The Statsies: The Canucks’ best line only played for five minutes in last night’s loss to the Rangers

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
1 year ago
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Another entertaining loss, and an NHL debut to boot.
The Vancouver Canucks stayed meaningfully competitive against the New York Rangers but fell in a 6-4 loss that did a world of good for their lottery chances. Now with top 5 odds, the race is really heating up to the bottom of the standings. There are some interesting takeaways from this game too, with patterns starting to emerge. One thing that is for certain? It doesn’t really matter who’s between the pipes if the defensive effort is like that.
Here’s the loss, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

As mentioned before, this game stayed fairly competitive throughout. The Canucks never let the Rangers really run away with a stretch of dominance at any point, even when they were trailing by two goals. It’s nice to see this team not give up and become a shell of themselves when faced with adversity, instead giving at least a decent effort through the stealth tank. Vancouver out-possessed New York all the way through the game.
Interestingly enough, the stats show that the Rangers were never that far out of range for the Canucks at any point on the night. Though New York held a 28-21 edge in scoring chances as well as generating 3.5-2.42 xGF, it was Vancouver who were leading in HDCF (12-11). It could be said that the Canucks earned their expected goals, but the Rangers simply were much more opportunistic and deadly with the limited grade-A chances that they had.

Heat Map

Something that stands out in the Canucks’ offensive zone heat map is that hot spot right at the point. Normally, this patch doesn’t appear in any Vancouver game. This perhaps is an indication of Tocchet trying to change things up, getting some shot attempts from the point to deflect on goal. There were some mishaps, such as the Tyler Myers shot attempt that led to a goal against, but in general it isn’t the worst idea. It’s interesting to recall Quinn Hughes’ comments from before the season started about wanting to shoot more, and perhaps this might become a common occurrence.
Defensively, it was the same story. Though the Canucks gave up less high-danger chances than they generated, nearly all of the 11 came right in front of Arturs Silovs, who wasn’t really given a chance to fend for himself. Granted, there were a couple of “weaker” goals that snuck by, but when you’re playing behind a defence like that in your NHL debut, there isn’t going to be any room for nerves.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Anthony Beauvillier has been a huge beneficiary of playing alongside Elias Pettersson. Granted, it’s not like he’s just floating a lot, but his numbers before and after the trade are very interesting to look at. Beauvillier led all Canucks with a 68.97 CF%, outshooting the Rangers 10-4 when he was on ice. With one assist to his name, the winger also contributed 6 scoring chances for, facing four against. This isn’t to say Beauvillier had a flawless game, however. In fact, he had an xGF% share of 44.81, due in large part to giving up 3 HDCA. On the flip side, Beauvillier only managed 1 HDCF.
Corsi Chump: Dakota Joshua had a mixed bag of a game last night, registering an assist that looked like a goal but also getting caved in possession-wise. Last night, Joshua found himself to be the Corsi chump, bringing up the rear with a 35.71 CF%, Most of his minutes came against the third line of Lafreniere-Chytil-Kakko, seeing the majority of his shift starts coming in the defensive zone against them. It’s definitely nice to see Joshua record a point though, especially with his xGF% sitting at a 75.58. It shows that Joshua has been pretty decent at creating opportunities while shutting down his opposition, something that this team has been missing for a long while.


xGF: Curtis Lazar was buzzing last night prior to the injury that sent him out of the game early. He led all Canucks with a 76.38 xGF%, yielding a team-low 0.23 xGA in the process. It hasn’t been the easiest of years for Lazar, so seeing him put in a nice shift against the Rangers was good to see along with the goal. Here’s hoping that his injury will be relatively minor. In terms of raw xGF, Ethan Bear recorded a team-high 1.71 xGF.
GSAx: Sorry Quads, the numbers aren’t going to be kind to Arturs Silovs. Vancouver absolutely hung their rookie netminder out to dry in this one, but it also doesn’t change the fact that Silovs was a little unsettled. The Rangers’ 2.30 xGF gives Silovs a -2.70 GSAx, which already puts him into the top 20 worst goalies in the NHL sorted by GSAx. Only one of the 5 goals were counted as high-danger, two coming as middle danger and low danger. It’s tough to see, but Silovs gave this team enough in his debut. Hats off for a good effort.

Statistical Musings

Stillman-Myers should not be played for more than 20 minutes: Last time out, the Stillman-Myers pair were surprisingly excellent against the Detroit Red Wings. Unfortunately in this game against the Rangers, the two were putrid. This pairing iced a 36.84 CF%, facing 9 shots while only putting 2 shots against, being on ice for two goals against and recording an abysmal 18.19 xGF%. This Jekyll and Hyde-esque performance probably comes from being overplayed and having their vulnerabilities exposed. With OEL going down with an injury, this pairing was forced into 20+ minutes of action, which more than likely added fatigue to a penchant for brain-lapses. In the game against Detroit, the duo were kept to about 18-19 minutes apiece. It might not look like a big difference, but deployment is incredibly key for defencemen’s success.
Let’s not overthink Kuzmenko’s deployment: Yet again, Andrei Kuzmenko looked like one of the most dangerous players on the ice. We didn’t make much mention of him earlier in this piece, and a large reason for that was because his numbers were depressed on a line with Sheldon Dries and Brock Boeser. That experiment lasted for 4:34 of 5v5 ice time, in which the line combined for 41.67 CF%, a goal against, a minuscule 0.08 xGF and 9.02 xGF%, as well as giving up 6 scoring chances without a single scoring chance of their own. Clearly, this wasn’t working.
What also wasn’t working was Vasily Podkolzin on the first line. Granted, it should make sense that the former top-10 pick would be a great puck retrieval hound alongside Pettersson and Beauvillier. Instead, the trio was the worst Canuck line at 5v5 play. Together, their CF% was a team-low 16.67, giving up a goal against, while also literally generating no offence with a 0.00 xGF. This isn’t to say that down the line, Podkolzin wouldn’t be a good fit alongside Pettersson. But right now, he isn’t ready.
This is where things get more interesting. As soon as Kuzmenko and Podkolzin swapped lines, their numbers ticked up dramatically. Kuzmenko-Pettersson-Beauvillier, as usual, was the best Vancouver line of the night. They had a team-high 77.78 CF%, scored a goal, recorded the second-best xGF% (76.20), and finished with a 66.67 SCF%. Clearly, they have something going together, so why is Tocchet trying to fix something that is already working?
Podkolzin actually finished this game as the second-best Corsi man on the Canucks behind Beauvillier (68.97). Alongside Sheldon Dries and Brock Boeser, his CF% jumped up to an insane 100.00, managing to record some impressive xGF numbers as well. The Russian has been playing well since his return from the AHL, but perhaps was rushed to a top line role far too early. It clearly doesn’t make sense to do so at the expense of Andrei Kuzmenko.

As a team

CF% – 55.10% HDCF% – 52.17% xGF% – 40.86%
It was a close, competitive loss, and at this point, that’s the best possible result for the Vancouver Canucks. Seeing this team play with some degree of effort makes these games fun, and this one had a bit of it all. There’s still some head-scratching deployment decisions, along with some lapses that need to be ironed out. But if there’s one thing that has gotten better, there doesn’t seem to be any quit in this group when behind.
Vancouver has a bit of a break before the Flyers roll into town on Saturday.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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