Shoot the puck

The Canucks powerplay stats aren't looking great and with a stellar powerplay in the preseason, the team needs to get back up to those standards.

Monday, 20.10.2008 / 12:14 PM / Features
By Jeff Paterson
For those old enough to remember Howie Meeker as a colour analyst on Canucks telecasts in the 1980’s, you can probably still hear that unique voice of his shrieking “SHOOT THE PUCK” anytime any team had the power play.

The Canucks may want to go into the video vault and find some old tapes of Howie’s handiwork because as much of a concern as their power play is right now – the real problem isn’t the lack of goals with the man-advantage.

The major issue is the lack of power play shots that are being taken or that are finding their way through.

In the past four games, the Canucks have registered just 12 power play shots. That’s a dozen shots on 15 power plays in Washington (two shots), Detroit (two), Buffalo (five) and most-recently in Chicago (three).

INSIDE THE BOX
Jeff Paterson is a Team 1040 broadcaster and a regular contributor to the Georgia Straight.

E-mail him at jeff.paterson@team1040.ca


FAST FIVE
Now, if every power play ended with just one shot because the other team was fishing the puck out of its own net – the low shot total could be justified. But when the power plays are almost always a full two minutes and, as a team, you’re averaging less than one shot per man-advantage situation; it’s time for a little help from Howie: “SHOOT THE PUCK.”

Over the course of the past four games, Alex Edler has four of the team’s 12 power play shots. He also has the lone power play goal in that span – a first period effort in Washington a week ago.

Mason Raymond has three shots while five others have each put one puck on net during assorted power plays over the past seven days. In those four games,

Daniel Sedin, Pavol Demitra, Taylor Pyatt and Sami Salo have all been held without a shot on the power play. Daniel has led the team in goals the past two seasons while Salo is generally regarded as having one of the hardest shots in the league. The Canucks need those two to be key power play contributors, but to do so they’re going to have to start shooting the puck.

Steve Bernier had one shot with the man-advantage last Thursday in Detroit while Taylor Pyatt hasn’t recorded any in the past week. That indicates that there hasn’t been any loose change lying around in front of the opponent’s nets. And that goes back to the Canucks needing to get more shots through from the point with big bodies making life miserable for opposition goalies.

Other teams are scoring those types of power goals against the Canucks right now – Milan Jurcina in Washington, Brian Rafalski in Detroit, Jaroslav Spacek in Buffalo and Brent Seabrook in Chicago -- and it’s time for the Canucks to turn the tables.

The Canucks power play is now 29th out of 30 teams in the NHL converting twice in 29 attempts so far this season (6.9%) and only once in 20 opportunities away from home (5%).

They haven’t won the special teams battle in any of the first five games on this road trip, which concludes Tuesday in Columbus. That’s one of the reasons they’ve dropped three of the five games. It’s also one of the reasons they’ve trailed at some point of the third period in all five of the games.

The Canucks did well to mount comebacks in Calgary and Detroit, but with a little success on the power play they may not have been in the holes they were in against the Capitals, Sabres and most-recently the Blackhawks.

It’s early in the new season – although you can only say that for so long – and there is a troubling trend emerging. It’s hard enough to score in the National Hockey League, but it’s that much harder still when you don’t put the puck on net. With so many tight games, a power play goal can certainly make the difference on any given night. Something as simple as a few more power goals over the course of a season could swing a team’s playoff fortunes.

The Canuck power play was one of the main reasons for the successful preseason – it looked quick and dangerous and the team moved the puck around well. That part of their game hasn’t followed the Canucks into the regular season. They’ve got to find a way to bring some motion back to their power play, get their opponents chasing and then free up some shooting lanes. And then when all of that occurs, most importantly, it’s time for the Vancouver Canucks to SHOOT THE PUCK.

Twelve power play shots in 15 attempts over the past four games hasn’t worked for them. It’s time to get back to basics -- get the shots through and the goals will follow.

Just ask Howie.