The Statsies: Breaking down the numbers from the Canucks’ weekend back-to-back games

Photo credit:© Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
4 months ago
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The highlight of the morning matchups were the cartoons.
The Vancouver Canucks played two matinee matchups, dropping a 4-3 decision to the Detroit Red Wings in overtime before winning against the Washington Capitals 3-2 in overtime. These were some much better efforts by this Canucks team. They out-chanced and out-possessed Detroit for large chunks of the game, and the third period was back-and-forth action with individual mistakes leading to goals against. Not ideal obviously, but that stuff happens. Against the Capitals, they were handily out-possessed but battled to stay in the game, enough for them to capitalize on a Connor McMichael error. It wasn’t the prettiest win, but it was a gutsy one to secure two points.
Here are the games, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

Much of this game hung in the balance. Neither team really dominated at any given point, with the xGF and CF% shares generally hovering around the 50% mark. What is interesting, though, is the third period, where the Canucks gave up two goals — it was very much against what the stats were saying. In total, Vancouver racked up a 2.42 xGF in that frame alone, while Detroit only managed to generate 0.52, giving the Canucks an 82.40 xGF% share. That should’ve been plenty to see the game out, but obviously, that didn’t happen.
The Capitals generally controlled the puck better than the Canucks over the course of the game. The opening power play was the only reason why Vancouver had the game flow lines in their half of the chart, thanks to excellent work by the second unit. But, for the rest of the game, the special teams stalled out, and at 5v5, Vancouver was limited in the number of high-dange3r chances they got. In the third, the Canucks held a 13-3 lead in scoring chances, but only split the high-danger chances 1-1.

Heat Map

Vancouver did their part at generating good quality chances against Detroit. In total, across all situations, the Canucks held a 17-8 edge in high-danger chances, with a 35-20 lead in total scoring chances. That’s reflected in the hot spot present at the offensive end, while not giving up anything to the Red Wings. However, Detroit still capitalized on their chances, evidenced by the goals right from the slot area. They succeeded against the odds they were producing, which does happen. It shouldn’t take away from the good things that the Canucks were doing throughout the game as well.
This heat map wasn’t as kind to the Canucks. Across all situations, the Capitals held a 14-9 edge in high-danger chances, reflected in the hot spot they had in front of Thatcher Demko. Overall, Vancouver was leading the scoring chance battle 36-34, so the ratio of high-danger chances given up wasn’t actually the worst here. But, they probably don’t want to be doing so consistently as the rest of the season wears on.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Filip Hronek had himself a game against his old team. Recording a 65.00 CF% in 20:19 TOI, the Czech defenceman was probably the most effective player at 5v5 against the Red Wings. Not only did he rack up a goal and 2 assists, Hronek also led the Canucks in 5v5 xGF with a 1.01, out chancing the Red Wings 13-5 during his ice time. He was also on ice for the most high-danger chances for (6) out of any Canuck at even strength, doing more than his fair share to make sure the Canucks were in their 3-1 lead.
As for the Capitals game, Conor Garland led the Canucks with a 73.68 CF%, buzzing once more and finding the scoresheet with a very nice breakaway goal. It was once again an effective night at both ends for the winger, outshooting Washington 6-3 while being on ice for 1 goal for and 1 goal against. Garland’s been seeing some power play looks lately too, and doesn’t look half bad there. It’s a deserved reward for the consistent form that he and his linemates have shown this season.
Corsi Chump: Noah Juulsen brought up the rear in the Corsi department against Detroit, tallying a 31.58 CF% to put him at a -30.49 CF% rel to team average. But that isn’t a bad thing, especially with how he defends. Yes, Detroit had a lot of puck possession while Juulsen was on the ice, but they weren’t able to do anything with that. Not only did they not manage to score a goal, but they only had a total of four scoring chances against Juulsen, with just two of them being high-danger. It’s been a remarkable turnaround for Juulsen this season, going from whipping boy to one of the Canucks’ best options as a depth defender. It’s been sorely needed too with key injuries in the lineup.
Nils Aman posted a team-low 23.53 CF% against the Caps, looking quite overmatched in his limited ice time. The Swede only had a measly 15.87 xGF% as well, getting shelled at 5v5 against the likes of a hobbled Max Paccioretty. The fourth line might need some rejigging as Aman hasn’t been playing all too great with his new linemates.


xGF: Elias Lindholm makes his debut in one of these categories, tallying up an 81.40 xGF% at 5v5 to lead the Canucks against the Red Wings. His 0.64 xGF was the 5th best on the team, while a 0.15 xGA pegged him as the 7th best Canuck in that regard. It’s for this two-way impact that Vancouver acquired him, and though Lindholm didn’t find the scoresheet in this one, he was doing a lot of the right things. The Swede was on ice for a 7-2 scoring chance differential, with a 3-1 lead in high-danger chances. Across all situations, JT Miller led the Canucks with a 2.9 raw xGF, thanks in large part to the power plays that he was deployed on.
As for the Capitals, it was none other than Conor Garland leading the way with a 78.84 xGF%, a team-low 0.15 xGA showing how limited Washington was while he was on the ice. Yes, they did score a goal against, but the percentages were in Garland’s favour here. It was Dakota Joshua that led the Canucks in raw xGF with a 1.75 across all situations, beating out Filip Hronek’s 1.69.
GSAx: It wasn’t Casey DeSmith’s best outing. Detroit only managed to generate 2.02 xGF with their limited chances, meaning that the netminder finished firmly in the negatives with a -1.98 GSAx. It’s another subpar outing from a Canuck goalie, but once again the chances that found their way past DeSmith were all high-danger. Not ideal, but understandable – especially given the complete malfunctions that occurred for some of the goals against. Hopefully, Vancouver will be able to get some better netminding going forth.
On the flip side, Thatcher Demko was absolutely sparkling against the Capitals. Washington accumulated 4.15 xGF, meaning that the netminder saved a full 2.15 GSAx. The goals were split evenly between high-danger and middle-danger chances, but other than that slight blemish, it was an excellent effort. Demko dialed in when the Canucks looked a little tepid, and probably held them together until Miller could capitalize in overtime.

Statistical Musings

Shuffling up the lines: With how the Boston game turned out, it wasn’t really a surprise that Tocchet would throw the lines into a blender to change things up. With Sam Lafferty being a scratch in favour PDG and a lot of new combinations, the results were pretty interesting. No forward line finished below 50.00 CF% and 58.00 xGF%, both of which are very solid shares to be having at 5v5. While Lindholm-Miller-Boeser had the highest xGF% of 80.48, it was Hoglander-Pettersson-Suter that saw the most action, on ice for two goals for and two goals against. It’ll be interesting to see how these lines might change or stay the same today against Washington.
Mikheyev on the fourth line: This was a noticeable change in the lineup too, with Nils Höglander replacing Ilya Mikheyev alongside Elias Pettersson. Höglander did a very good job in the top 6 role, doing a log of the puck retrieval work that Mikheyev was expected to accomplish, along with a disgusting goal against Washington.
As for the Russian winger, his stat shares remained solid in the limited ice time that he saw, with a 70.00 CF% and 66.88 xGF% to his name. That being said though, Mikheyev is completely snakebitten, unable to translate those numbers into anything tangible. Until he’s able to make things click, playing down in the lineup is probably for the best. But, using $4.25 million on the fourth-liner is definitely not efficient cap usage.

As a team

DET: CF% – 54.70% HDCF% – 68.00% xGF% – 64.73%
WAS: CF% – 47.14% HDCF% – 39.13% xGF% – 43.98%
These were two games that were solid efforts The Canucks were definitely stronger in the game against Detroit overall, showing some pushback and physicality that will serve them well in the playoffs. Yes, they blew a 2-goal lead, but they also generally outplayed the Red Wings throughout the game. Against the Capitals, it was about responding to whatever the opposition threw at them and managing to stay the course through the chaos. It’ll be about tightening up the details, making sure the individual lapses don’t cost them going forward, while also getting some pieces to perform to their potential. But, it is also funny how the expectations of this team have been changed so much, that a 2-1-1 road trip on the other side of the All-Star break somehow isn’t quite good enough.
Vancouver heads into Chicago to take on the Blackhawks tomorrow at 5:30 PM PST.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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