Roberto Luongo: Difference Maker?

Jonathan Willis
April 17 2011 05:22PM

Despite the 2-0 advantage for the Canucks entering Game Three, the games have been very close. The Canucks had a 2-0 shutout victory in Game One, and won by a single goal in Game Two.

Shot totals have been close, too. The Canucks have outshot the ‘Hawks by a single marker in each and every contest. The difference so far has been between the pipes.

A while back, I hit on tracking shot locations using NHL Game Center’s Ice Tracker. I divide the shots taken into three categories:

Prime scoring area: between and below the two playoff dots Secondary scoring area: beneath the top of the two playoff circles Long shots: everything above the two playoff circles

By those measurements, how close has the series been? Very, very close. Here’s a quick comparison of the shots taken by Vancouver and Chicago:

Vancouver

Location G1 Shots G1 Goals G1 SH% G2 Shots G2 Goals G2 SH%
Prime 13 2 15.38% 9 2 22.22%
Secondary 8 0 0.00% 7 1 14.29%
Long 12 0 0.00% 11 1 9.09%
Total 33 2 6.06% 27 4 14.81%

Chicago

Location G1 Shots G1 Goals G1 SH% G2 Shots G2 Goals G2 SH%
Prime 11 0 0.00% 10 3 30.00%
Secondary 7 0 0.00% 6 0 0.00%
Long 14 0 0.00% 10 0 0.00%
Total 32 0 0.00% 26 3 11.54%

By this measure, shot quality has had no impact whatsoever in this series. The Canucks have taken 22 shots from prime areas to the Blackhawks 21. From secondary areas, the Canucks have outshot the ‘Hawks 15 to 13, and they’ve been outshot 24 to 23 at long range. Those are razor-thin margins.

The difference so far has been Roberto Luongo. Crawford’s been very good from outside the prime scoring areas (0.933 SV% in secondary areas, 0.957 SV% at long range) but Luongo hasn’t allowed a goal. In tight, Luongo’s 0.857 SV% is better than Crawford’s 0.818 SV%.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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