The Statsies: Hughes-Hronek pairing lights out in Canucks’ win over Predators

Photo credit:© John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
6 months ago
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Not a bad way to wrap up a road trip.
The Vancouver Canucks closed out their first roadie of the year with a 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators. A game-management-filled third period aside, it was a good game for the Canucks. They managed to limit Nashville’s chances, keep them to limited scoring chances, while converting on the opportunities that they got as well. Vancouver continued to ride the hot hands on the back end while experimenting with new things – and that had some mixed and interesting results.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

After an evenly matched first period, the Canucks managed to swing the game in their favour thanks to some excellent 5v5 stats. Vancouver held a 66.67 CF%, 60.00 HDCF%, and 68.81 xGF% line through the first period, before turning it up another notch in the second period with 78.38 CF%, 83.33 HDCF%, and 81.01 xGF%. The middle frame alone saw the Canucks out-chance the Preds 16-4 at 5v5 play, racking up an impressive 1.18-0.28 xGF differential. And even in the third period, when the Predators got themselves a hand from the refs, Vancouver did a good job in snuffing out any offence that they managed to generate. In total, the Preds got six scoring chances and two high-danger opportunities in the final frame — yet, only three scoring chances came at 5v5 play along with zero high-danger chances. It speaks to a team effort to bear down and get the win over the line.

Heat Map

This is a very clean heat map defensively for the Canucks. As mentioned before, they were able to keep the Predators limited and contained, as shown by the lack of any true hot spot forming on the map. Across all situations, Nashville only put together 20 scoring chances, with seven of them rated as high-danger. On the other hand, Vancouver posted 31 scoring chances with 10 high-danger opportunities, marking the first game that they’ve out-chanced and out-high-danger-chanced their opponent. The xGF difference has the Canucks pretty much doubling up the Preds 3.33-1.52.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Conor Garland looked like a puck hound against the Predators. The winger finished with a 82.35 CF% last night to lead the team across all situations while the Canucks outshot the Pred 6-0 during his time on ice. Garland saw most of his action alongside Dakota Joshua and Pius Suter, which made up a 3a/3b line with Höglander – Lafferty – Beauvillier. It made for an interesting effect on the ice time, which will be discussed later.
Corsi Chump: It hasn’t been the easiest adjustment to the Canucks lineup, but time is needed with Carson Soucy. The defender finished as the worst Canuck in the Corsi department, his 46.43 CF% comfortably last in a game where every other player on the roster finished above 50%. Soucy was on ice for both goals against, recording a 26.23 xGF% and a 6-10 scoring chance differential. Not the greatest performance, but cut him some slack – Soucy had Tyler Myers as his partner, and that is enough punishment in and of itself.


xGF: I’ve actually never seen anything quite like this, but Conor Garland features here with a 100.0 xGF%. Yup, that’s right, Garland did not concede a single expected goal against when he was on ice last night. His total of 1.04 xGF did put him a bit further back in the pecking order, but it’s still mighty impressive to manage to hold the opposing team without a single opportunity to become an xGA. In terms of raw xGF, it was Ian Cole who led the Canucks with an impressive 2.47. Cole also featured in the third-most minutes behind Quinn Hughes and Filip Hronek, eating up some tough minutes with good results to show for it.
GSAx: Thatcher Demko was not a busy man last night, and it was a game where he could sit back a little and relax. The Predators only managed to put 17 shots in total on the netminder, resulting in a 1.52 xGF total. That also means that Demko’s GSAx suffers as a result, going into the negatives with a -0.48 to show for his efforts. Both goals against were recorded as middle-danger, which probably played into these numbers as well. But, take this game as a positive one, where Vancouver did its job in front of Demko and limited the shots that he had to face. A welcome change for everyone involved, really.

Statistical Musings

Evening out the ice times: An interesting note from last night was the fact that every forward besides Nils Höglander hit over 10 minutes in TOI. It might be reading into a bit here, but it seems as if Tocchet was experimenting with a 3a/3b approach when it came to his bottom 6 – and it seemed to work with those lines producing some good possession metrics and generally keeping their ice time as low-event hockey. In fact, Phil Di Giuseppe was the leading man in TOI last night at 5v5 with just 16:28 total. It’s impressive to see all four lines contributing well, especially in light of seasons past.
Hughes-Hronek continue their reign of terror: It might be the most potent pairing the Canucks have featured in a decade. Quinn Hughes and Filip Hronek were absolutely lights out against the Predators, racking up 69.70 CF%, 71.86 xGF%, maintaining a 9-2 scoring chance difference and holding Nashville to 0 high-danger chances. Eating up the most minutes of any Canuck player, it’s impressive to be putting up the stat shares that they are, generally dominating their competition regardless of who they were. Hughes-Hronek were out there for 2 goals at 5v5, both of them picking up an assist in this game as well. Playing with someone like Hughes has also seemed to unlock a more dynamic Hronek as well, trusting his high-end partner and playing a more free game. It’s exciting to watch, to say the least.
Where Friedman plays second-pairing minutes and doesn’t do awful: It’s telling that Mark Friedman is a better top 4 option than Tyler Myers on the right side. The defenceman was by no means incredibly impressive against the Predators, but riding alongside Ian Cole meant that his CF% and xGF% sat at a very good rate throughout the game (62.96 CF%, 68.52 xGF%). Meanwhile, Myers was not doing much alongside Soucy with the pair on ice for both goals against.

As a team

CF% – 60.38% HDCF% – 58.82% xGF% – 70.09%
The Canucks did a good job last night at preventing the Predators from generating any consistent momentum, snuffing out their offensive opportunities and smothering them. It’s a top-to-bottom effort from everyone on the roster, and the team looks to have bought into the systems that Tocchet had been looking to implement since he took charge. It’s only 6 games into the season and the jury is out on whether this team is for real or not – but, there are plenty of good signs to take home with them after the first road trip of the season.
Vancouver gets a bit of a breather before welcoming the St. Louis Blues to town on Friday.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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