The Statsies: Vancouver Canucks grind Kings down defensively in 2-1 win

Photo credit:© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
1 month ago
I could go without watching another LA Kings hockey game for a while.
The Vancouver Canucks topped the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 in overtime in a game that heavily emphasized not making a mistake. Los Angeles trapped up the game with their 1-3-1 zone that dragged the pace of the game down and looked to eke out a result against a slightly slumping Canucks group. But despite an early goal against them, Vancouver didn’t buckle, steadily grinding the Kings down until they tied things up en route to using the open ice in overtime to their advantage. It was a great performance against a team whose style is very much a foil to their own.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

From the game flow, it’s apparent that the trap was working its magic in the first period. There was no deviation from the center point, suggesting that the Kings weren’t retaining the puck but making sure that the Canucks weren’t either. That 1-0 lead LA carried out of the opening frame is probably the perfect example of the type of hockey that they want to play and the type of hockey that gets them results. However, after that, the Canucks were taking over the game. They held hefty CF% shares (62.79 and 58.97), which translated to higher expected goals share (71.64 and 67.16). While that only translated to one goal for in regulation, it speaks to the Canucks being able to overcome the trap and play their brand of hockey, which ultimately led to the win last night.

Heat Map

With how the Kings did their best to shut down the game, it’s really a solid heat map for the Canucks. The total scoring chances stood at 24-15 for Vancouver, but what stands out is their 16-3 high-danger chance lead. In the Anaheim game, the story was how the Canucks didn’t get good quality chances at a sufficient amount – but here, 2/3rds of their scoring chances were high-danger chances. Most of them came in the second and third, unsurprisingly, but still shows Vancouver was able to get good chances in bunches.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Nils Höglander continues to be a menace for the Canucks. Alongside Elias Pettersson and Pius Suter, the Swede tallied the Canucks’ best CF% with a 72.73. These numbers were coming against Quinton Byfield and Alex Turcotte, which isn’t bad competition at all. While Pettersson was driving his line the majority of the night, Höglander wasn’t a passenger at all, doing more than his fair share to chip in alongside his linemates.
Corsi Chump: Ian Cole was Carson Soucy’s partner in his return to the lineup, but the Corsi numbers weren’t the greatest between the pair. Cole was the team’s worst CF% last night with a 36.36, Soucy close behind with a 39.13. Cole also recorded the worst xGF% on the team (34.34) with the team’s lowest xGF (0.27). On the bright side though, he split evenly 1-1 for high-danger chances, generally doing his job defensively even if his share metrics weren’t the greatest last night.
xGF: Höglander finds himself leading this category too, posting an 83.89 xGF%. His xGA of 0.12 was a team-best, while a 0.62 xGF ranked him as the 6th-best Canuck. The Swede was on ice for a 6-1 scoring chance differential, with a further 5-1 high-danger chance advantage. Not a bad shift at all for Höglander who is rapidly becoming an analytical darling. Leading the way in raw xGF was none other than Quinn Hughes, who had a good bounceback against the Kings with a 1.32 xGF.
GSAx: With not a lot of action in front of him, Thatcher Demko was still excellent in holding down the fort against the Kings. Los Angeles only managed 1.32 xGF, meaning that Demko finished with 0.32 GSAx. The only goal that got by him wasn’t exactly anything that he could do anything about, an unfortunate turnover leading to a perfect high-danger chance, but besides that he was a brick wall. Snatching away the soul of Alex Turcotte was huge in keeping the game a 1-1 tie, a big turning point in the eventual overtime victory.

Statistical Musings

Third line buzzing: With Tocchet trying out some more line combinations, a third line of Vasily Podkolzin, Elias Lindholm, and Conor Garland was formed. While it might seem a little mismatched on paper, the results that they turned in were surprisingly very solid. Despite coming in with the worst CF% amongst forward units (50.00), they recorded the best xGF% of any line (89.04), along with the best xGA (0.03). Yes, you probably do want Elias Lindholm to be taking on a bigger offensive role, but the underlying stats weren’t bad at all for the Canucks last night. We won’t be seeing this line again for the next while though, as Podkolzin was just sent down this morning.
Where Hughes-Hronek owned Kevin Fiala: Getting a top-pair performance from your two best defencemen is always welcome, especially against the top offensive talent from the opposing team. Quinn Hughes and Filip Hronek came up big in this one, as while they were on ice for a goal against, they managed to hold Fiala-Danault-Moore to a minority share of key stats. Hughes-Hronek kept the CF% above 54.00% the entire time, with the xGF% never dropping belong 70.00%. Those are impressive rates, to say the least, and against some of the only offence that the Kings had, it definitely left a positive impact on the game.

As a team

CF% – 59.09% HDCF% – 85.21% xGF% – 66.64%
The Canucks did well for themselves in this game. A team like the Kings will be one that the Canucks will come up against plenty in the playoffs, one that grinds teams down and waits for them to make a mistake to pounce on. It was impressive to see this group go down early and then claw their way into this one, steadily taking over the game minute by minute. The big guns stepped it up, with JT Miller potting in the overtime winner while Pettersson, Hughes, and Demko looked like the all-stars that they were. It’ll be interesting to see what this team will do with the trade deadline just two days away.
Vancouver heads into Vegas tomorrow night to take on the Golden Knights.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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