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The Canucks celebrate a power-play goal against Detroit.
Historically, the Vancouver Canucks try to play a skill game and use their potent power play to deter other teams from taking liberties with their skilled players, especially the Sedin twins.
In 2010-11, the Canucks had the league's best power play with 24.3 percent and rode that to a President's Trophy and a Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
In 2011-12, the power play declined somewhat to 19.8 percent efficiency, still good for fourth-best in the NHL that season. However, down the stretch and into the playoffs, it was largely silent, playing a large role in the Canucks' upset by the L.A. Kings.
When the power play works, the Canucks usually win.
The 2011 Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks is a great example of this, as the Sharks tried to physically intimidate the Canucks and ended up losing the series due to the Canucks' power play instead.
When the power play doesn't work, the Canucks run into big problems against physical teams.
The Boston Bruins hammered the Canucks mercilessly in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, as did the L.A. Kings in the first round of the 2012 playoffs, doing so with impunity because the Canucks couldn't score on the power play.
Needless to say, the Canucks lost both series.
This year, the power play has been a major cause for concern, being more impotent than potent and often taking away momentum from the Canucks. The Canucks are a dismal 23rd in the league on the power play with 15.0 percent.
However, the power play has actually been working quite well since the trade-deadline acquisition of Derek Roy and the return of Ryan Kesler from injury.
In the nine games since the trade deadline, the Canucks have scored seven goals on 27 power-play opportunities, good for a 25.9 percent efficiency over that span.
This is more in line with the kind of efficiency the Canucks enjoyed in their 2011 playoff run, and it's a cause for optimism heading into the playoffs.