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Photo Credit: © Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Myers’ unique attributes shone through in a playoffs defined by injury and discipline issues

By The Numbers

This section will be shorter than on most playoff reviews, because there aren’t all that many numbers to talk about. Through ten 2020 playoff games spread throughout three series, Tyler Myers put up straight zeroes — zero goals, zero assists, and zero points.

Plus/minus is a horrid and flawed stat, as we all know, but it is worth noting that Myers failed to register a single positive game in this regard through the entire postseason, recording four “minus” games and six where he came out even. At even-strength, Myers was only on the ice for one Canucks goal.

Myers was quite active in one particular statistical category, though not the one anyone but the Canucks’ opponents would have wanted. With a staggering 20 PIMs through his first five postseason games, Myers picked up the unfortunate nickname of “Tyler Minors”; and while some will attest that Myers was held to a higher standard by officials than several players on the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues, clearly some disciplinary issues were in play as well.

Both his time in the box, and the often boneheaded decisions that put him there, resulted in Myers’ ice-time dropping significantly from his regular-season totals, until his return from injury in the Vegas series, after which he was back up over 20 minutes.

Even those stats that typically favour oversized players don’t reflect a strong performance from Myers. His 4.89 hits-per-60 and 3.67 blocks-per-60 ranked 17th and 8th on the team, respectively.

Myers’ advanced statline doesn’t look very impressive either, but here context is important. In almost every popular category, he hovered around 40%; 41.42% Corsi For, 40.24% Shots For, 40.71% Scoring Chances For, and 43.55% High Danger Chances For. However, that was true of most of the blueline, with only Quinn Hughes approaching 50% in any column, and both Oscar Fantenberg and Jordie Benn faring much worse than Myers in every regard.

If there’s one set of numbers for Myers to hang his hat on this postseason, it’s those relating to the penalty kill. His Expected Goals For percentage while shorthanded was 12.15%, second only to Troy Stecher and well above the rest of the defence corps.

The Eye-Test

Myers has always been a player for whom the proverbial “eye-test” is required to assess his true value.

At first, even this perspective might seem to work against Myers’ 2020 playoff performance. One of the dominant narratives of the Minnesota series was his ceaseless parade to the penalty box, with most of the calls against him coming as the result of obvious, blatant infractions — punches to the face, crosschecks to the spine, and the like.

Sure, in some of these instances Myers was sticking up for his teammates or responding to the physical targeting of Elias Pettersson, but he still demonstrated an overall lack of discipline that probably would have hurt the Canucks more if they’d been up against a more capable opponent.

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Myers cleaned up his act a bit early in the St. Louis series, before being waylaid by a separated shoulder late in Game Two, an injury that would keep him out of action until well into the second round.

When Myers returned to the lineup for Game Four against the Vegas Golden Knights, he was clearly not operating at 100%. Myers’ left shoulder, presumably frozen before every period, was more-or-less nonfunctional, greatly reducing his ability to shoot the puck and throw his usual thunderous bodychecks.

In a way, however, the injury necessitated Myers simplifying his game in a way that emphasized his most unique and valuable attributes. Working with one good shoulder made it a lot tougher for him to punch and crosscheck, and forced him to use body position instead, a field in which Myers always has a considerable advantage.

Before Myers’ return, the Canucks had no answer for the sizeable and speedy Alex Tuch. With his skating ability and wingspan, however, Myers was able to get in the way of Tuch and/or tie him up on most shifts, and his presence made a definitive difference.

Without Myers in the lineup, Tuch put up four points in three games. With Myers, he was held to a single empty net goal in Games Four through Seven.

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Simply put, Myers helped shut Tuch down, and it’s hard to believe the Canucks would have made it to Game Seven if he didn’t.

Speaking of Game Seven, and speaking of Myers’ skating prowess, a handful of the Canucks’ sparing chances in the final game were generated from Myers’ end-to-end rushing ability. No longer able to pass or shoot with ease, Myers had to lug the puck more often than he usually would, and he was better off for it. Hopefully, that’s a lesson he can take into the next season.

Playoff Grade: C+

On the surface, Myers had a dreadful playoffs, and we’re not here to excuse it. However, consider that Myers is a unique specimen, and that there isn’t another player in the organization — and few in the league as a whole — that could have shut down Tuch as effectively.

As long as the Pacific Division retains its reputation for big-bodied forwards with skill, Myers will hold significant value for the Canucks, warts and all.