The Statsies: How the Joshua-Suter-Garland line led the Canucks’ bounceback against Habs

Photo credit:© David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
7 months ago
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And just like that, the wagon is back on track.
The Vancouver Canucks rocked up to the Centre Bell and beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-2 to get back to their winning ways. It was a much better effort in Montreal, where the team got back to the habits that had brought them so much success thus far in the season. Their start was a little rockier than most would’ve liked, but the Canucks found their groove and managed to bury the chances that they got. All in all, not a bad road win at all.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

The first period wasn’t exactly what the team drew up. Vancouver couldn’t get much going as though they had a 60.00 CF% share, it only resulted in 8 scoring chances off 8 shots and just 2 high-danger chances. Luckily for the Canucks, Montreal didn’t fare much better either. That gave the visitors enough time to figure it out in front of Casey DeSmith, turning on the pressure against the Habs. Vancouver’s xGF nearly tripled between the first and second period, going from 0.59 to 1.35. The third was pretty much all Canucks at 5v5, as most of Montreal’s spike was thanks to the powerplay that they got.

Heat Map

Both teams had their cracks in high-danger areas, but only one team was really finishing on them. The high-danger chances stood nearly even with Vancouver just edging out Montreal 17-16, with the majority of the Canucks’ coming at 5v5 play (15). It was really in the second and third periods that Vancouver did most of their xGF work, totaling 2.44 xGF at 5v5 play and 4.05 xGF across all situations in the final two frames. It makes sense, given how little they managed to do in the first two periods. What also stood out is that though Montreal had high-danger chances, Vancouver gave them very little repeatability on them, evidenced by the 2.89 xGF in all situations that the Habs managed in the second and third.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Pius Suter finally gets his name on one of these after being the primary source of depth scoring in the past couple of games. The Swiss led the Canucks at both 5v5 and all situations in CF%, recording a 72.41 on the night. This comes with the fact that impressively, Suter was on ice for 15 shots for and zero against. The entire third line was buzzing last night, thanks in large part to Conor Garland making life miserable for the Habs defence. Suter benefitted from that with some excellent metrics himself, chipping in with some solid defensive play down the middle.
Corsi Chump: This one is given to Ilya Mikheyev who put up a 33.33 CF%. His entire line didn’t look quite right, which will be discussed in a bit, but Mikheyev unfortunately bore the brunt of the statistical mess. The Russian recorded the third-lowest xGF (0.43) and was on ice for a 4-8 scoring chance difference in favour of the Habs. It wasn’t as if he was particularly bad, but Mihkeyev and his linemates just weren’t clicking the best against Montreal. At least he had himself a very nice snipe for the 2-0 marker past Jake Allen.


xGF: Suter finds himself in this category as well, recording an absurd 95.85 xGF% share against the Canadiens. While his 1.03 xGF was middle of the back, the reason why his share is so outstanding is because of his team-best 0.04 xGA. Suter was on ice for just 2 scoring chances against, with none of the shots ever reaching the net. Meanwhile, he saw 8 scoring chances go the way of the Canucks with 3 of them registering as high-danger. In raw xGF, it was Tyler Myers who led the way, racking up an impressive 2.78 across all situations.
GSAx: Who would’ve thought that Casey DeSmith would get 2/3 starts on the road? The backup netminder looked dialed in against the Habs once more, allowing Demko to have the night off and recover from a rough outing in Toronto. DeSmith faced 3.44 xGF total generated by the Habs, giving him a 1.44 GSAx to take home from last night. Both goals were also tough to really say were his fault, with one at high-danger and one at middle-danger. DeSmith was ready to prove something against his old team and improved his record on the season to 4-0-1. Not bad at all, really.

Statistical Musings

What’s up in St. Petersburg?: Something isn’t right with Kuzmenko-Pettersson-Mikheyev. It might be because the Swedish pivot is currently dealing with some nagging issues, but that entire line just isn’t performing up to the standards that we have come to expect. Against the Habs, they were the second-least played line, posting the worst CF% (35.29), xGF (0.36), and SCF% (33.33). While the metrics don’t have them being a complete net negative, especially since Mikheyev did pot in a goal himself, they also aren’t their usual statistically dominant selves. Normally, their numbers jump off the page, while last night they looked forgettable. Whatever it is, they’ll need to get rolling soon because relying on depth to continue to fill the gap is not sustainable for team success.
A Rick Tocchet player: Conor Garland balled out against the Habs. The winger looked to translate all the underlying metrics into one of his best games as a Canuck, not just from potting in a goal but the work he was doing to generate offence. Together, him and his line stepped up to lead all forward lines in CF% (78.26), xGF (0.87), xGA (0.04), xGF% (95.11), SCF% (88.89), and HDCF% (100.00). It feels as if this third line in particular has been needing a game like this as well, where their defensive numbers would help push them to succeed offensively at some point. With Teddy Blueger drawing back into the lineup and showing some rust, this bottom 6 unit will probably be counted on to do a little bit more until the Canucks can figure out how to piece everyone together.
Bouncing back: Hughes-Hronek got themselves on track once more, featuring in the most ice time of any Canuck last night. Hronek yielded a powerplay goal against, but other than that the pair kept their noses clean, generating about 1.7 xGF apiece to go back to their old ways. Hughes had a really solid defensive game as well, putting up an impressive 0.73 xGA in 28:37 TOI. Seriously, nearly half the game played and he didn’t even face a full expected goal.

As a team

CF% – 56.30% HDCF% – 51.52% xGF% – 57.47%
The Vancouver Canucks had to shake off their bad habits and lacklustre efforts in the first period, but once they did so looked like the wagon that they were previously. There are definitely things that were missed, but the details go out the window in the third period of the final game on a road trip. The Canucks did well to battle for the victory and lock it down in the second half of a back-to-back, to go 2-1-0 on the Eastern Canada swing. Not bad at all.
The Canucks get a bit of a breather before welcoming Bo Horvat and the New York Islanders to town on Wednesday.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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