The Statsies: Casey DeSmith helps the Canucks ride out a Wild onslaught

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
7 months ago
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With how this game started, it was pretty hard to see a result like this happening.
The Vancouver Canucks shut out the Minnesota Wild 2-0 in anything but dominant fashion. It took them until the 13:17 mark of the first to get their first shot of the game, and while the team did manage to lock it down for the second, the third period saw them get wildly out-chanced by a Minnesota team looking to even things up. The win could not be called pretty, but it is a win nonetheless thanks to some key performances from depth figures.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

If it wasn’t clear just from the shot total, the first period was pretty much all Minnesota. The Wild held an absurd 74.29 CF% share, a 14-4 scoring chance edge with a 9-0 difference in high-danger chances. The xGF battle stood at 1.81-027, granting the Wild an absurd 87.06 xGF% share. In the second, that was flipped nearly entirely on its head. Vancouver dominated the CF% battle to the tune of 73.17, while hammering down Minnesota for a 92.44 xGF%. Only content to play 20 minutes though, the Canucks found themselves clinging onto the 2-goal lead in the third as the Wild charged forward. The CF% and xGF% metrics shot back in favour of the visitors, 78.95% and 74.55% respectively. They couldn’t bury, which allowed Vancouver to escape the onslaught with 2 points.

Heat Map

With the Wild having a 16-10 lead in high-danger chances, this heat map makes a lot of sense. Not only was Minnesota’s hot spot bigger, but it was a darker shade of blue indicating an increased concentration of shot attempts. Luckily for Vancouver, Casey DeSmith was equal to the challenge, even though the Canucks didn’t do much in terms of run support. One of their two goals came from a high-danger spot, which isn’t a terrible conversion rate.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Ian Cole led all Canucks in Corsi last night, racking up a 56.52 CF%. When your leading Corsi man is only just above 50, that’s not really a good sign for the team itself. But, Cole kept his nose clean, just over breaking even in the xGF% department (54.29) and limiting the Wild to 3 high-danger chances when he was on the ice. Paired up with Noah Juulsen for the majority of the night, the duo were surprisingly effective together, controlling 50.00 CF% and 44.43 xGF% as a primarily defensively-minded pairing.
Corsi Chump: Nikita Zadorov has embraced full chaos, coming in last with a 22.22 CF% last night against the Wild. However, considering his opposition, these numbers aren’t bad at all. The big Russian lined up alongside Tyler Myers to face off against Minnesota’s top line of Kirill Kaprizov, Mats Zuccarello and Marco Rossi. Yes, Zadorov 30.54 xGF% isn’t the greatest, but consider this – in the 10 minutes matched up against the toughest offerings that Minnesota had to offer, he was on ice for 8 scoring chances against and 3 high-danger ones. Not bad for a night’s work, in full context.


xGF: Last night’s xGF% leader was none other than Dakota Joshua, who’s been stringing together some strong stats in the past couple of games. His 91.17 xGF% was a full 20% higher than second place, with a team-best 0.05 xGA carrying the load here. While the scoring chances stood nearly even at 5-4 in favour of the Canucks, when Joshua was on the ice Minnesota didn’t manage a single high-danger opportunity. In raw xGF, Quinn Hughes once again led the way with a 1.54 on the night.
GSAx: This one is a sparkling testament to Casey DeSmith’s play last night. The Wild racked up a total of 3.11 xGF last night, meaning that the shutout gave DeSmith a 3.11 GSAx. He faced an onslaught of shots in the first and third, tiding things over and battling to keep the Canucks ahead. The team in front of him generally didn’t have horrific breakdowns, but there was a ton of rubber coming his way that he had answers to. With Demko still looking a little bit off his best, maybe this is the time to give DeSmith a bit of an extended look?

Statistical Musings

Looking Czeched out: Remember when Filip Hronek looked unstoppable alongside Quinn Hughes? Well, he’s looking positively stoppable as of late, especially last night against the Wild. Hronek featured in 1:37 on the penalty kill, a fraction of his 26:54 TOI, but yet somehow found himself as the third-worst Canuck by xGF% (21.53) and the worst by xGA (2.07). He was on ice for 10 high-danger chances against, two more than his usual partner in crime to lead the team, while also managing the worst CF% of the Canucks top 4 defenders. It’s not the kind of numbers that Hronek has been putting up, which again might just be a sign of regression. Whatever the case is, he’ll need to play better, or that contract extension is going to come at a much cheaper rate.
Third line finding the finish: There’s a lot that gets thrown around about why Conor Garland is loved by analytics for doing a whole lot of nothing. Realistically, it’s because he’s not the kind of player that drives offence – he creates for more skilled players, and when you aren’t alongside them, the production just isn’t there. The numbers heavily favoured the Joshua-Blueger-Garland unit, leading the team in CF% (54.55) and xGF% (89.71), both of which are very good rate metrics. Teddy Blueger found the back of the net, but that’s not a line with a lot of finishing power. Unfortunately for Garland, the top 6 haven’t seen him filtering in, and that will be shown through his point production. Other than that, he’s been doing all the right things.
A very weird fourth line: Seeing Andrei Kuzmenko dropped down to the fourth line is jarring, if not surprising. Featuring alongside Nils Aman and Phil Di Giuseppe, this line was just ratchet against Minnesota, dead last across every statistical category at 5v5. It makes sense, as this is a line with very little cohesion in style and fit. Obviously, this probably isn’t going to last long, but it was interesting to see the defensively solid Aman end up with an 8.01 xGF%.

As a team

CF% – 41.23% HDCF% – 38.46% xGF% – 40.64%
The Canucks didn’t start on time or finish strong in this one, yet found a way to win this game. While the result was the right one, the process once again leaves things to question. When will this team figure out how to play another 60 minute effort? Fatigue is only an excuse for so long, and offensively the Canucks are getting spurred on by a bottom 6 trying to paper over a top 6 that hasn’t looked too dangerous. There were strong individual performances but this kind of victory is anything but sustainable.
Next up, Vancouver welcomes in the Carolina Hurricanes tomorrow.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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