The Statsies: Ian Cole’s rough night in Canucks’ loss to the Golden Knights

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
7 months ago
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Well, this was sort of expected, even if the hopium was abound.
The Vancouver Canucks dropped a 4-1 decision against the Vegas Golden Knights, in a game where the defending champions demonstrated why they were indeed that. Vancouver never really looked like they were threatening, and as the Vegas lead piled up, it felt as if the Canucks didn’t have that extra gear to get themselves back into the game. It showed the difference between the Canucks and the Golden Knights and demonstrated that this team still has a ways to go before they can truly compete with the upper echelon of NHL teams.
Here’s the loss, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

There’s a couple of things that can be observed from the game flow chart. Aside from Vegas generally controlling puck possession, what stands out is that Vancouver never had an extended stretch at 5v5 where they were in control. The only period where the Canucks had a positive xGF% share was in the first period, and after that, it steadily progressed in favour of the Golden Knights. Demonstrating how to lock it down, Vegas held a 64.04 xGF% share and 58.33 CF% share to suppress any pressure that the Canucks could’ve generated thanks to score effects.

Heat Map

While the Canucks did have a 13-10 high-danger scoring chance lead, that doesn’t seem to be readily apparent in the heat map. Yes, they had a denser spot in tight, but other than that there was not much going on offensively. The Golden Knights converted on three high-danger chances, right in tight against Thatcher Demko to take advantage of the pressure that they generated. It’s one where there wasn’t too much given up on either end, with the difference being that one team took the chances that they got, while the other really didn’t do much with the looks they had.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: This one goes to Conor Garland who was one of the only Canucks to be switched on last night. He led the team with a 65.71 CF% on the night, translating that to a 67.63 xGF%. His raw 1.33 xGF actually ranked him second on the team in that category, being on ice for a 15-4 scoring chance difference and a further 8-2 HDCF advantage for Vancouver. While the finish wasn’t there again, Garland at least was helping generate positive momentum, something that most Canucks couldn’t do last night.
Corsi Chump: Oof. Maybe riding 34-year-old Ian Cole for heavy minutes isn’t the best idea. The veteran defenceman had been performing pretty darn decently up until this game, but a 17.65 CF% is not what you want from a top 4 defender. Cole was outshot 3-21 during his TOI, registering team-worst numbers in xGA (1.66), SCA (13), and HDCA (5). His 18.43 xGF% ranked him as the second-worst Canuck in that category as well to pile on the misery. Considering that his partner was Noah Juulsen for the majority of the night though, it’s understandable that coupling this on top of fatigue was not the best recipe against the Golden Knights.


xGF: Ilya Mikheyev would be the one to lead the Canucks in xGF% last night, racking up a 70.48 in a relatively uneventful game. He didn’t really do too much offensively, though a 0.96 xGF was still on the upper end of the team’s charts, but defensively Mikheyev sported a very solid 0.4 xGA to put him as the second-best Canuck. Vancouver’s leading xGF man was none other than Tyler Myers, who found himself with a 1.44 xGF to go along with a surprisingly solid 60.52 xGF%.
GSAx: It’s not like it was entirely his fault, but Thatcher Demko finishes the night comfortably in the negatives for goals saved above expected. Vegas managed a 2.91 xGF over the course of the night, thus giving Demko a -1.09 GSAx, with three of the goals being high-danger chances. The other goal was registered as middle-danger, but even then, it was a pretty darn good opportunity that the Golden Knights were pouncing on. Still, Demko finds himself as the league leader in high-danger save percentage, so that still has to count for something.

Statistical Musings

Where literally everyone was so unimpressive: This is speaking more to the quality of team that the Golden Knights have assembled, but it is hard to see that 3/4 of the forward lines would finish the night under 50 CF%. The Kuzmenko-Petterson-Mikheyev line got crushed at 5v5 to the tune of 23.53 CF% and a measly 5.07 xGF%, while JT Miller lasted one period in a matchup role before being taken off because Jack Eichel was too much to handle. The only line that was out-chancing Vegas was Joshua-Blueger-Garland, recording a 10-4 scoring chance split and a 5-2 HDCF a lead. But they couldn’t bury a puck to save their lives, and the players that usually do got snuffed out. It’s a combination of Vegas being a good team and the Canucks being flat – and unfortunately, being flat won’t cut it when you’re in the grind of a regular season.
Needing Zadorov’s presence: The acquisition of Nikita Zadorov earlier in the day couldn’t have come at a better time. Vancouver’s back end is hurting, with depth thin thanks to injuries. Cole’s struggles are hopefully isolated to this game, but the rest of the unit needs some help as well. Zadorov should help take load off the likes of Juulsen, who struggled with a 26.09 CF% and 37.64 xGF%. Mark Friedman had himself a surprisingly good game, but that isn’t the type of performance that a team should be relying upon. Another indication that the Canucks’ blueline is needing a jolt is the fact that Quinn Hughes was remarkably average, not topping the charts in any category like he has been thus far into the season.

As a team

CF% – 45.13% HDCF% – 49.06% xGF% – 56.52%
The Canucks didn’t deserve to win this game. A flat effort in which the Vegas Golden Knights controlled the flow from beginning to end, where the defending cup champs just had their way with them, it’s not particularly encouraging to see, or even fun to watch. It’s been a bit of an up-and-down ride as of late, with the team settling back down from the insane highs of October thanks to injuries and fatigue. But, there’s still quite a ways to go in the season, and this could be a good lesson in seeing just how far they have to go to compete with the big dogs.
Vancouver is back on the road, taking on the Calgary Flames tomorrow at the Saddledome.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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