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The Statsies: Canucks do everything but score in Game 2 loss to Predators

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
1 month ago
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Yeah, that’s some major pain.
The Vancouver Canucks dropped Game 2 by a 4-1 scoreline to the Nashville Predators despite dominating nearly every aspect. It was a painful game to watch, one where the Canucks were pouring on the offensive pressure but not getting a single bounce their way. On the flip side, their defensive breakdowns were costly, with the Predators jumping on everything and getting the bounces that they needed to win. Make no mistake – Vancouver outplayed Nashville in this game. Unfortunately, the goals didn’t follow what the probabilities suggested.
Here’s the loss, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

There were three opportunities in that first period for the Canucks to get level. Unfortunate opening goal bounce aside, the Canucks got two power plays in quick succession, and another power play to close the period. But, in all of their chances, Vancouver came up empty, which would come back to haunt them. The Canucks closed out the first period with a 75.00 CF% share and a massive 84.04 xGF% advantage – and yet, thanks to two quick breakdowns in the second period, they found themselves in a 3-0 hole. After Nikita Zadorov’s goal, Vancouver found themselves with a bit of a life and pushed hard in the third period. There might not have been a more dominant frame of hockey in the entire season – Vancouver held an 88.10 CF% and 96.80 xGF%, with a 19-2 lead in scoring chances and 10-0 advantage in high-danger chances. That’s the good part – the bad part is that they couldn’t convert on a single one of those.

Heat Map

Unblocked shot attempts were hard to come by for the Canucks. The Predators were desperate and it showed, getting an absurd 32 blocked shots in this game which was nearly more than the total 34 shots between both teams. This heat map was bound to look this way in a game where the final shot total was 18-16 for the Canucks, who out-chanced the Preds 38-20 with a 16-10 high-danger chance differential. Their hot spot in front of Juuse Saros was definitely more dense than the hot spot they gave up defensively – unfortunately, they couldn’t convert on that pressure.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Once again, JT Miller and his line were producing a ton of good opportunities offensively against the Preds. He led the team with an 89.66 CF% and territorially dominated Nashville whenever he was on the ice. However, there wasn’t any offence to show for it, with plenty of Preds clogging up shooting and passing lanes. It’s telling when a 26 Corsi For only translates into 6 shots on net –  credit to Nashville for being able to stop so many shots from reaching the net.
Corsi Chump: On the other hand, Nils Höglander has been a non-factor in this series despite the Canucks’ consistently good 5v5 play. His 46.15 CF% was a team-low, along with his 8:33 TOI from being benched for nearly the entire third, and it’s not exactly a wonder why Tocchet didn’t ice the young Swede. Höglander had the lowest xGF on the team (0.06) and worst xGF% (13.42), while being the only Canuck to have a negative scoring chance differential with not a single high-danger chance to his name. It just hasn’t been a good first two games for Höglander, and part of that is because he isn’t meant to be a play driver on his line.

THE STATSIES PRESENTED BY BETWAY

xGF: It shouldn’t be a surprise that Miller took his CF% advantage and translated that to a team-leading 92.42 xGF%. He posted the second-best xGA of 0.13, just behind Phil Di Giuseppe’s 0.10, while a 1.58 xGF made him the second-best Canuck in that category behind Quinn Hughes’ 1.85. Miller had a 14-1 lead in scoring chances and a 7-1 high-danger chance differential, dominating most of the play whenever he was on the ice. But again, like the rest of the team for the most part, they were stifled by the Predators’ dedication to blocking shots and unable to translate any of this into actual goals.
GSAx: With the announcement that Thatcher Demko was probably out for the series, all eyes fell on Casey DeSmith as the starter last night. As if it were an omen, as Canuck fans chanted Casey to start off the night, DeSmith gave up a bouncer for the Predators’ first goal of the night. Nashville didn’t generate much offence, with a total of 1.91 xGF against DeSmith on the night. That also means that DeSmith was in the negatives, recording a -1.09 GSAx, which is not ideal especially when you aren’t getting run support from the team in front of you. At the very least, the chances that got past DeSmith were understandable, with 2 of 3 goals coming from high-danger chances and the other one coming from middle danger. It took him a bit to get settled into this game, but unfortunately for DeSmith, two defensive breakdowns in front of him proved costly.

Statistical Musings

Petey please figure it out: It is difficult watching Elias Pettersson struggle. Last night, he and his line were putrid. Not only did they record the lowest CF% on the team (54.55), but they also refused to generate offence (0.02 xGF) and conceded the most xGA (0.38), while only playing 4:33 at 5v5. For context, in double the minutes played and against Nashville’s top line, the Joshua-Lindholm-Garland line racked up 0.97 xGF and gave up 0.37 xGA – the second-highest xGA of any forward line last night. A 6.03 xGF% usually doesn’t get the team much help with Höglander-Pettersson-Mikheyev being the only line combination that the Predators had any success against in terms of xGF%. Pettersson looks to be snakebitten, looking for the perfect opportunity, not trusting himself to shoot and double-clutching at every shooting lane. He had two glorious chances to tie the game up in the first, and perhaps if he did, it would be a different story and result. But as it stands, Pettersson couldn’t bury, and the Canucks were all the worse off for it.
How we miss Chaos Giraffe: With Tyler Myers out last night dealing with the flu, Noah Juulsen drew in to replace him for some less-than-ideal results. Contrary to game 1 where the defence saw pretty even ice time distribution, Juulsen was the odd man out, not even cracking 12:00 TOI last night. It’s not for good reason either, as Juulsen was statistically the Canucks’ worst defenceman over the course of the game with lows in CF% and xGF%. At the very least though, he was physical, but it’s such a turnaround to say that the Canucks did miss Myers’ presence on the back end last night.
Where the Canucks need a “third” line: Linking it back to Pettersson’s struggles, the Joshua-Lindholm-Garland and Suter-Miller-Boeser lines were dynamic against the Predators. Both of them were over 80.00 CF%, with Joshua-Lindholm-Garland recording 72.16 xGF% and Suter-Miller-Boeser tallying 87.09 xGF%. They out-chanced and out-played their respective matchups, but unfortunately weren’t able to find the back of the net. This kind of thing happens, especially with the lack of fortunate bounces going their way – but the thing is, when these two lines are taking full advantage of some heavy matchups, it should free up Pettersson and his line to do some damage against lesser opponents. That didn’t happen last night, and for the Canucks to see continued success in this playoffs, a third productive line would be all the depth that this team realistically needs up front.

As a team

CF% – 70.00% HDCF% – 61.54% xGF% – 56.85%
Despite the loss, the Canucks played well. They should’ve handily won this game, and they controlled a large portion of the momentum and flow. But we can only say that so many times because the important part is the first bit of the sentence – the Canucks lost. This team needs to find a way to translate all the good things that they were doing, the offensive pressure and chances that they generated into goals. Execution needs to improve dramatically, to bury the opportunities that they create. Defensively, they’ll have to minimize some of the breakdowns, but overall it wasn’t the worst. The glaring part is Pettersson’s performance so far – and hopefully, when he figures it out, it won’t be too late for the Canucks.
Vancouver heads into Nashville on Friday to try and reclaim home-ice advantage in Game 3.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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