The Kings enacted their version of Get Shorty with the Canucks in Game 2 and it earned them a 2-0 lead in the best of seven opening round playoff series.
The Canucks power play has been an ongoing issue, really, since way back in January, but there’s every indication that the sudden loss of Daniel Sedin to a concussion three weeks ago in Chicago may have pushed it over the edge into deep chasm it now inhabits.
The power play hasn’t been great in the last couple of months, but at least it could gain the zone and get some shots. Recently, it’s had trouble doing either.
You could argue that going 0-for-5 with the man advantage in Game 1 was a major factor in the 4-2 loss to the Kings in Game 1, but the Canucks upped the ante on Friday in Game 2, going another 0-for-5 but also gave up a horrendous two shorthanded goals in another 4-2 loss. Both were by Kings captain Dustin Brown and they gave Los Angeles a 2-1 lead after two periods when the Canucks weren’t giving up much even-strength.
“Obviously, two shorthanded goals are a killer,” said Andrew Ebbett, who drew into the game to eplace the suspended Byron Bitz and saw time on the second unit power play. “ It’s a bad game anytime you have one against. It’s disheartening when we didn’t give up anything five on five.”
Brown scored the first one with nine seconds left in the first period on a brain cramp by Alex Edler – is second crucial error in two games. The Canucks defenceman attempted at drop pass in the Vancouver end but it was picked off by Kings centre Anze Kopitar. The Kings slick forward took it to the net but was stopped by Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo. Three Canucks collapsed around the Vancouver goal, but the long rebound went to a wide-open Brown who fired it into the goal.
After Jannik Hansen tied it 17 seconds into the second period, the Canucks committed another horrific error on the power play. This time it was Dan Hamhuis diving to keep in a pass to the point from Ryan Kesler, but Brown pounced on the loose puck and scored on the breakaway, beating Luongo with a backhand deke.
Yes, two shorties are as unmentionable as they are rare, but the power play has to start producing or – obviously – this series will be over in a hurry.
The prospects, though, don’t look great as the stats will attest. Following the Jan. 7 game in Boston where the Canucks scored four goals on the power play, they have managed just 16 goals on 130 opportunities over the subsequent 40 regular season and two playoff games. That works out to a conversion rate of 12.3 per cent – which, if compared to the rest of the league over 82 games, puts them below the 30th place team (Dallas, 13.5 per cent).
“I thought five on five we played a real strong game, we got the right saves at the right time and our power play had the opportunity to make a difference again tonight and it didn’t,” said Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. “Our execution obviously isn’t what it needs to be for it to be effective. Tonight it was more than ineffective. It really cost us at bad times. Those are our best players and we’ve got a lot of confidence in those guys and we’ll get another opportunity on Sunday.”