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The Statsies: JT Miller does his best in a tepid Vancouver Canucks loss

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Photo credit:© John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
6 months ago
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The city of brotherly love wasn’t so loving to the Canucks’ new-found form.
The Vancouver Canucks reverted to old habits in an uninspiring 2-0 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers, the same Flyers that are expected to miss the 2024 NHL playoffs by a wide margin. A back-breaking second period might be the frame that most remember, but to be extremely clear — Philadelphia never looked in danger of losing this game. That’s a problem if you’re the Vancouver Canucks hoping for the playoffs.
Here’s the loss, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

Nothing about this game flow should come as a surprise for Canucks fans. Their first period was relatively alright. At 5v5, Vancouver was holding a 58.33 CF% edge while being narrowly out-chanced (8-9 SCF, 5-7 HDCF). It’s unfortunate that the Flyers were able to capitalize twice at even strength — one of which was on a penalty shot — but that’s not the end of the world. It’s hockey, it happens. What does become concerning is the fact that after facing a 2-0 deficit, Vancouver just… failed to respond. The second period saw them absolutely hosed, and it wasn’t just because they gave up 2 power plays. It’s a bit amusing (sad) to look at the 5v5 game flow:
The Flyers achieved virtually nothing on their power plays. Out of a total of 22 shots, 21 scoring chances, and nine high-danger chances, they had 18 shots, 17 scoring chances, and eight high-danger chances at 5v5. It’s not even a penalty-killing issue for the Canucks now – their 5v5 play continues to be uninspiring offensively and is now getting caved in by opposition they (allegedly) should be beating. The third was better, if only because neither team really gained ground – but when you’re down 2-0 in hockey games, score effects should lead to your team pushing a little more. That wasn’t reflected in the stats.

Heat Map

This heat map looks very similar to the ones from last season. Taking a look defensively, the Canucks were porous in front of their own net, letting the Flyers have all the chances they wanted and then some in front of Thatcher Demko. In total, the scoring chance disparity was 33-24 in favour of Philadelphia, but a 17-9 HDCF ratio for the home team shows just the difference in quality between the two last afternoon. Consequentially, the Flyers dominated the xGF charts, a 4.78-2.03 differential all that needs to be said about just how well they played and how little response Vancouver had.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: JT Miller tried. He really did last night. Playing on the powerplay, the penalty kill, featuring in 21:40 TOI, Miller led the team with a 64.52 CF%. What’s absurd is that his 5v5 CF% was 81.25, towering above the rest of his teammates with Dakota Joshua’s very limited 6:52 TOI giving him a 66.67. The problem wasn’t puck possession for Miller though – it was more so that his xGF% was sitting at 31.40. A large part of that is because of Miller’s role on the penalty kill – his xGF% jumps back up to around par with a 49.17% at 5v5 play. But, what that also suggests is that Miller was not able to get many chances on the powerplay – seen through only a 0.27 xGF over the course of three man-advantages. That is more of a reflection on the unit itself, but it isn’t good by any means. Miller saw relatively even deployment, with a skew to defensive zone faceoff starts.
Corsi Chump: This goes to Carson Soucy’s 33.33 CF%, but it literally isn’t a bad thing. In his regular-season debut for the Vancouver Canucks, primarily paired up with Noah Juulsen, and featuring the second-most on the PK alongside Filip Hronek, Soucy did pretty much everything he could to hold the Flyers to just one goal during his TOI. At 5v5, he was actually treading water pretty well, with a 42.86 CF% to his name. But with the load placed on Soucy, the xGF numbers look rough. He was on ice for a total of 1.58 xGA, making Soucy essentially a plus-value defender with just one goal against. The defenceman faced 12 scoring chances against, half of them being high danger, while only managing one high-danger chance for the Canucks. It isn’t bad at all, considering the context of the game and how Soucy was used. A bad Corsi doesn’t mean Soucy had a bad game.

THE STATSIES PRESENTED BY BETWAY

xGF: I’m giving this one to Quinn Hughes since Dakota Joshua barely played at all in this game. The defenceman posted a 43.08 xGF%, only a slight increase from his 42.62 xGF% at 5v5 play. Hughes was on ice for a 13-9 scoring chance difference, a 5-4 HDCF disparity as well to just edge out into the positives. He also finished second to Ian Cole in raw xGF (0.73), which isn’t the greatest offensive output. At least we know that he’s better than Seth Jones, right?
GSAx: What more could be said about Thatcher Demko’s performance? He was the sole reason why the Canucks were even within striking distance of the Flyers for the majority of the game, slamming the door shut when it counted. Facing down a total of 4.29 xGF, Demko came up huge with a 2.29 GSAx, the highest he’s recorded this season thus far. The two goals against were recorded as one high-danger, one middle-danger, which is not bad pickings at all. Demko was probably the only Canuck that showed up ready to play in Philly.

Statistical Musings

Elias Pettersson’s weird night: Normally, when Pettersson appears in one of these recaps it’s for good reasons. Against the Flyers though, it’s for not-so-good statistics. Pettersson’s numbers look pretty darn bad, and I’m not sure what to chalk it up to. He had the second-worst Corsi (37.50), the worst xGA (1.7), and yielded a team-high 14 scoring chances against, all at 5v5 play. It doesn’t get much better when looking across all situations, as Pettersson’s xGA balloons to 3.02, a team-high 18 scoring chances against, while tying for the team-worst with 8 high-danger chances against. The numbers just aren’t kind to Pettersson and it wasn’t as if Philadelphia was doing anything particular when it came to matching up against him. Egor Zamula faced Pettersson the most at 5v5 play with 6:04 against each other, while Scott Laughton was the next highest with a 4:49 TOI. It just wasn’t Pettersson’s night – and it’s probably just an outlier.
Why is Tyler Myers playing top 4 minutes?: The whole defence by committee thing was really promising through the first two games. Limiting the amount of ice time that each defender had to eat up was paying dividends – so when Tyler Myers featured in 17:46 TOI, the 4th most on the team, the results weren’t the best. It makes sense that the team wants to ease Carson Soucy back into the lineup, with the hopes of playing him on the right side, but until that happens, Myers is the second-best RHD on the team – and that’s a problem. He tied with Hronek for the most giveaways on the team last night, posting the second-worst CF% numbers amongst defencemen at 5v5 (44.12) while being second to Elias Pettersson in xGA (1.66). Obviously, Myers isn’t exactly expected to be an all-worldly defender, but it’s hard to have him in the top 4 and expect to compete for a playoff spot this season.

As a team

CF% – 48.72% HDCF% – 33.33% xGF% – 29.84%
The decent Corsi but low expected goals should explain the theme of the game. Vancouver was flat. The moments they had the puck, they didn’t look dangerous, unable to generate sustained pressure or consistent offensive chances, and suffered as a result. It wasn’t as if the first period was a disasterclass – what was a disaster was how the team folded in the second and third. That was a common theme in the 2022-23 Canucks, one that seemed to be buried under the surface after two straight wins. Hopefully, this team is able to bounce back and come out with a little more desire in their next matchup.
Vancouver heads down to Tampa Bay on Thursday to take on the Lightning.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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