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The Official Site of the Vancouver Canucks

Numbers Game - 02.18.15

by Thomas Drance / Vancouver Canucks
With their 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Monday night, the Vancouver Canucks have amassed 67 points in 56 games and are holding down second place in the Pacific Division. Purists are sometimes loathe to admit it, but when we talk about hockey we’re almost always talking in numbers.

Here’s a compilation of numbers and statistics that help to capture some of the recent storylines that surround the Canucks as they head to the East Coast for a five-game road trip.

6887 - When Canucks rookie defenseman Alex Biega scored the game-winning goal in Monday night’s contest against the Wild, he became the first rookie blue-liner aged 26 or older to score the game-winning goal in his NHL debut since Washington Capitals defenseman Steve Poapst managed the rare feat way back on April 10th, 1996. That’s a span of 6,887 days!

.863% - Canucks netminder Ryan Miller has managed a save percentage of .863 when facing shots from the “High-Danger Area” this season, according to the shot location data found at war-on-ice.com. Among NHL netminders who’ve started at least 20 games this season, Miller’s .863 mark ranks third in the league behind only St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen and New York Islanders puck-stopper Jaroslav Halak.

1.16 - So far Canucks forward Shawn Matthias has scored at a rate of 1.16 goals per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 ice-time, according to hockeyanalysis.com. That makes him the 13th most efficient even-strength goal scorer in the league at the moment, at least among the 198 NHL forwards who’ve logged at least 600 even-strength minutes so far. That’s elite company.

2.07 - Matthias’ production has been impressive and all, but if we remove the minutes restriction then Canucks grinder Ronalds Kenins - who has scored at a rate of 2.07 goals per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 ice-time - is the single most efficient 5-on-5 goal scorer in the league this season.

Sample size, schmample size.

55.2% - When they’ve been on the ice at even-strength together this season, Canucks defensemen Dan Hamhuis and Yannick Weber have managed a 55.2 percent shot attempt differential in over 90 minutes.

Shot attempt differential, commonly known as “Corsi”, counts up all shot attempts both for and against - so all goals, shots on goal, misses, and shots that are blocked - and is generally used as a proxy for puck possession. The numbers aren’t perfect, but they’re predictive of future outcomes and do an excellent job of capturing whether or not a team, or an individual player, are dictating play when they’re on the ice at 5-on-5.

In the case of Hamhuis and Weber, they’ve been excellent at controlling the proceedings when paired together. If there’s a silver lining for a Canucks team that has taken a variety of major hits to their blue-line depth of late, it’s the chemistry that Hamhuis and Weber have shown this season.

57%, 55% - On Monday night against the Wild, injuries forced the Canucks to play without their usual top-pairing of Alex Edler and Chris Tanev. Thrust into a top-pairing role, Hamhuis and Weber logged huge minutes at even-strength, were on the ice for a chaotic final 30 seconds, and at 5-on-5 came out way ahead in shot-attempt differential against a club that hadn’t lost in regulation in four weeks.

Hamhuis partnering with Weber on his right side has long been the top-pair of Canucks fans dreams. Who knew it was really Yannick they were dreaming of.

0.179 - After Bo Horvat takes an offensive-zone face-off at 5-on-5, and he’s taken 134 of them so far this season, the Canucks are averaging 0.179 shots for per draw. That’s the best mark on the Canucks, and the 21st best mark in the entire league (among centremen who’ve taken at least 100 offensive zone draws at 5-on-5). It probably helps that Horvat is winning 56.7 percent of his offensive zone draws, a mark that ranks 10th overall in the NHL.

(Statistics courtesy: faceoffs.net)

4.12 - In 34 games with the Calgary Hitmen this season Canucks prospect Jake Virtanen is manufacturing 4.12 points rated per 60 minutes of estimated even-strength ice time, according to CHLstats.com. That’s the second best mark in the entire league, behind only Kelowan Rockets forward and Edmonton Oilers prospect Leon Draisaitl - who has played in 17 fewer games.

9 - Since key Canucks penalty killer Brad Richardson was injured in mid-January against the Carolina Hurricanes, Vancouver has permitted nine power-play goals against in 13 games played.

18 - In the 41 games prior to Richardson’s injury against the Hurricanes, the Canucks permitted 18 power-play goals against.

89.8% - Though the playoff race in the Western Conference is shaping up to be a doozy, the Canucks have nearly 90 percent odds of qualifying for the postseason, according to sportsclubstats.com’s calculations.

The lead up to Lord Stanley’s annual beard harvest and hockey festival promises to be all kinds of fun.

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