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The Statsies: Quinn Hughes’ statistical dominance helps Canucks top Sabres

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
23 days ago
Now that’s the Canucks team that’s sitting atop the Pacific.
The Vancouver Canucks beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in what probably should’ve been a bigger Canuck victory. A lot of the underlying metrics heavily favored Vancouver last night, showing that the Canucks were generating plenty of chances and doing a lot of good things. While the Sabres made it interesting in the third period, this team did a good job of limiting the high-quality opportunities that Buffalo got, helping seal the deal for the victory.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

There was never really a moment in this game where Buffalo had the flow going their way. Vancouver never dropped below 58.00 CF% throughout the first two periods, which translated to some great xGF numbers. The Canucks put up 75.93 xGF% in the first, 85.29 xGF% in the second, and 79.07 xGF% in the third. Those are some incredible shares that demonstrate great play at both ends of the ice. While the Sabres made it interesting in the third, it was against the probability of the game. The Canucks only held them to 6 total scoring chances and 3 high-danger chances, while getting 10 scoring chances with 5 high-danger chances of their own. In total from the first two periods, Vancouver held a 21-4 high-danger chance advantage.

Heat Map

The heat map further displays the disparity between the two teams when it came to chance generation. Vancouver barely let Buffalo get shots attempts off, while pretty much baptizing Devon Levi with rubber on the other end. In total, the scoring chances stood at 46-21 in Vancouver’s favour, with the Canucks having an absurd 26-7 high-danger chance differential. Essentially, the Canucks had more high-danger opportunities than the Sabres had scoring chances. It’s not often that this happens, and granted the Sabres aren’t exactly a contending team in the east, but it’s great to see a performance like this regardless.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Quinn Hughes was doing Quinn Hughes things last night. He led the Canucks in CF% with an absurd 81.82, standing at 52.65 CF% rel to team average. For context, the next closest Canuck in the CF% rel was Filip Hronek’s 26.35. At 5v5 Hughes held a 12-2 shot differential, controlling play at both ends and looking dynamic. He also absolutely leveled Victor Olofsson too, showing that he isn’t someone to be trifled with physically either.
Corsi Chump: In a bit of a reversal from previous games, Tyler Myers finds himself at the bottom of the pile with a 32.00 CF%. But, that isn’t to say the former Sabre had a bad game. Despite conceding a big CF% share to the opposition, Myers shut down his opposition, not letting the likes of Tage Thompson or Alex Tuch generate much offence when playing against him. Myers recorded the 5th lowest xGA on the team with a 0.16, being on ice for a 7-3 scoring chance differential and a 5-0 high-danger chance advantage. It was an effective defensive game that he played despite not having much of the puck, and for Myers, that isn’t a bad night at all.
xGF: Who else but Hughes? The captain of the Canucks led by example in this one, racking up a team-high 94.97 xGF%. That came along with the team’s highest raw xGF (2.4) along with the third-best xGA (0.13). While Hughes was on the ice, the scoring chance stood at 18-3 in favor of Vancouver, a further 11-1 differential in high-danger chances. It was a clinical display from the defenceman who looked dominant at both ends of the ice, helping fuel this Canucks’ win.
GSAx: It’s a marginal underperformance from Casey DeSmith, in a game where Vancouver did pretty much everything to snuff out the Sabres in front of him. Buffalo only managed a 1.75 xGF over the course of the game, meaning that DeSmith finished as a -0.25 GSAx. Not the worst result and it could pretty much be chalked up to margins. The costly goal was probably the low-danger chance he gave up, with the other goal on DeSmith coming from a high-danger attempt. Still, he wasn’t a liability, and that’s pretty darn good in a game where the Canucks probably should’ve been able to score more times.

Statistical Musings

Nice night for Lindholm and Mikheyev: The two recent whipping boys of the Canucks fanbase turned in a pretty solid night with each other and Sam Lafferty. Together, the trio tallied a 72.73 CF%, 75.19 xGF%, 8-2 scoring chance differential and 5-1 high-danger differential. It wasn’t just chance generation either – they were getting to dirty areas, generating turnovers through hustle and physicality. Obviously it’s a small sample size, but hopefully Lindholm can find a way to fit into the Canucks lineup – and hopefully Mikheyev can rediscover his offence a bit.
A limited night for the fourth line: With the sheer amount of special teams that featured in this matchup, the fourth line saw limited action, especially when the Canucks were defending their lead. They didn’t play poorly though – in their short 4:46 stint, the Aman-Blueger-Podkolzin combination held a 100.00 xGF%, not conceding any chances against. It’s pretty darn good even with the context of their ice time considered – the fact that they were able to heavily outshine the bottom 6 during their TOI is something that gets overlooked over the course of the game but shouldn’t be undervalued. Teams don’t often get to say that their fourth line didn’t concede a single shot against in a game.

As a team

CF% – 55.74% HDCF% – 69.12% xGF% – 79.00%
When you rack up 6.59 xGF and your opponent only manages 1.75, you’ve done something really right. The Canucks were unfortunate not to score more in this game, the puck luck just not favouring them throughout the matchup. They limited their opponents to pretty much nothing while getting chances aplenty on the offensive side – that’s as complete of a game as you could really ask for. With their big stars also stepping up with appropriate performances, it’s a great result on the back of some lacklustre games.
Vancouver plays host to the Montreal Canadiens next Thursday.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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