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Why has the Canucks’ power play ‘sucked’?

Nov 11, 2013, 1:26 PM EST

Alex Edler #23 of the Vancouver Canucks fires a slapshot and scores their second goal against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on October 1, 2010 in Anaheim, California. Vancouver won 4-2.
(September 30, 2010 - Source: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

It wasn’t that long ago that Vancouver Canucks’ power play was one to be feared. These days, it emits comments like this one from head coach John Tortorella: “Our power play sucked.”

Tortorella’s remark came after last night’s 3-1 loss in Anaheim that saw the Canucks go 0-for-2 with the man advantage. Vancouver’s power play currently ranks 27th in the NHL, clicking at just 9.7 percent.

Compare that to 2010-11, when it finished first overall at 24.3 percent, and you’re talking about a significant drop.

The fall from best to almost worst has been a precipitous one for the Canucks’ power play. In 2011-12, the unit ranked fourth (19.8%); in 2012-13, it dropped to 22nd (15.8%).

What happened? Well, there’s no shortage of theories. Vancouver became too predictable, say some observers. And there’s probably something to that.

But looking back to the Canucks’ salad days in 2010-11 and something else stands out — two of their top point producers with the extra attacker aren’t with the club anymore. Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff is in Buffalo; forward Mikael Samuelsson is in Detroit.

Ehrhoff’s absence has been felt the most of the two. In 2010-11, he finished tied for fourth in the NHL with 28 power-play points — 22 of them being assists — and spent by far the most of any Vancouver d-men on the ice with the man advantage (281:28).

Today, the Canucks don’t have a go-to power-play quarterback on the back end. Alex Edler and Jason Garrison were supposed to be the guys, but the results haven’t been there. Yes, they’ve both got big shots. But can they create opportunities and dictate the play like Ehrhoff did in concert with the Sedins?

That’s a question general manager Mike Gillis may need to ask prior to the March 5 trade deadline. Granted, there won’t be an easy fix easy given the Canucks’ lack of cap space, so maybe his only real option is to hope for improvement.

  1. polegojim - Nov 11, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    Oh Torts… we all know it’s because the Twins are soft!!! ; )

    • jcmeyer10 - Nov 11, 2013 at 2:31 PM

      Who’da thunk blocking shots would be so vital for a power play :D

      • polegojim - Nov 11, 2013 at 4:00 PM

        ; ) yes, those blocked shots NEVER go IN!

    • blomfeld - Nov 11, 2013 at 11:31 PM

      Back off Polegojim … seriously

      The bottom line is that Torts is ‘good’ people doing his utmost to get the most from this team. It’s a tough gig no doubt and I don’t envy his position for even a second. Nonetheless the ‘show must go on’ as the old saying goes, despite the fact that everyone from here to Upper Volta knows ‘exactly’ what’s plaguing the Canuckle PP these days. But out of common respect, I’m not going to say a word man ! :)

  2. ntvd7 - Nov 11, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    Sucked in New York – Sucks in Vancouver

    I wonder what the problem could possibly be – Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    • bwolfsohn - Nov 11, 2013 at 2:28 PM

      tortorella in english really means “sucky powerplay”
      Ya can look it up in for funk and wagnalls..

    • pfhockey - Nov 11, 2013 at 5:17 PM

      Not to mention the firepower the team’s have.

  3. ibieiniid - Nov 11, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    is it just me or did Boston’s success a couple years ago with one of the worst playoff power plays ever change the significance of the power play? every time I hear that a team has a bad power play now, I just think to myself, “hey, worked for the Bruins.”

    • davebabychreturns - Nov 11, 2013 at 9:33 PM

      I think it was kind of the logical extreme of what we all know already.. the refs pocket their whistles come playoff time and let the teams “play” – they don’t want to “decide the outcome of games” (by doing their #*$&ing jobs) and so you have things like a deciding game 7 of a hard fought playoff series in which literally not one single penalty was called.

      Obviously that plays to the strengths of a team like the Bruins that a. like to physically intimidate their opponents and drag games into the gutter but much much much more importantly, b. can effectively outscore their opponent at even strength.

      Basically their awful powerplay was immaterial because they could beat teams 5 on 5 and nobody else was getting enough time on the man advantage to swing the balance.

      As for the Canucks in the here and now.. they can’t buy a call at this point and their powerplay sucks anyways. I working man advantage would help them improve their playoff position but in the long run it might be better for the team to learn to thrive without it. That being said in this ridiculous divisional race every single advantage counts so if the guys can figure something out it might make a huge difference.

      People can blame Tortorella but I believe it’s Glen Gulutzan who works with the powerplay (and he obviously was not with Torts last year), and the Canucks were abysmal on the powerplay last year too with Newell Brown running the show.

  4. mikemaric - Nov 11, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    There will be enough cap space to bring in a true quarterback on the PP at the deadline. Don’t need that much space for a prorated rental contract. Just got to get in the playoffs first though. It will be tough in the West.

  5. stepanup - Nov 11, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    Well, at least the Rangers now have a functional PP with some legitmate creativity. No correlation. Good luck Vancouver.

  6. 19to77 - Nov 11, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    You know, like the Rangers PP did back when Torts coached them. Almost seems like there might be a common trend or something.

  7. steverolley - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    To all the great minds on here blaming torts, please explain why the Canucks had the 22nd ranked PP last year?

    • ibieiniid - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:10 PM

      NO! That’s torts’ fault too. has to be. correlation IS causation. live by that.

  8. muckleflugga - Nov 11, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    ibieiniid…

    you’re correct, it’s just you

    • ibieiniid - Nov 12, 2013 at 8:18 AM

      lol, the thumbs up say otherwise.

  9. muckleflugga - Nov 11, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    cum hoc ergo propter hoc

  10. lexbubba - Nov 11, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    mike sullivan is the common denominator. how this guy is still running any team’s pp is beyond me.

  11. Lupy Nazty Philthy - Nov 12, 2013 at 11:37 PM

    Better to have a bad PP than a bad PK.

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