The Statsies: Canucks’ third Line runs rampant once more against the Blackhawks

Photo credit:© Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
2 months ago
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This team just keeps on stretching their lead out at the top.
The Vancouver Canucks beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 to close out the road trip in dominant fashion. They never looked like they were going to lose this one, controlling the game right from the start. Sure, there might not have been as many goals as one might expect, but Vancouver was never in a position of danger. They went in and played a sound game, one that earned them a well-deserved two points to keep them in first place.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

In what has become a trend as of late, the Canucks top 6 wasn’t able to get much going at the start of the game. Luckily, the Blackhawks were inept to the point that even a rocky start meant Vancouver recorded the first 8 shots of the contest. The first period was tilted heavily in favour of the Canucks, tallying up a 70.59 CF% share and 91.09 xGF% with a 7-0 lead in high-danger chances. That type of domination didn’t extend to the second or third, but Vancouver still held a healthy CF% and xGF% share that saw them build a lead and maintain it. In the third, the Canucks had their highest xGF of any period, tallying up a 1.93 in the frame alone.

Heat Map

This heat map shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Vancouver was dominant in scoring chances, nearly doubling up the Blackhawks 40-22 in that department, while the high-danger chances stood at 22-10 in favour of the Canucks. That’s shown with the deep blue spot right in the low slot area, with nothing of the same on the Blackhawks end. Again, that’s expected given the difference in skill between the two teams, but something has to be said about generating high-quality chances and capitalizing on them, especially against weaker opposition.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Who else but Conor Garland? Leading the way with a 75.00 CF% last night, he and the rest of his line continued to buzz. Absurdly, Garland was on ice for a 14-3 shot difference, which also saw him present for three goals for and one against. It’s strange to think that at the start of the year, Garland was looking like he would be on the way out — and now, after the All-Star break, he’s been one of the Canucks’ most consistent options.
Corsi Chump: Mark Friedman brought up the rear of the Corsi train, tallying a 52.00 CF%. That’s more of a byproduct of playing against an inferior opponent, where the worst Corsi still is a very good number. He didn’t play bad either – alongside a resurgent Noah Juulsen, Friedman was on ice for one goal for and zero goals against, posting a 77.87 xGF% with a 0.29 xGA. Yes, Chicago isn’t exactly an offensive powerhouse, but Friedman did a good job in his ice time to snuff out any attempts that they managed to generate.


xGF: No surprises here either, as Garland tops the expected goals charts as well. Not only did he post the best xGF% of 88.40. but the winger also led the Canucks with a raw xGF of 2.36, beating out Quinn Hughes’ 2.30. It was just that kind of game for Garland and his unit, a 13-5 differential in scoring chances going hand in hand with a 7-2 high-danger chance differential. It wasn’t as if he was getting that favourable of deployment either — only 50% of his shift and faceoff starts came in the offensive zone.
GSAx: It was an easier assignment for Thatcher Demko and one that he was able to settle into nicely. The Blackhawks managed to create 2.61 xGF last night, meaning that Demko finished the game with a  0.61 GSAx. Nothing like the Capitals game before, but a very solid performance regardless. The goals were once again split between high-danger and middle-danger, with nothing to really pick apart about his performance. Demko looks much more settled now, probably able to get back into the swing of things after the All-Star festivities. With the result as well, he moved into sole possession of fourth-most wins in Canucks franchise history.

Statistical Musings

Third Line driving the team: It’s a bit of a broken record at this point, but Joshua-Blueger-Garland was the story of this road trip. They looked excellent once more against Chicago, leading all forward lines in CF% (70.59), xGF% (79.31), xGF (1.06), SCF (9) and HDCF (5). The trio once again stepped up when the usual stars weren’t producing, recording a combined 6 points together to go along with Joshua’s Gordie Howe hat trick. On the bright side, this kind of depth contribution with both physicality and offence will make the Canucks that much better of a team in the playoffs. But, on the other hand, Vancouver will need their top players to start picking up a little more of the slack – Joshua-Blueger-Garland can absolutely be your best line against the Blackhawks, but not a team like the Avalanche.
The all-Swede line: Putting Nils Höglander – Elias Lindholm – Elias Pettersson together might’ve sounded funny just for the memes, but this line was interesting to watch at work. Höglander potted in a goal thanks to some excellent work by Lindholm on the forecheck, but it wasn’t the offence that was necessarily the most noticeable. They finished as the second-best unit in xGA last night, which isn’t hard against Chicago, but does pose something interesting going forward to look at. This line looks built to be a two-way unit and could be used as a matchup assignment for some higher-end options.

As a team

CF% – 58.41% HDCF% – 68.75% xGF% – 66.74%
The Canucks played a well-rounded game against one of the worst teams in the NHL. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but they did their job, and they did it well. Vancouver secured the lead and never looked shaky at any points, showing that they had an answer to whatever Chicago put their way both offensively and physically. The depth continues to step up, and there’s still more that needs to be extracted from the team’s best players.
Vancouver plays host to the Detroit Red Wings tomorrow for a rematch at Rogers Arena.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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