Anyone who has watched the past two games against the L.A. Kings can’t ignore how dreadful the Canucks’ powerplay is. Aside from letting by 2 shorthanded goals in game 2, they have been unable to produce even once against the Kings’ PK. The Kings are stepping up at the line and forcing the Canucks to turn over the puck and Vigneault doesn’t seem to have the answer, because quite frankly, he is being out coached.
It is time to face the facts: when the Canucks’ top PP unit gets pressured, they fold. The only thing worse than the top line is when the second line hits the ice because they are being deployed so that Henrik and Kesler can catch their breath. It is an embarrassment.
Vigneault needs to accept that what was so dangerous last season no longer makes the cut and adjust accordingly. The only time the Canucks have been effective in this series is when they shoot the puck the second it lands on their sticks. And yet, they still remain hesitant. There is a lingering need to make the extra pass, to look for a man hanging around for the pretty play.
Those days are over. Teams are all over the Canucks and smother them the second they cross the blue line. Sutter has seen other teams employ this tactic against the Canucks and is using it to his advantage. Except he is doing it even better than anyone else. The Kings aren’t just aggressive, they are rabid. And the Canucks, as seen through two shorthanded goals, are cracking under the pressure.
With Hodgson gone, we have no legitimate second line center to man the PP once Kesler has moved up. It is time to grit up the top line by adding Kassian and telling him to Byfuglien his way to the front of the net and refuse to move, just like what he was acquired to do. Kesler can be demoted to the second line in order to provide a center and a more balanced offensive attack. It will also allow the AMEX line to stay together and make line changes easier after the special teams are finished.
Regardless of what AV decides to change, he better do something. Because right now, Daryl Sutter isn’t just shutting down the Canucks’ PP, he is turning it to his own advantage.