By The Numbers
Zack MacEwen made it into the lineup for six total games this postseason, with the Vancouver Canucks earning four straight wins in the first four playoff games of his career. The next two, however, were two losses to the St. Louis Blues, at which point MacEwen came out of the lineup and didn’t return.
During those six games, MacEwen went pointless and averaged just 7:35 of ice-time. But to say he made no impact at all wouldn’t be accurate.
MacEwen threw 15.81 hits-per-60 minutes of play, third on the team after Micheal Ferland and Antoine Roussel. He had but a single giveaway, and took only one minor penalty to go along with a fighting major. He was on the ice for two goals for, and only one against.
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MacEwen’s advanced statline might seem encouraging, but don’t get too excited — context is everything. His Corsi For of 45.45% was seventh on the team, his Expected Goals For rate of 43.31% ranked sixth, and his 46.67% share of High-Danger Chances trailed just Jake Virtanen and Quinn Hughes.
Keep in mind, however, that MacEwen didn’t play at all in the Vegas Golden Knights series, during which the advanced stats of most of his teammates plummeted. Before that series, MacEwen’s underlying numbers were near the bottom of the team in nearly every category, and it’s only through his teammates sliding down the ranks that MacEwen slid up.
Thus, the fact that his control of scoring chances still came in at just 33.33% — third-worst on the team — is highly problematic.
MacEwen seemed to struggle to keep up with the increased pace of the NHL playoffs. That’s not entirely surprising for a rookie that had yet to lock down a permanent roster spot in the regular season, and it was certainly true of other fourth liners, but it was still noticeable.
That being said, one thing MacEwen has on his side is youth. Others, like Jay Beagle and Brandon Sutter, aren’t going to get any better, but MacEwen will. If he can adjust enough to play his uniquely physical style at the clip of the postseason, he has all the makings of an impact player.
Ultimately, MacEwen didn’t play well enough when he was in the lineup to justify inserting him into the Vegas series. But if he had, there’s no doubt the Canucks could have used his rambunctiousness to help overcome that of Ryan Reaves and the Golden Knights.
Here’s hoping he’s able to take another step forward in 2021 and earn himself a permanent spot before the next playoffs roll around.
Playoff Grade: C
MacEwen didn’t play great, but that’s true of multiple players in the bottom-six, and at least he had the excuse of inexperience. The potential is there, but he hasn’t put it all together quite yet.