The Statsies: A more even game than the scoreline suggests

Photo credit:© Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
6 months ago
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It just wasn’t meant to be.
The Vancouver Canucks were handed a 5-2 loss by the Colorado Avalanche, but it was a game where the scoreline didn’t do the content justice. It wasn’t a blowout by the home team at all — Vancouver was right there alongside the Avs for the majority of the night, battling back and forth with a Stanley Cup contender. What separated the two was that contender difference, but by no means was it a bad game as a team from the Canucks. The numbers in the defeat seem to back this up — and it’ll be interesting to see how the trend progresses as Vancouver tries to weather a storm of injuries.
Here’s the loss, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

The two teams traded ebbs and flows in momentum all night. The Avs got out of the gates hot, but the Canucks were able to use their powerplay to get the swing of the game back in their favour during the second period. With how marred by special teams the middle frame was, (only 9 minutes were spent at 5v5) at which both teams were pretty much locked in a stalemate. The scoreboard reflects that accurately, where the Canucks and Avs headed into the third tied 2-2. Even in the third, the CF% splits stood at 52.78-47.22 for Colorado, while the Canucks held a 53.77-46.23 xGF% lead in the final frame at 5v5. They definitely didn’t play in a way that should’ve resulted in three goals against – but that was what happened, and how the game was won.

Heat Map

Honestly, this heat map is one that you can’t really be mad at. Vancouver generally did a good job at limiting high-danger opportunities in front of their own net, while getting a decent hot spot of their own right in the low slot/crease area. At 5v5, the scoring chances favoured Colorado ever so slightly with a 21-18 difference, but the high-danger chances sat locked at 9-9. Accounting for powerplays, the Avs managed to stretch that scoring chance lead to 29-26, but it was the Canucks that edged them out in the HDCF department by a tally of 12-11. This really isn’t bad, all things considered, but from the heat map, it’s apparent that Colorado capitalized on the chances they got, while Vancouver only had one goal from a high-danger area.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Conor Garland led the Canucks in CF% last night across all situations and 5v5, tallying a 73.33 for the game. He was on ice for a 6-1 shot differential, only seeing 1 HDCA while being there for 5 HDCF. That’s reflected in a sparkling 0.23 xGA — the second-lowest on the team — while Garland’s xGF% stands at 78.07, which was the third-best on the Canucks last night. While all of this is great, two big glaring issues are apparent: he and his line did not manage to translate the chances to goals, and why is Garland leading the CF% battle in the first place? Both of these points highlight the fact that Vancouver’s high-end talent isn’t performing quite where it needs to be, and that needs to change if this team wants to beat teams like the Avs.
Corsi Chump: It’s unfortunate that this needs to be said when he got hurt, but Tyler Myers was not having it last night. His 27.03 CF% firmly put him in last place in that category, called upon to play in a higher role thanks to injuries and struggling mightily as a result. Myers gave up the second-most scoring chances (14) and high-danger chances (7) during his 18:13 TOI, resulting in the 4th-worst xGF% (29.88). The problem with him going down with injury is the fact that Vancouver doesn’t exactly have anyone who can fill in, much less perform better than him. With rumours that Ethan Bear might ink a contract, perhaps a solution is on its way, but that can’t come soon enough for this team’s thin back end.


xGF: Again, it’s not an inherently bad thing that Dakota Joshua led the Canucks in xGF% – it’s just that he shouldn’t be the one doing so, or if he is, he should be chipping in offensively. The bottom-sixer tallied an 87.41 xGF% to lead Vancouver, recording the best xGA (0.1) on the roster. Ian Cole led the Canucks in raw xGF with a 1.74, with Anthony Beauvillier’s 1.07 putting him in second. It’s great that these two are doing their part to generate offensive pressure and chances – but until they’re able to bury opportunities, it’s not exactly very useful to the Canucks result-wise.
GSAx: A byproduct of the Canucks keeping Colorado to a low xGF is that Thatcher Demko’s numbers look really bad when the Avs capitalize on as many chances as they did last night. When Demko was between the pipes, the Avalanche only generated 1.78 xGF, meaning that the 4 goals against resulted in a -2.22 GSAx. Again, Demko wasn’t poor, but he wasn’t exactly stealing away goals, and that’s why his numbers look rough. All four goals against came at high-danger, and as a whole he only faced 6 high-danger chances. Thus, with the conversion rate and how the Avs didn’t manage to generate a whole lot of xGF otherwise, Demko unfortunately sees a rough GSAx to end the night.

Statistical Musings

Time for a shakeup: I’m a fan of Phil Di Giuseppe’s puck retrieval game, how he’s taken his shot in the Canucks lineup and ran with it to start the year. But, the sell-by date for top-6 PDG has come and gone as the trio of PDG-Miller-Boeser got absolutely toasted against the Avs. Miller finished with the worst 5v5 xGF% on the team (27.16), with Boeser in second-last (30.91) and Di Giuseppe in third-last (32.20). Clearly, teams have cued in onto their play, scouting and matching up against them in ways that have disrupted their rhythms. Miller has kept up a high standard of play, with Boeser falling off a little but still decent for the most part. The thing is that PDG just doesn’t do much outside of puck retrieval, with offence dying on his stick due to lack of finishing ability. It would be worth trying new things out, with players that have slightly better hands than him.
What’s wrong with Petey?: The tides of form seem to have brought Elias Pettersson back down to earth. Sure, his point tallies are still there, but the Swede just hasn’t looked the superstar that he usually is. Last night against the Avs, Pettersson recorded the 6th-worst CF% on the roster at 5v5 (42.31), while giving up the most xGA (1.23) across all situations. And yes, while he featured on penalty kill duties, Pettersson only saw 0.17 xGA accumulate on 4v5 situations. That means that the majority of xGA came at even-strength or 5v4 PP deployment, which is absurd to think about. Pettersson has always been a responsible two-way force, capable of shutting down opposing top lines if put into that role – which is why this is so jarring to see him getting caved in the manner that he is currently. His wingers in Andrei Kuzmenko and Ilya Mikheyev have definitely not helped him, both doing basically nothing to take pressure off Pettersson, but at the end of the day, the pivot is not driving the play.

As a team

CF% – 49.11% HDCF% – 52.17% xGF% – 51.46%
The Canucks battled hard against the Avalanche. The 5-2 scoreline doesn’t reflect what was a pretty back-and-forth game, where Vancouver kept stride with the hosts and managed to bring a tied game into the third. The separating factors could be many, from the intangibles of experience to just individual brilliance. What the stats showed though is that though the depth is doing its part, they cannot be relied upon to generate offence, especially not in the place of the Canucks’ top-end talent. Without the top-6 producing, it’s very difficult to win hockey games, no matter how well the rest of the lineup is clicking.
Vancouver heads into Seattle on Friday to hopefully get some revenge on the Kraken.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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