The Statsies: Canucks get away with one for their first win of the season

Photo credit:© Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
1 year ago
Welcome to The Statsies, brought to you by NHL Lines site Betway!
It took them eight tries, but the Canucks are finally on the board.
Vancouver takes a 5-4 win against Seattle on the road to break their seven game winless skid to start the season. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows statistically, but the important part is that the Canucks secured two points.
Here’s how it all played out by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

It was a strong start to the game by the Canucks as they jumped out to an early lead on the scoreboard and expected goals charts. However, that soon faded away as the Kraken flipped the script as the period wore on. In fact, starting in the last third of the first period, Vancouver would never be in clear control of either possession or xG. And this was fine, with the second period being a very back-and-forth affair where teams traded goals.
But the third was yet again not a work of art. Though the Canucks scored twice and eventually secured the win, they gave up a massive advantage to the Kraken in both possession and xG. What this means is that they yielded control of the puck and gave up high-danger scoring chances along with them, without getting many of their own. It worked out this time, but the third-period trend is still alive and well for the Canucks. Seattle secured an 80.56 CF%, 78.57 SCF%, 75.00 HDCF% and a 1.21 xGF in the third period alone, their home ice completely tilted in their favour.

Heat Map

It’s another game that features the Canucks’ defence doing enough to keep a low volume of chances in the high-danger areas. Seattle unavoidably managed to get shots from areas that they wanted, but as a whole, Vancouver forced them to take whatever they could get. This is best reflected in how spread out their heat map is, with a couple of slightly orange pockets from a variety of areas. This could be an indication of some defensive adjustments working for the Canucks.
However, it’s also another game that the Canucks simply did not get enough opportunities. Their heat map looks paltry in comparison to the Kraken’s, with a smattering of green all over the place and nothing really concentrated. Again, it’s odd to be saying this in a game where they scored 5 goals, but the Canucks didn’t get enough chances for this sort of win to be sustainable. 19 shots won’t get you too far against a mightier opponent.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: The leading Corsi man for this game, to no one’s surprise, is Andrei Kuzmenko. It’s not the usual numbers we’ve come to expect from him, but his 43.48 CF% puts him at a 16.90 CF% rel to his teammates. Kuzmenko managed a goal and assist this game, finally breaking through the moniker of being the league leader in expected points.
I would like to also shout out Jack Rathbone here as well. He came in a close second with a 43.33 CF%, but actually posted a better CF% rel (18.33) than the aforementioned Kuzmenko. With this came some excellent work at both ends of the ice during his 13 minutes of ice time.
Corsi Chump: This game’s Corsi chump is Tanner Pearson, bringing up the rear with a paltry 16.67 CF%. At a -16.67 CF% rel though, it isn’t actually terrible since contextually, the Canucks got heavily out-possessed by the Kraken. Pearson was on ice for 8 defensive zone faceoffs, as well as taking a soft matchup role against the Kraken’s top 6, which may explain why his Corsi numbers were on the lower side. Otherwise, it was an unremarkable game for Pearson who generated zero high-danger chances for, and only 3 scoring chances.


xGF: Jack Rathbone might’ve been held off the scoresheet, but he was definitely putting in work for the expected-goals front. Touching back on his good offensive and defensive work, Rathbone led the Canucks in xGF% (75.82), leading all defencemen with 0.85 xGF and 0.27 xGA. Rathbone also led the Canucks in scoring chances for (9), with four being high-danger. He didn’t concede a single high-danger chance against just for kicks as well. Overall, it was a very solid game by Rathbone who looks eager to cement himself as a full-time NHLer.
GSAx: It’s no secret that Thatcher Demko has been struggling, and this game is another shaky outing by the Canucks netminder. On 36 shots, Demko yielded 4 goals to the tune of 2.88 expected goals-against. What this means is that he is yet again in the negative GSAx, posting a -1.12 on the night. There are a couple of causes for concern too, as Demko’s high-danger save percent plummeted to 0.667 against Seattle, while also giving up a low-danger shot from the point. There does need to be some improvement from him if the Canucks hope to turn this around.

Statistical Musings

Unsustainable: If there was one word to describe this win, it’s unsustainable. Yes, it’s great that the Canucks managed to get a result, and that’s what matters at the end of the day. However, the manner in which they did so suggests that they got really, really lucky that Seattle couldn’t find a finish. As mentioned earlier in the article, the third period continues to be an issue for Vancouver, with the Kraken surging and knocking at the doorstep throughout the final frame. The Canucks saw their CF% drop to 19.44 in the third, mustering up only three scoring chances with one of them being high-danger. That 0.65 xGF in the third won’t be good enough to win against tougher opposition.
Mikheyev’s Impact: Fans were waiting to see what their big free-agent acquisition could do, and they certainly got a taste of it here. Ilya Mikheyev had his best game in a Canucks uniform to date, with two goals that proved critical in securing the win. He led all Canucks at 5v5 play in CF% (43.48) as well as leading all forwards in xGF (0.63). If there is one thing that has been a little odd is Mikheyev’s lack of deployment on the penalty kill. For someone lauded with special teams prowess, it seems strange that the Russian would only play 1:28 on the PK. Keep an eye out for this to change as Mikheyev settles in with the team more.
Odd benchings: Vasily Podkolzin only getting 7:37 minutes this game is a bit of a headscratcher, especially with how strong he has been in previous contests. The Russian was again one of the best Canucks at 5v5, leading the forward group in xGF% (63.01). His xGA of 0.25 was second only to Nils Höglander’s 0.23, which suggests that they weren’t defensive liabilities either. Again, Vancouver did manage to win this game so this perhaps is a moot point, but for the former 10th overall selection it appears that he did nothing particularly wrong to earn such limited minutes. On the topic of Höglander, he too was also stapled to the bench, playing 9:03 minutes against the Kraken. He did have the second-worst CF% (23.53), so there is possibly some justification there, but Höglander still played 2 minutes less than the team-worst Pearson.
Trying to fix OEL: Statistically, Oliver Ekman-Larsson did not have a pretty game. In his 24:49 minutes, the Swede posted the worst CF% amongst defencemen (23.91), the worst xGA on the Canucks (1.77), and conceded the most high-danger chances against on the team (7). This comes with a heaping of context as OEL took 17 defensive zone draws out of 33 total draws during the game, meaning that he was relied heavily upon as a shut-down defenceman. Except, that really isn’t where he’s best utilized and it shows in his advanced stats. Ideally, OEL shouldn’t have to be leaned upon for that many defensive zone starts, but unfortunately for the Canucks, he and Myers are the only options they have to do so.

As a team

CF% – 30.39% HDCF% – 35.29% xGF% – 41.96%
The Canucks pull out their first win of the season after getting dominated in nearly every conceivable metric. It doesn’t matter how you win, as long as you do it, but the trends from the first seven games are still present in this result. Vancouver is right back in action at home, playing against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Rogers Arena. Will they be able to win back-to-back games?
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

Check out these posts...