The Canucks find themselves in somewhat of a win/possible-win situation after the lottery balls bounced in favour of team E.
They can either go on a run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs or have a 12.5% of snagging Alexis Lafreniere (or Quinton Byfield if you ask Cam Robinson of DobberProspects).
They have played themselves into this position due to a bevy of players stepping up in the clutch and building on their young careers. There have also been some dark moments.
I wanted to look at some of the dark moments throughout the season and specifically dive into what turned out to be the worst defensive pairing this season.
I only examined defensive pairings that had at least a few games where they had to play together, so we are going to put the minimum time playing together at 100 minutes of 5-on-5 time.
There are a few candidates for the worst pairing under this criteria.
Alex Edler and Chris Tanev played 105:33 together this season, the once stable (when healthy) top pairing for the Canucks was not as strong this season. With an expected goal share percentage of 43.5% and a Corsi percentage of 37.5%, they were truly dominated when on the ice at 5-on-5.
The reason I’m giving them a break is because they didn’t start a lot of games as an actual pairing. A lot of their 5-on-5 minutes actually comes from them still being on the ice when a penalty would expire. The pair of Tanev and Edler was paired up to kill more than triple the penalty minutes than any other pairing this season.
The Edler-Tanev pairing would get occasional time when Green would shake up the pairings later in games, but as a pairing, I could only really find one game where the team’s starting lineup listed them as a pair.
An honourable mention for worst pairing is that of Jordie Benn and Tyler Myers, who had a 41.1% Corsi, controlled only 37.5% of the on-ice goal share while their goaltenders had a .929% save percentage with them on the ice together. No other consistent pairing has a higher expected goals per 60 than this duo.
So let’s get to the worst pairing of the season.
Oscar Fantenberg and Tyler Myers
This pairing played 336 minutes together at 5-on-5 this season. That is the fifth most consistent pairing for head coach Travis Green and his team this season.
Fantenberg played 53.6% of his 5-on-5 ice time with Myers this season while Myers played 28.1% of his 5-on-5 time with Fantenberg.
This pairing had some tough luck for sure. Their goaltender’s on-ice save percentage was 899% and their on ice shooting percentage was a horrendous 5.23%. That results in a PDO of 0.951.
Fantenberg and Myers had 3.74 goals scored on them per 60 minutes, but this can also be attributed to the weak 0.899% save percentage that they had to deal with — but you would have to go back and watch the goals to see why the save percentage was so low.
Don’t strictly let numbers influence your opinion. This is bad goaltending.
Fanta and Myers as a pairing did have an on-ice save percentage of 0.899%. Their goaltenders let them down at times too… pic.twitter.com/XwFhfkNHuu
— 𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 Faber 🤙🔥🎙 (@ChrisFaber39) June 28, 2020
On the contrary, their expected goals against was only 2.67 goals per 60 minutes. The actual results of goals scored were seriously affected by the shaky goaltending behind them. But you would have to go back and watch the goals to see if Myers and Fantenberg were directly at fault for goals.
Don’t strictly let numbers influence your opinion. This is bad defence.
Fanta and Myers.
Yikes. 🤷♂️🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/UOjK4OV73N
— 𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 Faber 🤙🔥🎙 (@ChrisFaber39) June 28, 2020
For two defencemen who are more offensive-minded, they struggled to get anything past the opposition. The low shot percentage of 5.23% tells a lot of that story. The problem is, the results don’t lie.
In the 336 minutes of 5-on-5 while the pairing was on the ice, the team was only able to score eight goals.
This is painful to see, as with the Quinn Hughes and Myers pairing on the ice the team was able to score 21 goals in 10 fewer minutes.
The weak spot of the pairing was definitely Fantenberg. He only had one primary assist all season and one goal. It was a snipe though.
— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) December 4, 2019
Some questions need to be raised about Fantenberg. He was part of the worst pairing of the season and when he was away from that pairing his goaltenders bailed him out a ton as they posted a 0.977% saver percentage for Fantenberg when he’s away from Myers.
Going into the playoffs Travis Green needs to have his defence core running as solid as possible. He will likely be leaning on his top four to play a ton of minutes. I expect that top four to feature Hughes, Tanev, Edler and Myers.
From there you have Troy Stecher as the third pair right side but is it going to be Benn or Fantenberg to round it out?
Brogan Rafferty played the left side throughout his NCAA career. If he makes enough of an impact at second training camp would Travis Green consider going that direction?
No, no he wouldn’t.
It’s fun to dream though.
Who do you got with Stecher on the third pairing?
Because Twitter is very much in favour of Fantenberg. Cast your vote below!
Eye test question: Who brought more to the #Canucks this season?
— 𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 Faber 🤙🔥🎙 (@ChrisFaber39) June 27, 2020