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The Statsies: Thatcher Demko helps put a dagger in the Calgary Flames’ playoff hopes

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
10 months ago
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It was a fitting farewell for a Canucks legend in the booth.
The Vancouver Canucks squeeze past the Calgary Flames in a 3-2 shootout win, a result that doesn’t mean much for the home team but is oh-so painful for the guests. It wasn’t a pretty victory, as the Canucks once again came close to blowing a multi-goal lead, and the win did the exact opposite of what the team really needed at this point of the season. But, it’s always fun to play spoiler in a team’s playoff chase.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

The Canucks came out of the gate strong. Their first period was a decent piece of work, able to control puck possession at all strengths as they built a 2-0 lead. A 61.54 CF% and 58.82 SCF% share spoke to how the team was able to get some decent scoring chances as a result of their possession advantage. Still, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses through the opening frame, with Vancouver still giving up a 42.86 HDCF% and 40.95 xGF% to Calgary despite the CF% lead.
It really set the tone for the rest of the game, as the Flames quickly responded to push for their playoff lives. They dominated the second and third, never letting the Canucks crack a 40% share in any major statistical category. The third was the best of that, with Calgary dominating to a tune of 71.43 CF%, 75.00 SCF%, 83.33 HDCF%, and 75.44 xGF%. The Flames deserved to even up the game, and they honestly probably deserved to win. But that obviously didn’t happen.

Heat Map

With the kind of dominance that the Flames showed in the second and third, it would only make sense for the heat map to reflect that. They were all over the slot area in front of the Canucks goal, getting a fair amount of chances from high-danger spots. In total, Calgary had a 43-33 lead in scoring chances, and a 19-13 advantage in high-danger chances. That much is definitely reflected by what’s present on the chart above.
The Canucks managed to get a little patch in front of the crease, but it was nowhere near as concentrated as the Flames’ patch was and definitely not as big. It doesn’t get much better when looking at just 5v5 impacts, as Vancouver’s scoring chances dropped to 21 and their high-danger chances fell to just 7. There’s still a way to go before they reach a level of replicable success.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: JT Miller gets this game’s Corsi champ title, leading the Canucks at all strengths with a 63.83 CF%. A short-handed assist was the only point that he registered, but Miller also helped Vancouver out-shoot Calgary 18-13 when he was on ice. Playing nearly half of his ice-time against the likes of Elias Lindholm, it wasn’t an easy feat to achieve and should speak well to Miller’s improved effort as of late, coming with balanced deployment.
Corsi Chump: Sheldon Dries has been up and down as of late, sometimes being passable and other times getting exposed at the NHL level. Not only did he put up the worst CF% last night (26.92), but also threw up the worst xGF% (12.86) of any Canuck. It wasn’t as if Dries had any particularly tough matchups either, playing against Mikael Backlund and Blake Coleman the majority of the time, but was still getting pushed in. Dries gave up a total of 13 scoring chances against, 8 of them counting as high-danger. Not the greatest of nights especially with Andrei Kuzmenko and Anthony Beauvillier flanking him.

THE STATSIES PRESENTED BY BETWAY

xGF: Leading the expected goals charts was JT Miller’s 59.40 xGF%. A large chunk of why his numbers looked as good as they were was because of his second-best 1.33 xGF, coming in just short of Quinn Hughes’ 1.81. Considering that he’s been playing on the PK as well, Miller has demonstrated that he’s capable of playing a responsible defensive game. He recorded 16 scoring chances for and 12 against as well as 6 HDCF and 4 HDCA, which is pretty respectable against a team like the Flames and considering the deployment that he got.
GSAx: With how dominant the Flames were in this game, Thatcher Demko stood on his head to drag the Canucks kicking and screaming to the win. Calgary totaled 4.27 xGF against him, meaning that Demko nearly equaled his shutout effort with a 2.27 GSAx. The goals came at one high-danger and middle-danger apiece, but the big story wasn’t the kinds of goals that he gave up but the highlight reel saves Demko was making. Cross-crease lunging pad stops, right-to-left windmill glove saves, his 41-stop effort truly reminded all Canuck fans of what he’s capable of when dialed in. Hopefully, there’s more of this Demko in the 2023-24 season.

Statistical Musings

An unlikely combination: After a rough game against the Blackhawks, Dakota Joshua found himself in unfamiliar territory as he lined up alongside Nils Åman and Jack Studnicka. You would be forgiven if you expected this line to get buried, but yet, they were statistically the best line the Canucks had on offer last night. Joshua-Studnicka-Åman recorded 66.67 CF%, 71.43 SF%, 85.41 xGF%, 80.00 SCF% and 75.00 HDCF%, all of which were team-highs amongst forward lines. They didn’t exactly get insignificant minutes either, their 7:16 TOI a close third behind the Garland-Pettersson-Kravtsov line’s 7:18. Dakota Joshua actually led the Canucks’ xGF% at 5v5 strength, coming in with a 85.77 with a team-best 0.07 xGA. Not a bad effort at all from the trio.
Where Detective McWard attempted to solve the case of the missing Bear: Ever since he returned from injury, Ethan Bear hasn’t looked exactly the same. Sure, he’s still been a major improvement over most of the Canucks’ options on the back end, but his numbers haven’t been nearly as good. Paired up with Cole McWard in this game, Bear still managed to be the worst Canuck defender by the numbers. His CF% sat at 35.14 while his xGF% was a 29.82. Interestingly enough, in a game where he scored his first NHL goal, McWard was doing some heavy lifting on his pairing to buoy Bear’s numbers. The former Buckeye dragged their pair’s numbers up to a 40.91 CF% and 40.60 xGF%, which is definitely passable for a game against the Flames.

As a team

CF% – 45.31% HDCF% – 40.63% xGF% – 38.54%
While this isn’t the nail in the coffin for the Calgary Flames, it’s definitely another dagger that makes their slim playoff hopes all that more slimmer. Thatcher Demko did a lot of heavy lifting in a game where the Canucks found themselves back on their heels more often than not, while McWard scored his first NHL goal with a performance that intrigued. In the end, they escaped with a win which makes their lottery slot all that much worse. But heck, isn’t it fun to try and douse the postseason dreams of the Flames?
Vancouver finishes their season with a west coast roadtrip, taking on the LA Kings in Los Angeles tomorrow night.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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