Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
The Statsies: Andrei Kuzmenko’s statement game and Thatcher Demko’s sparkling shutout
By Michael Liu29 days ago
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It might not have been a blowout or the most exciting game, but a win is a win.
The Vancouver Canucks blanked the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 at home in a game where they came out of the gates fast, then petered out a little. It didn’t cost them dearly, since the Blackhawks are possibly the worst offensive team in the league without Bedard, but does continue the trend of the Canucks falling off a bit in the middle frame. There were still big positives to take away from this game with some great individual performances, but at the same time, there’s also cause for some concern with trends as of late.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.
Vancouver was the better team last night 5v5. The final stats tell all you really need to know, where the Canucks went for 60.47 CF% and 56.29 xGF%, having a 15-8 edge in high-danger chances. However, attention should be directed to the second period, where the Canucks have been poor in the last couple of games as of late. Vancouver went from out high-danger chancing Chicago 8-1 in the first to being out high-danger chanced 3-5 at 5v5 in the second. This comes as the Hawks managed a 59.26 CF% and 66.18 xGF% in the period, which is not a good look for the Canucks as the league’s best team. Granted, it was only for one period, but this has been a pattern as of late – starting the game off strong, then backing off. It hasn’t always been like this either, because the Canucks were still posting strong underlying stats in the second period in the numerous games they were winning before this last stretch.
The Blackhawks establishing a hot spot in front of Demko was not entirely expected going into the game. The high-danger chances stood at 20-14 in favour of Vancouver across all situations, with it being reflected in the Canucks’ bigger hot patch in the slot area. But, the density was similar between the two teams judging from the shade of the colour on both ends, which isn’t too great to be giving up to any team. But luckily for Vancouver, Demko was brilliant in net, and the Hawks are terrible at finishing chances. Surprisingly, the scoring chances stood even at 27 apiece.
Individual Advanced Stats
Corsi Champ: Nils Höglander has been on a bit of a stats heater as of late. Against Chicago, the Swede managed an 88.89 CF% to lead the team, a staggering 41.64 CF% rel above team average. Now granted, the Blackhawks aren’t exactly a possession team, but to hold that much of a possession advantage is always good especially from depth pieces. Impressively, Höglander was only on ice for 2 Corsi against, which basically means the Hawks only had 2 shot attempts over the course of his TOI.
Corsi Chump: This one is a little interesting. Teddy Blueger and Conor Garland tied for the worst CF% on the team with 45.00. Given how their line and Dakota Joshua have been humming, it seems odd that their metrics weren’t the greatest against arguably weaker competition. Both players saw a 3-7 scoring chance differential in favour of the Hawks, though the high-danger chances stood tied 2-2. These numbers were coming against the likes of Alex Vlasic and Seth Jones too, not exactly world-beaters in their own right.
THE STATSIES PRESENTED BY BETWAY
xGF: Höglander finds himself as the team leader here as well thanks to an absurd 96.67 xGF%. That’s 55.31 xGF% rel to the team average, due in large part to the team-low 0.03 xGA that he recorded against the Blackhawks. This is all coming without power play time too, managing to be on ice for a 7-1 lead in scoring chances and a 5-0 difference in high-danger chances. While he didn’t find his way onto the scoreboard in this one, Höglander has been playing exceptionally well alongside Sam Lafferty and Nils Åman. Raw xGF saw none other than Quinn Hughes leading the way with a 1.83, which matches up with how generally uneventful the game felt after the opening two goals.
GSAx: It’s a testament to how bad the Canucks were that Thatcher Demko only had three shutouts in his career prior to this season, surpassing that mark in a single season with his 5th last night. Chicago did actually manage to get quite a decent xGF number last night, recording a 3.75 in total. But with Demko blanking them, it just helped pump his numbers up even more to finish with 3.75 GSAx. The NHL all-star continues a solid run of play between the pipes, and the Canucks will be needing more of it as they face stronger opposition. Hopefully, they can also do him some favours in front and not back off after the first period.
Kuzmenkshow making a return: It’s against the Blackhawks yes, but is it ever nice to see Andrei Kuzmenko buzzing again. He was all over the ice last night, playing one of the best games he’s had in a Canucks uniform and being directly involved in both goals that they scored. It wasn’t just offence either – there were lots to like about his defensive play and most of all his effort in the dirty areas.
The underlying stats were kind to him as well, finishing with the team’s second-best CF% (75.00), xGF% (76.58), and xGF (1.49). Kuzmenko was on ice for a 12-4 scoring chance advantage and a further 10-3 high-danger chance lead in the best game that he, Pius Suter, and Ilya Mikheyev have had as a line. The trio notched the highest xGF (0.53) of any Canuck line at 5v5 and saw the second-most ice time behind Joshua-Blueger-Garland. Not bad at all given where they were at just two games ago.
Another game, another 5v5 struggle for the Lotto Line: There shouldn’t be any surprises if Tocchet decides to break up the Lotto Line if they struggle next game again. At even strength, Petterson-Miller-Boeser continues to be uninspiring, posting the worst stats of any Canuck unit. Impressively bad was their team-low 25.59 xGF% and 0.18 xGF – which is a bad look for three all-stars against the worst team in the NHL. It isn’t good enough for three of the best offensive players on this team to vanish at even strength, and hopefully there will be adjustments that can re-spark the goal scoring.
Changing up the D: With Carson Soucy out and Noah Juulsen drawing back into the lineup, Vancouver decided to experiment a little with the defence pairings against Chicago. It produced good results and interesting ones as well. Every defenceman finished above 56.00 CF%, while only Nikita Zadorov and Tyler Myers finished below 50.00 xGF%. Continuing off from the last game, Zadorov-Hronek ended the night as the Canucks’ most-iced pairing, producing the best CF% (66.67) and beating out Hughes-Myers with a 53.79 xGF% to their 52.06. But the team’s best xGF% went to Cole-Juulsen, producing 84.44 xGF% in their 11:15 together and conceding a team-low 0.09 as a pairing. It’s a tiny sample size against the league’s worst team, but playing around with the combinations is not a bad thing as they look to find a fit without Soucy for the next while.
As a team
CF% – 54.13% HDCF% – 58.82% xGF% – 47.43%
This game went by quick. It was the result that Canucks fans expected and wanted, but the fashion in which they got it wasn’t all entirely convincing. Yes, they came out firing and taking it against a team they should be crushing, but there wasn’t much following that. The second period let off will need to be addressed and the Lotto Line needs to click, especially looking ahead at their schedule where they face some of the best the West has to offer. But, Demko was brilliant, the depth continues to hum, and Kuzmenko had a great game. That shouldn’t be lost in all of this.
Vancouver will welcome the St Louis Blues to town on Wednesday for their next matchup.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com
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