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The Statsies: Thatcher Demko steals the show in a Canucks shutout victory

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Photo credit:© Derek Cain-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
10 months ago
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The fact that the first shutout victory of the Canucks’ season came in April says a lot about the season it has been.
The Vancouver Canucks took care of the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0 at home, though the victory wasn’t entirely convincing. For a solid chunk of the game, it was the visitors that had the upper hand and were the ones really pressing for a goal. However, thanks to some individual brilliance, the Blackhawks were stymied, leading to the result on the scoreboard you see here. With just four games remaining in the season, it’s probably not the kind of result you want from a lottery perspective, but it sure is nice to get Thatcher Demko a shutout win.
Here’s the win, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

What is remarkable about all of this is that for an allegedly tanking team, Chicago had much of the puck possession and expected goals advantage last night. It’s to be expected when you outplay a team for two out of three periods, but more surprising is that it came in a game where they were shut out. In a sense, it shows that while Chicago probably should have scored, they got below-league-average finishing and thus weren’t able to convert on their opportunities. Fitting, for the kind of roster they’ve iced.
The only period that was statistically in the Canucks’ favour was the second period, where they recorded a 63.64 CF%, 63.64 HDCF%, and 68.94 xGF%. For the other parts of the game, the Blackhawks had control with some absurd shares, such as an 82.62 xGF% share in the first period. Obviously Chicago didn’t make them pay, but it’s metrics like these that are a cause for concern for this group, especially when they face better competition.

Heat Map

With how the Blackhawks had the flow of the game at their backs, a heat map like this one should be expected. Starting in the Canucks’ defensive zone, they gave up a big hot spot right in front of Demko. The low slot area was once again entirely occupied by a high concentration of shot attempts. Chicago out-chanced Vancouver 31-26, with a 17-12 edge in high-danger chances. It’s no wonder that their attempts came from a much more concentrated area in comparison to the Canucks, and one would have to wonder if a team with actual finishing ability would be able to make a difference.
As for the offensive end, Vancouver didn’t manage to establish a hot spot that was neither as big nor as concentrated as the one that Chicago had. Granted, they did have something towards the right side of the crease, but from the colour alone it shows that the attempts weren’t as focused in that spot. Both goals scored by the Canucks came from outside that area too, so generally speaking it wasn’t the most replicable of nights offensively.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: How many of these in a row is it for Brock Boeser? Against the Blackhawks, the winger led the Canucks with 70.83 CF%, with the team out-shooting Chicago 14-5 during his 15:19 TOI. Boeser recorded one assist along with a second-best 78.82 xGF%, much of which came from the 11-3 SCF differential that he put up. It’s impressive to see the run that he’s been on to close the season, especially with how rough the year has gone for him. Merely a month ago it wouldn’t have been a stretch to think that Boeser would have to be traded at a loss, and now, there’s a legitimate argument to be made about keeping him around.
Corsi Chump: Getting out-possessed by this Blackhawks team is bad enough, but to put up a 25.00 CF% and a -26.19 CF% rel? That’s what Dakota Joshua did, finally separated from Elias Pettersson and Andrei Kuzmenko only to plunge right back to earth. Again, while Chicago didn’t score in this one, Joshua still didn’t have the best games defensively. His 22.37 xGF% ranked him as the third-worst in the Canucks lineup, while a 0.15 xGF pegged him as the second-worst offensive contributor on the team.

THE STATSIES PRESENTED BY BETWAY

xGF: This one goes to Conor Garland after posting his best defensive game of the season. Not only did Garland lead the Canucks in xGF% (86.26), but posted the best xGA (0.11) in the lineup. The winger didn’t see a single high-danger chance against during this 13:43, while putting up 3 HDCF himself. Garland was also not the recipient of favourable deployment, as only 33.33% of his shift starts came in the offensive zone. It’s striking to see the difference in his metrics in comparison to his linemate Joshua, showing that the diminutive winger still has that play-driving ability left in him.
GSAx: Sparkling numbers for a sparkling game from Thatcher Demko, who turned in a gem against the Blackhawks. A total of 3.45 xGF against him meant that Demko saved a full GSAx of 3.45 in this game, which is the highest tide of the season for him. Obviously he had some help in the form of an actively bad Chicago team, but at the same time, the defence in front of him didn’t do Demko any favours. It’s a huge credit to his calm and poise to be able to consistently bail this team out when they need him to. It’s a shutout that’s been a long time coming.

Statistical Musings

Elias Pettersson’s rough night: Something that stood out was just how poor Elias Pettersson’s metrics were against the Blackhawks even with an assist. His 35.29 CF% was third-last, a 1.53 xGA ranking him the third-worst as well, going along with a very uncharacteristic 37.28 xGF%. Now, he’s more than earned himself leeway for a rough game or two (or five), but it’s an extremely odd anomaly especially given the competition that he had. The poor numbers seem limited to only Pettersson as well, as both Kuzmenko and Anthony Beauvillier posted around their usual stat line last night. A possible explanation for this could be that Petterssons’ 26.67% offensive faceoff starts impacted his defensive numbers, but even then, that’s not the two-way star from this past year. Perhaps having Jason Dickinson and Tyler Johnson stapled to him also affected him, with both doing a fine job keeping Pettersson’s CF% below 40.
Akito eating up minutes: For an NCAA free agent playing in his second game, one usually doesn’t expect to be pressed into higher minutes. And yet, Akito Hirose played 20:30 against the Blackhawks and didn’t do half bad for himself. Along with the two assists from last night, Hirose recorded the fourth-most ice time of any Canucks, forward or defencemen. It’s a testament to the steady game that he plays, where the metrics aren’t the kindest to him but the defensive effectiveness is there. As well, most of Hirose’s numbers jump up a couple ticks with Tyler Myers out of the equation, so it would be interesting to see what Hirose’s play would be like alongside someone like Filip Hronek or Ethan Bear.
Cole McWard’s debut: A sophomore from the NCAA usually doesn’t see a lot of the ice, unless their name is Adam Fantilli or another blue-chip prospect. It’s why the Canucks’ signing of Cole McWard was a little out of left field, with him not exactly cemented at the collegiate level. Still, he acquitted himself well in his first NHL game, showing the upside that Patrik Allvin is taking a swing on. McWard ranked 4th amongst defencemen in CF% (43.75) and xGF% (32.83), which isn’t bad considering that he’s basically being thrown to the proverbial wolves. A bigger test will come against the Calgary Flames, but for a first look, the signs are promising for McWard.

As a team

CF% – 47.00% HDCF% – 41.38% xGF% – 44.80%
The Canucks weren’t convincing in this one. Thatcher Demko was, and that made all the difference. It’s the end of the season, the players are tired, they’re frustrated, and it’s all understandable. But at the end of the day, this is the best time to audition for a spot for next year, and it just feels as if the effort levels aren’t there to match it. Vancouver got performances from some interesting pieces with intrigue, but there are also other players on the bubble that just haven’t separated themselves enough for consideration.
Tomorrow, the Calgary Flames come into town for the Canucks’ home finale, with their playoff hopes on the line.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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