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Why has the Canucks’ power play ‘sucked’?

Nov 11, 2013, 1:26 PM EDT

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.

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