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The Statsies: The Lotto Line overcomes Crosby matchup in win against Penguins

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Photo credit:© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
1 month ago
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It could’ve ended so poorly, but somehow the ending was even more poetic.
The Vancouver Canucks beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in overtime after having a two-goal lead erased by the home team. Questionable reffing aside, it was an entertaining hockey game to watch, where the teams traded rushes and chances in some end-to-end action. Yes, the Canucks looked a little more tired than usual by the third, but this is their 4th game in 6 nights on this road trip. They limited the sloppiness to the best of their abilities and still managed to secure the 2 points in the extra frame. Not a boring way to do so as well.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

The swings of momentum throughout the game are apparent through the fluctuations in the trendline. Pittsburgh out-possessed Vancouver throughout the entire matchup, not going a single period where they didn’t have at least 54% of the CF% share. The xGF% was a little more variable though – the Canucks held a 55.58 xGF% share in the first period, while the Pens won that battle in the second and third with 53.85 and 54.76 xGF% respectively. That aspect showed how the teams were a lot closer together, trading chances to the end in 3-on-3 overtime.

Heat Map

Looking at the scoring chances from last night paints an interesting picture. The Pens heavily out-chanced the Canucks to the tune of 39-25, but the high-danger chances stood at only 14-13 in favour of Pittsburgh. This could mean that Vancouver did a good job at maximizing the chances that they got, a big portion of them coming from good areas even if they didn’t get the quantity of chances that the opponents had. As well, it also suggests that the Canucks were able to limit the Pens to scoring chances that weren’t as threatening as a high-danger chance. The hot spots in front reflect that too, with similar concentrations of chances coming from the slot area for both teams.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Nikita Zadorov finished the game as the Canucks’ leading Corsi man, tallying 64.29 CF% against the Penguins. He did well to limit Pittsburgh during his TOI, with the Canucks outshooting them 9-6 when Zadorov was on ice. The big Russian defender posted a 0.4 xGA, which placed him 5th on the entire team in that category. While Zadorov didn’t get put up against any of Pittsburgh’s big guns, in a game where the Canucks were out-possessed pretty handily, the numbers are solid for what was a good performance on the back end.
Corsi Chump: On the flip side, Tyler Myers came in dead last in the Corsi department as he recorded a 31.26 CF% against the Pens. Now granted, the majority of the night he was playing against Evgeni Malkin, so the context of his matchups does matter. The shots stood at 6-8 for Pittsburgh when he was on the ice, conceding the second-worst xGA (1.84) in the whole lineup. Myers also saw the second-most amount of scoring chances given up on the entire roster with 10, while only being on ice for 6 scoring chances for. He was entrusted with the most PK time of any Canuck though, and saw a shift in overtime, so it wasn’t all bad for Myers in this one.

THE STATSIES PRESENTED BY BETWAY

xGF: Pius Suter held the best xGF% last night against the Penguins, recording an 83.96 in 12:52 of action. A lot of this had to do with the fact that Suter recorded the lowest xGA (0.11) on the team, with the Swiss center facing zero high-danger chances against on the night despite being out-chanced 4-6 in total. In raw xGF, it was none other than Elias Pettersson leading the way with a 1.48 in total, though his xGA numbers brought his xGF% share down dramatically from where Suter was standing.
GSAx: Thatcher Demko got unlucky on the third goal, but even then did his part in keeping the Canucks in this one. Facing a total of 3.20 xGF on the night, the netminder finished with a 0.20 GSAx. It’s not anything that would be stealing results, but it’s solid and just barely in the positives to show that Demko was meeting expectations at worst. The three goals were evenly split between high-danger, middle-danger, and low-danger shots, so if you’re a collector that’s pretty satisfying to look at. Otherwise, there weren’t too big of complaints in regards to how Demko played, and that’s always a good thing when looking at goalies.

Statistical Musings

Where was the Lotto Line in all this?: It’s probably a surprise to not hear any of Elias Pettersson, JT Miller or Brock Boeser featured more prominently in the previous categories after recording all four goals in this game. And that’s for a good reason – because the Lotto Line was stacked up against Sidney Crosby, the greatest player of his generation. Sure, you can say Crosby is older now, but the hockey IQ never went away. The Lotto Line got pushed back hard at 5v5 by Crosby’s line, with Pettersson sitting at 28.57 CF% and 16.61 xGF% when the two were matched up. Similar trends can be observed with Miller (30.77 CF%, 17.30 xGF%) and Boeser (33.33 CF%, 16.61 xGF%). It should be no wonder that they didn’t score against the Crosby line and in fact gave up a goal against because the rate metrics were shifted so hard against them in a big chunk of their 5v5 ice time. Still, the Lotto Line managed to overcome that, burying against weaker opposition for a total of 9 points on the night combined. That pushes them to 26 points in the last 4 games, an absurd offensive contribution by any measure.
How Hughes-Hronek impact the lottery odds: The eye test shows how dynamic the Canucks are when the Lotto Line and Hughes-Hronek are on the ice together. That’s probably worth its own article, but against the Pens it was obvious to see how much the back-end duo augmented the offensive capabilities of the top line. Pettersson’s xGF% with Hughes last night stood at 37.30, which doesn’t sound the most impressive until you see that the xGF% dips to 16.84 without Hughes. The same applies to Boeser and Miller, who go from mid-upper 30s in xGF% to mid-teens as soon as they play away from Hughes-Hronek. While it’s impossible to send the five of them out as a unit all the time, it does offer a very potent combination to ice especially when the Canucks are looking to score a goal.

As a team

CF% – 40.65% HDCF% – 48.15% xGF% – 48.58%
The Canucks kept the good times rolling with their fourth straight win, doing so in quite a fashion against Pittsburgh. They looked amazing to start, potting home two quick ones, but found their road legs weighing them down on top of the Penguins pushing them back. It got dicey towards the end, but the Canucks never really looked inept. Rather, they found their offence when they needed it most to take home an overtime win. On a lengthy road trip, especially on the back end of it, that’s a result that you take any time you get it.
Vancouver heads into Buffalo on Saturday for a matinee matchup against the Sabres.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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