The Statsies: The numbers behind Linus Karlsson’s debut in a flat Canucks loss

Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
7 months ago
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Honestly, given the night before, was this result even that surprising?
The Vancouver Canucks struck first but went flat against the Calgary Flames last night, dropping a 5-2 decision at the Saddledome. It never looked like the Canucks were going to win that game either – they looked slow, sloppy, and drained after an emotion-fueled victory against the Isles. Heading on the road for the back-to-back was a lot, adding to the total of 5 games in 5 different cities in the past 8 days. Hopefully, this is just an anomaly, and the team will be able to rest and recharge for their next matchup.
Here’s the loss, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

When looking at the game flow, there’s almost a clear point where the Canucks hit a wall and just gave up ground. The first period wasn’t too bad – Vancouver only held a 42.86 CF% share but managed to eke out a 10-9 advantage in scoring chances, while also limiting Calgary to just one high-danger chance. The xGF battle stood at 0.71-0.59 in favour of the Flames, which honestly isn’t a bad effort. The issue was what followed, because Vancouver’s fatigue looked like it got the best of them and they couldn’t do much of anything from the second period onwards. Calgary tripled Vancouver in the xGF battle in the second to the tune of 1.69-0.53 while holding a 64.71 CF% share in the middle frame. That was enough for the Flames to grab a two-goal lead, holding down the fort as the Canucks couldn’t really manage enough to push themselves back into the game.

Heat Map

It should be noted that both teams generally struggled to create high-danger chances. The Flames only barely edged out the Canucks 10-9 across all situations last night, and it appears that their HDCF wasn’t particularly concentrated in any given area. For the Canucks, they had a patch in the slot, but it wasn’t that dense either. Keep in mind that the shots were 39-22 in favour of the Flames, and the scoring chances were 32-25 for Calgary as well. There really wasn’t much grade-A chances to speak of and that’s reflected by the heat map.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: This one is going to Ian Cole, who featured in the third-highest ice time and finished as one of only two Canucks above 50.00 CF%. Cole was second to Sam Lafferty’s 51.61 across all situations, but found himself leading Vancouver at 5v5 with a 57.78 CF%. Funnily enough, no other Canuck managed to be above 50.00 CF% at even strength. Cole nearly broke even in his xGF-xGA (0.73-0.74), which is pretty impressive considering that he featured on the most PK time of any Canuck last night as well. He’s been playing at a consistent top-4 level, and Vancouver has definitely needed that from him.
Corsi Chump: In previous games, Anthony Beauvillier’s underlying numbers helped compensate for the fact that he wasn’t doing much offensively. Against the Flames last night though, that wasn’t the case, as the winger was firmly in dead last with a 27.78 CF%. Beauvillier wasn’t on ice for a goal against, but he really wasn’t doing much to redeem himself. He was on ice for a 3-11 shot differential, producing a 24.20 xGF%, and a 4-11 scoring-chance deficit to Calgary. It just wasn’t a great night for the Canucks and Beauvillier definitely didn’t help in that regard.


xGF: With both teams struggling to create high-danger chances, xGF became hard to by. Mark Friedman led the Canucks across all situations with a 69.78 xGF%, one of only 4 Canucks over the 50% benchmark and the only one above 60%. Much of that is thanks to his team-best 0.3 xGA, as he was only on ice for 2 high-danger chances against. For context as to how little offence the Canucks got, Sam Lafferty recorded the team’s best raw xGF… at 0.89. It was just that kind of night last night.
GSAx: A function of facing poor xGF means that the GSAx numbers are going to look pretty bad. Casey DeSmith fell victim to that, giving up 4 goals against the Flames’ 2.88 xGF. What this meant was that his total GSAx on the night sat at -1.12, which isn’t exactly great. What probably contributed most to this metric was the fact that DeSmith gave up 2 goals from low-danger, which impacted the expected goals that he faced last night. Sure, the Flames had the shot volume, but that didn’t mean the quality of chances was there. And unfortunately for DeSmith, he let in too many goals according to the quality of chances he faced.

Statistical Musings

Karlsson’s debut: One of the bright spots last night was seeing Linus Karlsson lace up for his NHL debut, and all things considered doing pretty well for himself. He finished dead even at 50.00 CF% while recording the second-best xGF at 0.85, his 52.38 xGF% making him the 4th-best Canuck in that category as well. Lining up alongside Lafferty and Höglander, the trio were Vancouver’s best line statistically, leading the team forward units across every category. While that’s a good sign for them, it doesn’t reflect well on the rest of the team that the third line was the best at 5v5.
Quinn Hughes’ off game: This one was a tier 4 performance from the Canucks’ best defender. Outside of the powerplay, Hughes was very limited in his effectiveness. He only produced a 0.33 xGF while facing down a 1.56 xGA at 5v5 play, a 17.58 xGF% putting him only behind the tirefire that is Noah Juulsen. While he and Filip Hronek tied for the most scoring chances faced (14), the difference between the two was that Hronek was on ice for 10 scoring chances for at 5v5. Hughes only saw 2, and that was definitely not good enough last night.

As a team

CF% – 40.46% HDCF% – 47.37% xGF% – 36.24%
The Canucks just looked tired and drained last night against the Flames and it showed in the result. It’s been a tough stretch for them as well, so it does make sense. But the schedule doesn’t get easier from this point onwards, with a bunch of condensed fixtures in the coming weeks. The test will be to see how this team can respond and take care of business in this run.
Next up, Vancouver heads back home before welcoming the Seattle Kraken on Saturday.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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