line but they haven’t been able to sustain maximum pressure from there. So how do they do that?

What I’m suggesting is ground-breaking stuff. It’s been seen nowhere else in the hockey world (that I could find anyway) and could be another tool for the Canucks in their quest to collapse every defensive unit in the league when they’re on the power play. I bring you…

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The French Press.


I’m not suggesting the Canucks skate to the bench, grab a glass jug and make some fresh coffee; I’m creating the next craze to take Vancouver by storm.

When the Canucks gain possession they’ll send Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller below the goal line on either side of the net, patrolling outside each part of the trapezoid.

From there, Pettersson and Boeser will run parallels on the half-walls with Quinn Hughes up top. Basically a pentagon formation.

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Side note: One problem the Canucks have had this season is that they don’t move the puck quick enough. When Radim Vrbata first got to Vancouver the Canucks moved the puck at lightning speeds and had the shot off rather quickly. It created scoring chances at the very least or rebounds beyond that. Right now, the Canucks aren’t even getting shots off on their first unit and by the time the PP2 comes out, there isn’t much time left to execute.

But back to the French Press. One of the three umbrella players needs to get the puck to Horvat or Miller to start the process. If you know how an actual french press works you’ll know you need the grounds at the bottom with a small amount of boiling water, stirred up, and then it sits for a minute.

Now, the Canucks don’t have a minute so this will need to be sped up. From there, Horvat or Miller will play catch with either Pettersson or Boeser until they’ve dragged a defender in enough that they can hit the other side of the net. At this point, the press begins with Pettersson and Boeser collapsing towards the net on the wings and finally Hughes in the middle.

This is where the french press takes place as the water (or puck) is moved towards the goal, pressing until one of the three players up top gets a shot off, hopefully culminating in a goal.

The key is having the players down low moving the puck back up to the wingers. Sure, this doesn’t leave anyone in front to screen but it also allows the puck to move a bit more freely, stretching out the defensive unit. Henrik and Daniel utilized the cycle and in a way, this is a modified, OK very modified version of the cycle.

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Alright, this isn’t exactly innovative but it’s an idea that could spark creativity with the man-advantage. Along with a catchy name like “The French Press” it could afford Antoine Roussel the opportunity to get some looks on the first unit… okay, maybe that’s going a bit too far.

All I’m saying is things are too predictable and the team needs something more dynamic than what they’ve used over their last stretch of games. If someone can convince Alex Edler to pass to Brock Boeser, suggesting an alternative to a semi-successful power-play isn’t too far-fetched.

Now, time for some coffee!