The Statsies: Phil Di Giuseppe’s 5v5 impact helps drive Canucks over Stars

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
1 year ago
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Who would’ve thought that the Canucks’ longest win streak this season would be five games and that it would happen in mid-March?
The Vancouver Canucks didn’t always look like they were in the driver’s seat, but they managed to steer a 5-2 victory into the books against the Dallas Stars. Say what you might about how the result came to be, but the Canucks battled hard to get the job done. There’s stuff to like about how this team is playing as of late, with structure and effort starting to shine through from each player on the roster. It’s showing in the win column now, with things on the ice finally not all doom-and-gloom.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

Those three first-period powerplays buoyed much of Vancouver’s numbers through the game. The opening frame was the only 20-minute stretch where the Canucks were ever convincingly ahead in terms of CF% and xGF%, finishing the period with 56.00 CF% and 63.92 xGF% shares. It isn’t to say that they had a bad game, but much of the reason why the numbers don’t look worse is because of the special teams inflating their advantage.
On the flip side, Dallas held the majority of the game flow but only had two goals to show for it. The Canucks scored against the flow late in the third to ice the game, but it was the Stars that controlled most of the play. In the third period alone, the visitors held a 73.53 CF% and a 64.30 xGF% advantage as they pushed to even up the game. This should also stand out since Dallas chose to rest their starting netminder and reduced the ice time of their top 6. Interestingly enough though, it was Vancouver that edged out Dallas in high-danger chances (12-11), suggesting the Canucks were a little more efficient in terms of creating good opportunities.

Heat Map

Going off of the last point, the heat map shows that the Canucks concentrated most of their attempts from high-danger areas. Their attempts aren’t very widespread, which makes sense since Dallas outshot them 27-19. But, the scoring chance differential was a lot closer than that (26-24 in favour of the Stars) and the high-danger chances were slightly in favour of the Canucks. What this suggests is that while Vancouver didn’t get the sheer volume of chances, their attempts were focused and consistently found good areas behind Dallas’ defence.
Meanwhile, despite being down in puck possession and expected goals, Vancouver managed to stop Dallas from establishing a true hot spot. They managed a wide variety of shots, evidenced by how spread out their heat map looks, but outside of a slightly dark-blue patch in the slot the Stars weren’t able to establish an area with significant attempts. This could be a product of them resting their star players, but credit should also go to Vancouver for bending but not breaking. The Canucks yielded the possession battle but kept the chances against limited for what it was.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: This game’s Corsi leader was Brock Boeser, coming in at a 52.00 CF% in a game where the Canucks were out-possessed. Even in a down season by most people’s standards, somehow Boeser finds himself on pace to record a 60-point season. He dished out 3 assists last night, creating 8 scoring chances for while giving up just 4 against. However, Boeser only was credited with 3 HDCF when he was on ice, suggesting that the scoring chances he created were mostly unlikely to be scored upon. Still, it was a nice game from the much-maligned winger even with unfavourable deployment, only seeing 42.86% shift starts in the offensive zone.
Corsi Chump: Bringing up the rear for the Canucks was Vasily Podkolzin’s 20.00 CF%, a -22.31 CF% rel to the team average. While he has been better since being recalled from the AHL and always shows glimpses of the potential player he can be, Podkolzin has struggled to be consistent with his performances. Deployed mostly against the Stars’ middle 6 lines, he posted poor numbers, a 0.1 xGF and 16.15 xGF% that made him the least-effective player in that category as well. Podkolzin could use a better pivot than Sheldon Dries, but at the same time should be a lot better than what he was last night.


xGF: The Kuzmenkshow keeps rolling. Andrei Kuzmenko recorded the best xGF% of any Canuck (62.46) to go along with the goal that he scored last night. He’s been found money for Vancouver and whether you wanted him traded or resigned, there’s no denying the element of fun and excitement that he has brought in his first NHL season. Kuzmenko recorded the lowest xGA on the roster last night (0.43), helping drive his xGF percentage higher as a result. The Russian managed 9 scoring chances for, 6 scoring chances against, and an even 3-3 HDCF/HDCA ratio. Topping 30 goals this season, it’ll be interesting to see how Kuzmenko finishes off the year and builds into the next.
GSAx: Once again, Thatcher Demko is elite. It was another good outing for him against the Stars, who put up 2.81 xGF against the American netminder. A 0.81 GSAx might not sound like a lot, but Demko essentially helped spot the Canucks an entire goal with his play. The one blemish on the stat sheet for him would be the single middle-danger goal that he conceded, going with the high-danger goal that was put past him as well. Other than that, Demko was solid yet again, and continues to show that when healthy he can drag any team to a win.

Statistical Musings

PDG’s gamer moment: It probably seemed a little odd to put Phil Di Giuseppe on the nominal top line alongside JT Miller and Brock Boeser. However, it was the AHL-tweener that was the best Canuck at 5v5 play statistically. Only two players finished with a CF% above 50 during even-strength play, with PDG leading the way with a 52.63. Though a 51.00 xGF% might not look that impressive, consider the Di Giuseppe didn’t concede a single high-danger chance against while directing two of his own against the Stars when he was on ice. In total, the winger was credited with 6 scoring chances while going without a single shift start in the offensive zone. This performance and his goal are definitely a pleasant surprise, with Di Giuseppe further cementing himself as a role player in the Canucks’ lineup.
Juulsen stepping up: The other Canuck to finish the game above 50 CF% at 5v5 play was Noah Juulsen. Partnering once again with Quinn Hughes, Juulsen made sure his presence was felt physically with a couple of big hits. What else was impressive was the offensive numbers that he generated. While Hughes led Vancouver with 0.99 xGF in 5v5 situations, Juulsen was a close second by posting a 0.92 xGF. He’s been solid, if unspectacular as of the last stretch. Yes, playing with Quinn Hughes can make anyone look good, but Juulsen has done a good job holding his own with some tough deployments.

As a team

CF% – 37.76% HDCF% – 52.17% xGF% – 44.34%
The Canucks weren’t as dominant as the 5-2 scoreline suggests. Heck, they probably weren’t dominant at all outside of their powerplays. But, this team has found a way to win, taking their opportunities when they get them while relying on a newly-structured defence to help prevent them from getting overwhelmed. The timing of the win streak is probably up for debate, but there are things to like about the on-ice product. Perhaps some of the players can take the step forward that they’ve been hinting at as the season winds down.
Vancouver now heads on the road, flying south to take on the Arizona Coyotes tomorrow at ASU Multi-Purpose Arena.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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