Why the Canucks have struggled to generate playoff offence

Halford and Brough wonder what Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet might do lineup-wise ahead of Game Six vs. Nashville, in search of more offence.

Offence has been hard to come by in the Vancouver Canucks’ first-round series against the Nashville Predators. Both teams have scored 12 goals through five games — three of which have been decided by one goal. (Game 1 was essentially a one-goal game, with Dakota Joshua adding an empty-netter in the Canucks’ 4-2 win.)

The Predators have at least gotten shots to the net, twice reaching the 30-shot mark in the series. The Canucks, meanwhile, have struggled to get to 20. In all, Vancouver has recorded 92 shots on goal (18.4 per game) in the first round — the second fewest through five games of a playoff series since 1959-60, when the NHL began tracking shots.

The Washington Capitals fired only 90 shots on the Ottawa Senators in the 1998 conference semifinals, which they won in five games.

The Canucks were one of the league’s worst shot-generating teams during the regular season, averaging 28.4 per game (26th). But they were highly efficient, scoring on 12 per cent of their shots on net in all situations (and a league-leading 10.6 per cent at 5-on-5).

Vancouver’s biggest issue this post-season has been its inaccuracy in the slot. The Canucks have hit the net on only 46.1 per cent of their attempts from that area — down from 59.7 per cent in the regular season. That is the worst mark among playoff teams. (All other participants are above 50 per cent.)

To the Predators’ credit, they have blocked 80 shots in the series, including 30 in Game 2.

“You’ve got to bear down around the net,” Canucks coach Rick Tocchet told reporters after Game 5. “We’re trying to hit the back door a lot, and we’re missing that a lot. You’ve either got to reposition yourself or just shoot the puck on the net and then hopefully there’s a rebound. (We’ve got to) keep the pucks low, too. I think we’re shooting the pucks too high into (Juuse) Saros’ glove.”

Second-chance goals were a big part of the Canucks’ offence in the regular season. They were second in the league with 39 rebound goals and averaged 2.02 rebound chances per game (11th). Vancouver, however, has yet to score a rebound goal on five chances against Nashville.

Despite an historic lack of shots, the Canucks are in position to eliminate the Predators on Friday.

“I think I’ve had a few pretty good looks, and they seem to get a leg on it or stick on it,” Canucks forward Phil Di Giuseppe told reporters Wednesday. “I think it’s just keep going to those areas and keep forcing them to extend their coverage. Hopefully we get some breakdowns on their end.”

All stats via Sportlogiq

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