The Statsies: Where both teams struggle to do much offensively, so Quinn Hughes takes over

Photo credit:© Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
22 days ago
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I get it, it’s the second half of a back-to-back, but come on man.
The Vancouver Canucks got a late winner for a 2-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. The score was a lot closer than most people expected it to be and it wasn’t exactly the most exciting content in the game either. Neither team got a lot of scoring chances, and while the Canucks did get into the lead and had a good run with their underlying numbers, they didn’t do well enough to get more goals on the board. That almost cost them at the very end, but thankfully Quinn Hughes decided to take matters into his own hands.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

Looking at the game flow, it’s apparent that this game didn’t really have many ebbs and flows through the first two periods. Yes, the Canucks had a controlling share of CF% and xGF% through the first and second, but as evidenced from the trendlines, they weren’t exactly having the most dynamic of performances. It’s telling that Vancouver totaled up 6 high-danger chances through two periods before the Coyotes managed 8 in the third alone. Ideally, the Canucks would’ve been able to take their advantage to really get ahead in the game, but they let Arizona hang around for far too long and they almost made them pay for that.

Heat Map

The heat map shows what a low-event affair last night was. While the Canucks had a handy 29-21 scoring chance lead, the high-danger chances stood at 11-11 apiece. That much is apparent in the hot spots in the high-danger areas, with neither team really doing all that much. The Coyotes managed to put up 10 of their 11 high-danger chances in the third period, racking up a 2.47 xGF in the period alone. Perhaps the final score should’ve been more than the 2-1 scoreline – but it wasn’t that kind of night of offence for either Vancouver or Arizona.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Filip Hronek would pace the Canucks in the Corsi department, leading the team with a 65.85 CF%. With him on the ice, the Canucks out-shot the Coyotes 13-6 with a 12-1 scoring chance advantage and a 4-0 high-danger chance differential. Hronek would record the second-highest raw xGF of 1.37 on the team, giving him an 82.47 xGF% to finish third in that category. Hronek hasn’t looked like the defenceman that he was to start the year, but he’s not been a liability through this last stretch.
Corsi Chump: On the other end of the spectrum, Tyler Myers finished last on the team with a 42.31 CF%. Paired up with Carson Soucy, the two looked pretty rough against the Coyotes for the majority of the night. Myers would finish with the second-worst xGA (1.48) and xGF% (36.49), trailing only his defence partner, while giving up 6 high-danger chances. That’s right, over half of the Coyotes’ high-danger chances came while Soucy-Myers was on the ice. Not great, to say the least.
xGF: Nils Höglander has continued to buzz and be plenty good at generating chances for the Canucks. While not finding the scoresheet last night, he led Vancouver last night with an 82.57 xGF%, racking up the 5th-best xGF of 1.09 while producing the 4th-best xGA of 0.23. Vancouver out-chanced Arizona 8-2 and led 3-0 in high-danger chances while Höglander was on ice, with the Swede continuing to show why he’s been excellent at even strength all year. To no one’s surprise, it was the captain Quinn Hughes that threw the team on his back offensively and led the Canucks with a 1.47 xGF on the night.
GSAx: The good part about having a low-scoring game is that usually, the goalies benefit the most. Arturs Silovs held up his end of the bargain last night, holding back the Coyotes’ 3.20 xGF to finish with a 2.20 GSAx. It was not a bad night’s work, with the only goal of getting past him being a high-danger opportunity. The Latvian has looked pretty darn good in his two starts with the big club, and one has to wonder if this has earned him a longer look from the team in the run-up for the playoffs.

Statistical Musings

Finding Chemistry: Conor Garland isn’t unfamiliar with being on JT Miller’s wing, but lately he’s looked unreal with Dakota Joshua rounding out that unit. Garland scored the game-winner last night, but that isn’t the focal point of this. Rather, it’s the fact that this line is versatile enough not only to produce offence, but to also take on tough opponents and shut them down defensively. It’s not exactly a secret that Arizona isn’t the most potent of teams offensively, but it’s also telling that they were icing Clayton Keller at every opportunity against Joshua-Miller-Garland to try and expose them defensively, only for it to not work in the slightest.
When will the dam break?: Höglander-Pettersson-Boeser have been great together statistically. They’ve produced here and there, but the points aren’t coming consistently, and that’s a shame given what the underlying numbers are. Last night against the Coyotes, this line finished with the most xGF (0.83) and xGF% (82.91) of any forward line, with a 7-1 scoring chance advantage and a 3-0 high-danger chance differential. They’ve definitely gotten unlucky considering the quality of their play, and if they can figure out how to translate the expected offence into tangible goals, it’ll probably jumpstart this team’s entire offence.
Mark Friedman’s little cameo: With how sparsely he’s played as of late, it wouldn’t be a surprise if anyone forgot that Mark Friedman was still on the roster. But, against the Coyotes, Friedman was iced as a forward, rounding out the fourth line with Nils Aman and Sam Lafferty. Surprisingly, they were pretty good together. In limited action, not only did they suppress the Coyotes (yes, low bar), but they got a couple of opportunities as well. While one shouldn’t expect Friedman to be featured much as a forward, it was still interesting to see, and getting decent results is a nice surprise.

As a team

CF% – 55.65% HDCF% – 50.00% xGF% – 60.75%
The Canucks were anything but convincing in this one. Granted, it’s always hard on the back half of the back-to-back, but letting a team like the Coyotes hang around to the point where they were able to equalize in the third is not a great thing. Giving up that many high-danger chances in the third is not going to bring them success against better teams either. But, out of a boring game, the Canucks were able to extract two points, crucially inching them towards the Pacific Division crown with just 6 games left in the season.
Vancouver heads back to California on Saturday, playing the LA Kings at Crypto.com Arena.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com
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