JPat: Canucks’ power play revival needs to start with more shots

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
4 months ago
No team in the National Hockey League has spent more time on the power play over the past eight games than the Vancouver Canucks. And that checks out, considering 23 of the last 24 chances with the man-advantage have failed to yield a goal. So the Canucks toil away for the full two minutes with next to nothing to show for their efforts. The Canucks power play is in a funk. It’s moved past simply struggling, it’s now costing the hockey club points in the standings and is one of the reasons the Canucks are on their first three-game losing streak of the season and have just three wins in their last eight outings.
Last night in Denver, the Canucks had a power play with 6:39 remaining in what was a 2-1 game at the time. Not only did the Canucks not score the equalizer, they generated just one shot on goal with their first unit staying out for the full two minutes.
Saturday against Winnipeg, the Canucks had the only power play of the third period and it came with the game tied 2-2. Again, the Canucks did nothing with the opportunity before the Jets pulled away to win 4-2.
Track back to a game last week in Washington with the score once again tied 2-2 and the Capitals put a puck over the glass with under four minutes to play. You know where this story is going. Another power play with a chance to win a hockey game, and another opportunity to put the game away that went by the wayside (although the Canucks did manage to win that game in overtime).
The day before in Detroit, with the game tied 3-3 in the third, the Canucks had a power play with under 10 minutes to play. Nothing doing. And the Wings ended up winning that game in overtime.
So there’s the overall issue of a power play that has gone ice cold, but in isolation there have been a number of chances for this team to figure it out and convert in crunch time.
Add it all up, and the Canucks are one for their last 24 chances over the past eight games. It’s a stretch that started with a 4-0 loss in Boston where the Bruins scored a pair of short-handed goals in the first period. So over the past eight games, not only is the Canucks power play floundering at 4.2% it’s a net minus one – scoring once and giving up a pair.
Hardly inspiring stuff.
JT Miller has the team’s lone power play marker over these past eight games. It came in the second period of Monday’s 10-7 disaster in Minnesota. Prior to that Elias Lindholm scored a pair with the man-advantage in Carolina in his first game with the Canucks. But since then it has been hard to watch the Canucks operate when the other team takes a penalty.
Brock Boeser leads the club with 12 power play goals on the season followed by Elias Pettersson with 10. Neither has scored with the man-advantage since a 5-4 overtime victory against Columbus on January 27th.
But more than the lack of goals, it’s a lack of shots on the power play that seems to be plaguing the hockey club lately. Last night in Colorado, the Canucks had one shot on each of their two opportunities with the man-advantage. Ilya Mikheyev had one in the second period and Elias Pettersson tried to jam a puck past Alexandar Georgiev on the third period misadventure.
Over the eight games and the 1 for 24 struggle, the Canucks have managed 46 shots in 47:02 of power play time. So that’s less than a shot per minute of power play time or fewer than two shots per power play. And 12 of those shots came in Saturday’s loss to Winnipeg where the power play generated a number of good looks, but couldn’t beat Connor Hellebuyck. Other than that, however, there’s been very little action around the opposing net when the Canucks are up a man.
Of the team total since February 8th, JT Miller has 14 of the shots on goal (on 17 attempts). The rest of the team has combined for a total of 32. Brock Boeser has seven power play shots (on 11 attempts) over that span. Elias Pettersson has six on eight attempts. Perhaps most concerning is the fact that Quinn Hughes has just one shot on goal and only three attempts – and the one shot came in Boston at the start of this troubling stretch. So the captain has gone seven games now without getting a power play shot through from the point.
As teams adapt to what the Canucks have done for much of the season, it’s on the Canucks to make the necessary changes that will allow them to find power play success once again. They will surely encounter more situations like last night down the stretch and into the playoffs where a power play goal in crunch time could be the difference in the outcome. 
Instead of passing around the perimeter waiting for things to open up, the Canucks need to figure out ways to move the puck quickly and when opportunities present themselves this group needs to be more willing to pull the trigger. 
The Canucks certainly have enough talent on their top unit to make the power play a weapon – and at times this season it has been. But right now that group is shooting itself in the foot by not shooting pucks on net.

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