The 1st Hangover of 2013-14

The Sharks shooting the puck with Tanev on the ice, a common sight. (Image via Getty Images)

I noted last night that we have changed the format with which we will be analyzing Canucks games this season. We’ll have a rapid recap of the every game as quickly as possible following its conclusion so that you guys have a platform to discuss – whether it’s in the form of ranting, complaining, celebrating a victory, or posing questions – in the comments section.

The morning after we’ll do a more in-depth post which takes a deeper look at the numbers from the game the previous night. It’ll be dubbed ‘The Hangover’. Hopefully over time you’ll come to appreciate it like a refreshingly spicy Caesar following a heavy night of drinking. So without further ado, read on past the jump for the scoring chance totals and some other interesting numbers..

Before we get to the scoring chance totals, allow me to plug ExtraSkater [dot] com, which is pretty much porn for people who enjoy stats. Its interface is so sleek, and it contains pretty much everything you’d want to know. Here’s the lowdown from last night’s game

Good god, Chris Tanev was abysmal. He received a lot of credit on the broadcast for his blocked shots on the penalty kill (registering 5 of them, in a painful manner), but the reason he was in position to do so was because the Sharks had the puck pretty much every single time he was out there. The Sharks controlled 38 of the 50 shot attempts with Tanev out on the ice (a Corsi For % of 24.0%). Looking at it further, with Tanev out there the Canucks had 6 shot attempts that weren’t blocked, compared to 28 for the Sharks. Yikes.

As you’ll note below, the worst scoring chance differentials came from Tanev, Santorelli, Richardson, and Hamhuis. Interestingly enough, Hamhuis was the only one of the 4 that didn’t register a horrible shot differential. I thought he had a terrible game for his standards, as he was far too frequently having to take chances we’re not normally used to seeing from him to try and compensate for being a step behind. The possession numbers don’t suggest it, which I guess speaks to the fact that his mistakes were really glaring and dreadful – i.e. the gaffe that sprung Pavelski on a shorthanded breakaway – but not as frequent as I may have thought.

As I mentioned in last night’s recap, other than Luongo and the team’s penalty kill, the two main positives were the play of the team’s top two lines, who actually played like the team’s top two lines. The Sedins were fantastic off of the rush, and looked just fine on the penalty kill.

Meanwhile, the combination of Higgins-Kesler-Hansen looked fantastic with their pressure early on, but faded as the game went along. Hansen was ultimately moved to the 3rd line, likely in an attempt to give the likes of Santorelli and Richardson a life raft of sorts. Unfortunately, what we’ll mostly remember from that 2nd lines performance on Thursday night will be Chris Higgins missing a glorious opportunity to tie it up halfway through the 3rd period, before coughing it up to Logan Couture en route to the goal that made it 3-1. I still really like that trio going forward, though we’ll see if Tortorella prefers Hansen in a role where he tries to keep the team’s 3rd line from drowning.

And finally, I should point out that despite scoring their only goal on the power play, I thought the team’s play with the extra man was rather poor. In 7.2 minutes of power play time, the Canucks registered just 2 shots on net. The team’s 2nd unit – which primarily featured Bieksa, Hamhuis, Burrows, Higgins and Hansen – was the major culprit; in approximately 3 minutes of time, they directed only 2 pucks on net and had no actual shots on goal. I have no idea why John Tortorella seemed so adamant on using the 2nd unit as much as he did, but that’s probably my biggest issue with him coming out of the game.

Scoring Chance Totals:

Total 1st Period 2nd Period 3rd Period Total
Canucks (EV) 2 (1) 7 (7) 2 (1) 11 (9)
Sharks (EV) 8 (5) 5 (3) 7 (5) 20 (13)

Individual Scoring Chance Contributions:

Chance Contributions Taken Created Total
Henrik Sedin 2 2 4
Ryan Kesler 3 0 3
Chris Higgins 3 0 3
Alex Burrows 1 2 3
Daniel Sedin 0 2 2
David Booth 1 0 1
Jason Garrison 1 0 1
Mike Santorelli 0 1 1

Individual Scoring Chance Differential:

Player EV F – A PP F – A SH F – A Total F – A
Henrik Sedin 3-1 2-0 0-1 5-2
Daniel Sedin 3-2 2-0 0-1 5-3
Alex Burrows 4-4 0-1 0-2 4-7
Ryan Kesler 3-3 2-0 0-2 5-5
Jannik Hansen 3-5 0-1 0-0 3-6
Chris Higgins 4-3 0-1 0-2 4-6
David Booth 3-5 0-1 0-0 3-6
Mike Santorelli 2-7 0-1 0-0 2-8
Brad Richardson 1-6 0-0 0-0 1-6
Zac Dalpe 0-1 0-0 0-0 0-1
Tom Sestito 0-1 0-0 0-0 0-1
Dale Weise 0-1 0-1 0-0 0-1
Jason Garrison 5-5 2-0 0-0 7-5
Alex Edler 5-5 2-0 0-2 7-7
Dan Hamhuis 2-3 0-2 0-4 2-9
Kevin Bieksa 4-1 0-2 0-3 5-5
Chris Tanev 1-8. 0-0 0-0 1-8
Ryan Stanton 0-3 0-0 0-1 0-4
  • I actually thought Kesler looked off last night. The numbers show a great game, and his line was usually in the OZ, but he was off. The stupid penalties aside, I thought his lack of pickup on the 3rd goal was terrible and far from what we expect when he’s on.

  • Not the best first game but it is only game 1. People need to relax.

    Yes, I agree Gillis needs to go. I like a lot of what he did here but his staff are poor at evaluating talent. They keep getting these players they’ve been looking at for years and then these players don’t quite turn out.

    I think this needs to be our GM’s last season but that will be subject to what’s out there. I think Burke was a better evaluator of talent and almost prefer him to Gillis right now.

    Anyway, it’s just hockey. It’s entertainment as is this site and looking at posts made by Stupidity in Motion (yes, that’s NoMind00 – duh).

  • Once Kassian is back, we’ll at least have 8 top 9 forwards. We just need one of the fringe guys to come through and we’ll be OK. Building a 4th line out of Richardson/Santorelli/Weise/Dalpe/Schroeder should be fine. If we can move Burrows to centre, then having one of them as a 3rd line winger shouldn’t be too damaging.

    That’s assuming Schroeder doesn’t make it, in which case you’d drop Kassian to the third and keep your best line intact.

  • BrudnySeaby

    Luckily for Tanev Torts doesn’t look at advanced stats so he’ll be fine!

    All jokes aside, the team looked disjointed last night. Kinda all over the place. I guess that comes with trying to implement new systems.

    However, I think there is a deeper problem right now, and that is the facts that we have a 1st line and a 3rd line, but no 2nd or 4th line.

    Yes, I’m calling Higgins-Kesler-Hansen a 3rd line. As I really think they are. Kesler is not the player of 2010-11. Also, look at the stats above, Kesler has taken 3 chances, and created none. Hopefully he can turn things around more and with 2 better line mates, he can approach his 2C form. But whatever everybody thinks of the guy, and he is a warrior for sure, at the moment, the Canucks would be benefited most if he could play in a shutdown role against the opposition. If only we had a 2C to enable that.

    • Smartest thing I’ve read in the comments section on a website, maybe ever. I completely agree – because of one good offensive season (as Ferraro says, “everyone has a career year), Kesler is miscast as a true 2L centre. His best fit is as a 25G (30 if you’re lucky) scoring 3rd line centre. Hansen/Higgins – both classic 3rd liners. In fact they would be one of the league’s BEST third lines.

      The issue with GMMG hasn’t been his inability to find a 3C – it’s his inability to find a true 2C with decent scoring wingers. Proper secondary scoring would really help the twins, who are really starting to struggle against the other team’s shutdown D and forwards night after night after night. In this team’s “golden era” (i.e. 2010-2011), Malhotra/Torres/Hansen were a great 3L while Kesler had his career year. They’ve never been able to duplicate this, and the results have (and continue) to show.

      I would submit that expecting 40G out of Kesler and 20 out of whomever the 3L C of the day is a remote possibility, at best. But it was THAT kind of production, and ONLY that, that made this team a beast a few years ago.

      • I somewhat agree. However, Kes is healthy (so they say) so give him this year to see how it goes. I was hoping he’d be a solid line 2 C but I don’t know. Lines 1 and 2 struggle to score. Hansen/Kes/Higg would be a really good third line. We don’t have a second line and the first one might not prouce as much as we like.

        Anyway, its a new system, new coach etc. Give them a bit of time and let’s see how it goes.

      • Peachy

        I think you need to re-evaluate what level of production constitutes a reasonable expectation for 2C.

        Any 2C doing 25 or better is in good company.

        And jebus (this bit isn’t directed at you specifically) in a game that’s 38% luck, with a new coach / system, and when the Canucks’ possession numbers weren’t bad (against a borderline elite team, no less) we should be way more careful about drawing sweeping conclusions about anything. /rant

        • Peachy

          Fair points. I know that a 2C scoring at that rate is “reasonable”, but I don’t think anyone in Canucks land wants a “reasonable” team, we want a winner, don’t we? I think you have to be in the upper echelon to have a reasonable chance to win the Cup. When you look at the Sharks, just as example, who can trot out a guy like Pavelski on their 3L… that’s what I desire.

          I know your last point wasn’t directed at me specifically, but I agree with you, and I wasn’t trying to generalize based purely on last night’s game. However, I do think that last night’s game was akin to many of the team’s past 14 playoff games, in which they have a combined record of 2-12.

          • Peachy

            Sure, fair enough. The bottom line is that 3C is where the problem is.

            Kesler came out basically even last night, matched against Thornton and Marleau.

            The third line got killed. Have a look at

            The 2-14 run is also largely luck-driven. Not useful for decision-making purposes.

            Comparing Kesler and the Canucks to the 2011 team is silly. That team was dominant (points, gf, ga, gd, pp, pk, etc) in a way that probably only occurs in 1 /150 team seasons or something. We’re not likely to ever see it repeated, for reasons to do with luck as well as skill.

            (I agree that we should always demand better though.)

          • Peachy

            Not much to disagree with here, other than I would contend that the 2-12 playoff run is TOTALLY useful for decision making purposes, in fact, it’s actually more useful than using any regular season performance indicators.

            While it’s a small sample in the grand scheme of things, it does measure the team against other teams they will have to beat to advance in the playoffs. No metrics-boosting softies like Calgary, etc.

            I also agree with Unknown Comic – this team is going nowhere unless Kesler is winning these matchups as the lineup is currently constructed.

            To your point on the 2011 comparisons – when I see the same core, I think it’s relevant. That team was fueld by the best special teams in the league, and that’s another area that will need to return to past glory if this team is going to do something.

            In general I don’t just put everything down to “luck”, and I think that is the caution with any “purely” analytics-driven analysis of the game. I think you make your own luck, in life and in hockey. If you do the right things, good things will generally happen. Putting something down to merely “luck” over an 82 game season is foolhardy, at least in my mind.

          • Peachy

            Of course everything isn’t luck. We’re not talking about life mantras, in which case “making your own luck” is perfectly valid, we’re talking about making a realistic assessment of performance and attempting to understand a) how good the team is and b) what they need to change to be better.

            I subscribe to the same “make your own luck” mantra when it comes to life. I fully expect coaches and players to as well, to a degree, because it might well be required in order to ensure that all players give maximum effort. But just because you and I subscribe to it, doesn’t make it true, much less make it true in hockey.

            As Unknown Comic was kind enough to contribute to the discussion, the Canucks have been unlucky by PDO, and PDO does PDO regress heavily to the mean. Sure, with an exceptional goalie and world class shooters (say the Penguins forward group + Lundqvist), you *might* be able to sustain 1030 against random opponents. Against the same opponent, it’s harder to tell (and frankly I lack the statistical skills to prove out), but I would guess no more than 1 standard deviation above that. In that scenario, PDO has a max of ~1040 or something. Ish. 1060 is ludicrous. (Napkin guesstimates, sue me.)

            Again, one thing that is generally understood about hockey is that the outcome of a single game is 38% luck. 2-14 could not possibly tell the whole story.

            Basically, we have good reason to trust that we can assess relative performance through three metrics:

            zone entries;
            scoring chances;
            Fenwick tied;

            In no particular order. Using crap like wins (2013 Leafs and counter-example 2013 Red Wings) and even goals within small samples (and those were 48 game samples!) to make assessments is just foolish.

            And back to 2011 – that was a time when everything came together for the Canucks. I have no clue when a team last dominated wins, goals (for, against and differential) and special teams like the Canucks did that season. The Canucks would have been an elite team without luck that year. But the level of dominance they displayed is impossible without luck. Literally, you see a team that dominant over an 82 game sample once every 5 to 10 years maybe. It’s a 1 in 150 to 1 in 300 event. (The Hawks probably would have done it in 2013.) You’re not likely ever to see the Canucks do it again, regardless of the core.

            And I’m done. Sorry, I went way overboard, and you didn’t deserve that. I’m just grumpy after 10 hours at work and 6 hours studying.

            Peace. πŸ˜›

          • Peachy

            Still can’t see the forest through the trees. eh?
            Dode sit ever occur to you to just simply look at how their players play, forget the little numbers, the stats, this team wasn’t good enough years ago and it sure as heck aint good enough today with a worse off team then the one that couldn’t get the job done in the finals. This is the legacy of AV, Gillis, the twins and Luongo. The fans should face and accept what they accepted…mediocrity.

  • Peachy

    Would love to see the head to head match-up SC for Sharks. Kes did a great job controlling play vs tough match-up…

    The Nux come into the toughest place to win a game in NHL vs a true cup contender with a new system &saw-off Fenwick Tied/Fenwick close (51%-49) & Neutral zone entries (11-9 SJS) -They kill off a full 5-3 vs a great PP team. & Get ridiculous amount of PK’s.

    AND this ‘knowledgeable’ hockey market says they are crap & fire Gillis. This is why the rest of the hockey world laughs at Canuck fans.

    The Nux showed way more grit & commitment & had a better chance to win this past game than any in last 11 games playoff match-ups they lost. The pressure on the puck was such a breath of fresh air..Given time & a few tweaks this city will finally have a gritty playoff team —
    There IS finally hope- a team with some intestinal fortitude not to rollover when pushed?

    as Harry Neale used to say:

    Talent beats Hard work UNLESS Talent doesn’t work hard

    The question Nux fans ought to be asking IS why did Gilly wait so long to turf AV — !!

    • “The question Nux fans ought to be asking IS why did Gilly wait so long to turf AV — !!”

      Because hiring a head coach is one of the many parts of the general manager job description for which Mike Gillis is poorly qualified…

    • Peachy

      I think the issue is that while the underlying metrics may have been reasonable, did anyone that actually watched the game have a sense/feeling that the Canucks were going to win, after about the 10 minute mark of the first period? Did anyone think they were going to tie it up in the third? To me, they weren’t even close to making that happen.

      I do agree, however, that I liked a lot of things I saw last night in terms of puck pressure etc. But, they did seem to lose some steam in the 3rd. Regardless, there are some positives to draw from.

      And I 1000% (not a typo) agree on the point of waiting so long to fire AV. While I think the signs were there earlier, realistically, this should have happened after the LA series.

  • My tracking had the chances SJS 10 – Van 8 (ES)
    My expected score was 2.3 – 2.0 at ES

    This great website concurs:

    The game WAS closer than your article implies:

    Also Its clear Edler was a nightmare (a broken record) he drags every partner down —-
    & Nux top two lines were fine.

    The search for a 3C & balanced officiating continues

  • Peachy

    Seems pretty obvious to every person in the league and pro writers that the lineup should be:


    Here’s why:

    1st line obvious.

    2nd line Booth needs to get going and one way or another it’s going to have to be with Kesler, they will have to find and force chemistry to be made.

    Dalpe should never be with grinders, his skill set is useless with grit only players, every player should be used in doing what they do best and his is scoring, and for that he should be put in the best possible chance to do that and that’s on wing where he is more comfortable and with Booth-Kesler needing something to get going, Dalpe could be that answer.

    Higgins/Hansen our the teams best 3rd liners and should be used in this role now, Santorelli will find his groove with these guys.

    4th line should be obvious, a Sestito-Richardson-Weise line would be bananas to play against!

  • Peachy

    Is everyone really that surprised they lost last night? C’mon, seriously.

    Having said that, I liked a few things that I saw in the first period, and then of course they were back to their lazy ways come the 2nd period. I’m not sure whether torts will eventually make an impact or not, but if he does, it certainly isn’t going to happen just yet.

    I’m sure we’ll see more line juggling in the coming weeks and then some more when Kassian comes back. It’ll be a while before we see some consistent play from the ‘nucks.

    Let’s see what happens tomorrow.

  • Peachy

    Thanks for the rundown. It appears the EV story is not as bad as the eye test made it out to be. Powerplays were the main measureable difference.

    I expected Kesler to be more noticable. Instead of a wash he needs to win the tough matchups. The 3rd line difficulties were expected. I’ll still reserve judgement until the 20 game mark.

    I’m feeling for you guys. Despite a few years of preaching context over simplified statements, discussion over bravado, process over result and evidence over narrative, these message boards are still filled with stuff belonging at the bottom of a Tony Gallagher article.

  • Peachy

    Just found this – it’s actual evidence to discuss.

    The Nux have shot 5.5% at ES in last 8 gms vs SJS -the Sharks 9% Nux- PDO 965 SJS1036. some score effects but more bad luck..

    • Peachy

      Just a question – is it possible that those metrics are skewed the way they are because:

      a) The Sharks have been able to generate more “quality” scoring chances? or put another way,

      b) The Sharks have higher quality players and therefore a regression to 1,000 isn’t a valid assumption?

      I guess my point, which I will reiterate, is that you can’t look at these games ONLY through the lens of analytics. There’s more going on. So – I’m not sure if your comment about “what these message boards are filled with” was directed at myself or not, but just please bear in mind that some level of the narrative is completely relevant, just like anything in life. Any quant analysis is greatly enhanced by qual as well. πŸ™‚

  • Peachy

    The game wasn’t nearly as lopsided as those two quick late goals made it seem. The top two lines looked dangerous all night, as did the Sharks top pairings. Everyone looked somewhat rusty — Hamhuis looked worse than I’ve seen him in a long while, Booth was pretty meh, and the third line seemed to be in trouble every time they were out there. As many others have said, that would be my main concern moving forward. It is, after all, just one game. Had we won 4-1 I wouldn’t be thinking we were straight for the cup final either, though I like to see the all or nothing mentality so many seem to favor.

    Let’s see how things look a month from now. There was little to make me think this is a team that looks completely unrecognizable from a few years ago. Luongo in particular looked pretty sharp, at least in the early going though the Burns shot he was down early on.