Though it was difficult to notice amid the Vancouver Canucks struggles as a team, Chris Tanev really solidified himself as a bonified top pairing defender for this franchise. His influence on the young Ben Hutton, and being able to play well despite playing with players like Alex Biega, Andrey Pedan and Matt Bartkowski proves he deserves the respect he is given. This was magnified even more so with the loss of Alexander Edler for a large chunk of the season. Let’s dive in.
These Canucks have always lacked a confident force on the backend. Players like Keith Ballard, Christian Ehrhoff and Kevin Bieksa have come and gone, but they were always inconsistent players that you couldn’t rely on. Tanev, on the other hand, is the embodiment of calm, cool and collected consistency. I’m not saying he doesn’t make mistakes, it’s just that he plays smart hockey and minimizes them.
Plus, he’s just such an exciting interview.
His shot has evolved quite a bit through the years as well, as it has become another item in his repertoire from the slot as shown in his first goal of the season where he sniped one on the net and showed it off. He isn’t afraid to use it anymore, and he proved that on a few occasions this year.
Tanev’s value has never been measured in points. Such is the plight of the transitional defenceman, appreciated more for his ability to suppress goals, rather than score them. Of interest to me was the 42 shots, which represent the lowest total Tanev has ever accumulated in a full season as a Canuck.
Generally speaking, when we think of stay-at-home defenceman, we’re talking about the Rob Scuderi’s of the league – players wholly incapable of getting out of their zone. Tanev is in a class of his own where this type of defenceman is concerned. Though he was just over half a percent away from cracking the black by Corsi for, the Canucks fared considerably better with him on the ice, than off. Unsurprisingly, Tanev does this by suppressing shot attempts at the best rate (50.7 CA60) of any Canucks defender.
The goal-based data is no friend of Tanev’s. Quite the opposite. The -4.4% GF%Rel indicates the Canucks fared much better without Tanev on the ice this season. Which, frankly, catches me totally off guard. As I dug a little deeper, though, I found that Tanev was suffering the ill of a low on-ice Sv%, at 91.1%. That’s the likely culprit.
And Tanev is back to looking pretty damn swell again. Well, perhaps not by the raw data, which shows him as three-plus points back of breaking even. But relatively speaking, Tanev’s looking alright. The pessimist might point out, though, that this is only the second time in Tanev’s career that he’s been in the red by scoring chance differential.
Tanev is an excellent shot-blocker, so it’s no surprise that he looks exceedingly good by Fenwick. In fact, he’s in the black with room to spare. Tanev does this by surrendering the fewest unblocked shot attempts of any Canucks defender, at 35.1 FA60.