Sunday, November 14, 2010

Big Numbers: 3 Things That Are, Like, Whaaaaat?

Hi there! Do you like stats? Here are a few stat-things to help get you through Monday, a generally unliked day, according to cats and Boomtown Rats. (You'll notice that Monday doesn't have a Facebook fan page. That's because nobody likes it.) Well, it's possible these stat-things will make you say "Whaaaaaat?", and therefore inject some life into your Monday.

Thing 1: Canucks are Good at Faceoffs
The Canucks are the best faceoff team in the NHL at 55.6%. Granted, their lead over the next closest team--San Jose--is only 0.1% (the Sharks have a 55.5% success rate), but these are still impressive numbers. Last year, the Canucks finished 7th in the NHL in faceoffs, and they've done well to improve on that so far.

It's not just Manny Malhotra either. Granted, his 62.3% success rate is a large part of this stat, and he's certainly got more than a few tricks to teach the other drawmen, such as using the glove. I pointed out earlier this season that Malhotra wins a lot of defensive draws by getting low enough to sweep the puck back with his glove if the stick is tied up. Did you notice Kesler winning the opening draw of the Maple Leafs game the same way? Granted, it's a glove pass if you're not in the defensive zone, but let's not quibble over small details. Kesler's success rate has jumped from 55.1% to 57.4%. It may not look like much, but it's definitely something. And if you're starving for a larger statistical jump, take a look at Henrik Sedin, who finished last year at 49.5%: so far this season, he's winning draws at a 51.4% success rate.

Thing 2: Canucks Win When Outshot
Vancouver's record when being outshot by the opposition: 5-0-1. That's correct: they have not lost in regulation when they've been outshot. Only the Washington Capitals have the same success in these circumstances .

How do you account for this? Two things. First, good goaltending. While Canuck nation tears Roberto Luongo apart any time he lets in more than one goal, it's hard to be too critical when he keeps the Canucks in games where they don't have the run of play. Second, the Canucks apparently don't need to pepper the opposition goaltender to score. They're 5th in the NHL, averaging 3.19 goals per game, but only 10th in the NHL in shots per game, at 31.5.

Also interesting: most of their goals are coming in the third period. In fact, only Washington has scored more after forty minutes. And if you love weird negative anomalies, consider this: Vancouver has only scored 10 goals in 2nd periods. That is the lowest total in the NHL.

Thing 3: Canucks Tend to Score When They Have More Guys on the Ice Than the Other Team
The Canucks have the 2nd best power play in the NHL, behind only the Minnesota Wild. On the road, however, it's the best powerplay in the league. Last year, the Canucks powerplay was 11th on the road (6th overall). These improvements bode well for new powerplay coach Newell Brown, who has given some new looks and structures to the Canucks' special teams.

I initially thought it was a crazy idea to put Ryan Kesler on the Canucks' first unit, but he's got 4 power play goals this season, second only to Daniel Sedin's 5. Kesler has busted out of an early-season scoring slump and is making Newell Brown look like he knows more than casual fans. I refuse to believe this is the case.

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