Big Numbers: On penalties, powerplays, and pitiful second periods

Herein you will find a compendium of interesting statistics. Take from them what you will. Or, if you’re feeling particularly sluggish this Monday morning, take from them what I have taken from them. Whatever.

• The Canucks have 26 game-winning goals this season, and 13 of those have been scored by the first line trio of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Alex Burrows. They are, as some would say, clutch. But speaking of clutch, of the 202 minor penalties the Canucks have been assessed this season (3rd-most in the NHL), that same trio has accounted for 54. Someone may need to explain the difference between “clutch” and “clutching”. It’s possible this is an ESL issue.

• Cody Hodgson has 5 powerplay goals on the season. That puts him only 2 behind Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin, who are tied for the team lead with 7. Safe to say Cody’s not going to win the category, but the fact that he’s in striking distance is impressive. Also impressive: he’s the highest-scoring forward after the first line and Ryan Kesler, with 26 points. In short, he is well-deserving of the snuggle Kiss Huggins is giving him above.

• While no one would mistake Maxim Lapierre for a tough guy (especially the guys he’s fought), the pesky fourth line centre has has 5 goals and 5 fighting majors through 46 games. It would take a strong back half to the year, but it’s possible that he reaches the 10 goal, 10 fight plateau, which is about as rare a statline as scoring 40 goals. Only 7 guys did it last season. Lapierre also leads the Canucks’ in hits with 127, good for 11th in the NHL. Post-lockout, the only other Canuck to finish in the top 30 in the category was Matt Cooke.

• Though Ryan Kesler may be the reigning Selke winner, Alain Vigneault has been slowly siphoning off his defensive responsibilities for two seasons now, and this year, Kesler isn’t even a member of the top penalty-killing forward duo. Generally, Kesler and Burrows are first over the boards when the Canucks go down a man, but now it’s Manny Malhotra and Jannik Hansen, who average 2:43 and 2:25 a game of shorthanded icetime, respectively. That puts them one and two among Canuck forwards. When you factor in the defensemen — Hamhuis, Bieksa, Edler and Salo — Kesler falls all the way to 7th in usage rankings, which is worth noting because he hasn’t been outside the top 5 in shorthanded time on ice per game since 2006-07.

• Henrik Sedin, on how many All-Star games he’s attended: “1 more than Danny.” Or three, however you want to look at it. (And with that, Daniel Sedin is once again out for blood.)

• The Canucks are 1st on the powerplay at 23.8% and 4th on the penalty kill at 86.7%. No other team is in the top 5 of both categories. And, speaking of powerplays, remember all that business about how the Canucks don’t get the calls and the league is biased towards bad teams and keeping the games even? It’s a crock of crap. If you’re wondering why some bad teams are at the top of the league in total powerplay ice time, consider that, when your powerplays tend to last the full two minutes, you’ll have more time up a man. If you go simply by total 5-on-4 opportunities, the Canucks have seen 165, second in the NHL only to the Philadelphia Flyers’ 177.

• The Canucks are 1 of 5 teams undefeated when leading after 2 periods. In short, while we talk a lot about “winning da turd” in the Smylosphere, the home team would be better served to start winning the 2nd. But they tend to take the middle frame off. The Canucks have scored 51 times in 1st periods, tops in the NHL, but they have allowed 51 2nd period goals, 4th-worst.

• The Canucks have blocked 229 shots this season. The only team with fewer? The New Jersey Devils, who have gotten in the way of a staggeringly low 157. In other words, neither team would make for very good bodyguards.

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11 comments

  1. Yuri Kaufman
    January 16, 2012

    Great info!!! Thank you very much, as always however.

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  2. sarah
    January 16, 2012

    Interesting post. Now for an entirely useless comment: That picture of Higgy and Coho looks like a prelude to a beautiful hug.

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  3. Zach Morris
    January 16, 2012

    Won’t Thomas “Hypnotic” Drance be jealous you’ve been playing with other numbers?

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    • Harrison Mooney
      January 16, 2012

      No, see, because these aren’t “advanced” numbers. So it’s okay. #ExcusesForInfidelity

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      • Zach Morris
        January 16, 2012

        #donttrythisathome

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  4. Sunshine State
    January 16, 2012

    This powerplay situation is a LOT more complicated than looking at 5-4 PP opp’s.
    For instance, if you look at 5-4 PP time, Canucks are 9th in the league.

    Alo, a good measure is looking at each game and if a team has more PP opp’s than their opponent, or fewer. As of Dec. 30, Canucks were tied for 10th in the league in opponents having more PP opp’s than the Canucks each game. Meaning, on a game by game basis, Canucks are playing more of those where their opponent has more PP opp’s than them. Of note, withing those top 10 teams, 6 Cdn. teams are in that bunch.

    In the opposite category (by a large margin) is “more PP opportunities than opponent each game” Leading this category is Columbus, Carolina, Florida. You’re trying to tell me those 3 teams have so much speed and skill that each night they more PP opp’s than their opponent? No way. There IS bias officiating in the league.

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    • Zach Morris
      January 16, 2012

      Perhaps, as you say, the NHL is trying to get sunbelt teams to score more goals by giving them extra powerplays.
      Or perhaps their opponents are simply taking lazy penalties.
      As covered in today’s “Who Are The Canucks Losing To?”, teams have a harder time finding motivation to play against teams that are bad, like Carolina or Columbus.
      Maybe they don’t skate as hard and take an extra hooking or holding penalty trying to slow down the Staals and Nashes.

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      • Sunshine State
        January 16, 2012

        Perhaps, but the numbers I provided aren’t solely Canucks. They are all teams that play Columbus, Carolina, and Florida. I’ve looked at a ton of different PP stats for this yr and last yr. There is clear bias in the league’s officiating, the proofs in the numbers.

        P.S. I love the Higgins-Coho pic!

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  5. JDM
    January 17, 2012

    What I take out of this: why are the Canucks so terrible in the 2nd period? This has been the case, and I base this solely on the sense of dread I have had in respect of the 2nd period for the duration of this period, for about 3 seasons. What is the deal? It’s possible that they focus so strongly on having a good start to the game that when they succeed they become a little self-satisfied and complacent. It is also possible that the other team getting outplayed in the first tends to bounce back and compete harder in the second. But at some point the organization must have recognized this trend and tried to address it. Yet it persists. Curious.

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    • rsm
      January 17, 2012

      I suspect it may have to do with short shift times and the long change. Keeping short shift times when you have the longer change is much more difficult so it may be that the Canucks get a bit off their game during the second.

      Admittedly that is rather tenuous, but I doubt ‘motivation’ and ‘intangibles’ etc. are a better explanation than not being able to handle the long change as well as they should.

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  6. JDM
    January 17, 2012

    Your explanation would not account for the discrepancy unless the Canucks are significantly worse at dealing with the long change than their opponents. That would suggest a coaching issue.

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