Can the Canucks avoid a potential franchise record in power play futility?

Alex Burrows set a franchise record on Saturday against the Red Wings, scoring just 6 seconds into the game. It was the quickest goal in franchise history and just one second off from being tied for the fastest goal in league history. It was the lone bright spot in an otherwise frustrating game.

The Canucks may be on their way to another franchise record, one that is significantly less positive. See, Burrows’ record-setting goal, like all of the other Canucks goals over the last 11 games, was at even-strength. The team has now gone 11 games without a single powerplay goal and haven’t scored on the powerplay in their last 34 opportunities.

It’s a truly remarkable drought, since the Canucks have talented players who have achieved significant powerplay success in the past. It’s almost funny how bad the powerplay has been, which is why we joked about it just last week, but as the drought has cost the Canucks games, it’s quickly losing its humour.

It’s difficult to nail down exactly what the record is for powerplay futility, since it’s tough to track down those statistics from even a couple decades ago. According to the Vancouver Sun’s esteemed sports editor, Scott Brown, the Canucks’ worst powerplay slumps in recent memory were an 0-for-34 run in 2002 and 0-for-39 in 1998.

That means, if the Canucks manage to get 6 powerplay opportunities against the Minnesota Wild tonight, and fail to score a powerplay goal, they could potentially be setting a franchise record. Of course, the Canucks of the 70′s and 80′s were pretty terrible, so it’s possible that there is a longer powerplay drought somewhere in their history.

They’re still a decent distance away from setting an NHL record, according to the information we have available. The longest powerplay drought I was able to find came courtesy of the 1997-98 Maple Leafs, who managed to go 0-for-51 over a 14-game stretch. The Canucks would need to fail to convert on their next 17 powerplays in order to match that mark.

But, given how they’ve been playing with the man advantage, maybe we should start the tally:

Thanks to their 0-for-34 stretch, the Canucks are now 27th in the league on the powerplay at 13.6%. It’s worth noting that even with their current drought, the Canucks are still ranked ahead of three other teams in powerplay percentage. It’s just that none of them have a string of futility that comes even close to the Canucks’ current run.

Even a league average powerplay of 18.5% would have scored 6 goals in 34 chances. And fans have gotten used to the Canucks having one of the best powerplays in the NHL over the last two seasons.

The Canucks were first in the NHL in 2010-11, converting on 24.3% of their powerplays. Their longest stretch without a powerplay goal was just 5 games, but at the time it felt interminable. After even 5 games, plenty of people were asking what had gone wrong with the Canucks’ powerplay. This season, the Canucks have gone more than twice as long without scoring on the man advantage.

Last season, the Canucks had the fourth ranked powerplay percentage at 19.8% and were second in powerplay goals. They managed that despite losing Christian Ehrhoff and Mikael Samuelsson, key contributors to their powerplay in 2010-11. The Canucks lost just one key contributor to their powerplay from 2011-12: Sami Salo.

Jason Garrison, who led the Florida Panthers in powerplay goals last season, was brought in ostensibly to replace Salo’s big shot on the powerplay. But after just a brief audition early in the season, Garrison was moved off the first unit and off the powerplay entirely for a time. Given the near-franchise record drought, you would think he’d get another chance on the top unit, particularly since he’s came the closest to scoring a powerplay goal during the last 11 games, scoring 2 seconds after a powerplay ended against Columbus.

Maybe Garrison on the top unit isn’t the answer, but something has to change if the Canucks don’t want to set an ignominious record.

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7 comments

  1. Brent
    March 18, 2013

    Doing the same thing again and again expecting the outcome to be different is a sign of mental illness. I think we need to free Newell Brown…….free him from the Canucks. Or he needs to start thinking outside the box. This team has enough talented players that we should be more effective on the power play.

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    • Brent
      March 18, 2013

      POwerplay actually looked better tonight, and it was different. They did actually score, so that is a good thing. So I guess Newell Brown did something outside the box.

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  2. Luongold
    March 18, 2013

    Fire Newell Brown. Worst PP execution ever.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      March 18, 2013

      Execution is on the players, though. All that Newell Brown can control is the system. Now, it’s certainly possible that the system is the problem, but if the system is fine and the execution is the problem, then the players need to change.

      It looks like Jason Garrison and Jannik Hansen have both been promoted to the first unit on the powerplay, according to Dan Murphy, so we’ll see how that goes.

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  3. steveB
    March 18, 2013

    “but as the drought has cost the Canucks games, it’s quickly losing it’s humour.”

    twitch its

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    • Daniel Wagner
      March 18, 2013

      Dammit.

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  4. Rob
    March 18, 2013

    The Canucks have got to simplify things – KISS method. The Sedins are trying to be too crafty, too often I find myself yelling “SHOOT” when Daniel, Henrik, or Hamius (why is he on the 1st PP unit anyway?) have the puck. Detroit proved that shots toward the net do not have to be pretty or perfect they just have to be there. It doesn’t help that the team is snake bitten – gripping the sticks too tight – and trying to force a goal to happen either. I honestly believe that once the first couple go in the flood gates will open, but they have to get a few first and they dont have to be pretty. This isn’t 2011, they aren’t going to make other teams look silly anymore. They just have to simplify things and there is no greater truth to the saying “good things happen when you put the puck on net.”

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