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JPat: Inexplicable power outage on power play one of main reasons Canucks’ fun run is over

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
24 days ago
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Oh, what a power play goal might have done for the Vancouver Canucks. As the dust settles on a series and a season that ended on Monday night at Rogers Arena, it’s impossible to think about much other than the power outage suffered by the Canucks power play as their tightly-contested series against Edmonton reached its conclusion.
In the end, the Canucks failed to score with the man advantage over the final four games against the Oilers. That point was hammered home by the fact Monday’s game winner – and ultimate series decider – was scored on an Oiler power play when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins converted to put his team in front 3-0 late in the second period.
Over seven games with razor thin margins, Edmonton outscored Vancouver six to three on the power play. Heading into the series, much of the talk was about how the Canucks had to be disciplined and limit the Oiler opportunities to work with the man-advantage. And they did just that. That part of the equation was a success for Vancouver. In the end, the Canucks had three more power play opportunities than Edmonton over the course of the seven fiercely contested match-ups.
And that’s why it feels like such a squandered opportunity for the Canucks to see their season end while the Oilers move on. Because it wasn’t even so much the overall struggles of the power play as a whole, but the chances that were flushed to make a significant impact at key moments in so many games. 
The Canucks had a four minute power play in the first period of Game 4 after Evander Kane high-sticked Tyler Myers. It took the Canucks 3:20 to muster a shot on goal. In Game 6, both Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid took first period penalties and the Canucks didn’t once test Stuart Skinner. Later in that game, down 3-1, the Canucks already on the power play wasted a gift when the Oilers were called for Too Many Men. The Canucks did nothing with the 56 second two-man advantage. 
And then last night, while being thoroughly outplayed in the opening period, Ryan McLeod carved the lower lip of Elias Pettersson and again the Canucks had a four-minute power play. The door was ajar for the Canucks to open the scoring and put all the pressure on the Oilers in an elimination game.
Instead, it was the Oilers that cranked up the defensive pressure, cutting the Canucks off at every attempt to enter the offensive zone. The ineptitude was as if the Canucks didn’t understand the very concept of having an extra skater on the ice. 
All season Rick Tocchet has preached meeting pressure with pressure, but with the lights of a Game 7 shining brightly, the Canucks power play looked as bad as it has all season. No one was moving. No one was supporting the puck. No one wanted to win a battle. But more than anything, it was the team’s repeated inability to gain the zone and establish control. And on the rare occasion the Canucks got in and set up, it was far too much perimeter passing rather than attacking the Edmonton net.
The Canucks went 3 for 23 (13.0%) in the series and 0 for 10 over the final four games where one power play goal might have given the team the boost it needed to oust the Oilers from the playoffs. Beyond the 0 for 10 though was the fact the Canucks generated just 14 shots on goal in their final 24:44 of power play time in the series.
JT Miller led the way with three of those shots while Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson, Elias Lindholm, Conor Garland and Pius Suter each had two. Brock Boeser, who led the Canucks with 16 power play goals in the regular season had just one shot with the man-advantage in Games 4 through 6 before his unfortunate departure from the series.
So, sure the loss of Boeser hurt in Game 7, but even with their 40-goal guy in the line-up in the series the power play struggles were a massive issue.
The Oilers were there for the taking. The Canucks had them on the ropes and had to find a way to deliver a knockout blow in Game 6 or Game 7. And in both of those games, with the score tied and the Canucks with multiple power play opportunities to get a leg up, they wet the bed.
This team accomplished a lot this season. They brought the fun back to Rogers Arena and re-energized the fan base. They had the component parts to be a destructive machine on the power play — and were early in the season. But with the chance to advance to the NHL’s Final Four, they came up woefully short in one key area of the game. And that’s a sting that will stick with this club over the off-season which is now officially underway. But it didn’t have to end like it did if the power play had found a way to produce even one more goal somewhere along the way.
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