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The Statsies: Ian Cole and Noah Juulsen pairing lead Canucks defence in CF% against Sens

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
5 months ago
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The game was over after the first period. Seriously.
The Vancouver Canucks came flying out of the gates, never really looking like they were going to lose against the Ottawa Senators. Sure, the 6-3 win might be a bit disappointing compared to the red-hot 5-0 start that the team got out to after the first period, but the Canucks could definitely use a boring win like this one, where they can manage and limit the ice time of their key contributors ahead of a busy swing in their schedule.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

Special teams barely factored into this one, probably because the refs just wanted to go home after the Canucks made it 5-0 in the first. Vancouver never looked like they were entirely out of the driver’s seat in this one, comfortably sitting through the first two periods with their lead in hand. The Canucks did a good job in keeping the Sens’ scoring chances low, holding them to just 4 HDCF combined through the first two periods at 5v5, and 5 HDCF in the third at 5v5. They were happy to concede puck possession in the final frame to keep Ottawa to just perimeter chances.

Heat Map

The Senators finished the game with a 38-26 edge in shots, though looking at the heat map, it was apparent that their chances were not as efficiently high-danger as the Canucks. Vancouver held a 27-22 scoring chance advantage, going along with a 16-12 edge in HDCF. Most of Ottawa’s high-danger chances came in the third period – actually, about three quarters of them. The Canucks snuffed them out for the most part in the first and second, and thanks to score effects the Sens managed to snag a couple of more goals in the third period. But, looking at the hot spots, it’s apparent that the Canucks generated more high-danger chances and more repeatedly.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Andrei Kuzmenko might not have found himself on the scoresheet last night, but the Russian winger was generally a chaos-creator for the Canucks. He led Vancouver with a 71.43 CF%, on ice for three goals for and one against. That Corsi advantage translated to a 73.37 xGF% for Kuzmenko, third on the team for that category. However, it’s worth noting that Kuzmenko started all his shifts in the offensive zone and 80% of his faceoffs in the offensive zone as well. Coupling that with the fact that he gave up a 2-3 HDCF differential in favour of the Sens, and suggests that the Russian wasn’t as detail-oriented in his own end as he probably should’ve been.
Corsi Chump: Nikita Zadorov’s 26.32 CF% is not fun to look at, but considering that he and Tyler Myers were hard-matched against Brady Tkachuk, and it suddenly becomes more understandable. Given those defensive responsibilities, the big Russian defender generally did well – not only did he not give up a goal against, but was on ice for 3 goals for. In fact, despite the poor CF%, Zadorov still managed to hold a 56.36 xGF%, meaning that generally speaking he had a positive impact on the Canucks’ expected goals when he was on the ice. Not bad, especially with the context applied to the stats.

THE STATSIES PRESENTED BY BETWAY

xGF: Elias Pettersson saw the Swedish World Juniors team and said I can do one better. EP40 led the Canucks in xGF% with an 83.73, though it came off a 7-5 advantage in scoring chances and a further 5-3 difference in high-danger chances. Not really dominating the scoring chances, but doing more than enough to record his two goals. Special honours go to the runner-up in Pius Suter, just barely coming in second with an 83.28 xGF%, while Quinn Hughes racked up the highest raw xGF (2.63) on the roster last night.
GSAx: The numbers aren’t the kindest to Thatcher Demko because the Senators were anemic the majority of the night. They only managed a total of 2.63 xGF, meaning that the netminder finished his evening with a -0.37 GSAX. It’s definitely not bad by any means, as a margin that thin is pretty much the difference between a middle-danger shot and a high-danger shot. All three goals that were scored against Demko last night were categorized as high-danger goals, so it wasn’t as if anything was sneaking by him. Overall, a very solid performance on a night that didn’t really call for too many theatrics.

Statistical Musings

Cole-Juulsen doing their part: It isn’t often that a team’s bottom pairing steps it up statistically, but against the Senators, it was Ian Cole and Noah Juulsen that led the Canucks defence in CF% (69.23). It’s genuinely quite impressive, the pair of them also holding a 56.98 xGF% against the likes of Thomas Chabot, Dominik Kubalik, and Ridley Grieg for the majority of the night. The duo also didn’t give up a single high-danger chance against over the duration of the night. Usually, Juulsen would be on the bottom of the charts for the majority of his numbers, and yet somehow the pair of them are starting 2024 off with a very clean, tidy performance against the Senators. Importantly, their performance allowed the Canucks to rest Hughes-Hronek, making the load that much more better for them in the upcoming swing.
Mixing and matching: Interestingly enough, a game like this one allowed Rick Tocchet to put the lines in a bit of a blender. 9 different forward combinations were iced by the Canucks to see what they were getting, with only the Dakota Joshua – Teddy Blueger – Conor Garland line seeing double digits in ice time together. It wasn’t as if offence was hard to come by, but perhaps the coaching staff was taking the opportunity to experiment and try new things in a relatively low-stakes situation, especially with PDG going down for the foreseeable future.

As a team

CF% – 49.59% HDCF% – 57.14% xGF% – 58.60%
The Canucks struck early and struck fast – probably shooting way over their heads and getting some fortunate bounces. Whichever was the case, they found themselves in the lead and never relinquished it, coasting and riding out the win at home with little other noise to speak of. Yes, the Sens did push back, but they never really looked convincing enough to steal this one back from the dead. A win like this one might not be the most satisfying, but banking the points through these types of results will be all the more important in the stretch run.
Vancouver hits the road for the next 7 games of 2024, beginning with a Thursday clash against the St. Louis Blues.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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