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The Statsies: Depth continues to roll in rocky Vancouver Canucks victory

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Photo credit:© Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
3 months ago
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The show keeps rolling and the wagon keeps getting heavier.
The Vancouver Canucks claimed victory on the road, beating the Ottawa Senators 5-2 last night. While the team started out of the gate looking very solid, somehow and somewhere along the line they found their game derailed. The Sens fought back to knot it at two-apiece, capitalizing on the lack of focus. Yet Vancouver just found another way to win, not playing their best game but keeping the good times rolling. Is this sustainable? Probably not – but the regression isn’t going to be as hard as some might think.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

Vancouver roared out of the gates. In just 15 seconds, Brock Boeser struck to open the scoring, and just over 2 minutes later Ilya Mikheyev potted home the second tally. It was a dream start — and yet, it ended up getting off the rails a little with a lack of energy and attention to details that nearly cost this team. Ottawa found themselves with a good edge in puck possession, being quicker to pucks and winning board battles when the Canucks were out of sync. But, they were less than clinical with the chances they got, and that wasn’t a good thing for the hosts.

Heat Map

That leads perfectly into the heat map, which shows that the Senators weren’t very good at generating chances. Across all situations, Ottawa was narrowly out-chanced 23-22 by the Canucks, and their high-danger difference stood at 9-5 in Vancouver’s favour. That’s demonstrated by the hot spot Vancouver established in the left slot area, while Ottawa didn’t manage anything outside of the patch in the left faceoff dot. At 5v5, the xGF battle stood at 1.65-1.45 in the Canucks’ favour, with the powerplays giving the Sens a 2.31-1.84 advantage. But, that additional pressure by the Sens didn’t result in much, while the Canucks made full use of their chances.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: In a game where Vancouver was generally out-possessed, Mark Friedman finds himself leading the charts in Corsi, topping the roster with a 66.67 CF%. While he didn’t see any PK time, the defenceman was put in essentially every situation last night, resulting in him being on ice for 2 goals for and one goal against. It was a good defensive effort by Friedman, who limited Ottawa to just 2 scoring chances when he was on ice, with one of them registering as high-danger. Not a bad outing for him at all, especially when he was pushed into a bottom-pairing role.
Corsi Chump: Guess who were closely matched up last night again? That’s right, Phil Di Giuseppe – JT Miller – Brock Boeser drew in against the Sens’ first pairing of Jakob Chychrun-Jacob Bernard-Docker and the first line of Tkachuk-Norris-Batherson for a huge chunk of their 5v5 time last night. Naturally, PDG ended up with some poor CF% numbers, bringing up the rear with 25.81 across all situations. His xGF was not very great either, ending up with 0.17 xGF and 0.94 xGA for a team-worst xGF% of 15.11. But, it wasn’t a bad game from PDG – in light of the matchup, it’s surprising that he was on ice for just 1 HDCA in a total of 9 scoring chances. That coupled with two assists makes it a pretty solid all around game for PDG, even if the puck possession wasn’t there.

THE STATSIES PRESENTED BY BETWAY

xGF: Everyone’s favourite analytics darling is back in action. Conor Garland topped the xGF% charts both at 5v5 and all situations, coming in with a 78.52. This comes off the back of management wanting to move Beauvillier more than him now, and the winger now more reluctant to move given the run of good form by the team. Given how generally low-event the game was, Garland kept his nose clean with a 7-4 lead in scoring chances and a 2-0 advantage in HDCF. The person who led the Canucks in raw xGF was Ian Cole’s 0.78, to give you an idea of the offensive pressure Vancouver was producing last night.
GSAx: Good god Casey DeSmith is so much better than the backup options last year. Sure, he wasn’t spectacular but he was solid when he needed to be, and that was all that was needed. Facing down Ottawa’s 2.31 xGF, DeSmith would finish the night with a 0.31 GSAx, just barely positive but showing that he can be counted on to stop the pucks that he should stop. Out of the two goals that he conceded last night, one was registered as a high-danger goal, and the other was considered a low-danger goal.

Statistical Musings

Shouting out the bottom 6: While tonight was not a night where the depth stepped up for offensive production, their play to eat up time without causing any negative momentum swings should be commended. In particular, the Höglander-Lafferty-Beauvillier line was leading by example, seeing the most ice time of any Canuck forward combination at 5v5. Their stats were quite good as well – a 53.85 CF% to lead the team, while their 68.36 xGF% was just shy of the Joshua-Suter-Garland’s high-tide of 73.20. All four lines were used around the same as well, with the St. Petersburg line seeing the least ice time at 9:42. It’s definitely not a bad thing to have your bottom 6 performing, and in the Canucks case, it seems to be a common theme as the good times keep rolling.
Let’s talk about PDO and regressions: Okay, it’s been floating around people’s minds, and the seasoned Canucks fans will always be harbouring skepticism despite such a hot start – just how good are these Canucks? Have they gotten lucky?
Vancouver has the highest PDO of any team at this point in the season (109.8) since the stat has been tracked. There are some that are saying the Canucks will return to being a bottom-feeder soon enough. That’s probably not true. On the flip-side, this team probably isn’t going to stay at this pace. But that’s just the ups and downs of a long season of hockey. Vancouver has benefitted from playing some bad teams with sub-optimal goaltending, with that impacting how the average reflects onto the “luck” they’ve generated. The Canucks have had an absurd 16.12% shooting percentage through 13 games, approximately 6 percent higher than the league average, while the goalie tandem has given the Canucks a 0.936 SV% thus far. That’s probably going to drop – but perhaps not significantly. Vancouver has been good about limiting opposition teams to less chances thus far this year, which will influence the SV% that Demko and DeSmith will be putting up. And sure, while they aren’t going to be shooting 16% throughout the year, playing against the Oilers and Sharks would pump anyone’s numbers up. It’ll be interesting to see how they progress throughout the year as more sample size is opened on up.

As a team

CF% – 42.16% HDCF% – 64.29% xGF% – 44.31%
It was definitely not Vancouver’s best game. Yet good teams find ways to win even when things aren’t quite right, and perhaps this is the way that the Canucks are demonstrating that they are a good team. It’s not like they got dominated – but it wasn’t what this team is capable of, as shown by the previous run. Still, two points is two points, and they still beat the Sens 5-2 on the road. Not a bad way at all to kick off a road trip.
Vancouver will head into the centre of the universe tomorrow to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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