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The Statsies: Kuzmenko’s offence-filled night lifts Canucks over Sharks

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
10 months ago
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Honestly, the jokes that came out of this one were the highlight of the night.
The Vancouver Canucks rolled the San Jose Sharks at home, topping them in a 7-2 offensive explosion. There’s no shortage of action to get to in a game that saw plenty of goals, Filip Hronek’s debut, and John Garrett announcing his retirement. This win is a result the Canucks were expected to get and deservedly earned — but, it wasn’t as dominant as the scoreboard suggested.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

Yup, this was all over the place last night. Plenty of ebbs and flows characterized the flow chart in this one, though all were relatively contained within a small margin. Looking at the ranges of the game flow, there was never a moment where either team exceeded a +0.5 advantage in any given category, as shown by the Y-axis range. Neither team managed to get a real dominant swing, despite what the chart looks like.
However, the Canucks were able to rack up goals and battle back through the few patches where the Sharks managed to outplay them. Chief among them would be that massive downward trendline in the second, just as San Jose was on their power play. Both the puck possession and expected goals lines remained in the Sharks’ favour for a while, but credit to the Canucks for steadily working their way back to par with a series of powerplays and good 5v5 efforts.

Heat Map

Both teams didn’t have many shots on the net, with the Canucks ever so slightly squeezing the Sharks out 21-19 in that category. What that also meant is that the high-danger chances weren’t aplenty as well. Vancouver held a 12-8 advantage in HDCF, showing up on the heat map with a more condensed hot spot than the Sharks in front of the net. What this suggests is that both teams were relatively permissive in their defending, allowing the few shots that were recorded to come from dangerous areas.
That being said, the Canucks absolutely buried the chances that they got while the Sharks weren’t nearly as close. The efficiency they showed is something that should be commended, even against a team like San Jose. It helps that James Reimer was an absolute sieve and found himself swimming in the deep end when Vancouver bore down in front. He definitely didn’t walk on water with his performance.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Conor Garland continues his strong run as of late, taking home a consecutive Corsi champ award with a team-leading 72.22 CF%. Spending most of his time on the nominal third line, Garland was a big reason for a pretty solid night from that unit. The winger had a goal and an assist to his name, out-shooting the Sharks 6-2 with 9 scoring chances for and 5 against. His expected goals was a little disappointing, putting up 0.44 xGF and 50.00 xGF%, but considering the overall impact Garland had on the game, and these metrics are definitely forgivable.
Corsi Chump: Vitali Kravtsov unfortunately was nowhere nearly as effective. The young Russian was the worst Corsi man the Canucks had, bringing up the rear with a 40.00 CF%. While that isn’t bad in a vacuum, Kravtsov was a -21.19 CF% rel to the team average. He posted the second-lowest xGF (0.19) as well as giving up 7 scoring chances when he was on ice. Kravtsov’s performance last night was especially jarring in comparison to his linemate Vasily Podkolzin, whose metrics were way better to go along with the goal that he scored. Consistency and capitalizing on his talents will be the way that Kravtsov establishes himself as a full-time NHLer.

THE STATSIES PRESENTED BY BETWAY

xGF: Andrei Kuzmenko set the record last night for most goals scored by a Canuck in their first season in the NHL. It’s well deserved too, with him nicely leading Vancouver in xGF% (69.60) as well as raw xGF (1.08). Kuzmenko’s one goal, two-point performance gives him 63 points in 70 games, which is quite the contribution in an otherwise lost season. The winger had a slightly poorer defensive performance that we are accustomed to though, conceding 7 scoring chances against with 3 of them being high-danger. Still, that’s nitpicking in an otherwise good game from Kuzmenko.
GSAx: Thatcher Demko almost broke even last night. The anemic Sharks offence put 1.96 xGF against him, meaning that with two goals given up, Demko’s GSAx is a -0.04 on the night. A large reason why it’s barely in the negatives is that both goals given up were counted as middle-danger, driving down the xGF given to them. Still, it’s not a bad performance, and all things considered, a 0.04 difference basically comes down to luck. Demko had a quiet night but did his part when asked.

Statistical Musings

Hronek’s Debut: It was the moment that many Canucks fans had been waiting for. Coming to Vancouver in exchange for a pretty decent sum, Filip Hronek suited up in blue and green for the first time against the Sharks. Taking into account that his opposition wasn’t exactly the best of competition, Hronek still played very well. He had the highest TOI of any player last night, going along with his 60.00 CF% that led all Canuck defencemen. Hronek chipped in 10 scoring chances for while yielding 10 chances against, but helped hold a 5-4 edge in HDCF. Overall, his presence on the blueline was a calming one and bodes well for a defence corps desperately needing a steady figure.
Definitely, time to try something else: Outside of Podkolzin, the Kravtsov-Dries-Podkolzin line was not great. Their advanced stats were the worst of all Canucks forward lines last night, coming in at a 28.57 CF%, 0.00 SF%, 0.00 xGF%, 30.00 SCF% and 0.00 HDCF%. While Kravtsov and Podkolzin definitely aren’t solid top-6 material in the NHL, at least not yet, it would be worth seeing what they can do with a better center than Sheldon Dries. That isn’t a slight to him, but after a decent stretch run during the middle of the season, Dries has started to fizzle out and be exposed against consistent NHL competition.

As a team

CF% – 56.32% HDCF% – 60.00% xGF% – 52.94%
While the stats show that the Canucks weren’t dominant, they still deserved to win this one. A 7-2 victory does flatter them a bit but it’s a credit to the players for being able to rack up the goals. It was a good night, seeing some record-breaking performances, a good debut and some showings from young and depth pieces. With only a couple of games left in the season, it’s prime time to see if anyone can make a solid impression to stick around for next year.
Vancouver now travels to Dallas, where they take on the Stars tomorrow at 4 PM.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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