Putting the Canucks head-to-head with their likely playoff opponents on size, speed, shooting, and other skill-based measures

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
19 days ago
Ten days out from the start of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs, we know that the Vancouver Canucks will participate in Round One, and that they’ll do so with home-ice advantage, having secured at least second place in the Pacific Division.
Beyond that, we’ve at the very least narrowed down their likely first round opponent to one of four teams: the Vegas Golden Knights, the Nashville Predators, the Los Angeles Kings, or the St. Louis Blues. There’s a small chance that the Canucks face the Winnipeg Jets in Round One instead, but it’s small enough for us to ignore at this point.
Were the playoffs to start today, it’d be Nashville. But each of the teams mentioned still has four or five games left to play on the regular season, and there will be some shuffling. At the very least, this gives us four matchups to start exploring as we here at CanucksArmy begin to gear up for the postseason ourselves, and we’re going to start that today by looking at some demographic and skill-based comparisons.
Let’s begin with the most basic of demographics: age.
The Canucks currently have an average age of 28.5, putting them right around the middle of the pack with the 12th-youngest roster.
Here’s how that compares to their likely first round opponents:
TeamAverage AgeNHL Rank
Los Angeles28.311th youngest
Vancouver28.512th youngest
St. Louis29.121st youngest
Vegas29.223rd youngest
Nashville29.528th youngest
Source: LeftWingLock
This might be a basic demographic, but it’s not a very distinguishing one. We’ve got a spread from the 11th-youngest team to the 5th-oldest here, and the difference is 1.2 average years.
We’re not even sure which side of the chart would be at an advantage. It’s youthful vigor versus seasoned experience. Either way, if there’s any advantage or disadvantage to be had here, it won’t be a major one.
Keeping with the basic demographics, we move on to the biometrics.
Here, the Canucks again find themselves in the middle-of-the-road. An average height of 73.3 inches, no doubt buoyed by the presence of Nikita Zadorov and Tyler Myers, has Vancouver tied at the 13th-tallest. An average weight of 199.4lb has them ranked as the 13th-heaviest.
Here, unlike with age, there are some major discrepancies at play in the potential matchups.
TeamAverage HeightNHL Rank
St. Louis73.3”13th-tallest (T)
Vancouver73.3”13th-tallest (T)
Los Angeles73.0”24th-tallest (T)
Source: LeftWingLock
Depending on which matchup they get, the Canucks could find themselves facing one of the tallest teams in the NHL, or one of the shortest. It’s worth noting here that the Vegas Golden Knights stand, on average, an inch taller than the Canucks.
And the potential disadvantage becomes even more clear when we measure by the pound.
TeamAverage WeightNHL Rank
St. Louis Blues205.7lb3rd-heaviest
Los Angeles201.6lb10th-heaviest
Source: LeftWingLock
Here, we again see the Canucks in the middle of the pack, but lacking in comparison to a couple of potential first round matchups, most prominently the hefty Golden Knights and their preposterous 208lb average, a full eight pounds heavier than the Canucks per player.
It’s hard to imagine that not being considered an advantage come playoff time. Perhaps not an insurmountable advantage, but an advantage all the same.
It’s been a banner year for stats geeks with the advent of NHL EDGE, a new public stat-tracking software that makes new measures available to fans and media alike, and often in easy-to-understand graphic format.
In fact, it makes for some mighty-convenient comparison charts by which to quickly gauge the skating, shooting, and possession-related abilities of the Canucks and the four teams they might play in Round One.
Let’s take a look at them one-by-one.
(All images and stats sourced from NHL.com and NHL EDGE and as of April 9, 2024.)
For the Canucks versus the Kings, we know that the regular season series didn’t exactly go in Vancouver’s favour. On paper, at least, the matchup is a little closer.
The Kings seem to have a distinct advantage in overall skating speed, though skating distance is relatively even, whereas the Canucks have a distinct advantage in both shooting volume and effectiveness. The Canucks are also a far superior team at offensive zone possession.
The chart for the Predators versus the Canucks looks a lot different than folks might expect. Vancouver went 3-0 against Nashville this year, but the EDGE says that the Predators are the Canucks’ relative equal in zone-time, skating speed, and goal-scoring, while beating the Canucks out cleanly in shooting and skating distance.
It might not mean anything, but it does paint a picture of a Nashville team that may be harder to handle than most are anticipating.
The Vancouver versus Vegas chart tells the story of two very evenly-matched teams, and that played out in the 2-2 season series. It’s a dead-heat in virtually every category, with the Knights taking a slight edge on shooting volume and the Canucks taking a slight edge on shooting percentage and zone-time. Otherwise, this tells us what we already knew, which is that a Canucks versus Knights series will be highly unpredictable and could go either way.
We end with a look at the Blues, who do appear to be one of the best skating teams in the NHL and a better skating team in the Canucks, but lag behind significantly in offensive measures like zone-time and shooting efficiency. If there’s one chart that makes the Canucks look like they’ve got a significant advantage, it’s this one.
And that right there is probably an effective entry-level look at the potential matchups that goes beyond the simple head-to-head stats, but doesn’t quite yet reach the level of a deep-dive. Once the actual matchup becomes official, expect us at CanucksArmy to start studiously examining whoever that opponent might be.
In the meantime, we’ll keep skimming through them all.
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