The Statsies: Hughes-Hronek bounce back to help Canucks top the Sharks

Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
7 months ago
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It only took a royal touch to get back in the win column.
The Vancouver Canucks beat the San Jose Sharks by a 3-1 scoreline, this time facing off against the worst team in the NHL as opposed to an AHL squad in over their heads. While the team started off a little shaky, it wasn’t long before they regained their footing to take it to the Sharks. Vancouver looked much more like the wagon they had been prior to the two losses in a row, and hopefully that attention to details will continue to carry forth onto their next games.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

What should stand out about the game flow is that the majority of the pressure that the Sharks got last night came on the power play. Other than that, Vancouver were solidly outplaying San Jose at 5v5, controlling a 60.20 CF% share and translating that to a 60.45 xGF% as well. This is the type of result that should be delivered against inferior competition, and it’s nice to see that the Canucks weren’t playing down to their opposition, instead dictating the pace and flow of this game at even strength.

Heat Map

This is a much better heat map for the Canucks both at the offensive end and defensive end. San Jose wasn’t able to get a high concentration of high-danger chances, while Vancouver established a hot spot right in the low slot area and converted two of those chances into goals. While that’s all great, the Canucks still aren’t generating enough high-danger chances at 5v5. The total in the game stood at 15-11 in favour of Vancouver, but at even strength, that differential dropped down to 7-6. It’ll be something that needs to be addressed if the Canucks want to generate consistent offense. A 32-18 disparity in scoring chances at 5v5 is good, but the chances also need to be good ones.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Dakota Joshua set the pace in the Corsi department, leading the team with a 75.00 CF% across all situations and a 77.78 CF% at 5v5. This comes even with some very defensively skewed shift starts, with only 25% of them coming at the offensive zone. What this could be indicating is that Joshua was able to suppress the Sharks from really getting any shot attempts off, and instead turn the play up the ice in the Canucks’ favour. Joshua also saw some sizeable penalty kill time as well, featuring in 1:55 while managing to generate 1 scoring chance for and not giving up one against.
Corsi Chump: On the flip side of the equation, it was Phil Di Giuseppe who once again found himself with the worst Corsi numbers on the team. His 42.31 CF% just beat out Sam Lafferty’s 42.86, with both featuring in similar deployments on the PK. PDG doesn’t get his linemates’ benefit from being on the power play, meaning that when he gets matched up against at 5v5, oftentimes he doesn’t get the boost that JT Miller and Brock Boeser get. PDG wasn’t a net negative though – he faced an even split in scoring chances (6-6) and HDCF (1-1), with not major issues besides the lack of offensive pressure at 5v5 play.


xGF: Andrei Kuzmenko hasn’t been here too often, but last night against the Sharks the Russian recorded the team’s best xGF% with a 91.19. He was on ice for a 10-5 scoring chance difference, a further 2-1 advantage in high-danger chances. The part that probably contributed the most to Kuzmenko’s high xGF% was his team-best 0.07 xGA, a result of seeing approximately 80% of his shift and faceoff starts in the offensive zone. He had a couple of great chances too but was unable to record a point. A huge standout last night was Filip Hronek’s raw xGF, leading the Canucks with a 3.18. The Czech was on ice for 25 scoring chances for and just 13 coming back the other way, doubling up on the Sharks with a 12-6 lead in high-danger chances. This looks like the Hronek from the previous couple of games, and definitely helped the Canucks in securing a victory last night.
GSAx: A bounceback for Thatcher Demko, at least statistically. With the previous couple of games seeing him in the negatives for GSAx, it was about time the netminder returned to form. San Jose generated a total of 3.16 xGF against Demko, meaning that he finished the night with a 2.16 GSAx, far more in line with his elite start to the season. The only goal that got by Demko was recorded from a high-danger chance, meaning that the goalie did more than enough to keep the Sharks at bay. He was sharp last night and needed to be, with the team in front of him finally helping him out defensively as well.

Statistical Musings

So how about trying Beauvillier on the second line: For a good stretch recently, the PDG-Miller-Boeser line has been matched up hard against, and it isn’t exactly hard to guess why. Teams are cueing into the momentum that this trio can generate for the Canucks, and by taking away their time and space with specific line matches, they’re hoping to make things difficult for Vancouver. Last night against the Sharks was another example of this, as though this line controlled a positive xGF% share, they were the second-worst line when it came to CF%. However, an interesting little cameo by Anthony Beauvillier produced some different results. In the 3:10 that he replaced PDG for, the line ended with a 60.00 CF%, 71.11 xGF%, and out-chanced the Sharks to the tune of 6-1 scoring chances and 3-0 high-danger chances. It’s obvious that Beauvillier can’t drive a line – but perhaps, it might not be bad to give things a shake to see if he can recapture being a middle-6 complimentary piece.
Hughes-Hronek back on track: A bounceback from the Canucks’ top pairing was just what the doctor ordered in a bit of a shaky start. Hughes-Hronek played brilliantly against San Jose, recording a 60.00 CF% share and 61.84 xGF% at 5v5. The pair were dictating the play from the back, helping Vancouver to 1.23 xGF during their time on ice, while only facing 3 high-danger chances against over the course of 16:10. These are the numbers that we have come to expect from the duo, and if they’re producing these kinds of statistics, the Canucks are usually winning hockey games.

As a team

CF% – 55.38% HDCF% – 57.69% xGF% – 57.14%
It wasn’t the most convincing win by the Canucks, but they did what they needed to do. Beating the San Jose Sharks helped snap a losing streak, with the group getting back to the style of play that had gotten them to this point of the season. There are things to be ironed out, with high-danger chance generation at even strength still proving to be a challenge, but getting two points in regulation was all that this team needed to do. Players’ individual performances looked to be better, and hopefully that can translate as the team faces off against better competition.
Vancouver now heads on the road, hopping into the Mile High City to take on the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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