Drance Numbers: What’s behind the Canucks’ powerplay power outage?

Vancouver’s hockey fans have high and often unreasonable expectations for this version of the Canucks. Over the past month, the team has struggled to dominate opponents with their usual zest, and as a result, they’re compared to the living dead in the press.

This is despite being undefeated over their last ten games.

Frankly, the Vancouver Canucks don’t have real problems (besides a minority quasi-criminal element in the fan-base). What they have are the NHL equivalent of “first world problems,” or, “division wrapped up in mid-January problems.” Among these: the recent “power-outage” that has caused their league leading power-play unit to slump over the past 15 games.

The Canucks haven’t scored two powerplay goals in a game since they scored four (in eleven opportunities) against the Boston Bruins in early January. Following the game in Boston, the Canucks had scored 39 times on the power-play in 42 games. In the fifteen games since, they’ve only managed to add 7 powerplay goals to their cumulative total. What’s going on?

The most important point is that they’ve received significantly fewer powerplay chances over the past six weeks. Since their 11 opportunities against Boston, the Canucks have seen only 40 man advantage situations. That’s their lowest total over a 15-game stretch since the lockout (the next closest was a stretch from February 1st to March 3rd last season, where they only received 43 powerplay opportunities). In part, the decrease in opportunities received corresponds with a general, league-wide trend, but I’d suggest to you that there are other, unique factors at play as well.

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Why Mason Raymond remains a better second-line option than Cody Hodgson

Most Cody Hodgson talk in this city centers around two things: the observation that he’s incredible, which is accurate, and the notion that Alain Vigneault has yet to figure this out. Most recently, this came up when Vigneault placed Mason Raymond with Ryan Kesler and David Booth on the second line while assigning Hodgson to centre Byron Bitz and Maxim Lapierre on the fourth. Admittedly, this was a curious move. Whither Mason Raymond?

Here’s what I know for sure: Alain Vigneault knows more about hockey than I do. One of the things that continually bewilders me is the perception that Hodgson’s success has come in spite of him, as though one of the league’s best coaches is unaware that the young centre is a natural scorer. Believe me — he knows and, as Thomas Drance illustrated beautifully awhile back, he clearly knows how to use Hodgson. That in mind, it’s probably smarter to investigate his reasoning in this instance than to assume I know more about running the Canucks than he does.

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New arena proposal may re-introduce a hockey rival to Seattle

When I talk about the Vancouver Canucks and rivalries, different team names will emerge. Younger fans will talk about the Chicago Blackhawks and their recent playoff clashes with the Canucks, while some fans caught up in the exuberance of last year’s Stanley Cup Final and the heated regular season re-match will talk about the Boston Bruins.

Fans with slightly longer memories will point to the Calgary Flames, and for good reason. There is the geographical proximity to consider, but more importantly, the Canucks and Flames have met up in the playoffs a half-dozen times, including three straight seasons in the early 80′s. Their first-round match-ups in 1989, 1994, and 2004 were particularly important, as the winner in those 7-game series went on to the Stanley Cup Final each time.

But here’s a name that you might not have considered: the Seattle Totems. One of the Canucks earliest rivals may be on their way to being revived in the Emerald City.

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