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The Statsies: The numbers behind Arturs Silovs’ first playoff win and a Brock Boeser-spurred comeback

NHL Betting Preview for Game 5 of Nashville Predators vs. Vancouver Canucks on April 30th
Photo credit:© Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
1 month ago
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That was 7 minutes of must-watch hockey.
The Vancouver Canucks stormed back late in the third period to win 4-3 in overtime against the Nashville Predators, taking a stranglehold 3-1 lead in the series. For how the majority of the game went, this result didn’t even seem to be plausible. Once the Preds got into the 3-1 lead, they looked comfortable to sit back and defend while the Canucks couldn’t quite string together enough shifts to build momentum. But in the blink of an eye, the game was turned on its head, and the series now returns to Vancouver with the Canucks up 3-1 instead of it being tied 2-2.
Here’s the win, by the numbers
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

With how dead the game felt at times, it makes sense that the game flow is filled with flat slopes. There wasn’t a single period of regulation hockey that the Predators didn’t lead in CF%, while only the second period saw Nashville give up a 51.89 xGF% to Vancouver with the first and third’s xGF% in their control. However, it wasn’t as if they were heavily out-chancing the Canucks either – the trendlines stayed close to the middle and for good reason, because the raw volume of Corsi and expected goals weren’t that far out of line for either team.

Heat Map

There is the running joke of “why shoot more when less shot do trick?” But funnily enough, that’s exactly what the numbers suggested that Vancouver did. Despite being out-shot 30-20 over all situations, the Canucks actually narrowly led in raw scoring chances by a 21-20 margin. That gap widened when looking at high-danger chances, with Vancouver topping Nashville with a 9-5 lead. That much is reflected in the heat map, where Nashville’s hot spot in the slot area is smaller and less dense than the Canucks’ in front of Juuse Saros. It might be unintentional, but Vancouver was taking quality over quantity when it came to their shot selection. It almost didn’t work out – but the final couple minutes of regulation turned everything on its head.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Sam Lafferty was the surprising name that led the Canucks in CF% last night, tallying a 64.29 mostly coming against Nashville’s middle 6. He did a pretty good job in his limited minutes, producing the team’s best xGA with a 0.1 while being on ice for a 4-0 scoring chance differential. Not bad considering that Lafferty and his line aren’t exactly expected to be offensive contributors. For a good chunk of the game, they were the only ones doing much of anything at even strength outside of the Miller line.
Corsi Chump: Carson Soucy posted the team’s worst CF% with 25.93, which came with the team’s fourth-worst xGF% of 26.72 while being on ice for 3 high-danger chances against. Thing is, he didn’t even have a bad game. Soucy was the matchup target for Forsberg-O’Reilly-Nyquist, trying to find a defensive pairing that they wouldn’t get swallowed up by. He didn’t budge though, not letting Nashville’s top line get a single goal against at 5v5 play, which is all that you can ask for. Soucy gave up plenty puck possession but made sure that the Preds’ top line couldn’t do anything with it.

THE STATSIES PRESENTED BY BETWAY

xGF: Filip Hronek hasn’t exactly looked fully right, but still finds himself as the team’s best xGF% man with 76.50. He led the team with a 0.62 xGF at 5v5, posting a 0.19 xGA to come in 5th for that category. It is a bit rough that Hronek was the team’s leader in xGF this game, showing where the Canucks were at for the first 55 minutes of the matchup. For the time he was on ice, it was good numbers, but Hronek clearly isn’t top pairing material with his current play – which may also be as a result of a slightly hobbled Quinn Hughes. Hopefully, the pair of them were just banged up for the game and can recover slightly in time for Game 5 at home.
GSAx: Arturs Silovs was pressed into action with Casey DeSmith out for Game 4, and the Latvian battled hard. He was a big reason why the Canucks even had the opportunity to come back and win this game in overtime. The Predators recorded a 2.25 xGF against Silovs last night, which put him into the negatives with a -0.75 GSAx. Of the goals that went by him, two were high-danger chances and one was middle danger. Obviously, being in the negatives isn’t the greatest, but Silovs stayed in the game and gave the Canucks key saves whenever they needed them. More importantly was the fact that he outdueled Juuse Saros, who posted a -1.89 GSAx. A third-string goalie posting these kinds of numbers in the playoffs? You take that and run.

Statistical Musings

Nashville’s answer: For the first time this series, the Suter-Miller-Boeser line wasn’t the best forward unit by the numbers at 5v5. Actually, they were the worst trio in CF%, xGA, xGF%, and didn’t manage to generate a single high-danger chance while facing 3 against. What’s interesting is that Nashville used two lines to go up against Suter-Miller-Boeser, with the Forsberg-O’Reilly-Nyquist and Sherwood-Smith-McCarron lines splitting duties pretty evenly. Vancouver’s line actually recorded slightly better numbers against Forsberg-O’Reilly-Nyquist, but generally speaking both these lines made sure that Suter-Miller-Boeser wouldn’t have their way with them offensively like in the previous 3 games. Of course, once the 6-on-5 happened, all that went out the window with Boeser’s two goals for the hat trick. It’ll be interesting to see if Nashville tries to stick with this strategy in Game 5 when they don’t have the last change.
Please give us EP40 back: Seriously, this isn’t funny anymore. Elias Pettersson had maybe one average game in Game 3, but Game 4 saw him go absolutely off the rails. Pettersson had the 5th worst CF% of any Canucks and the second-lowest xGF with 0.16. This is not the effort of a superstar, and the Swede looks completely out of answers at 5v5. He was stumbling, falling, unable to come up with the puck in battles, and just generally didn’t look good. It’s telling when even Ilya Mikheyev was posting better numbers and looking more effective.

As a team

CF% – 45.45% HDCF% – 64.29% xGF% – 41.84%
It wasn’t the prettiest win of all time, but there’s no denying how important and satisfying that Canucks result was. To come back in the fashion that they did, to stop playing Preds hockey and play Canucks hockey to demoralize their opponents in a pivotal Game 4, it could have major consequences going into Game 5. This team has battled every step of the way, overcoming injuries to their goaltenders, to making up for stars not showing up, and now, they take a 3-1 lead home to try and book their spot into the next round. That’s a gutsy win to pull off, with some help from a post.
Vancouver returns to action at Rogers Arena on Tuesday with the opportunity to close this series out.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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