The Statsies: JT Miller’s matchup role almost works out against the Golden Knights

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
1 year ago
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This is the kind of result the Canucks should be aiming for at this juncture of the season.
The Vancouver Canucks dropped a 4-3 loss at home against the Vegas Golden Knights, in a game where things weren’t all that bad. Sure, the team defence had some very spotty moments, but overall, the group produced a good outing. It was a game that produced more records and saw some good hockey as well. Despite the loss, it was a bit of the best of both worlds, with team tank getting the result that they want and team process seeing the structural foundations being laid.
Here’s the loss, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

While the first two periods don’t exactly look all fine and dandy, consider that the Golden Knights were able to get the large majority of their puck possession and expected goals lead thanks to two overlapping power plays. The Canucks were badly out-possessed to the tune of 26.47 CF% in the first period, but ended the game with a 51.85 CF% to show the difference they managed to claw back. It’s really the first period that is the ugliest, and it also just happens to be the one where Vancouver conceded the first two goals of the game.
From the second period onwards though, it was the Canucks that controlled the flow of the game. They also happened to be the ones pushing to tie the game up, but it’s encouraging to see that their efforts weren’t in vain. After a second period that saw them record a 10-2 HDCF advantage, the third period was a near inverse of the first period with Vancouver controlling 75.76 CF% and a 15-4 shot differential. In fact, the Golden Knights were only kept to 0.19 xGF in the final frame.

Heat Map

These are the type of heat maps you don’t mind giving up, especially when it’s against a playoff contender. Starting on their own end, the Canucks did allow the Golden Knights to establish an area with a high density in a high-danger zone. Fortunately, it was rather contained to the right side of the crease. The official count is that Vegas had 7 high-danger chances total, which isn’t awful considering the quality of competition Vancouver was facing last night. Of course, they still gave up 4 goals all said and done, but it wasn’t as if they were fully buried.
Vancouver did a good job at creating their own hot spot too. Not only is it similar in terms of density, but also is wider than the one Vegas put forth. Two of the three goals they scored came from in tight, converting on the probability of the changes they were creating. The Canucks also created 15 out of their 17 HDCF at 5v5, which suggests that they were able to sustainably create opportunities at even strength. It’s a much better sign than solely having their high-danger chances from the powerplay, which is always nice to see.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: This game’s champ is Conor Garland, who bounced back from a string of poor games to record a 66.67 CF%. It might not sound like much, but consider Garland’s 19.05 CF% rel was a comfortable 4 percentage points of second place Quinn Hughes. Yes, he was on the ice for the goal against, but Garland didn’t have a poor game. In fact, the winger only saw a single high-danger chance against during his time on ice and even got promoted to playing alongside Pettersson in the third period.
Corsi Chump: Guillaume Brisebois came in dead last in the Corsi department with a 33.33 CF%, with his partner Tyler Myers a very close second (34.48 CF%). The rest of Brisebois’ numbers don’t get much better, the Canucks getting outshot 4-10 when he was on ice, giving up an 18.83 xGF%, 30.00 SCF% and 25.00 HDCF%. To cut him some slack though, Brisebois spent the majority of the game playing against Jack Eichel. In fact, 10:00 of his 15:45 TOI came at the same time as the Vegas superstar. It might explain the numbers that he and Myers put up and impressively didn’t see a goal against.


xGF: Garland finds himself down here as well, leading the Canucks with a 78.13 xGF% last night. His 1.2 xGF wasn’t too far off the 1.71 pace set by Ethan Bear, but what stands out is Garland’s 0.33 xGA, which was the second-best on the team. The winger recorded 9 scoring chances for with just 3 going the other way, a total of 5 high-danger chances in the mix. Most of Garland’s shares in shots and puck possession were ranging in the positives, meaning that more of then than not his impact on the ice was a good one for the Canucks.
GSAx: Thatcher Demko wasn’t exactly his post-injury self against the Golden Knights. In total, Vegas put forth 2.56 xGF against him, meaning the netminder recorded a -1.44 GSAx in a 4-3 loss. Again, not awful, and certainly isn’t an indictment against Demko given his recent form. If anything, it’s just jarring how high of a bar Demko has set with his play as of late. His goals against were split evenly with 2 coming in high-danger areas and 2 in middle-danger. Still, the first period was a thing of magic and probably the only reason why the Canucks even got a chance to stay in the mix for this one.

Statistical Musing

JT Miller’s battle against Jack Eichel: It’s not often that JT Miller gets assigned to matchup duties, and yet he did so against one of the best players in the NHL. Though his results aren’t particularly jaw-dropping, there certainly was an impact left on Eichel. Against Miller, his stat line read as a 50.00 CF%, 41.67 SF% and 73.47 xGF%. Away from Miller, and Eichel’s numbers jump to 100.00 CF%, 100.00 SF%, and 100.00 xGF%. Yeah, it was that big. So while the tides weren’t completely in the Canucks’ favour when Miller took on Eichel, it definitely left a dent in the production the Vegas centerman could’ve produced. Added to his two-goal, three-point night, and Miller definitely was the one to drag this team back into the game.
Quinn Hughes having a monster night, again: Sometimes you just have to sit back and watch. Quinn Hughes might not have featured in any of the previous categories, but he was playing some pretty darn good hockey. His 60.00 CF% share might only be in a tie for 4th, but consider the fact that he saw 29:34 of ice-time last night and think about the impact that would have in terms of team puck possession. When Hughes was on ice, Vancouver outshot Vegas 18-9, recording 16 scoring chances to 6 against. Hughes recorded an absurd 9 high-danger scoring chances when he was on ice with just a single one coming back the other way. There’s no question about his offensive abilities, but Hughes has shown that his play on his own end has been excellent, game after game.

As a team

CF% – 51.85% HDCF% – 70.83% xGF% – 56.12%
Honestly, besides the first period, the Canucks didn’t do poorly against the Vegas Golden Knights. Sure, they were down the entirety of the game, but the team did well to battle on back and make it entertaining. There’s definitely points of concern, with some brutal turnovers by Ethan Bear and Brock Boeser highlighting some team defence breakdowns, but there’s also been some incredible performances by the big guns on the team. Ice time remains a bit questionable when it comes to overplaying the likes Hughes, and development still remains a bit of a concern with some of young guns on the team. There is a structure being built though, and that much is a step in the right direction.
Vancouver welcomes the San Jose Sharks tomorrow to Rogers Arena.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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