The Statsies: Why Elias Pettersson is getting his groove back

Photo credit:© David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
6 months ago
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This one was more exciting than yesterday’s game.
The Vancouver Canucks bounced back from a shootout loss to take down the Chicago Blackhawks by a 4-3 scoreline. It didn’t look promising from the outset — the Blackhawks were buzzing and the Canucks had no answer at 5v5. But the second period marked a shift in tone, Vancouver finally responding after going down for the second time in the game. It featured the team finding their even-strength offence before locking it down in the third once more, low-event, controlled hockey that steered home the result.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

It was a slow start that matched up with the advanced stats well. Chicago controlled a 58.97 CF% share through the opening frame and just edged the Canucks in the xGF department by a line of 1.05-0.94. That isn’t a significant difference, though interestingly enough, Vancouver held a 6-3 edge in HDCF. Vancouver got the ball rolling in the middle frame, ending the second period with 63.16 CF% and a 57.84 xGF%. That was enough to see them leap to a 4-2 lead, one they would defend going into the third. They did a good job too – outside of the power play marker, the Canucks kept the Hawks at an even 50.00 CF% split, while only allowing 6 total scoring chances, 2 of them high-danger. It was an impressive effort in their end that snuffed out any sign of a Chicago pushback.

Heat Map

Generally speaking, the game was low event on both sides. Vancouver held a 26-14 lead in total scoring chance across all situations, with a further 13-8 difference in high-danger chance. That much is reflected in the heat map with a more expansive hot spot in the slot area, though the attempts weren’t as concentrated as in games past. In their own end, Vancouver kept Chicago relatively limited in their opportunities though the Blackhawks made two of their chances in the low slot count. It should also be noted that 4 of the 8 high-danger chances Chicago generated came on the power play.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Elias Pettersson is finally getting back to where we’re used to seeing him statistically. Against the Blackhawks, Pettersson led the Canucks with a 75.00 CF% across all situations. It should be noted that his 5v5 CF% sat at 84.21, helping Vancouver retain the lion’s share of the puck when he was on ice. That much was translated to offensive pressure and chances, with Pettersson on ice for 2 goals for. During his shifts, the Canucks out-shout Chicago 12-5, with Petey posting 73.38 xGF% on 14 scoring chances and 8 high-danger chances. Granted, it is the Blackhawks, but its nice to see Pettersson take his game up to that gear he’s capable of.
Corsi Chump: Noah Juulsen finds himself at the bottom of this category once more, finishing the game with a 25.00 CF%. It wasn’t as if he was facing off against top opponents, mainly matching up against the likes of Tyler Johnson, but still managed to keep his game relatively tidy. Vancouver out-chanced Chicago 6-4 when he was on ice, splitting high-danger chances evenly at 3-3. Juulsen finished the game with a 41.65 xGF%, which is pretty tidy considering the disparity in puck possession.


xGF: This one might come as a surprise, but it was Nikita Zadorov that led the Canucks in xGF% with an 81.54. The big Russian recorded the third-best xGA (0.15) on the afternoon, on ice for 3 goals for with an excellent 8-1 differential in scoring chances. Zadorov posted 4 high-danger chances while not allowing the Hawks to get a single one of their own during his TOI. Leading the way in raw xGF was none other than Quinn Hughes, who paced this roster with a 1.33 xGF.
GSAx: While Thatcher Demko didn’t quite have the Luongo magic in this one, he was more than enough to help the Canucks win this game. Chicago put a total of 2.30 xGF up in this one, meaning that Demko recorded a -0.70 GSAx for the afternoon, which isn’t the best but by no means a liability. Demko conceded two goals from 6 high-danger chances total, while the other goal came as a middle-danger opportunity. Certainly not the perfect outing but Vancouver got the run support to help buoy these numbers.

Statistical Musings

Zadorov-Myers at 5v5: It feels almost strange to be writing this, but there was no better defence pairing at 5v5 than Nikita Zadorov and Tyler Myers. The pair led the Canucks defence corps in xGA, a 0.09 putting them a joint 3rd-best on the team. They performed more than adequately, limiting Chicago to just 1 scoring chance and no high-danger chances, while recording 6 scoring chance and 3 high-danger ones of their own. Zadorov-Myers were right neck-and-neck with Hughes-Hronek in CF% as well, tallying a 61.11 CF% on the night. It was a very solid game by the duo statistically and should be commended as such.
Depth Cooking: The second-best line against Chicago besides the Suter-Pettersson-Mikheyev combination was Joshua-Blueger-Garland. It’s been a consistent run of games now where this line is generating offence, and this time against the Blackhawks was no different. The trio are consistently among the best Canucks defensively, so it’s encouraging to see them finding their way onto the score sheet in the last couple of matchups.
Slotting Suter in: It’s a strange position to be in where the wing alongside Pettersson and Mikheyev operates on a rotating basis. After rocking it with Sam Lafferty for the last while, Pius Suter found himself auditioning on the Canucks’ most talented unit and doing quite well for himself. The trio finished the afternoon with an 84.62 CF% and an absurd 92.83 xGF%, on ice for a 7-1 advantage in scoring chances. Suter didn’t look out of place at all in this stint, and perhaps could be a great way of easing him in off an injury.

As a team

CF% – 51.46% HDCF% – 61.90% xGF% – 50.32%
The Canucks did what they had to and were expected to in beating the Blackhawks. While it wasn’t the most spectacular victory, it was good to see this team bounce back from a pretty boring and deflating loss against the Wild. Shaking off the rust in the first, finding that gear in the second period, then steering home the two points with stifling defence is something that this team has done decently well in the last couple of games. These kinds of efforts to bank points early will do them plenty of good later on in the season.
Vancouver has a bit of a break before heading into Nashville and facing the Predators on Tuesday.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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