The Statsies: Vancouver dominates Chicago in Tocchet’s first game at the helm

Photo credit:© Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
1 year ago
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It might have been the finest game the Canucks have played statistically this season, and even then, they gave up the first goal against.
Vancouver opened up the Rick Tocchet era with a resounding 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks at home. Granted, this Hawks team was putrid, a team built to lose. Their competition last night was as soft as melted butter on pancakes. But a win is a win, and whether or not that’s a good thing for this team’s future, it’s always nice to see some smiles on the players’ faces after a game.
Here’s the win by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

There aren’t any big surprises with the game flow last night. From start to finish, even when down 1-0 or 2-1, the Vancouver Canucks just outplayed the Blackhawks. There wasn’t a single moment where their puck possession or expected goals trend lines dipped, constantly building even with Chicago going on three power plays. It’s possibly the best defensive performance Vancouver has had all year, and definitely the most control they’ve ever held in a single matchup.
The game totals show how much of a one-sided tilt it was. The Canucks finished with an absurd 80 CF to 34 CA, never letting the Hawks even sniff momentum going their way. Gary Bettman might say that tanking doesn’t exist in the NHL, and while it’s true that no hockey team actively goes out to lose on any given night, these Chicago Blackhawks were just built for failure.

Heat Map

Quite possibly the best heat map Canuck fans will ever see. Chicago literally didn’t get much of anything in the way of xG, thanks to a dearth of scoring chances… anywhere. If you squint hard enough, there’s a little smidge of light blue in the crease. If you’re familiar with how Canuck defensive zone heat maps have looked this season, this is by far incredible. But, as it is against the Blackhawks, it should be taken as an anomaly on the season.
Their offensive hot spot is impressive, although it isn’t as dense as one might expect. Regardless, the Canucks were able to generate chances by the bunches, capitalizing off of the sheer amount that they put against Petr Mrazek, who faced a firing range. Vancouver finished the game with a 46-15 scoring chance lead, with a 22-6 disparity in high-danger chances for. If a team gets that many cracks at the goal, there are some systemic failures going on there.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: As is customary, Andrei Kuzmenko led the Canucks with an 83.87 CF%, topping out a team-leading 18.87 CF% rel in 15:03 TOI. Kuzmenko’s two goals were critical in opening the dam, something that Vancouver had been struggling with at the outset of this game. Chances remain chances, expected goals remain expected, all the fancy stats remain fancy until someone can convert and capitalize on them. Kuzmenko did so last night, and continues to drive his value up for a new contract or on the trade market.
Corsi Chump: When your worst Corsi man is over 50%, you’re doing something right as a team. Luke Schenn finished with a team-low 56.00 CF%, which is absurd given that would probably be one of his highest totals on the season. With his puck possession advantage, Schenn chipped in with two assists, generating 1.16 xGF while merely conceding 0.54 xGA. It was a very good performance even from the worst possession player on the team, which says a lot about the quality that this Canucks team showed last night.


xGF: This one probably is the highlight for me. Yes, Kuzmenko took this award home too, but the manner in which he accomplished this was simply dominant. The Russian winger posted an obscene 96.40 xGF%, a number which essentially meant that the Hawks would only be able to get a chance 3.60% of the time. A large part of his rate metric being incredible comes from not only a 2.1 xGF, but a team-low 0.08 xGA. It makes sense too — Kuzmenko was on ice for 18 scoring chances against, with 10 of them being high-danger. He only gave up a single, non-high-danger scoring opportunity in that same span.
GSAx: While playing good hockey that limits chances against is always a recipe for a win, it doesn’t always yield the best results for the netminder between the pipes. Take Collin Delia against his former team, who only managed to muster up a paltry 14 shots to generate a 1.48 xGF. Since two of them snuck by, Delia’s GSAx finishes at a -0.42, which technically makes him a liability in this game. But realistically, if you aren’t getting any shots at all, it’s hard to really say that the goaltending was shaky. Both goals came from outside of high-danger areas, but Delia was able to steer home the ship when it came down to it.

Statistical Musing

Not going to be a long one: Against the Blackhawks, the numbers were overwhelmingly positive. There wasn’t a single player that seemed to have any sort of metric that would’ve impacted the play negatively. Hence, there isn’t much to draw from this game. Vancouver overwhelmed Chicago, in a paper-thin matchup with a failed bubble team going up against a team built to lose. All the numbers make sense, and all of them are incredible. But it’s one game. With Rick Tocchet taking the helm, it would be prudent to take in a larger sample size against a team that isn’t the Blackhawks. A win like this one doesn’t reflect the team accurately, nor does it show what Tocchet’s impact could be. The observations from this game wouldn’t be helpful in gauging the true performance of this roster under their new coach.

As a team

CF% – 70.18% HDCF% – 75.41% xGF% – 78.57%
The Vancouver Canucks might’ve gone down early, but there was never a question of who was the better team in this game. They simply destroyed Chicago analytically, and the scoreboard doesn’t necessarily reflect the extent to which they achieved that. It’s a positive result to start off the new bench boss’ regime, but the real tests will lay later on after this soft stretch in the schedule.
Vancouver is right back in action tonight, taking on the Seattle Kraken on the road.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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