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The Statsies: Vancouver Canucks unfortunately can’t bust Kings’ 1-3-1

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
17 days ago
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At least there was an intensity to the game, even if the content got boring at times.
The Vancouver Canucks couldn’t quite clinch a playoff spot last night, dropping a grinding 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. It wasn’t a poor game on their part, battling hard physically and keeping themselves involved even when the flow wasn’t going their way. While it sucks to not get the win here, there were still plenty of things to like, and playing against teams who are physical and tight-checking will become all the more frequent as the Canucks head into the playoffs.
Here’s the loss, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

From the long periods of flat-lining, it’s apparent that the Kings had their influence on the game with their trap working wonders. The Canucks generally had stronger CF% and xGF% shares throughout the game thanks in large part to the defensive nature of Los Angeles. While the chance generation was there, with a 29-13 edge in scoring chances and a 15-6 advantage in high-danger chances, it was clear that Vancouver didn’t capitalize on the opportunities they got, while the Kings pounced on any mistakes that they made. A clear example of this can be seen in the second period, where the game flow was heavily swinging in favour of the Canucks – and the Kings score twice in quick succession at the peak of that swing. The third period was a masterclass of trap hockey with LA pretty much flatlining the game and preserving that two-goal advantage. It’s telling that at 5v5, the CF% was 50.00 and the teams only had a 1-1 split in high-danger chances.

Heat Map

As mentioned previously, the Canucks didn’t lack chances last night. Relative to what the Kings were producing, Vancouver established a clear hot spot right in tight against Cam Talbot, but unfortunately weren’t able to bury the opportunities that they created. It’s a function of LA’s defence that they were able to snuff out the game before anything else happened, turning up the dial of their 1-3-1 in the third period to kill a ton of clock.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Unlucky bounce aside, Carson Soucy ate up his defensive assignments last night. Playing primarily against the Kings’ middle-6, the defender led the Canucks with an 80.00 CF% while producing a 97.42 xGF%, both of which led the roster last night. Soucy had the team’s best xGA of 0.01, not facing a single scoring chance of any sort last night while recording 3 scoring chances for, 2 of them being high-danger. Unfortunately, the go-ahead goal bounced off his skates and into the back of the net, but overall Soucy was not having a bad game at all.
Corsi Chump: Nikita Zadorov has found himself in this range lately, with last night’s 45.83 CF% being the team’s worst marker. His stat line doesn’t get much better going down the list, sitting at the second-worst xGF% of 33.73, the third-worst xGA of 0.68, and facing 2 high-danger chances while only being on ice for one high-danger chance for. The big Russian’s impact on the game wasn’t all negative though – he did a pretty good job neutralizing LA’s top line, whom he was matched up against all night. Adrian Kempe, Quinton Byfield, and Anze Kopitar all saw their numbers dip when matched up against Zadorov compared to their TOI away from him. Not bad, considering that they aren’t slouches of players themselves.
xGF: So we know that Soucy led the Canucks in xGF% – the person that deserves this shoutout is Ian Cole, who came second in xGF% with a 95.94. This is because Cole finished with the second-best xGA of 0.03, just being edged out by his pairing partner. But, Cole did produce more xGF with a 0.64, on ice for a 5-0 scoring chance differential, with 4 of those chances coming at high-danger. On top of that, the defenceman didn’t get a single start in the offensive zone, showing a pretty solid defensive game all around. In terms of raw xGF, it was Sam Lafferty and Teddy Blueger tying for the lead on the Canucks with a 1.4 on the night.
GSAx: It wasn’t Casey DeSmith’s finest performance last night. With the Kings only managing to create 1.45 xGF, the netminder finished with a -1.55 GSAx with the goals being evenly distributed between high-danger, middle-danger, and low-danger. Unfortunately for DeSmith, he didn’t get a lot of puck luck with some of the goals, while others he probably could’ve had. It’s how it goes as a goalie and the blame for the result shouldn’t rest on his shoulder. DeSmith made some big saves in the third period that kept the game still within reach for the Canucks.

Statistical Musings

Finding some more finish… please?: There was one line that was consistently pushing the Kings last night whenever they got the chance – and it’s not who most would expect. Teddy Blueger – Sam Lafferty – Ilya Mikheyev were buzzing against LA, with Lafferty’s goal being stunning to get the Canucks on the board. This trio led the Canucks in CF% (75.00) and xGF (0.96), coming in second with a 85.72 xGF%. They were the only unit to record more than one high-danger chance, providing a 6-2 differential while on ice out of a total 9-2 scoring chance advantage. It’s no surprise that they saw quite a bit of ice time as a result of their play, generating some great chances that unfortunately couldn’t be buried. Mikheyev had a glorious opportunity on a rebound that he just ended up stuffing – so while it’s promising that this trio had great underlying numbers, hopefully they can also find a finish to go along with it.
Where the Canucks really missed Lindholm: This isn’t necessarily a stat-based thing, but the presence of Elias Lindholm down the middle is more than just the defence that he brings, or the offensive upside that he should be bringing. Something noticeable in the last four minutes, when the Canucks were pushing to equalize, was the fact that JT Miller lost all three draws that he took, all of them in the offensive zone, all of them against Anze Kopitar. The Slovenian is a fantastic centerman with a sparkling faceoff percentage (and for good reason), and this isn’t to take away from his prowess in the dot. But Vancouver wasn’t able to ice another centreman capable of winning draws during that key moment. The team’s best offensive weapons besides Miller aren’t exactly renowned for their ability in the dot – and having a good faceoff option like Lindholm available just to change things up could’ve been nice for the Canucks to play around with.

As a team

CF% – 62.37% HDCF% – 70.00% xGF% – 63.30%
The numbers heavily favour the Canucks, and the team probably deserved better given the quality of effort that they turned in. While the Kings were trying to snuff things out, the Canucks stayed involved, playing physical and matching the tight-checking game to the best of their ability. They made it interesting at the end – and while they came up short, it’s a great test against an LA team that’s built to grind out victories. It felt like a playoff game, and the fact that the Canucks were battling it out right until the end was a good feeling.
Vancouver waits to punch their ticket to the postseason, taking on the Dallas Stars at home for their next matchup on Thursday.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com
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