The Vancouver Canucks coaching staff made the decision Saturday against the Calgary Flames to remove defenceman Jason Garrison off the power play and it appears that move will be permanent at least for now.
Under assistant coach Newell Brown, the Canucks have had one of the league’s most potent power plays since the 2010-11 season, but hasn’t been clicking on all cylinders thus far this season. Part of the reason may be the absence of Ryan Kesler, who has been a fixture on the first power play unit in front of the net. The Canucks sits 20th in the league with an efficiency of 16.1%. The best power play belongs to the St. Louis Blues who are converting on 36.6% of their opportunities.
At practice on Monday, the Canucks worked on their power play extensively and Garrison was not on either unit. The first power play unit featured Alexandre Burrows, Henrik Sedin, and Jordan Schroeder up front with Daniel Sedin at the left point and defenceman Alexander Edler on the right point. The second unit had Mason Raymond, Zack Kassian, and Jannik Hansen up front with Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis on defence.
After 101.8 mph super skills blast, still no Garrison sightings on #Canucks pp units. 14-45-33-22-23/36-21-9-3-2.
— Ben Kuzma (@benkuzma) February 11, 2013
Head coach Alain Vigneault had his power play figured out in November already in the midst of the lockout when he penciled Garrison in as the trigger man on the first unit.
“I liked when we had Alex Edler and [Christian Ehrhoff] together on the point. [Edler] was so good at finding Christian and Christian was so good in putting it on the net,” Vigneault told the Province in November. “It’s sort of that same dynamic. Left passer, [Edler] and left shot, Garrison.”
Garrison did start the season on the power play with Edler, but swapped places with Dan Hamhuis on January 28 against the Los Angeles Kings. Hamhuis manned the left point and Edler moved to the right side to act as the trigger man. Garrison would work the right point on the second power play unit with Kevin Bieksa for the next few games before being removed from the power play this past Saturday.
Why hasn’t Garrison been effective on the power play?
If you watch all 16 goals he scored last season with the Florida Panthers, you would realize most of his power play goals he scored, he had a teammate in front of net screening. The Canucks haven’t had the same kind of net presence on their power play this season.
Kassian and Burrows both go to the net, but there sole purpose hasn’t been to screen the goalie. Both players have their sticks on the ice, are constantly adjusting based on the play looking for the pass, and joining the cycle if need be rather than being square to the shot for the screen or deflection. Perhaps Garrison will have better luck on the power play when Kesler returns from injury.