The Statsies: Elias Pettersson dominates the Toronto Maple Leafs

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
1 year ago
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If there was one game that you wanted the Canucks to treat as a playoff game, it had to be this one.
The Vancouver Canucks decided to show that they had another gear deep inside of them, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 in a very intense March matchup. It was almost as if the Canucks heard the “go Leafs” chants and decided to do something about them. While the result wasn’t perfect by any means, it certainly felt good to watch with plenty of positives to take away from it.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

The game flow shows that despite the loss, the Leafs had control over most of the game. It’s mostly thanks to their power play helping them build the leads in puck possession and expected goals for. Much of the flow went Toronto’s direction through the first period power play, giving them an edge that they wouldn’t relinquish for the entire game.
However, what’s interesting is seeing the slope upwards in the second period. The Canucks looked to have earned their power play opportunity and goal through good puck retention and chances. Even if both trendlines stayed within the Toronto zone, Vancouver had a good flow going their direction leading up to the opening tally of the game. Of course, the two short-handed goals in the third also helped in stalling any hopes of a Leaf comeback.

Heat Map

This is a heat map that shows the effectiveness of quality over quantity. Overall, the Maple Leafs had a big 37-26 lead in scoring chances, one that they earned through their possession advantage. However, it was the Canucks that dominated the high-danger chances category, outpacing Toronto 17-10 in that regard. It’s reflected in the heat map that’s on display here. Toronto did manage a small hot patch to the left of Thatcher Demko, but that pales in comparison to the concentrated bubble that Vancouver created in front of Matt Murray. As you would probably expect, all of the Canucks’ goals came from within the hotspot, showing that they were converting their most probable shots into goals. The second period as mentioned previously was a big reason for the differential, where Vancouver dominated 10-2 in the middle frame.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Conor Garland is slowly rediscovering his puck possession ability. The diminutive winger led all Canucks with a 62.50 CF%, pretty significant considering the team was out-possessed in general. With this, Garland also posted a 62.07 xGF%, which was good enough for 5th on the team. It might not sound impressive from the outset, but considering his linemates were Dakota Joshua and Nils Åman, it really isn’t bad at all. As well, Garland’s deployment had him starting only 33.33% of his shifts in the offensive zone, suggesting that he created all of his metrics in unfavourable conditions. That entire line had themselves a solid night, and Garland was a big part in that.
Corsi Chump: I feel like he sorta gets a pass for this, but Tyler Myers once again brings up the rear in the Corsi department. The defenceman recorded a team-low 32.08 CF%, despite being on ice for two goals for. Myers was outshot 8-19 when he was on ice, resulting in a team-high 1.89 xGA given up and a team-high 23 scoring chances against. It’s much of the same as usual for him, especially in this recent stretch of games. However, for the hit that levelled Tavares, Myers earned a bit of leeway in the advanced stats.


xGF: Who else but the best Vancouver Canuck this season? Elias Pettersson was an expected goals machine last night, racking up a team-leading 71.84 xGF% to sit at a massive 33.95 xGF% rel. Not only did Petterson lead the Canucks in raw xGF (1.66), but also posted some excellent defensive numbers with the 7th best xGA (0.65) while being rolled against the Leafs’ top 6. Only William Nylander didn’t have his CF% numbers suppressed when playing against Pettersson, showing that his defensive impact was superb in that regard. Pettersson had an even 11-11 split in scoring chances for and against, but the quality of the opportunities he generated was superb. He managed to record 10 HDCF, with a single HDCA coming the other way despite being on the penalty kill. Pettersson also received unfavourable deployment, with 41.67% of his shifts being in the offensive zone and 47.37% of his faceoffs being in the offensive zone. He’s truly finding another level under Rick Tocchet.
GSAx: Oh man. Thatcher Demko found another level against the Maple Leafs, who despite not getting a lot of high-danger chances still peppered him with shots. Toronto racked up a total of 3.29 xGF, but only one powerplay goal snuck past the American netminder. Demko’s GSAx sits at a 2.29 last night, which is just absurd given the circumstances. He’s looking much like the Demko from the 2021-22 season, at unfortunately a suboptimal time for these types of performances. Demko was perfect at 5v5 and even strength play, with the only goal against being high-danger and while the Canucks were on the penalty kill. Other than that, it’s great to see him regain the confidence and poise that makes him such an elite goaltender.

Statistical Musings

A rough night for the young Russians: After a good showing against the Minnesota Wild, Vitali Kravtsov and Vasily Podkolzin struggled against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They saw some slightly tougher deployment, playing the majority of their minutes against Tavares and his line, and saw their numbers tank as a result. Kravtsov-Dries-Podkolzin brought up the rear in CF% (25.00) and xGF% (10.40), getting outshot 0-5 at 5v5 play during their time together. Kravtsov finished as the second-worst player in CF% (33.33), while Podkolzin wasn’t far behind in third (35.00). The worst highlight in the stats would be Kravtsov’s xGF%, which went from the team-best to a horrific team-worst 7.33 xGF%. He only managed a paltry 0.04 xGF against the Leafs, which contributed to this metric. Perhaps swapping out the pivot of Dries could lead to slightly better results, but this is expected against a very solid playoff team.
Christian Wolanin, bootleg Quinn Hughes: Okay, exaggerating, but having a cost-controlled, cheap third-pairing defenceman that can move the puck is seriously underrated. Wolanin might not have contributed anything flashy, but he was playing very solidly in some tough minutes. His xGF of 1.05 stood as the 5th highest total on the team, while his 58.33 CF% was 3rd. That’s really not bad considering how he was used, where he is on the lineup, and the chances that he’s getting to showcase his abilities. Wolanin saw merely 20% of his faceoff and shift starts happen in the offensive zone, which meant that not only was he able to defend well, but break the puck out to make things happen at the other end for the Canucks.
Scouted to perfection: I know it’s a little sacrilegious to be praising the Leafs, but they did an excellent job at shutting down the Kuzmenko-Pettersson-Beauvillier unit last night. Their numbers were held to a 31.58 CF%, 58.16 xGF%, and 27.27 SCF% at 5v5 play. It should be noted that this line still managed to produce a 75.00 HDCF%, showing that even on an off night they could still be dangerous. It appears that Toronto decided on throwing the Calle Jarnkrok-Tavares-Nylander line against them, with Jarnkrok and Kerfoot shadowing Kuzmenko the entire time. It worked, eliminating the Russian from much of the play last night –  but no one could figure out how to suppress Pettersson.

As a team

CF% – 43.36% HDCF% – 62.96% xGF% – 50.11%
In an emotion-fueled matchup, the Canucks demonstrated that having better quality chances can outpace the quantity of chances. It helps that they’re getting elite netminding from Thatcher Demko, but credit to the players for figuring out how to make the most of their opportunities last night, as well as showing plenty of fight in their systems. Of course, there’s the question about where this type of effort was all season, but for now, it’s an enjoyable result for everyone watching (except Leafs fans).
Vancouver is right back in action, hosting the Nashville Predators for a 7:30 PM puck drop on Monday.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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