The Statsies: JT Miller silences Connor McDavid at evens in a big Canucks comeback win

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
1 month ago
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Oh my goodness.
In a game that started so inauspiciously, the Vancouver Canucks stormed back to claim a 5-4 win over the Edmonton Oilers. There was no questioning that the Canucks were territorially the better team throughout the game, playing solid hockey at 5v5 right from the start. But with how Edmonton struck first and lept to a 4-1 lead off of mistakes and bounces, it left a sour taste in most Canuck fans’ mouths and questioning if this was the end. But in the third, Vancouver struck thrice in five, sending Rogers Arena into bedlam and shell-shocking the Oilers with the comeback. You couldn’t write a better script if you tried.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

Giving up a power play 40 seconds into the game felt like the hockey gods were laughing at the Canucks. With how lethal the Oilers’ man advantage was, it only made sense for them to capitalize and put themselves up 1-0. After that, Vancouver settled on into the game – but yet still gave up another goal to head into the second down 2-0. Through all of that, Vancouver held a 71.67 xGF% share while racking up a 5-2 advantage in high-danger chances to give them 1.11 xGF against Edmonton’s 0.44. The second period saw the Canucks pile on even more at 5v5, holding a 65.52 CF% share and 79.05 xGF% share, generating a 1.13 xGF against the Oilers’ measly 0.30. It should’ve been the Canucks’ game handily at this point, but going into the third they were trailing 4-2. Vancouver capitalized on the momentum they generated though, having the luck even out a bit as despite only generating 1 high-danger chance in the third, they would go on to score 3 goals.

Heat Map

It wasn’t exactly a barn-storming game when it came to high-danger chance generation. In total, Vancouver had a 29-15 lead in scoring chances with an 11-5 edge in high-danger chances. The raw volume of chances wasn’t quite there, but the Canucks did a good job at preventing the Oilers from really establishing any repeated hot spot in front of Arturs Silovs. Vancouver had a far larger hot patch all around Stuart Skinner, with more repeatable high-danger attempts that should lead to more sustained offence. It’s a good blueprint of a heat map for the Canucks this series – the only thing to improve would be not giving up those low-danger goals from the points.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: It sucks to see Ilya Mikheyev unable to bury scoring chances because he is so darned good at helping generate them. Leading the team with a 72.22 CF% last night, the Russian looked much more engaged than against the Predators. Part of that comes from Elias Pettersson’s rise in form too, with that entire line looking more threatening against weaker competition from the Oilers’ bottom 6. Mikheyev didn’t face a single high-danger chance against during his TOI, with a team-low 0.01 xGA to his name.
Corsi Chump: The fourth line played like the fourth line, and that’s not a terribly bad thing. Teddy Blueger was the team’s worst Corsi man with his 30.43 CF%, standing at a -33.85 CF% rel. Despite being outshot 1-3, Blueger and his linemates were on ice for a goal for and a goal against. He maintained a 62.05 xGF% share in spite of the possession disadvantage that he was at, managing to hold the Oilers to a 2-2 split in high-danger chances. All things considered, Blueger at worst had a netural impact on the game, and that’s not at all bad considering the opposition. Plus, he helped set up the tying goal.


xGF: Thanks to some excellent work in his own end, Nils Höglander posted the team’s best xGF% with a 98.21. That absurd share comes from tying Mikheyev’s 0.01 xGA while getting 0.64 xGF of his own. Höglander finally recorded his first NHL playoff point on the Zadorov goal as well, being on ice for a 5-2 scoring chance split and a 2-0 lead in high-danger chances. Hopefully, the Swede can rediscover his scoring touch and help finish some of the chances on Pettersson’s wing. Leading the way in raw xGF was, surprisingly, Ian Cole with a 1.50.
GSAx: It was not a banner night for Arturs Silovs, though a lot of the goals against couldn’t be pinned on him. Facing only 1.40 xGF from the Oilers, Silovs gave up a -2.60 GSAx last night with 4 goals against on 16 shots. None of the goals came from high-danger, with three of the four being low-danger chances that got behind the Latvian and the remaining goal coming from a middle-danger chance. Again, Silovs wasn’t the problem on a lot of those goals, but those are chances that he would want to stop, and goals that he might want to have back. But, he stayed composed and looked solid through the rest of the game as the Canucks shut down the Oilers in front of him.

Statistical Musings

JT Miller’s brilliant matchup, by the numbers: Not enough can be said about the job that JT Miller did when facing off against Connor McDavid in this one. Yes, fine, the best player in the world looked off of his game to begin with, but Miller definitely played an important role in throwing him off. At 5v5, McDavid looked like a chump, producing 26.67 CF% and 25.72 xGF% shares when playing against the Canucks centerman. McDavid only had 0.18 xGF off of zero shots, the first time in his playoff career that he’s been held shotless, while only being on ice for 2 scoring chances and 1 high-danger chance. Simply put – Miller made McDavid look ordinary, and that’s no easy feat to do. Plus, Miller tacked on the goal to boot, continuing to drive offence even while doing his matchup duties.
Joshua-Lindholm-Garland, the engine line?: Funny how this unit started the Preds series off with a bang and does so in the opener against the Oilers too. Joshua-Lindholm-Garland were responsible for 3 of the goals the Canucks had at 5v5 action, producing the second-most xGF (0.54) of any forward line just behind the Suter-Miller-Boeser combination’s 0.59. They kept the Canucks in the game before Garland’s electric goal sent Vancouver into the lead. And once again, come the closing stages of the game, this forward line was entrusted with the final minutes to see the win out. It’s this two-way versatility that makes this line so good, and while they probably won’t be seeing too much in the way of matchup duties, it’s great to have a secondary line to throw at the Oilers’ top 6.

As a team

CF% – 54.00% HDCF% – 68.75% xGF% – 68.46%
Vancouver earned this win. This was no luck, waiting for the Oilers to hand the game over to them. This team clawed each and every step back to win this game, playing great hockey at 5v5 to keep pressure on Edmonton. There wasn’t a clear moment in this game where the Canucks slipped and played bad hockey – yes, they had unfortunate bounces, but they played a great game and were duly rewarded for it. Should the margin of victory probably have been higher? Yeah, but that third period was just so much fun to watch.
The Canucks host the Oilers for Game 2 of the series on Friday.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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