The Statsies: Nils Höglander finds another gear to douse the Flames

Photo credit:© Simon Fearn-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
3 months ago
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Not a bad spot to be in with just 11 games left.
The Vancouver Canucks downed the Calgary Flames 4-2 last night in the first game that Andrei Kuzmenko and Elias Lindholm faced their old teams. While the Canucks weren’t dominant at any given point last night, they did enough defensively to ensure that the Flames wouldn’t have too many chances to get themselves back in the game. Nothing spectacular, but more than good enough to get the result — which is the important part.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

This was a game where everything very much hung in the balance. Vancouver never really found themselves in a commanding position besides the first, tallying up a 50.00 CF% and a 54.63 xGF%. That also happened to be the only period where they finished with more high-danger chances than the Flames, racking up a 8-3 lead. After that, Calgary kind of took over the xGF% shares, posting 61.56 xGF% in the second and 65.85 xGF% in the third. That being said though, what should stand out is that despite conceding a bigger share in expected goals and CF% (Calgary was clicking at 69.57 CF% in the third), the Canucks only gave up 2 high-danger chances against. Not bad considering the statistical advantage that the Flames had.

Heat Map

This is an interesting heat map. From initial appearances, it would seem that the Flames had more high-danger chances than the Canucks. But, total scoring chances stood at 26-24 for Calgary, while high-danger chances were 11-10 for Vancouver. The difference could be that the Flames got the puck in the slot area in a more concentrated fashion, while the Canucks were getting a wider range of high-danger chances. But, this is picking at margins in a game that wasn’t the most exciting when it came to chance generation, at least down the stretch.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Nils Höglander got the Canucks’ offence rolling with two early goals and helped pace the way in Corsi last night. He led the team with a 62.07 CF%, racking up a solid 62.33 xGF% along with it. Höglander posted the fourth-best raw xGF of 0.93 while being on ice for a 9-5 scoring chance advantage, translating that into a 6-1 high-danger chance differential. He’s been one of the best Canucks at 5v5 this entire season and looks to be rolling at just the right time alongside Elias Pettersson and Conor Garland.
Corsi Chump: In a flip from last game, Nils Åman brought up the rear with a 25.00 CF%. He wasn’t exactly facing prime competition too, primarily lining up against the bottom 6 of Calgary. Still, besides being on ice for a goal against, it wasn’t the worst of outings for Åman. He almost broke even with a 47.78 xGF% while maintaining a positive 2-1 high-danger chance split. Considering the lack of puck possession in his 9:01 TOI, that isn’t the worst thing in the whole world.
xGF: Filip Hronek did good work at both ends of the ice last night, recording a 66.41 xGF% to lead the team. His 1.03 xGF was second in that category, while his 0.52 xGA made him the second-best defenceman behind Carson Soucy. Hronek maintained a 10-5 lead in scoring chances, with a 6-3 difference in high-danger chances. Quinn Hughes just squeaked ahead of his pairing partner with a 1.08 xGF to lead the entire roster.
GSAx: Once again, Casey DeSmith does solid, if unspectacular, work between the pipes. Calgary did push pretty hard to try and get into this game, posting a 2.64 xGF in total last night. That means DeSmith finished in the positives, recording 0.64 GSAx on the night. The two goals that got past him weren’t his best work, both of them being tallied from low-danger opportunities. Besides that though, it was just another night for him — and DeSmith has more than held up a good standard in net for the Canucks.

Statistical Musings

Top 6 stepping up: As mentioned previously, Höglander-Pettersson-Garland were having themselves a night. The trio turned in the best performance from a forward unit last night, posting team-highs in CF% (59.26) and xGF% (58.47), responsible for the only two goals that the Canucks would record at 5v5. They paced the Canucks offensively and defensively, being the only line to have a positive differential in high-danger chances (6-1).
As for Suter-Miller-Boeser, they also had a solid night, even if it was unspectacular. They were the only other line to finish above 50% in both CF% and xGF%, serving their purpose as the second line admirably well. Doing so while facing down the Flames’ top 6 is certainly not the easiest task either, the trio acting as a pretty good litmus test of how the Canucks were faring against the big guns. They certainly weren’t the worst players on the ice at any given time – though it speaks to Miller’s standards that he thought he had a bad game.

As a team

CF% – 46.67% HDCF% – 52.38% xGF% – 48.86%
Definitely not a dominant victory by the Canucks here, but it wasn’t just them hanging on for dear life. They played solid, structured defence as a team, getting their offence through their systems. The attention to detail helped last night tremendously, shutting down Calgary as they looked to tie the game up. While the depth was quieter than last outing, they weren’t a liability, letting the top 6 step up and help drive this team to victory. These results might not be the most eye-popping, but it’s solid work by the Canucks as the season heads into its home stretch.
Vancouver plays host to the LA Kings on Monday in their next matchup.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com
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