The Vancouver Canucks opened their two-game road trip with a shootout victory over the Dallas Stars Saturday afternoon. Here are my three takeaways from yesterday’s game.
Coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils Friday night, the Vancouver Canucks were looking to bounce back and get back on the right foot with a win in Dallas. After blowing a two-goal lead, the game would require overtime and then a shootout.
How about that power play?
The power play has had rather well-documented struggles this season. The Canucks are among the league’s worst when it comes to the man-advantage, but going into Sunday’s game the Canucks power play had converted in back-to-back games for the first time since late November.
The power play had a bit of a new look to it for a few games, with Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson being put on separate units as the coaching staff tried desperately to get something going for it. That didn’t work, and the regular power play units we have been used to seeing were reunited for the past couple of games.
The goals scored on the power play have been quality goals, too. The first one came Wednesday night against the New York Rangers after Boeser wired home a one-timer past Henrik Lundqvist after a sweet behind the back no-look pass from Josh Leivo while the Canucks were on a five-minute power play. Then, the following game, Pettersson broke his scoring slump after wiring home a beauty of a wrist shot past Devils goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood.
More from The Canuck Way
- Which team won the Bo Horvat trade?
- What to expect from newcomers Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty
- Back to the future: How the skate uniforms became a regular Canucks’ feature night
- Canucks kick off 2023 with disappointing 6-2 loss to Islanders
- 2nd period penalty trouble sinks Canucks in 4-2 loss against Winnipeg
The Canucks’ power play coach, Newell Brown, is widely accredited for the drop pass on the power play becoming a strategy many teams around the league use. The problem is, when the defending team is clearly covering the drop pass and anticipating it, the Canucks’ players seem to still be looking to make it happen.
As John Shorthouse and John Garrett have been pointing out on recent broadcasts, if the drop pass isn’t there, the Canucks shouldn’t be trying to force it. There have been multiple instances where teams easily pick it off and in turn, get an opportunity that looks far too dangerous for a team to be giving up when they have the man-advantage. It’s a good play to make when it’s there, but when everyone on the defending team knows it’s coming, it loses its effectiveness.
In the past couple of games, however, the Canucks seem to be looking less for the drop pass, and seem to, for the most part, only be attempting the drop pass if it’s there. Their zone entries on the two goals in the past two games prior to yesterday both came off breaking into the zone without making a drop pass at center ice.
In the first power play of the game yesterday, the Canucks got off four shots but were unable to score. The power play was unable to convert on the two chances they were given last night, but it’s good to see them beginning to generate some more chances than they were before.