The Statsies: Noah Juulsen leads the Canucks in CF% and xGF% in wild ride against Sharks

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
5 months ago
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It has been a hot second since this has happened at the Christmas break.
The Vancouver Canucks took home a 7-4 victory over the San Jose Sharks in a game where both teams struggled hard to play defence. If nothing else, it was a tremendously entertaining game where goals were aplenty and systems went amiss. Neither team really found themselves in control at any given point, but the volatility meant lots of action at both ends. In the end, the Canucks did what they were expected to in securing the victory over the Sharks.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

The game flow really sat in range for both teams over the course of the 60 minutes. There wasn’t a consistent stretch where the Canucks or Sharks managed to control both CF% and xGF%, with plenty of ebbs and flows. Generally speaking, Vancouver did a good job in retaining puck possession but saw the expected goals fluctuate a lot more with San Jose getting several high-quality chances. The third period was the best example of this with score effects helping the Sharks get a big boost in scoring chances. But, the Canucks were able to stem the tide and get some insurance tallies to close out this one.

Heat Map

It’s a pretty sparse heat map outside of the high-danger areas. Despite the scoreline, the scoring chances stood low for both hockey teams. The Canucks had an overall lead of 26-19 scoring chances, with a further 11-9 advantage in high-danger chances. Those aren’t exactly the numbers that one might expect in a 7-4 hockey game, giving a taste of what PDO looks like at both ends of the ice. Again, the netminders weren’t helped by the defensive breakdowns in front of them, but hey, it was fun hockey to watch.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Holy moley it’s Noah Juulsen. That’s right, paired up with Ian Cole, the defenceman ended up logging an 82.35 CF% at 5v5 to lead the Canucks against the Sharks. Juulsen was thrown out in a wide variety of situations, primarily being deployed against San Jose’s middle six and turning in some decent results to boot. It’s a marked change from the usual behaviour that we’ve seen from him, and looks to be another testament to the coaching prowess of this group.
Corsi Chump: Being the worst Canuck in CF% against the Sharks is a tough look which is what happened to Nikita Zadorov here. Recording a 47.62 CF% at 5v5 (which is barely a bad thing), Zadorov spent the majority of the night against the Hertl line, meaning that he and partner Tyler Myers were tasked with stopping some of the better offensive talent that the Sharks had on offer. It didn’t lead to the best of results – Zadorov was on ice for 2 goals against, with a 1-7 difference in scoring chances. He ended up finishing the night with the worst xGF% on the team at 5v5, a 23.34 coming from some very rough team defence.


xGF: Adding another level to the chaos that was this hockey game, Juulsen also led the Canucks in xGF% at 5v5 with a 95.56. It really doesn’t get much better than that – the defenceman held the Sharks to a 0.03 xGA during his time on ice, not facing a single scoring chance against. In terms of raw xGF, Elias Pettersson led the way in that category with a 1.63, making up for some rougher defensive efforts through sheer volume of chances directed towards the San Jose net.
GSAx: This was also not Thatcher Demko’s best night. The netminder faced only 2.64 xGF from the Sharks, resulting in a -1.37 GSAx on the night. The goals he gave up were split evenly between high-danger and middle-danger chances, with San Jose’s lack of offensive pressure giving Demko some unflattering numbers to take home. Granted, it isn’t as bad as what Mackenzie Blackwood put up in this one (-4.47, in case you were wondering), but the Christmas break will be a great opportunity for Demko to get some rest and reset after a couple of tough starts in a row.

Statistical Musings

St. Petersburg reunited (for now): A major headline in this one was Andrei Kuzmenko’s return to the lineup, not just on the fourth line but back with Elias Pettersson and Ilya Mikheyev. He instantly potted in the first two goals of the game as if to pour more fuel on the discourse surrounding him. But, the numbers from the line aren’t exactly the prettiest. This line sat in third for CF% (56.00) while giving up 3 goals at 5v5, posting the worst xGA (0.87) while also generating the most xGF (0.62). It presents an interesting conundrum that seems to encapsulate everything going around with Kuzmenko as of late – can he have the offensive production to outweigh any defensive/effort warts that he might have?
A limited night for the fourth line: This one was interesting to see, especially given Sam Lafferty’s goal. The Canucks only iced their fourth line for a total of 5:13 against the Sharks, which definitely isn’t the balanced deployment of the bottom 6 we’ve been used to seeing. It wasn’t as if they were playing particularly awful either – at worst, they kept the game neutral during their TOI. Perhaps it was Tocchet trying to reward the third line for their excellent run of form, or tinkering with other things, but coming out of the break this might be something to see if it happens again.
Basically the first line: No other forward unit played more 5v5 time on ice than the Joshua-Blueger-Garland line. That should say something about the stretch that they’re on, where everything is clicking and the offence is coming. Against the Sharks, it was just a continuation as they translated a 57.16 xGF% to a goal together. All the underlying metrics have suggested that this was coming for the trio, and over the last 6 games it has finally materialized into tangible results.

As a team

CF% – 60.75% HDCF% – 55.00% xGF% – 48.90%
It was an exciting and probably fitting way to end the crazy ride that has been the Canucks first 35 games of the season. An up-and-down affair against the Sharks saw the Canucks out-score the majority of their problems away, with more records falling at the hands of Quinn Hughes and plenty of good things from the entire lineup. The break will do them a lot of good though – Demko looks like he could use a rest and reset, while the team’s defence collapsed a little in terms of the details. Regardless, it’s been fun so far, and hopefully the good times keep rolling after the break.
Vancouver will have a good amount of rest before they welcome the Philadelphia Flyers to Rogers Arena on Thursday.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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