The Statsies: Boeser and Hughes’ individual brilliance help buoy a turbulent Canucks win

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
6 months ago
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It wasn’t all sunshine and roses for the Vancouver Canucks as they record their first win of the preseason in 5-2 fashion against the Edmonton Oilers. Their sluggish start to the game did not bode well for what the rest of the game had in store – but credit to the team for being able to find their legs and respond in big fashion to claim the win. There was still plenty to like and take away from the game from a numbers standpoint, with some excellent early signs with some players.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

Not much of this game flow should be a surprise. Sure, the Oilers had themselves two man-advantages in the first frame which contributed to them jumping ahead in CF% and xGF%. But Vancouver didn’t do themselves any favours either, giving up a total of 8 HDCA with 5 of them coming at 5v5. The Canucks were also out-chanced 14-5 in that period as well.
They were able to bounce back though, coming out with much stronger efforts in the second and third periods. Though the damage was done in terms of the flow chart looking a little rough, Vancouver dominated possession in the second to the nice tune of 69.44 CF%, out-chancing Edmonton 22-13 through the final two periods. The only knock here would be that the Canucks perhaps weren’t the most efficient in chance generation, edging out the Oilers only 7-5 in high-danger chances over the course of the final period.

Heat Map

As a result of giving up quite a number of high-danger chances, the heat map is not the prettiest to look at. The Canucks bled chances both at 5v5 and at even strength, resulting in the Oilers creating a massive hot patch right in the areas that they wanted. While the scoring chances were 27 apiece, it was clear that Edmonton tended to funnel their opportunities in and around the slot area, while Vancouver saw their scoring chances more dispersed throughout the entire offensive zone. They got away with it tonight because Stuart Skinner looked more interested in complaining about calls than netminding, but the Canucks will hopefully manage to get more high-danger chances themselves while limiting their opponents a little more.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: In a somewhat understated 4-point game, Brock Boeser led the way for the Vancouver Canucks with a 78.79 CF% against the Oilers. It’s nice to see that from the winger who was much-maligned last year thanks to underwhelming production, and hopefully Boeser can discover another gear that can push him even higher. One small asterisk on his CF% numbers is not just the absence of McDrai – Boeser received 100% of his shift starts in the offensive zone, with 91.67% of his faceoff starts coming in the offensive zone.
Corsi Chump: After a decent performance against the Oilers last time out, it was the line of Nils Åman – Teddy Blueger – Jack Studnicka that got kind of eaten up last night. Nils Åman brought up the rear in terms of CF%, a team-low of 31.25 just edging out Tyler Myers’ 32.00 CF%. It wasn’t horrific though – while Åman wasn’t the greatest at getting puck possession, he did once again snuff out opposing offences. Åman was only on ice for 5 scoring chances against, with just one of them being high-danger, thus giving him the 4th-lowest raw xGA on the entire team.


xGF: This one finds Brock Boeser leading the charge once more, topping the Canucks with 91.97 xGF%. His passing looked on point today, with hopefully more opportunities to utilize his shot opening up as a result of his hockey IQ. Boeser’s 1.52 xGF sat as the 4th-best total, while his 0.13 xGA was a team-best. Again, keep in mind that his offensive zone starts were very disproportionate last night, but the results were clear on his contributions to the win. A very special shoutout to captain Quinn Hughes in this category, racking up a 1.66 xGF to lead the entire team.
GSAx: Thatcher Demko looks back in his best form. Possibly fully healthy and rested for the first time in a hot second, the netminder had to stem the tides in the first period and did so well, letting his team get their legs under them to have a chance at winning the game. Through the course of the game, the Oilers generated 3.33 xGF, meaning Demko’s GSAx sits at 1.33 in this one. The two goals that he gave up were recorded as a middle-danger and a high-danger goal respectively, so not the worst either. Hopefully, Demko can keep riding this momentum into the regular season with a competent backup to give him rest.

Statistical Musings

Quinn Hughes runs the show, but who’s his co-pilot?: You probably don’t need the stats to show that Quinn Hughes had an awesome game against Edmonton. A team-high in TOI led to the second-best CF% (75.00), best xGF, second-best xGF% (85.46), the most scoring chances (14), and tied for the most high-danger chances (4) to go along with the two goals, one assist that he racked up on the back end. Truly, the captain seems so much more dynamic (granted it is preseason), that you can’t help but wonder how he’ll fare this year.
But instead of singing his praises yet again, the main point of intrigue is figuring out who will be riding alongside him as his defensive partner. Originally, it felt that Carson Soucy was a shoo-in for that role, but another contender has emerged in the form of Cole McWard. The former Buckeye has looked impressive this preseason and it’s probably no coincidence that the coaching staff have been giving him an extended look alongside their top defender. Against the Oilers, McWard alongside Hughes put up 61.90 CF%, 7 shots for, 3 shots against, 0.58 xGF, 0.24 xGA, 71.08 xGF%, 6 scoring chances, 3 HDCF, and 0 HDCA. It might honestly not be a bad option to experiment with – opposites like Ohio State and Michigan do attract, sometimes.

As a team

CF% – 53.92% HDCF% – 38.1% xGF% – 45.36%
What looks to be the Canucks’ opening night roster didn’t exactly have the best of starts against a McDrai-less Oilers team, but they managed to find the level of play that they wanted to be at to storm to their first preseason victory. Big-time individual performances helped, and the NHL top-9 generally looks pretty darn solid for a September 30th game. There’s still things to polish up, but a more structured Vancouver team looks to be taking shape with the season right around the corner.
Next up, the Canucks welcome the Kraken to Abbotsford Centre on October 4th.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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