Alex Edler #23 of the Vancouver Canucks fires a slapshot and scores their second goal against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on October 1, 2010 in Anaheim, California. Vancouver won 4-2.
(September 30, 2010 - Source: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images North America)

Why has the Canucks’ power play ‘sucked’?

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It wasn’t that long ago that Vancouver Canucks’ power play was one to be feared. These days, it emits comments like this one from head coach John Tortorella: “Our power play sucked.”

Tortorella’s remark came after last night’s 3-1 loss in Anaheim that saw the Canucks go 0-for-2 with the man advantage. Vancouver’s power play currently ranks 27th in the NHL, clicking at just 9.7 percent.

Compare that to 2010-11, when it finished first overall at 24.3 percent, and you’re talking about a significant drop.

The fall from best to almost worst has been a precipitous one for the Canucks’ power play. In 2011-12, the unit ranked fourth (19.8%); in 2012-13, it dropped to 22nd (15.8%).

What happened? Well, there’s no shortage of theories. Vancouver became too predictable, say some observers. And there’s probably something to that.

But looking back to the Canucks’ salad days in 2010-11 and something else stands out — two of their top point producers with the extra attacker aren’t with the club anymore. Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff is in Buffalo; forward Mikael Samuelsson is in Detroit.

Ehrhoff’s absence has been felt the most of the two. In 2010-11, he finished tied for fourth in the NHL with 28 power-play points — 22 of them being assists — and spent by far the most of any Vancouver d-men on the ice with the man advantage (281:28).

Today, the Canucks don’t have a go-to power-play quarterback on the back end. Alex Edler and Jason Garrison were supposed to be the guys, but the results haven’t been there. Yes, they’ve both got big shots. But can they create opportunities and dictate the play like Ehrhoff did in concert with the Sedins?

That’s a question general manager Mike Gillis may need to ask prior to the March 5 trade deadline. Granted, there won’t be an easy fix easy given the Canucks’ lack of cap space, so maybe his only real option is to hope for improvement.

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

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NBCSN screen
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Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

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Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.

Blues aim to raise money for victims of Fort McMurray fires

An evacuee puts gas in his car on his way out of Fort McMurray, Alberta, as a wildfire burns in the background Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The raging wildfire emptied Canada's main oil sands city, destroying entire neighborhoods of Fort McMurray, where officials warned Wednesday that all efforts to suppress the fire have failed.  (Jason Franson /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
AP
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Fires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, and the St. Louis Blues are doing their part to help those who were affected.

Here’s what the team is doing to raise money during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:

Proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.

Blues forward Scottie Upshall shared his thoughts with the Associated Press regarding several family members being among those evacuated from the area.

“It’s been a great city, a city that’s survived for many years through some tough times and for me, growing up there doesn’t seem too long ago,” Upshall said. “Places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be really, really tough to take. But as long as everyone’s OK, that’s the main thing.”

Other people from around the hockey world weighed in on the scary scene, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who told the Ottawa Citizen that “it hurts a lot.”

People shared some scary sights from the evacuation.