Here at CanucksArmy, we pride ourselves on bringing you the very best in stats-based Canucks coverage. We’ve already got our Statsies column up and running on a regular basis, but the great thing about stats is that the deeper one digs into them, the more fascinating numbers one finds.
Let’s be honest here, the 2022/23 season has already been a long and strange one for the Vancouver Canucks, and we’re not even at the quarter-mark yet. And the bizarreness of the season thus far has, naturally, resulted in the sort of stats that really jump off the screen.
Here are nine of the Canucks’ most eye-popping stats — both good and bad — thus far on the 2022/23 campaign, and what they might mean.
Elias Pettersson has the second-highest goals-above-replacement stats in the entire league
Twitter user @EvolvingWild has been putting together colourful goals-against-replacement charts for a number of years now, and they can make for a very useful resource in trying to determine a player’s individual impact on their teams success.
It should come as no shock, then, that Elias Pettersson’s GAR chart looks pretty stellar through 16 games on the 2022/23 season. But second-best in the entire league? That’s a surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one.
The different GAR bars on the chart represent measures of how many goals Pettersson generates for his team in six different on-ice situations, weighted against the average performance of a replacement-level player. @EvolvingWild came up with an in-progress GAR of 7.7, which trails only Jack Eichel of the Vegas Golden Knights.
Compare that with Connor McDavid’s 5.1 GAR to see just how important Pettersson has been for the Canucks.
Bo Horvat leads the league in road goals with 8
Speaking of “better than McDavid,” plenty of coverage has been given to the fact that Bo Horvat’s 14 goals trail only McDavid in the overall goal-scoring race, but not enough to the fact that Horvat actually leads the entire league in road goals with eight.
Anytime you’ve got a league leader in a raw stat on your hands, it’s cause for celebration, even if it’s a niche number — and road goals aren’t that niche.
Goals are traditionally harder to come by than goals at home due to a number of factors, but primarily, the advantage of the last change. Sure, the Canucks have played the most road games in the NHL with 11, but Horvat has still scored a goal in eight of those 11 games, and that’s something worth writing home about.
Horvat has won as many faceoffs as the rest of the team combined
Let the Horvat praise continue.
We already knew that Horvat was the Canucks’ faceoff king. Again, in 2022-23, he’s taken the most faceoffs on the team and won more of them than anyone in the league not named Patrice Bergeron.
But even that is putting Horvat’s faceoff prowess a little mildly.
Consider it this way, instead:
Bo Horvat has won 242 faceoffs through 17 games thus far on the 2022/23.
The rest of the Canucks, COMBINED, have won 237 faceoffs.
That’s right, Horvat has won more faceoffs than the entirety of the rest of his teammates put together. If that’s not a testament to Horvat’s unique set of skills, we don’t know what is.
JT Miller has zero 5v5 assists on the season
Let’s not get too on our high horse, because not all the eye-popping stats are happy ones.
Much has been made of the mercurial play of JT Miller this season. On the one hand, he’s got 10 goals and 16 points in 17 games, meaning he’s not terribly far off his 99-point pace of last season.
On the other hand, Miller’s production has been decidedly slanted so far.
Miller does lead the Canucks in power play points with 10. His 5v5 play, however, leaves plenty to be desired. There, Miller has just four goals and a whopping ZERO assists. Forget about primary or secondary, Miller hasn’t picked up a single helper of any variety at evens, and we’re almost a quarter of the way through the season.
This, despite Miller having been on the ice for more even-strength minutes than any other Vancouver forward.
Any way you slice it, that’s more troubling than it is anomalous.
Brock Boeser has the worst xGA vs. xGF ratio in the entire league …
Visual charts can be a lot of fun, but not when they so clearly show one of your players as the very worst in the league at something.
Which brings us to Brock Boeser.
The ever-polarizing @JFreshHockey puts together double-axis graphs comparing a player’s expected goals-for and expected goals-against to determine which players have the best and worst combined on-ice impact for their teams.
You really don’t want to be down in the left corner of one of these charts.
And who’s that down in the very bottom left of this one?
Why, it’s Brock Boeser.
No other forward has a worse combined ratio of xGA and xGF than Boeser, and it’s not particularly close. Boeser is so far down there, he’s practically making contact with the “caved in” label, and the distance between he and all of his non-Tanner Pearson teammates speaks volumes about the individuality of his struggles.
That being said…
…but Boeser is also scoring at the highest points-per-60 rate of his career
Boeser has literally zero goals of any kind on the season, and yet his nine assists in 11 games represents the third-highest PPG pace of his career.
Go one step further and break things down by ice-time, and they become even more complimentary of Boeser. His points-per-60 rate is currently at an even 3.0, which is tied for the highest single season rate of his career thus far.
That means that, as much as Boeser is being hemmed into his own end and finding himself unable to score, he’s still producing points at as good a rate as he ever had.
We know we promised at the outset to explain what each of these stats mean, but this one has us scratching our heads. Are Boeser’s struggles exaggerated, or is the production the outlier here?
Thatcher Demko has the second-worst WAR and GSAE in the NHL
We’ve covered this before
, so we won’t belabour the point, but Thatcher Demko’s stats are among the worst in the entire NHL, and they get worse and worse the fancier the numbers become.
It definitely bears repeating that Demko’s wins-above-replacement and goals-saved-above-expected, both tracked by MoneyPuck, are second-worst in the league at -1.71 and -10.3, respectively.
Only Elvis Merzlikins of the Columbus Blue Jackets is worse off in either category.
What that means is that, strictly by the numbers, Demko has gone from winning games for the Canucks to losing them. These stats say that the Canucks have dropped at least two wins because of Demko, and that he’s cost them about one goal extra per game than they should have reasonably expected for him.
And, of course, expectations have never really been reasonable for Demko, so the swing in results is especially disconcerting.
Three Canucks are in the bottom-30 of on-ice EV goals-for ratio
Sometimes, the numbers don’t have to be fancy to be meaningful. Sometimes, the basics say it all.
In looking at the leaguewide rankings for even-strength goals-for ratio — meaning how many goals-for a player is on the ice for compared to goals-against — one can’t help but notice an abundance of Canucks at the bottom.
Three Canucks are present in the league’s bottom-30 for EV goals-for ratio. They are Kyle Burroughs (22.2%), Riley Stillman (23.1%), and Nils Höglander (28.6%). Tanner Pearson just barely misses out on joining them in the bottom-30 with his 30.0%.
Due to the simplicity of this stat, the meaning should be fairly apparent. Certain Canucks are getting absolutely buried out there on the ice, and that’s contributing to the team, as a whole, also getting buried.
That the Canucks only have the fifth-worst goal differential as a team is a sign of just how much some of the other players are carrying the team on their shoulders.
The Canucks are the fourth-smallest team in the league
There has been plenty of talk about the Canucks’ pushback and truculence, or lack thereof, this season, and we have some statistical proof of why that might be.
The Canucks are small, even by the standards of the modern NHL.
Whether one measures by average height (184.83cm) or weight (195lbs), the Canucks are the fourth-smallest team in the entire league.
For a squad that supposedly wanted to add size and speed to the roster in the offseason, it looks as though they’re batting .500 at best.
Which, numbers-wise, is actually pretty good for the 2022/23 Canucks, as you’ve seen here today.
Most of the other stats, with some individual exceptions, aren’t nearly as forgiving.