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It’s not often that the house goes bust, but when it does, it’s pretty darn cool.
The Vancouver Canucks came into Vegas, saw, and conquered the same team that they blew a lead to at home. A 5-1 win was exactly what the team needed, with eyes now on the Canucks to see if this is the start of something bigger. Two wins in a row against two of the best teams in the west will do that for Vancouver.
Also, clearly black-gold-red belongs to the Canucks.
Here’s the win by the numbers.
It isn’t easy to outplay the Golden Knights. Yet the Canucks managed to do just that throughout the entirety of the game. The spikes seen throughout this graph point to moments where Vegas battled back, dominating puck possession to create chances for themselves. However, these crests are relatively short-lived, which points to the fact that Vancouver not only managed to adjust defensively, but also swing the momentum back in their favour. It’s refreshing to see, especially after the many moments already this season where this team has seemingly just caved in without resistance.
One of the best stats that stuck out was just how dominant that first period was for the Canucks. They played Vegas off the ice, owning a 70.27 CF% share with the balance of scoring chances (68.43 SCF%). In fact, through the first frame, Vancouver owned a 1.48 xGF, which is on par with some games that they’ve played this season. These indications serve both as encouragement that the Canucks can do this against a really good team, but also as a source of frustration when seeing what this team is actually capable of in comparison to the effort they’ve actually put in.
For the second game in a row, the Canucks have created a heat map that they should be proud of. Vancouver didn’t get a truly deep blue hotspot, but still got a good concentration of shots in and around the slot area. This means that the Canucks were able to funnel their shot attempts into areas that they wanted, something that shouldn’t be taken for granted against a team like Vegas. One of the areas outside that zone which saw a hot spot form was right above the right faceoff dot. I wonder who likes shooting from there?
Defensively, Vancouver was also able to prevent the Knights from… well, getting much of anything, really. Their little orange patch in tight is something that just comes with the game, and the Canucks showed that they are more than capable of shutting down the Vegas offence. This is a far cry from what happened on November 21st, when Vancouver got obliterated in the high-danger areas. Again, a positive to take away from this game, but also a bit frustrating to think that this group was capable of playing responsibly defensively.
Individual Advanced Stats
Corsi Champ: Who else but JT Miller? Yup, it’s the much-maligned forward that picks up his first Corsi champ award of the season, coming in with a very impressive 81.58 CF% on the night. This one includes 31 Corsi For and only 7 Corsi Against. What this means is that Miller generated 31 shot attempts and only gave up 7 against while he was on ice. Impressive to say the least, especially with all of his well-documented struggles on the defensive side of the ice.
Corsi Chump: Nils Åman earns this game’s chump moniker with a team-low 37.50 CF%. This isn’t a reflection on how well he played this game though, as merely 25% of his faceoff starts were in the offensive zone. Åman and his line were pressed into a lot of defensive zone action, and managed to do okay despite conceding puck possession. It’s expected, with the work that Åman did to force turnovers and hounding on the forecheck. He tallied a pretty nice assist to Kuzmenko for the 4-0 goal as well.
xGF: This shouldn’t be a surprise, but JT Miller also led the Canucks in xGF last night. His xGF% of 80.59 was easily top of the roster by some margin while coming third in raw xGF (1.53). The biggest reason why Miller’s xGF% looks as good as it does is his impressive .37 xGA, good enough for third on the team as well. Miller managed to generate 19 scoring chances while on ice but was relatively inefficient, with only 4 of those chances considered high-danger. On the flip side though, he only gave up 3 scoring chances against, 2 of them high-danger.
Special shoutout to Elias Pettersson though, who posted a team-leading 1.76 xGF. He’s been on something else lately and has looked poised to become a contender for the Selke and Hart trophies.
GSAx: Who could’ve thought that by the numbers, Spencer Martin would be outperforming Thatcher Demko at this point of the season? He was once again solid this game, just losing out on the shutout in the final 5 minutes. It doesn’t take away from Martin’s performance, where he posted a 2.00 GSAx to once again be a positive impact. It was through a couple of key saves that the Canucks were even able to swing the momentum in their favour. Martin’s steady presence as a backup has been sorely needed by Vancouver, who’ve turned in great performances to surround him thus far.
Finding Nils a home, part 2: In the last edition of the Statsies, I made mention of Nils Höglander playing alongside Bo Horvat and JT Miller, leading to some positive results against the Avalanche. Well, against Vegas, this line somehow managed to be even better. Höglander-Horvat-Miller led all lines in CF% (68.42), xGF% (56.09) and SCF (7). Sure, they weren’t as successful defensively as they were against the Avalanche, but that’s a very high bar to set. This unit benefitted from being a soft match for the Stephenson-Eichel-Stone line, playing the most minutes of any group against Vegas’ top line. They outplayed them in the time that they were on ice together, which again is in stark contrast to what happened on Nov 21st. It seems like adding Höglander has been a pleasant surprise for all involved.
Split them up: On the complete flip side, Brock Boeser-Sheldon Dries-Conor Garland is a combination that just isn’t meshing. Boeser is putting up the points, and there’s no denying that this line is giving a great effort each and ever time they’re on ice. However, at 5v5 play, this trio is rock bottom in CF% with the worst xGF% of any line on the Canucks roster. It’s odd to say that, especially given last season’s Garland who was an absolute hound on the puck. Whichever the case, the advanced stats suggest that this unit is a problem waiting to happen, and should be reorganized before they start converting.
Tyler Myers redemption arc (sorta): Possibly the biggest surprise of this game is that Tyler Myers was analytically the Canucks’ best defender. This is in stark contrast to his usual numbers, and should be taken as an anomaly as of right now. But, Myers did have a good game, leading all defencemen with a 65.52 CF% in 18:27 TOI during 5v5 play. He also had 9 SCF compared to 7 SCA, a differential that he’s usually on the other side of. Interestingly enough, most of his minutes came against Vegas’ top lines as well. Maybe Myers can use this to springboard himself into better performances down the line.
As a team
CF% – 52.80% HDCF% – 40.00% xGF% – 52.34%
In a role reversal from just a week ago, the Vancouver Canucks play a complete game that dominated the Vegas Golden Knights for the majority of the game. It wasn’t entirely perfect, but it was as close as it gets to perfect. Now, with two wins against two top teams in the western conference, the Canucks perhaps have some momentum to build off of for the first time this season.
Vancouver is right back in action in the second half of a back-to-back, taking on the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center Sunday.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com