Time for Canucks to power up
Notebook: Vancouver ranked an abysmal 27th with the man advantage this season
Vancouver Canucks Daniel Sedin (centre) and brother Henrik Sedin haven’t had a lot to celebrate when it comes to the power play so far this shortened National Hockey League season. ‘I think it’s not the execution or passing and shooting, it’s more retrieving pucks and getting pucks back,’ says Henrik. ‘When you see at us at our best it’s when we spend 35, 40, 45 seconds in their end and that hasn’t happened.’
Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann, PNG
VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks will travel back in time Saturday night when they don their vintage Vancouver Millionaires jerseys for a game against the Detroit Red Wings (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1040).
If only their power play could go back in time. Like, maybe to 2010-11 when it was the best in the NHL and carried the Canucks all the way to the Stanley Cup final.
That now seems like such a long time ago. The Canucks on Friday had the 27th-ranked power play in the NHL, one that has converted only 14.4 per cent of its chances. Two years ago, the Canucks led the league at 24.3 per cent.
The Canucks enter Saturday night’s game having failed to score on their last 27 power-play opportunities.
The players know that has to change.
“A lot of times for us it’s one shot and the puck is down the ice,” captain Henrik Sedin said Friday. “I think it’s not the execution or passing and shooting, it’s more retrieving pucks and getting pucks back. When you see at us at our best it’s when we spend 35, 40, 45 seconds in their end and that hasn’t happened.”
Daniel Sedin is generally the trigger-man on the power play, but he’s only scored two of his eight goals on the power play this season.
“On power plays you need a five-man unit and usually I am the one taking the shots and I need to be better in that department,” he said. “But I think our problem right now is retrieving the puck after that first shot. We’re at our best when we get that first shot and get the puck back and then things open up. We haven’t been doing that 100 per cent so far.”
Coach Alain Vigneault is preaching patience.
“Our power play sometimes is like how we play,” he said. “We play real well but we don’t get the results we expect. Our power play has done some real good things, we’re working on different aspects of it to make it better. Sometimes it takes a bit of time. But it has got some good looks.
“You can say all the things (like) we are only getting one or two power plays a game ... but at the end of the day we have to get it done. I believe we have the personnel to get it done. They are just going to have to go out and prove me right.”
Given how badly their special teams have struggled this season — Vancouver’s penalty-kill is ranked 14th — the Canucks are perhaps fortunate to be where they are in the standings.
“I think it shows five-on-five we’re close to where we want to be,” Henrik said. “So that’s a good sign. But we have to get it (the power play) going.”
TOTAL EMBARRASSMENT: Vigneault did not mince words Friday when he reflected on his team’s 8-3 loss to the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Feb. 24.
“We were totally embarrassed,” he said. “It wasn’t obviously the game we can play against that team. We know they are a real good team, their skill level, their defence to offence, you just look at some of their personnel and you are talking about elite players in the NHL. So we are definitely looking to have a bounce-back game.”
NOT CRAZY ABOUT CREAM: The maroon or burgundy Millionaires jerseys the team will wear Saturday night got the thumbs-up from most of the players, although Roberto Luongo had one minor complaint.
“I’m not sure about the cream pants, but other than that I like the jerseys and all that kind of stuff,” Luongo said.
“I love them,” said fellow goalie Cory Schneider. “I think they look great. It takes me back to my days in college (Boston College). I am pretty comfortable in the maroon and I guess not gold but cream or off-white or whatever you want to call it.”
DAY OF REST: Defenceman Chris Tanev and centre Andrew Ebbett both missed Friday’s practice. Tanev was given a maintenance day after taking a Shea Weber shot off his left knee in the third period of Thursday night’s 7-4 win over Nashville.
Ebbett, who has played five games in the last week, was given a day off to rest up. Vigenault said both are expected to play Saturday night.
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