Saturday, April 30, 2011

Canucks lack penalty calls and finish

Mason Raymond gets hauled down in overtime
If you're wondering why the Vancouver Canucks offense has vanished, there's probably a few factors.  Firstly, the team has faced some incredible goaltending performances the past three or four games from Chicago's Corey Crawford, and Nashville's Vezina Trophy nominee Pekka Rinne.

In Game 7 against Chicago and Game 1 against Nashville, the Canucks were the superior team and if they were able to bury their chances, they would have won by three or four goals on each night.  However, after 2-1 and 1-0 victories, the Canucks failed to fire many pucks at the net in Game 2 against Nashville.

The Sedin twins appear to be out of their groove, while Kesler and Raymond have yet to light the lamp in the post-season.  When the victories are rolling in, you can attribute the defensive focus of Kesler and Raymond for the goose eggs, but when the team struggles and when the Kesler line has no obvious shut down opponent, it's tough to give them a free pass.

So why has the offence dried up?  Well, it could be the power play.  Despite converting at a good rate, the power play simply is not getting many opportunities.  After Game 2 against Nashville, the Canucks are garnering the fewest powerplays of all 16 playoff teams, and by quite a margin.  Check it out:

1 Philadelphia 8 40 5.0
2 Pittsburgh 7 35 5.0
3 Nashville 8 36 4.5
4 Phoenix 4 18 4.5
5 Buffalo 7 31 4.4
6 Chicago 7 30 4.3
7 San Jose 7 29 4.1
8 Los Angeles 6 24 4.0
9 NY Rangers 5 20 4.0
10 Tampa Bay 8 31 3.9
11 Montreal 7 27 3.9
12 Anaheim 6 22 3.7
13 Washington 6 21 3.5
14 Detroit 5 17 3.4
15 Boston 8 26 3.3
16 Vancouver 9 24 2.7

As you can see, the Canucks have averaged almost half the power play opportunities as other teams.  Is this simply based on the flow of the games, or the NHL's attempt at parity? (Notice that powerhouses Detroit, Washington and Boston complete the bottom four).  In fact, the 2.7 opportunities per game is also below their regular season average.

The numbers also are not in Vancouver's favour when you take a look at the number of times shorthanded.

1 Chicago 7 18 2.6
2 Montreal 7 21 3.0
3 NY Rangers 5 16 3.2
4 Nashville 8 28 3.5
5 San Jose 7 26 3.7
6 Phoenix 4 15 3.8
7 Los Angeles 6 23 3.8
8 Pittsburgh 7 27 3.9
9 Washington 6 24 4.0
10 Boston 8 32 4.0
11 Vancouver 9 39 4.3
12 Philadelphia 8 36 4.5
13 Anaheim 6 27 4.5
14 Detroit 5 24 4.8
15 Buffalo 7 35 5.0
16 Tampa Bay 8 40 5.0

This one is a bit more of a mix, but you can see some oddities here as well.  Tampa Bay, Detroit, Philadelphia and Vancouver have all advanced to the second round, but it's hard to attribute that to discipline.  In fact, when you look at a team's number of opportunities on the power play versus the number of times short handed, the numbers do not favour the Canucks either.

1 Chicago 7 1.7
2 Pittsburgh 7 1.3
3 Montreal 7 1.3
4 Nashville 8 1.3
5 NY Rangers 5 1.3
6 Phoenix 4 1.2
7 San Jose 7 1.1
8 Philadelphia 8 1.1
9 Los Angeles 6 1.0
10 Buffalo 7 0.9
11 Washington 6 0.9
12 Anaheim 6 0.8
13 Boston 8 0.8
14 Tampa Bay 8 0.8
15 Detroit 5 0.7
16 Vancouver 9 0.6

Here you can see once again that the Canucks are last in the league, garnering three (3) power plays for every five (5) times shorthanded.  Hard to win games like that.  Even harder when you surrender three power plays in overtime to the opposition and fail to draw and penalties yourself.  The Canucks have actually taken as many of more penalties than their opponent in all nine post-season games thus far.  Again, they have yet to enjoy more power plays than an opponent through nine games!

We can debate whether the numbers are a result of an anti-Canuck sentiment/conspiracy, or just the result of poor discipline, but either way, the Canucks' best players need to play better.

Roberto Luongo has rebounded very well and has been very solid.  Ryan Kesler has been solid defensively and his line with Mason Raymond and Alex Burrows has been very creative.  However, that line has been formed out of necessity because the Sedin twins have not been playing to their potential at even strength.

Some power plays may give them some confidence, but they simply have to fight through the tough checking and generate more chances if the Canucks are to succeed in Round 2.  Daniel Sedin has 2 goals (one was the second goal late in a 7-2 drubbing), and Henrik Sedin has one assist in 6 games.  Six games!  By regular season averages, the twins would have about 5 more goals between them over that time.  That might have made things a heck of a lot easier.

On the positive side, the Canucks have won two of their last three games on the back of Alex Burrows and Chris Higgins, but sooner or later the Sedin twins need to convert on their chances.

To be fair, the Canucks effort was pretty lousy tonight compared to Game 1.  Pekka Rinne was also pretty ridiculous once again tonight, but the bottom line is, the Canucks have seen far too much Finnish in the Nashville net, and not enough finish of their own.

Game 3 between Nashville and Vancouver goes Tuesday.


  1. Listen up. The only real way to save the Coyotes at this point is with this:

    "The Green Bay Packers Board of Directors is the organization that serves as the owner of record for the Green Bay Packers football club. The Packers have been a publicly owned, non-profit corporation since August 18, 1923."

    That's right, a board of directors type of ownership where anybody, anywhere who wants the Coyotes to stay in Glendale can purchase a stake into the team. Best of all, the taxpayers of Glendale (especially the ones who don't support the team) don't have to fork over a single penny if they don't want to. Remember, if the taxpayers are not paying for it, then Goldwater backs off.

    I know that the NHL board of governors are not crazy about a Green Bay Packers type of ownership, but if they (and the Glendale city council) really want the Coyotes to stay, then they have no choice but to make an exception to the Coyotes and allow them to have a board of directors type of ownership.

    So for those of you who want the Coyotes to stay, spread the word. Get this message posted to as many places as possible while there's still time and if you can get this message to Gary Bettman and the B.O.G., that's even better. With everybody's help, the Coyotes will be saved! So spread the word right now or watch the Coyotes relocate to Winnipeg or Kansas City instead.

  2. If the 'Nucks put in a ful 60, they will be fine. The third period was concerning because of the 'let up'. They got back into in OT but playoff hockey combined with a hot goalie makes for uncertainty. PM

  3. Agreed...the Canucks do appear to be the better team, but they let up and aren't finishing their chances.

    I like their odds in the series, but the alarming frequency of forgetting lessons learned (mainly, letting up so often) is concerning... as is the lack of productivity from the Sedin twins in the past 6 games. Hopefully just a blip.