The Statsies: Vancouver Canucks break McDrai to outlast the Oilers’ pressure
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
By Michael Liu25 days ago
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There’s beating a team and then there’s breaking a team.
The Vancouver Canucks helped the Edmonton Oilers further down the road of destruction, seeing their opposition self-immolate in a 6-2 victory. It didn’t look that way at the start – the Oilers came out firing and had the Canucks on their heels. But, the visitors ran into a proverbial wall by the name of Thatcher Demko, and like a glass sculpture they cracked the moment they faced resistance.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.
Vancouver was getting dominated through the first. After the Oilers capitalized on the powerplay for the first goal of the game and led shots by a margin of 19-2, it seemed as if Edmonton was raring to show that rumours of their demise were greatly exaggerated. The stats after the first leaned heavily in favour of the Oilers, recording a 70.21 CF%, 70.00 HDCF%, and 68.43 xGF% at 5v5 play. However, flipping that narrative right on its head were three unanswered Canuck tallies, beating a very unconfident Stuart Skinner to grab a two-goal lead. Sure, the Oilers pushed back and came within one goal in the second again, but the moment that Vancouver turned up the heat, they faded hard and fast. The Canucks only had a 58.82 CF% in the second, but racked up a 71.43 HDCF% and 68.58 xGF% to outpace the Oilers.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to see the Oilers having such a blue chunk in front of the net. In total, Edmonton won the scoring chances race by a tally of 32-24, narrowly edging out Vancouver 12-10 in the high-danger category at even strength. But for them to only have 12 HDCF on 32 SCF is also a testament to the Canucks’ defensive effort last night, to limit the grade-A opportunities that were faced by Demko. Vancouver would even up the high-danger chances at 15 apiece thanks to their special teams, which also shows pretty well on their ability to limit Edmonton to just 3 HDCF when on the PK.
Individual Advanced Stats
Corsi Champ: Andrei Kuzmenko is finding his analytical darling form again. The Russian posted the best CF% across all situations with a 72.41 CF% last night, recording an assist to help the Canucks get going against the flow of the game. Kuzmenko was on ice for 11 scoring chances for and 5 against, recording a 5-2 advantage in high-danger chances. He also led the Canucks in xGF% with a 78.78, but a different player will get the shout in the xGF category. The St. Petersburg line is getting their groove going, and that is scary for the rest of the league.
Corsi Chump: This one isn’t a bad thing this game. Phil Di Giuseppe recorded the worst CF% last night of any Canuck, to the tune of 22.22 CF% across all situations. He was on ice for a 3-19 shot disparity, a 0.62-1.47 xGF difference, and a 5-15 scoring chance deficit. Can you guess why?
That’s right, PDG along with Miller and Boeser were thrown right up against the McDavid line, matching up against them throughout the night and just getting under their skin. Sure, they gave up some massive statistics against, but their effect was undoubtedly positive – not only did they keep the best player to no points at 5v5 when they were on ice together, but combined they managed to tilt McDavid into the shadow realm and get him to whine and moan his way to the penalty box.
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xGF: Now, Andrei Kuzmenko might’ve led the Canucks in xGF%, but here I want to talk about the league’s leader in points, Elias Pettersson, who finished a close second in xGF% with 74.49. He demonstrated excellent two-way play, the fourth-best xGF (2.01) and the 6th best xGA (0.69) last night against the Oilers. Pettersson took full advantage of the defensive load being taken off of him thanks to the Miller line, helping the Canucks get their bearings and momentum going to push back against the Oilers. Quinn Hughes (who else?) led the Canucks in raw xGF as well, a 2.67 to lead by example.
GSAx: Thatcher Demko was once again wonderful. Sure, he couldn’t stay perfect, but against that first period onslaught he stood on his head while his team got their legs under them. The Oilers recorded a total of 3.96 xGF against Demko last night, resulting in a 1.96 GSAx for the American netminder. Possibly the only smudge on his record is the fact that the two goals came at middle and low danger respectively, but that also means that Demko was completely perfect on high-danger chances. He came ready to play, and if it weren’t for his big stops, Vancouver probably would’ve been buried before they had a chance to wake up.
Depth getting it going: With Pius Suter’s tally for the second night in a row and Nils Höglander rifling a goal home, there’s possibly no better time to talk about how the bottom 6 is getting things rolling to provide additional offence. Both the third and fourth lines sat above team average in CF%, which is no easy feat, while the Höglander-Lafferty-Beauvillier line actually led the Canucks in xGF (0.85) and xGF% (70.30) at 5v5. It wasn’t the easiest start to the year for any of these players, but they’ve been putting together some solid performances analytically, which are finally translating to tangible production.
Defence by committee: Whatever Gonchar and Foote have been cooking up, it’s been working. The Canucks defence has looked like a very solid unit as of late, the numbers matching up with an eye test that shows a group that has been playing their hearts out. Only Ian Cole and Mark Friedman were out on the ice for a 5v5 goal against, while every defenceman besides Cole and Filip Hronek finished above team average in CF%. Even those two barely missed out, playing some heavy minutes against tough assignments. Special shoutout to Tyler Myers, who carried the boats last night with a team-leading 18:34 TOI at 5v5. In those minutes, Chao Giraffe managed a 56.88 xGF% while outchancing Edmonton 7-6. What a turnaround it has been for him personally, and it is exciting to see the defence playing within their capacity and playing well in the systems.
As a team
CF% – 43.17% HDCF% – 50.00% xGF% – 50.83%
The Canucks played well last night. They held out during the Oilers’ push at the start of the game, due in large part to Demko’s excellent play, and responded by giving Edmonton the resistance that they weren’t expecting. And when they wilted, Vancouver stepped on the gas further, pushing to put this game out of reach. Even as Edmonton completely lost their heads and took liberties against the Canucks, they simply gave them their desserts – a 6-2 loss that sends them spiralling into a matchup against the San Jose Sharks. You love to see it from the Canucks’ perspective.
Next up, Vancouver heads into Ottawa to take on a struggling Senators team on Thursday.
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