The Statsies: Nils Aman helps the Canucks shut down Habs in low-event affair

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
3 months ago
This article is a presentation of Toyota Pacific Dealers! Check out the 2023 BZ4X at ShopToyota.ca
That was some clinical defensive hockey.
The Vancouver Canucks beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 in a game that wasn’t the most exciting to watch. It was effective, shutdown hockey that the Canucks played, jumping out to a lead and making sure to snuff out any life or hope that the Habs were trying to generate. Sure, it’s not the high-octane, entertaining brand of hockey that they were playing at the start of the year — but boy, was it effective last night.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

While the Habs pushed early, the Canucks didn’t yield too much ground to them. They weathered the intense forecheck to get their footing, establishing a 51.72 CF% share and 58.87 xGF% share by the end of the first period. It was also the only period where they were out-high-danger-chanced – the tally standing at 2-3 in favour of Montreal. Vancouver locked it down after that. The high-danger chances were 1-1 in the second period and 5-0 in favour of the Canucks in the third, not allowing the Habs to even get a sniff of coming back into the game. The third period’s xGF% stood at 83.64 as a mark of how dominant that Canucks were in seeing the game out.

Heat Map

It’s a great heat map for the Canucks in the defensive zone. The Hab’s only real “hot spot” came from the right point, a spot that doesn’t really amount to too much, especially if there isn’t much traffic in front. Offensively, it might not be as dark as some previous games, but Vancouver did create a nice patch in front of the net, which is always a good sign. In total, the scoring chances were 35-11 in favour of Vancouver, with a further 13-4 edge in high-danger chances. Certainly not the most dominant raw figures, but the Canucks were absolutely better relative to what the Habs were doing.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Nils Höglander did a pretty decent job filling in alongside Elias Pettersson last night. The Swede winger racked up an 85.71 CF% to lead the team, and while there wasn’t too much offence coming from him, the Habs only managed to generate 0.16 xGF with Höglander on the ice. Quiet isn’t bad here, especially when the opponent couldn’t manage to do much against you at all. Höglander only faced a single high-danger chance against in his 11:24 TOI.
Corsi Chump: Interestingly enough, it was Pius Suter who brought up the rear in the CF% department with a 45.45. This was coming even as he lined up primarily alongside JT Miller and Brock Boeser, both of whom were on the lower side in Corsi as well, but also above 56 CF%. Still, it wasn’t bad either – Suter still managed to post a 66.39 xGF%, not facing a single high-danger chance against during his TOI last night.
xGF: This one is probably a surprise because it should be. Nils Åman led the Canucks in xGF% last night not just because of a stellar second-best xGA (0.10), but also third-highest xGF (1.14). His total 92.20 xGF% just beat out Tyler Myers’ 91.63 xGF%, which isn’t a territory that Åman has been familiar with throughout this season. During his 10:07 of action, Åman tallied an 8-1 scoring chance differential and a 5-1 high-danger chance advantage, doing a lot of good things at both ends which finally saw him find the scoresheet after 23 games. It’s not often that Åman scores so when he does, it’s pretty nice to get the production. Myers led all Canucks in raw xGF with a 1.37 against the Habs.
GSAx: Honestly, Casey DeSmith has been holding up his end of the deal very well in Thatcher Demko’s absence. In this one against the Habs, with the team doing well in front of him defensively, DeSmith finished with a 0.31 GSAx against a 1.31 xGF. The save in the first was massive in getting the Canucks back on track against Montreal, and though one high-danger chance squeaked past him, everything else was pretty much spotless. It’s been a good run for the Canucks backup, who’s definitely benefitted from the structured team defence in front of him.

Statistical Musings

A quieter night for Hughes: With all of the depth stepping up to help fuel the Canucks win, something that might go under the radar is Quinn Hughes’ night by the numbers. After a dominant performance against the Sabres, the defender’s metrics against the Habs weren’t as inspiring. He tallied the worst CF% by a defenceman (50.00), the second-worst xGF% (49.61) after Nikita Zadorov (43.72), and was one of only 5 Canucks to face more high-danger chances than they were putting the other way. Obviously, it didn’t have a major impact on the result of the game, and Hughes also rested pretty heavily in the third period. It is just interesting to observe in a game where Vancouver didn’t necessarily need him to be at his best.
Playing the lottery just for fun: An interesting cameo in the game was Rick Tocchet icing the Lotto Line just for fun. They had a really good first shift together here:
However, in the 2:25 total that they got together, the numbers weren’t the greatest. They had the worst CF% on the team (60.00) and produced a team-low 23.35 xGF%, which saw them on ice for a goal against. Obviously, it’s a tiny sample size and shouldn’t mean too much in consideration, but the Lotto Line definitely is a bit boom-or-bust for the Canucks’ liking right now.
Finding better combinations: There’s plenty of talk about finding the right cast of wingers for Pettersson, but putting Elias Lindholm in a position to succeed should also be discussed as well. With Sam Lafferty and Ilya Mikheyev flanking him, this trio would’ve recorded the team’s worst xGF% (36.10) if it weren’t for the Lotto Line’s efforts. Their 0.30 xGA was by far the worst on the Canucks roster as well against the Habs’ middle 6. While it’s nice to see Lindholm and Mikheyev pick up assists after a solid run of play recently, the numbers don’t suggest the best of games from last night.

As a team

CF% – 63.55% HDCF% – 76.47% xGF% – 70.44%
The Canucks were clinical in their ability to shut down the Habs last night. They quickly found their feet after Montreal jumped out of the gate, stopping any momentum from gathering and putting pucks home to secure the win. Yes, it might not have been overwhelming offence that was generated, and it might not have been the mightiest of opponents, but this kind of defensive play style is what Tocchet is known for – and should bode well when things get tight in the playoffs.
Vancouver welcomes the Calgary Flames to town on Saturday for their next matchup – and Andrei Kuzmenko’s first return to Rogers Arena since the trade.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com
It’s time for zero. Because with the all-new fully electric 2023 Toyota bZ4X, you’ll pay zero at the pumps, create zero emissions, and have zero regrets. Perfect for your morning commute or the yearly family road trip, the bZ4X can drive up to 406 km on a single charge. That’s enough to get you from Kitsilano to Whistler or Kamloops to Kelowna and back. Electric, huh?
Choose electric and get up to $11,000 in rebates and incentives. The bZ4X are in-stock now and selling quickly, visit shoptoyota.ca or your local Pacific Toyota dealer today to learn more.

Check out these posts...