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The Statsies: Conor Garland runs rampant against the Coyotes in Canucks’ season finale

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Photo credit:© Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
1 year ago
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Game 82. A farewell to John Garrett to go along with a thrilling overtime victory.
The Vancouver Canucks secured a win in their final game of the season, beating the Arizona Coyotes 5-4 in OT at Mullett Arena. They started the game off well, then fell onto their back foot as the Coyotes seized the momentum. Somehow, the Canuck saved it from the brink despite giving up another multi-goal lead. It’s almost poetic that in game 82, they mirror their efforts from game 1. And, somehow, the results in both games ended up being detrimental to Vancouver at their respective points in the season.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

Vancouver played an excellent first period. Scoring four goals in one period came as a byproduct of excellent puck possession which resulted in high-grade chances being generated. The Canucks dominated possession, controlling a 71.79 CF% share which helped lead to a 63.21 xGF% advantage. Of course, expected goals numbers are usually pretty decent when you’re out chancing the other team 15-7.
But somehow that first intermission completely killed whatever good vibes Vancouver had going. In fact, the second period was just awful. Arizona racked up 84.38 CF% and 81.14 xGF%, all the while having a 19-2 SCF differential and 9-2 HDCF lead without a major spike on their powerplays. It’s really strange to see this type of performance, especially right off of the back of a solid opening frame as well. But, this has also been the type of Jekyll and Hyde performance that characterizes this Canucks season, so is it truly that surprising?

Heat Map

The good news for the Canucks is that offensively, they managed to create a higher density of high-danger chances than the Coyotes, even if their hot spot was smaller. Two of their goals came from that area, while another was tallied in the middle of the slot. In a vacuum, their offensive heat map isn’t bad, but there’s a lot of context that has to be applied. As soon as the 5v5 filter is applied, the Canucks’ scoring chance total drops from 28 to 15, and their HDCF go from 13 to just 5. What this suggests is that Vancouver once again heavily depended on their special teams to generate offence for them. While that isn’t inherently a bad thing, their lack of chances at even strength suggest that they still weren’t able to find consistent, sustainable success against Arizona’s defence.
As for the Coyotes, they only held a slim lead in SCF (35-28) and HDCF (16-13), with their attempts coming from a ways further out and definitely much more spread out than the Canucks. However, they managed to get a lot more of their opportunities at 5v5, so coupling their overall advantage means that Arizona was generally finding ways to exploit openings in Vancouver’s defensive structure across all situations. Make of that what you will.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: It definitely shouldn’t be a surprise that Conor Garland comes out as the Corsi champ. In a big game from him, the analytics darling has finally recaptured some of the form that was expected after a solid 2021-22 campaign. Garland led all Canucks skaters with a 66.67 CF%, managing to break even in shots for and against while on ice and posting a 25.70 CF% rel to team average. It’s not bad, especially considering that the Canucks were out-chanced the majority of the night and being outshot 28-24.
Corsi Chump: Aidan McDonough is making baby steps, so a stumble like this in his young NHL career shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. The former Northeastern Huskie brought up the rear for all Vancouver skaters, posting a 20.83 CF% against Arizona. Going along with that was a team-low in xGF (0.13) and 8.14 xGF%, while also yielding the third-worst xGA (1.42). McDonough saw 12 scoring chances against with 7 of those being high-danger, while only managing 2 SCF himself and just 1 HDCF among that. Not the best of games but hey, it happens.

THE STATSIES PRESENTED BY BETWAY

xGF: I mean, the guy scored a hat trick, who else did you think this would be? Garland led the Canucks with a 77.44 xGF% while also topping the team xGA charts too (0.3). His 1.03 xGF was shy of Quinn Hughes’ 1.68, but still a solid effort by the winger regardless. Garland helped chip in 9 SCF and 4 HDCF, only facing 4 SCA and 1 HDCA. Overall, it was a two-way effort that showed exactly why Garland was viewed so highly by the nerds, and encapsulated his second-half run under Rick Tochett quite well. If he does stick around next season, here’s hoping we see more of this version of Garland.
GSAx: Colin Delia closed off the Canucks 2022-23 season with a decent performance. Arizona racked up 3.77 xGF against him, thus meaning Delia is ever so slightly negative at -0.23 GSAx. Not awful, all things considered, especially since that basically comes down to a couple of middle-danger chances being recorded as low-danger. Of the 4 goals that he conceded, 3 of them were high-danger, meaning that the majority of the goals Delia gave up were chances that are more likely to be scored upon. He gave the Canucks an opportunity to win, which they did so last night.

Statistical Musings

A forward line and a choice: It is quite surprising to see a line of Aidan McDonough – Jack Studnicka – Anthony Beauvillier together for the season finale. But hey, they have to experiment right? Unfortunately, this experiment blew up in the Canucks’ faces as they performed, by far, the worst metrically against the Coyotes. Playing the most of any combination at 5v5 play, McDonough-Studnicka-Beauvillier went on to post 19.05 CF%, 18.18 SF%, 9.70 xGF%, 14.29 SCF%, and 12.50 HDCF%. With 10:46 of TOI leading the way, surely they drew matchup duties, right? Well, the majority of their night was spent against ex-Canucks legend Travis Boyd. Yeah.
The frameworks for a solid defence: Okay, it’s been a long season where Canuck fans have been treated to the horrors that Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Tyler Myers can wreak upon a team. With that said, if you remove those two defenders, Vancouver is showing signs of having decent options on the back end. Cole McWard was solid yet again, the second-best defenceman by CF% and xGF% to only Quinn Hughes last night. Akito Hirose was doing a lot of heavy lifting alongside Myers, posting an 80.00 CF% and 86.90 xGF% once freed from his shackles. Then there are the likes of Kyle Burroughs and Travis Dermott who can filter into decent, serviceable depth options, while Jack Rathbone could see a full-time spot on the bottom pairing next season. Putting that with Filip Hronek and the potential return of Ethan Bear, it’s actually not an awful defence corps that is being formulated in Vancouver. They’re definitely a piece away, and it’s a small sample size to look at these NCAA free agent acquisitions, but there’s intrigue and promise to what they can bring to the table.

As a team

CF% – 46.73% HDCF% – 44.83% xGF% – 45.36%
With this result, the Vancouver Canucks lock in the 11th-best odds in the NHL draft lottery. It’s certainly been a disappointing year given the expectations at the start of the year, and absolutely frustrating to see what this team is capable of at times only to be met with terrible inconsistency. A win to close off the year is a nice way to end it off, and perhaps the only consolation in all of this is watching Garland’s first career NHL hat trick. The numbers showed a flawed team, one that has top-end talent and interesting pieces but nothing to glue them all together into a cohesive product. It showed in the fact that they weren’t able to stick with playoff teams, much less contenders, and even getting exposed against actively tanking teams. But, thanks to those flaws being exposed, it paints a more realistic picture of just how much work needs to be done. Areas will need to be addressed as yet another fork in the road appears for Canucks management.
On a personal note, thank you for reading the first season of The Statsies. It’s been a pleasure to bring you the numbers perspective on these games, to hopefully provide another lens to view the result. I truly appreciate everyone that has read and followed along this season!
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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