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Power-Play Punch

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
The Ducks haven't discovered a special secret to scoring power-play goals in today's NHL.

Putting big bodies in front of the net and hammering shots from the point through screens has been taught to hockey players from the time they were youngsters on wobbly skates to the time they started collecting paychecks to play.

It's really not a secret at all.

The actual secret is having more players who are willing to sacrifice their bodies and get into the dirty areas in front of the net to create the all out chaos needed to score with the man advantage.

"Our guys have to understand that's how goals are scored now in the NHL - look at their two power-play goals, both were the same type of goals," said Alain Vigneault about the efficient 2 for 5 Ducks power-play. "We have to have that willingness to go in those tough areas and stay there and hack and whack at the rebounds. We didn't do that tonight."

The power-play isn't always about moving the puck around on the perimeter looking for the perfect cross ice pass while the seconds tick off the score-clock. There's a lot to be said for endless puck possession - but it's all for naught if the game of keep away doesn't end up creating a decent scoring chance.

"We've got to find a way to get our power-play to do what they do," said a frustrated Vigneault. "If you look at their goals, it's nothing scientific there. They put people at the net, they keep them there and they get their shots through and they crash for rebounds."

In short, the Canucks need more of what Taylor Pyatt did on Sunday night.

Pyatt parked his 6'4, 220 lb pound body in front of J.S. Giguere during Canucks man advantages and took a heap of abuse from the Anaheim defensemen. Francois Beauchemin snapped Pyatt's head back a few times with cross-checks to Pyatt's back but the Canucks were unable to get their point shots through and reward the big forward for paying the price.

But the pucks don't have to always come from the point, either.

The Ducks seem content to let Markus Naslund or Henrik Sedin set up at the half boards. What's wrong with getting Pyatt's body in front of the net and shooting from different angles, too?

Why can't Markus take a few strides in from the boards and let go with a wicked wrister from the top of the circles? It can't hurt can it? At this point, a shot on goal from anywhere is better than generating nothing while waiting for the perfect pass.

Twice the Canucks failed to score with 5 on 3 advantages and at times they've appeared to have trouble even gaining the Ducks zone.

"When you have that kind of opportunity for the second time in a game and you don't make it happen, it definitely kills your momentum," said Trevor Linden about the Canucks lack of punch on the power-play. "You try and push through but they come right back and score on their power-play. It was one of those games when we were right there but didn't get it done at crucial times."

The Ducks sparkling power-play has been the glaring difference so far in this series. It's the only time they seem to be a threat to score against the Canucks and their work on the man advantage has had the ability to shift the momentum of an entire hockey game.

"We have to be disciplined," said Naslund after game three. "It showed again tonight. They got two power-play goals and that was the difference. If we can skate like we did early and play them 5 on 5 for most of the game I think we've got a great chance."

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