November 19 2011 03:23PM
On Thursday, I had a post about the Vancouver Canucks early penalty-killing successes and struggles, and which players were the most successful on that aspect of special teams. Today, I'll look at the powerplay.
There really are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and a successful Vancouver powerplay. The Canucks' surface stats have been pretty good, as per usual. Their powerplay is clicking at a rate of 26.7%, leading the NHL and the club's 20 goals at 5-on-4 are five more than the next best teams. However, shooting rate, which is probably more important into predicting future success of a powerplay, is important to look at, especially in the early season. Thankfully, the Canucks are shooting at a rate of 65.0 shots per 60 minutes at 5-on-4, which is second in the league behind powerplay juggernauts San Jose, firing at an 80.9 clip.
Per two minutes, that works out to 2.17 shots, which is a pretty good rate, and much better than what their opponents generate on their powerplays (1.82). As I did with the penalty kill, today I'll look at which Canucks, when on the ice, generally have the most powerplay success.
First, the forwards. Again, I split up goals and shots to two-minute rates:
(Data from BehindTheNet.ca)
The return of Ryan Kesler really did spark the powerplay and it's clearly a better top-unit with Kesler on the ice. He plays near indentical minutes to the Sedin twins and really pulled them up by the bootstraps. The Sedins still aren't above team average just yet on the powerplay, but the 2.14 shots per two minutes still puts them at one of the best powerplays in the league.
Cody Hodgson and Chris Higgins continue their five-on-five play to dominate in fewer minutes, albeit, on the powerplay. They've been putting the puck in the net at a pretty good rate as well, on the ice for seven 5-on-4 goals apiece, making them equal to Phoenix, Calgary and Montreal, better than St. Louis and New Jersey, as teams.
The last interesting thing to note is that David Booth is a completely opposite 5-on-5 player to 5-on-4. At even strength, he has great underlying numbers but terrible luck. On the powerplay, his underlying numbers are underwhelming, yet goalies have only stopped 77.2% of pucks when he's been on the ice up a man this season. Maybe he only sets up quality shots when he has an extra man to work with...
Edler has been struggling where the Sedins were, but his 2.05 shots per two minutes clip is better than 28 other hockey teams, including Buffalo (1.82) where he will be expressly judged against Christian Ehrhoff. Luckily for Edler and Kevin Bieksa, opposing goalies are equally inept when they're out on the ice, meaning that the effects of those players being under the team average in shots generated are mimimized.
Sami Salo, for all the talk he gets about having a terrific shot, seems to not be getting as good luck up a man and has the fewest goal clip of all Canuck defenders.
I didn't include Aaron Rome on this list because he hasn't played enough games or minutes to really paint us a good picture, but the shot numbers are positive (2.64 per two minutes) and his goal total (.75) borders on the ridiculous. Both numbers will probably drop the more minutes he sees.
There are no real surprises on this list. We sort of confirm that the Sedins were maybe struggling a bit without Ryan Kesler, and the second unit has broken out in a big way this year thanks to some new personnel. All-in-all, things are looking very positive for the Canucks powerplay.