Something to Talk About
| On an ugly night that even the most optimistic of Vancouver fans had trouble sitting through, the Canucks had one bright spot.
In Wednesday night’s 8-2 loss to Philadelphia, Vancouver’s power-play added two more goals. And after Lukas Krajicek blasted a slap-shot past Martin Biron early in the second period, the Vancouver power-play was as hot as it has ever been during the Alain Vigneault era, having cashed in on six of its last nine opportunities.
That’s a far cry from last season when the Vancouver power-play made fans… well, cry. Newcomer Ryan Shannon looks increasingly comfortable alongside the Sedin twins. Perched at the side of net mid-way through the first period, Shannon took a pretty no-look pass from Daniel and snapped the puck into the yawning cage.
“Danny and Henrik make the game very easy,” said Shannon. “All I have to do is find some ice and they usually find me.”
Henrik Sedin agreed that, despite the tough loss, the power-play did some good things out on the ice.
“First two, we moved the puck well and got a lot of chances,” said Sedin. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the suddenly-hot power-play is how it’s generating its goals.
Two of the six power-play markers have consisted of Shannon wristing the puck in from the side of the net, scoring the goal that has become as much a Sedin trademark as the slap-pass.
But the other four power-play tallies over the last two games have been scored quite differently.
Saturday night against Calgary, Mattias Ohlund slapped one through a heavy screen from Taylor Pyatt. Miikka Kiprusoff never saw it.
Shortly after, Markus Naslund came flying into the Calgary zone and snapped a wrister past the Calgary netminder, providing Vancouver’s PP unit a rare goal off the rush.
Daniel Sedin’s OT winner consisted of crashing the net after an Ohlund snap-shot. Daniel poked in the winner through nothing but hard work – well, maybe a little bit of luck.
And Wednesday night, Krajicek’s goal was a new wrinkle to the familiar Sedin power-play setup. Krajicek found a soft spot in the Philadelphia box, snuck into it, and waited for the feed.
It’s a play Henrik says the Canucks have been working on.
“We’ve got a few different options,” said Henrik. “Lukas usually comes in through the slot and today he was open and Dan was able to find him.”
So while Wednesday’s drubbing will stay with this Vancouver team at least until it hits the ice Friday night against Edmonton, the emergence of the power-play as a legitimate scoring threat bodes well for a Vancouver team that still seems to have trouble generating an attack 5-on-5.
And with the eventual return of professional gunslinger Sami Salo and the inevitable call-up of hard-shooting Alex Edler, the Vancouver power-play is looking as strong as it has in recent memory.
It’s just too bad that realization came on a night when the hockey team lost by two field goals.
4 – Hits for Taylor Pyatt to lead the team.
12 – Penalty minutes for Kevin Bieksa, including a 10-minute misconduct in the third period.
13 – Face-off wins for Henrik Sedin in 20 chances.
14 – Saves on 18 shots for Curtis Sanford in his Canuck debut.
22:43 – Of ice-time for Willie Mitchell, who led all skaters.
Vancouver scored two goals on the power-play but failed to generate any sort of consistent 5-on-5 attack.
Eight goals against, several of which consisted of unmarked Flyers tapping pucks into empty nets. Not a banner night for the defense.
The power-play had another decent showing and was 2-for-4 through two periods, when the game was somewhat in doubt. But the penalty kill gave up two goals of its own, including a killer to Gagne after Ryan Shannon had pulled the Canucks within one.