The Statsies: Quality of possession wins out over quantity in Canucks victory of Flyers

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
1 year ago
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Elias Pettersson was probably the biggest reason why the Canucks walked away from this one with two points.
The Vancouver Canucks scrapped out a 6-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers, in a less-than-glamorous fashion than the scoreline suggests. Even though this result isn’t the best for better draft odds, it’s a nice reprieve from losing hockey games. There are things to like about the process happening underneath the surface. Still, there’s a ways to go before this team can really start stringing things together.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

This is where the whole 60-minute effort aspect doesn’t really click for the Canucks. They played a solid first two periods, though it could be argued that they should’ve had more of an advantage over a flat Flyers team last night. However, that power play goal against with a couple minutes left in the middle frame seemed to have swung all the momentum in Philadelphia’s favour. They dominated the Canucks in the third, and despite giving up three goals, the Flyers held a 77.78 CF% share and 76.49 xGF% share.
Obviously this isn’t what you like to see, but credit to Vancouver for weathering the storm. They gave up a total of 8 high-danger chances in the final period as well as 1.54 xGA, but didn’t concede once. Instead, they made efficient use of the chances that they managed to create, burying three goals in the third to ice the game. Playing against the flow isn’t easy, and perhaps this is a step in the right direction for a group that has had trouble doing so in the past.

Heat Map

There aren’t any surprised with this heat map. Starting in their own end, the Canucks gave up 33 scoring chances, of which 16 of them were considered high-danger. Those can be seen in that blue spot right in front, where the densest concentration of Flyers chances came from. Despite that, giving up two goals isn’t the worst result, especially considering the disparity in opportunities between the two teams.
Offensively, Vancouver only created 22 scoring chances without establishing a single hot spot that they got the majority of their opportunities from. However, the ones that they managed to score on all came from high-danger areas, suggesting that they were efficient in converting their high-probability chances into goals. Their total of 7 HDCF is something that they’ll want to improve on, but hey, that’s some good conversion rates shown.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: Who else but Andrei Kuzmenko? Reunited with Pettersson and Beauvillier on the top line for an extended run meant that Kuzmenko finished with a team-high 48.48 CF%, a 21.10 CF% rel to the team average. With the Canucks only accumulating a 32.00 CF% share across the entire game, it makes sense why the team leader comes in as below 50%. Credit to Kuzmenko for being at least close to even in puck possession. The winger also posed the third-highest xGF% (59.04) and managed to rack up 12 scoring chances to go with his goal last night. Perhaps bananas and Pepsi are peak performance food.
Corsi Chump: In a game where Vancouver got heavily out-possessed, the Corsi chump will have some gnarly-looking numbers. Sheldon Dries was the unfortunate victim of this as he posted possibly the lowest CF% of any player thus far this season in a single game with a 7.14. Granted, because the team average was as bad as it was, Dries’ CF% rel was only -29.75. The numbers don’t do him any more favours – Dries’ xGF% of 4.38 was just behind the 0.00 that Nils Åman put up, being on ice for 8 scoring chances against and 5 HDCA. He only saw two shifts in the third period.


xGF: In his first NHL game this season, Christian Wolanin led all Canucks in xGF% with a 72.10, a good 10 percentage points ahead of second place. The defender not only recorded the 4th best xGF (1.14) on the team, but also the lowest xGA (0.44) to help his rate stand out. Wolanin didn’t look out of place alongside Luke Schenn, recording 10 scoring chances for and being on ice for three goals for, none against. Quite the impressive game for the AHL all-star.
GSAx: A tale of two nights describes Arturs Silovs’ game against the Flyers. He looked unfazed and settled in, and it showed in the stats. Facing a veritable storm of chances in front of him and a 4.31 xGF by Philly, Silovs weathered the storm to record a 2.31 GSAx, possibly the highest rating thus far this season by a Canucks goalie in a single game. The only two goals to sneak past him were high-danger, and out of 14 high-danger shots, that’s honestly not bad at all. It’s encouraging to see him record his first NHL win in such a fashion, and again, a step in the right direction for this young netminder.

Statistical Musings

Elias Pettersson’s big night: If you find it odd that Pettersson hasn’t been mentioned in the stats front after posting 5 points, it’s because of how he was used against the Flyers. Pettersson saw 20:28 minutes of ice time, the highest among forwards and the third-highest on the team. Most of these minutes were matched against Philly’s top 6, which unfortunately did spend a lot of time in the Canucks’ end swarming for chances. This is a big reason why his CF% and xGF% don’t look as shiny as they probably should after a night like last night. Even despite this deployment, Pettersson’s CF% stood at 46.34, good enough for second on the roster, while recording the second-highest xGF (1.8). It’s a two-way performance that showcases his smarts and awareness at both ends of the ice.
Huggy Bear, eaten alive: It’s unfortunate that their numbers look as bad as they do, but it’s worth highlighting the usually excellent pairing. Quinn Hughes and Ethan Bear did not have it easy against the Flyers, icing a 22.58 CF%, 8.73 xGF%, 22.22 SCF%, and a whopping 10 high-danger chances against with none of their own. The numbers seem to show that the Flyers were specifically targeting them with matchups, playing them with heavy forwards that can throw their weight around. It makes sense – this is possibly the best puck-moving duo in the Canucks line up, and through neutralizing them, it could impact the entire game and have the Canucks struggle to break the puck out. It worked to an extent, despite the loss.

As a team

CF% – 32.00% HDCF% – 30.43% xGF% – 35.88%
In a game where the numbers definitely were not in their favour, the Canucks emerged from it with a big resounding win. There are always going to be those moments where a team struggles and isn’t at its best. What makes a great team great is the ability to win despite not being on top of it. Vancouver isn’t a great team, nowhere near in fact. But instilling this resilience is so important for when this team does reach a better position to contend and be a good hockey team. It was by no means a flawless win, and in this lost year, it probably would’ve been best to lose this game. However, seeing a win like this is a very nice break from blowing multi-goal leads.
Next up, Vancouver heads into Nashville on Tuesday to take on the Predators at Bridgestone Arena.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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