Now Dellow has done it. That darned Toronto lawyer has gone and posted possession data from 1997 to 2007, which is excellent if you want to kill a few hours and/or scream loudly about how things went for Vancouver in the early 2000s.
Let’s look up the Canucks’ shots for rate each year, find their league rank, and compare it to that of their playoff opponents:
|2000-01||52.9% (7th)||COL 53.0% (4th)||–|
|2001-02||53.1% (7th)||DET 54.4% (4th)||–|
|2002-03||51.8% (10th)||MIN 45.3% (26th)||STL 53.6% (6th)|
|2003-04||51.6% (14th)||CGY 53.3% (6th)||–|
It always felt like the Canucks’ best opportunity to win a Stanley Cup wasn’t in 1994 or even 2011, but rather 2003-04 was the one that really got away for the Canucks. Had they managed to knock off a powerhouse Minnesota group and their 26th-ranked Corsi in the NHL, next was 24th ranked Anaheim and their 48.1% shots for rate.
What I found really interesting, however, is what the possession data tells us about the Canucks between the years of 1997 and 2006. I don’t really care about 06-07 because by then, the team was completely different and built around Roberto Luongo. 97 to 06, however, was all about the rise and fall of the West Coast Express:
Isn’t that interesting? If Tyler’s data is correct, the Canucks probably peaked a year or two before people expected they did. The 2000-2001 team was the first to make the playoffs after a devastating
three four-year absence. That was not only the year that Mark Messier ditched Vancouver and went back to New York, but also the Sedins’ rookie year, the first year Markus Naslund scored 40 goals, but most importantly, the day the Canucks traded Adrian Aucoin to Tampa Bay for Dan Cloutier.
To see the Canucks as a 52% possession team that won 30 and 36 games in those first two years of the Sedins in the NHL, well… back in the day nobody was talking about Cloutier’s .894 or .901 save percentages those years. Save percentages have risen now, but both marks were well below the NHL average, at least 12 goals worse than the average SV% during those years, per Hockey Reference.
As a result, the Canucks entered the playoffs with a low seed in each year and got clobbered in four straight by better teams in both respective years. The Canucks put up a hell of a fight against Detroit in 2002 and after the hot second half, it looked like the best was yet to come for Vancouver.
But these numbers disagree. In fact, had this data been around sooner, we may have expected that Dave Nonis’ squad for the first post-lockout season would disappoint. It’s much easier to make that prediction now, but they were underwhelming all year, goalie or no.
Maybe tomorrow at the Pint (yes, I’ll be there. Buy your ticket) I’ll wear my old Cloutier jersey. How young, impressionable, and stupid I was.