The Statsies: Canucks’ bottom 6 outscore Toronto’s Big 4 to win 6-4

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
4 months ago
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It’s always fun to beat the Leafs at home.
The Vancouver Canucks took down the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-4 in the annual 4 PM PST at home in a wild affair. They got out in front 3-0, blew that lead in 10 minutes, went ahead only to give up a shorthanded goal, then scored two powerplay markers to grab all two points. The bottom 6 showed up in spades at 5v5, while the top guns made their money on the man advantage, and that was what was needed for the Canucks to ride out the rollercoaster to the result that they wanted.
Here’s the win, by the numbers,
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

The first period saw the Canucks hold a comfortable 62.63 xGF% share while splitting a 50.00 CF% with the Leafs, which was good enough for them to jump out to that 3-0 lead. After that though, both those rate metrics shifted heavily into Toronto’s favour. The Leafs held over 64% of the Corsi share in the second and third, while riding score effects and special teams in the third to a 71.43 xGF%. A lot of that had to do with the 6-4 power play that Toronto had in the closing moments of the game, and should be considered with that as context.

Heat Map

The high-danger chances stood at 16-9 for the Leafs, and while it’s clear Toronto was doing better in that regard from the heat map, it also doesn’t look like they were dominating. Yes, Vancouver didn’t manage a true hot spot, but four of their six goals came from high-danger areas, converting on the couple of chances that they did get in tight. As for Toronto, while the volume of high-danger chances were better that the Canucks, they didn’t necessarily have the strong concentration that would be expected when you’re creating 16 HDCF.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Quinn Hughes was once again leading by example. In a game where the Canucks generally got out possessed, the defender finished with a team-high 60.00 CF%. Despite being outshot 11-18 during his TOI, the scoring chances stood at 17-10 for Vancouver in that same span, with an even 7-7 HDCF split. Hughes racked up three assists while being on ice for 4 goals for and 1 goal against, generating a team-high 1.71. Hopefully, the Eastern media was able to see just how good Hughes is once more, as he further drives home his argument for the Norris Trophy this season.
Corsi Chump: Tyler Myers finished bottom of the barrel with a 23.33 CF%, but that comes with playing some major minutes against the Leafs’ top 6. He’s not exactly a shutdown defenceman by any means, but Myers has been used in these types of situations by Tocchet with varying degrees of success. Against Toronto, it wasn’t the best of results – Myers was on ice for three goals against, a 4-14 shot difference, 2-11 scoring chance deficit, while posting the highest xGA of any Canuck at 5v5 play. Plus, there was the whole penalty that he took in the closing stages of the game. It’s not the best, but it’s understandable against the likes of Tavares and Nylander. And hey, at least Myers was physical.


xGF: Andrei Kuzmeko responded well to being benched last time out. His underlying stats were a lot stronger in this game against Toronto, finishing second in CF% (59.09) while leading the team with a 76.02 xGF%. That came with the Russian being on ice for a 7-2 scoring chance advantage, and a 3-0 HDCF lead for the Canucks as well. While Kuzmenko wasn’t able to find his way on the scoresheet, he was able to positively impact the game, drawing penalties and getting the Canucks zone time where they were able to out-change Toronto and get goals against tired opposition.
GSAx: This one won’t look the most pretty for Thatcher Demko, who gave up some rough goals in the second period. Toronto generated 3.27 xGF, meaning Demko was in the negatives with a -0.63 GSAx. It was probably a lot worse when the game was knotted up at three apiece, but the netminder more than made up for it by stonewalling the Leafs in the third when they pushed back. Two of the four goals were recorded from low-danger chances (both of the Nylander goals) while the other two were a middle-danger and a high-danger chance. By no means was this Demko’s best night, but he was able to step up when the Canucks needed him most, and that was all it took for the win.

Statistical Musings

Depth carrying the boats: It’s been a recurring theme for the Canucks this season, but having a bottom 6 that can contribute offensively has been such a boon for this team. A lot of mention has been made of the Joshua-Blueger-Garland line, and for good reason, as they statistically led Vancouver in every category among forward lines against the Leafs last night. The line that was in second place was none other than Hoglander-Lafferty-Aman. Having these two lines outscoring Toronto’s big guns was quite amusing; combined, the 6 of them have a $10.6 million cap hit, less than Mitch Marner.
Lotto Line coming up empty: On the flip side of things, Pettersson-Miller-Boeser finished as the worst forward line at 5v5 against the Leafs. Playing against Auston Matthews will definitely have an impact on the stats, with the trio coming in at a 38.46 CF% and 34.50 xGF%, both of which were team-worsts. Again, they were valuable contributors to the man advantage, and getting them to capitalize on those chances is huge — but 5v5 is important, and right now, the Lotto Line is coming up with some bricks.
The Russian and the Czech: This is something that might be worth keeping an eye on. Nikita Zadorov had a solid game, if not outstanding. He was paired up with Ian Cole for a large majority of the night, posting around team average in CF% and holding an impressive 51.41 xGF% in some tough minutes. But that isn’t what we’re highlighting here – it’s the time that he was spending alongside Filip Hronek. The numbers are similar to the results produced alongside Cole, but the deployment was what was eye-catching. Zadorov-Hronek saw a lot of shifts in the third period, which is interesting given that Hughes-Hronek aren’t exactly bad defensively themselves. Perhaps it was to give Hughes a rest after the power plays in the third period, having him draw in on shifts with Ian Cole. But, Zadorov-Hronek definitely wasn’t bad, and perhaps could be something Tocchet is experimenting as a pairing going forward.

As a team

CF% – 39.06% HDCF% – 36.00% xGF% – 39.57%
Blowing a three-goal lead isn’t ideal, but other than that rough stretch, the Canucks generally did well to hang on and battle on through the rest of the game. Finding ways to win games and doing so in fashions that force their opposition to beat their entire team is something that’s been rare in the past decade and is refreshing to see. The depth continues to be important offensive contributors, while the man advantage is coming back to life a little. There’s lots of positives to take away from this one, and heck, it’s always fun to beat the Maple Leafs.
The Canucks have their Sunday off before welcoming the Bedard-less Chicago Blackhawks to town on Monday.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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