The Statsies: Elias Pettersson plays with everyone in every situation in Canucks win over Oilers

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
6 months ago
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There was a lot of discussion on what would happen last night. Whether the Canucks would follow up a big 8-1 season-opening win with a bang or a whimper. It was neither, and perhaps that was for the better.
The Vancouver Canucks showed up to Rogers Place and beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 in their home opener. It wasn’t pretty, but the Canucks made their mark where they could on the game, got themselves in front, and didn’t look back as they played some very structurally sound hockey. Is the stat sheet going to look ugly? Yeah, probably. Was it worth it? You bet it was.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

To expect to completely shut down two of the best hockey players in the entire world for two games in a row is ambitious, to say the least. With Edmonton playing pissed off after having egg on their face in the first game of the season, it made sense for them to come out swinging, as hard as they possibly could to make a statement. Much of that was reflected in the game flow, with the Oilers dominating possession and xGF to the tune of 72.5 CF% and 73.31 xGF% at 5v5. Those numbers, along with being out-chanced 30-12, should have resulted in the Canucks getting absolutely folded last night. But they didn’t. That could indicate luck – but from a different perspective, it could indicate that Vancouver really dug deep to get a result out of this one.

Heat Map

Not much of this should come as a surprise for Canucks fans. They couldn’t quite replicate the results from the season opener, but for a Vancouver squad that gave up a total of 21 high-danger chances and a 49-19 scoring chance differential across all situations, this actually doesn’t look horrific. Sure, the Oilers had themselves a hot spot right in tight against Casey DeSmith, but it isn’t nearly as expansive as one might think it is, nor is it as concentrated. An interpretation of this could be that the Canucks were good at forcing Edmonton to take shots from lower-danger areas, thus dispersing their scoring chances throughout the zone.

Individual Advanced Stats 

Corsi Champ: The team’s leading Corsi man from last night was one other than Conor Garland, coming in with a 61.54 CF%. However, the diminutive winger was also third-last in ice time with just 9:42 TOI, with a big skew in offensive deployment both in faceoffs and shift starts. While Garland was on ice, the Canucks registered 7 shots for and 2 against with an even split of 3 scoring chances for and against. Amongst that, only one scoring chance for was high-danger, while all three scoring chances against were high-danger.
Corsi Chump: Ian Cole was leaned on heavily as Tyler Myers’ partner and on the penalty kill last night, and it showed in the Corsi department. The defender brought up the rear for Vancouver across all situations with a 12.77 CF%, the majority of his competition coming against the likes of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman. He was on ice for all three goals against, conceding a whopping 24 scoring chances against with 10 of the being high danger. Funnily enough though, Cole was also on ice for two goals for – perhaps showing that he was counted upon for some very high-profile defensive duties. At 5v5, Jack Studnicka and Pius Suter tied for last with 15.38 CF% apiece.


xGF: Andrei Kuzmenko led the Canucks in expected goals once again against the Oilers, racking up a 75.40 xGF% in a game where Edmonton had the majority of the offence. His raw 1.27 xGF ranks him second on the team, while 0.41 xGA was the second-best on Vancouver’s roster. Kuzmenko was on ice for two goals, potting in one himself on a 9-5 scoring chance differential. In terms of raw xGF, Elias Pettersson’s 1.55 set the benchmark across all situations, with the Swede being the best Canuck at 5v5 in both xGF% and xGF. Not a big surprise, considering the pair’s penchant for putting up some favourable analytics.
GSAx: So Casey DeSmith was a good acquisition so far. DeBackup netminder had himself a night as he turned aside 37 out of 40 shots faced to help the Canucks pull off this gritty road win. Edmonton was buzzing all night and generated 5.16 xGF in total, meaning that DeSmith’s GSAx on the night sits at an impressive 2.16. Out of the three goals that he gave up, 2 were considered middle-danger and 1 was considered high-danger. Not bad at all given the tide of the game was nearly entirely against Vancouver. Definitely an impressive performance and DeSmith is so far looking to be a far more solid upgrade to the likes of Spencer Martin and Colin Delia.

Statistical Musings

Getting eaten alive… but making the most of it: Two Canuck forward lines stand out as having pretty terrible metrics: Beauvillier – Suter – Joshua and PDG – Miller – Boeser. Beauvillier – Suter – Joshua recorded 17.65 CF%, 31.73 xGF% with a 3-8 scoring chance differential, while PDG – Miller – Boeser had a 23.81 CF%, 6.26 xGF%, and a 2-11 scoring chance differential. Any guesses as to the reason why?
That’s right, the majority of these two units’ ice time was spent keeping McDrai and company in check, shutting down the Edmonton top 6. And, at 5v5, it worked really well. Only one goal against came at even strength, even as the Oilers were laying down the pressure. Sure, they ate it when it came to puck possession and expected goals, but when you’re holding your opponent to only striking on special teams, it’s definitely something positive to take going forward. There’s nothing wrong with recording these metrics when you’re essentially negating their offence at 5v5 play. What a turnaround in just one year, especially for JT Miller who turned in an absolute performance defensively last night.
Canucks need defensive depth: I’m sure this isn’t a surprising statement or controversial one, but it’s worth pointing out again that Noah Juulsen got exposed hard at the NHL level. If he’s not playing alongside Quinn Hughes, he doesn’t seem to be at a regular NHLer level. His partner last night, Akito Hirose, saw his CF% jump from 33.33 to 83.33 once playing away from Juulsen, and his xGF% go from 31.82 to 94.21 as well. It’s probably cap restraints that are causing some issues for Vancouver, but it wouldn’t hurt to see if someone like Cole McWard could be a better replacement. Hopefully, Carson Soucy is back sooner rather than later, because Juulsen playing bigger minutes is not a recipe for sustained success.
Elias Pettersson, Swedish Army Knife: Okay, maybe it’s a bad joke, but what isn’t a joke was Elias Pettersson’s versatility last night. Sure, he was centring a line between Andrei Kuzmenko and Conor Garland, but if you looked at the ice times, it wasn’t as clear-cut. Their unit was only together for around 5-6 minutes, with Sam Lafferty spending 3:10 with Pettersson. Without being tasked with matchup duties, Pettersson was filling in everywhere – and he was making things happen, picking up assists not only on the powerplay but a Jack Studnicka goal of all things. It’s interesting to see that Pettersson wasn’t pigeon-holed with his linemates and had some unconventional linemates at 5v5, perhaps something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

As a team

CF% – 27.27% HDCF% – 25.00% xGF% – 28.69%
Yeah, those are definitely not good stat shares from last night. On a deserve-to-win-o-meter or something, the Edmonton Oilers probably should’ve walked away with a dub. But they didn’t, and credit to Vancouver for being able to bring the ship home. They played hard, they battled, and they ground it out against a team they embarrassed a couple of nights ago and were out for revenge in their own home opener. It’s a gutsy performance that saw system plays executed and some excellent defensive efforts throughout the entire roster. Again, this is just game two of the young season, but the signs so far have been of good, hard-working, smart hockey. And that’s something Vancouver fans have been starved of in years past.
Next up, the Canucks head into the city of brotherly love to take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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