Stanley Cup Playoffs Round One Preview: By The Numbers

Game one of the Canucks first round playoff series versus the Los Angeles Kings is starting in just a couple hours. To get you ready, I’ve compiled a plethora of numbers from these two teams in order to draw some comparisons. Ultimately, the numbers suggest that this will be a tougher series than the first-versus-eighth matchup would suggest.

Canucks Kings
Wins 51 40
ROW 43 34
Clear Victories 22 18
Record in Season Series 2-1-1 2-2-0

 

Let’s start off with the most important statistic of all: victories. The Canucks may not have steamrolled the competition like they did last season, but they still ended up with 51 victories, tied for the most overall with the Penguins and Rangers, and won their second straight Presidents’ Trophy. The Kings, on the other hand, ended up with 40 wins, which was actually 17th most in the league.

The Canucks are still favoured when we look at Regulation and Overtime Wins or ROW, which is the tiebreaker in the regular season. The Canucks won 8 games in the shootout, leaving them with 43 ROW, while the Kings won 6 games, dropping them to 34 ROW.

Oilers blog Copper and Blue keeps track of Clear Victories, which are wins decided by two or more goals, excluding empty net goals. Since there is very little correlation from season-to-season in a team’s ability to win one-goal games, Clear Victories can be a better indication of future success. The Canucks were 22-10 in Clear Victories, good for 3rd in the Western Conference, while the Kings were right behind them in 4th at 18-11. That’s the first indicator that this might be a closer series than many think.

As for the season series, the Canucks won from their perspective, while it was an even split from the Kings perspective, since one of the Kings’ wins came in the shootout. The Kings actually outscored the Canucks 8-7 in the four games.

Canucks Kings
Leading Scorer Henrik Sedin – 81 points Anze Kopitar – 76 points
Leading Defenceman Scorer Alex Edler – 49 points Drew Doughty – 36 points
Leading Goal Scorer Daniel Sedin – 30 Goals Anze Kopitar – 25 Goals
Double Digit Goal Scorers 9 6
Goals For 249 194
Goals Against 198 179
Goal Differential +51 +15

 

The difference between the two teams is a bit more stark when we look at goal scoring. While the two teams’ leading scorers are actually not that far apart, the Canucks’ scoring depth outclasses that of the Kings, particularly on the blueline, where the Canucks have three defenceman who have outscored Drew Doughty. Still, the Kings have 4 players with 20+ goals and the Canucks’ leading goal scorer, Daniel Sedin, won’t be playing in game one.

The Canucks have scored 55 more goals than the Kings, but have allowed 19 more. Still, that gives them a 36 goal gap when we compare their goal differential.

Canucks Kings
Penalty Minutes 1049 923
Minor Penalties 325 327
Most Common Penalty Hooking Hooking
Power Play 19.8% 17.0%
Penalty Kill 86.0% 87.0%

 

While the Canucks have far more penalty minutes than the Kings, that is mainly because of fighting majors and misconducts. When it comes to minor penalties, the two teams are nearly even, with the Kings taking two more over the course of the season. Both teams have a predilection towards hooking penalties, with roughing being second most popular for the Canucks and tripping next up for the Kings.

Both teams are fairly close when it comes to special teams, with the Canucks having a slight advantage on the powerplay and the Kings having a slight advantage on the penalty kill. If this series comes down to special teams, it’s essentially a toss-up as to who gets hot at the right time.

Canucks Kings
Corsi 52.90 54.50
Fenwick 51.70 53.50
Fenwick Tied 52.78 54.91
Fenwick Close 51.44 53.60
Even Strength Save % 0.931 0.927
Even Strength Shooting % 8.1% 6.0%

 

When we look at the advanced stats, things get interesting. The Kings have definitely been the better possession team during the regular season, with the better Corsi and Fenwick, even when we just take into account situations where the score is tied or close.

This led Thomas Drance, who has hitched his cart inexorably to the Fenwick train, to suggest that the Kings have the advantage in this series and will win it in 6 games. I beg to differ.

The key is the Canucks’ even-strength shooting percentage: the Canucks simply have better and more finishers in their lineup, which is why they have scored 55 more goals than the Kings. The Canucks can provide offence from almost any line, with the third line of Pahlsson, Higgins, and Hansen being the Canucks’ best line to end the season. The Canucks scored 49 more goals than the Kings at even-strength and allowed just 13 more goals than the Kings did at even-strength. If this series is decided at 5-on-5, the possession stats would suggest the Kings would have the advantage, but the Canucks score more thanks to their higher-percentage shooters.

Add in the 41 goals they got from the defence and the fact that the Kings have no depth on defence, and the Canucks should win this series. It may go to seven games, but the Canucks are the better team.

Statistics from NHL.com, ESPN.com, BehindtheNet.ca, and TimeOnIce.com

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10 comments

  1. Brent
    April 11, 2012

    Better team or not, I am still worried about this series. The Kings play a style of game that we traditionally have trouble with. Aggresive forecheck making it difficult for our D to get the puick out, lots of big bodies around the net, and lots of taking the body on our forwards. As Thomas Drance (curse you and you Numbers!) said we only won a couple of those games because of Lou standing on his head. This could be an upset, which will really suck!

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  2. Jezz
    April 11, 2012

    don’t forget that for a lot of the games in which these stats were built up the canucks were widely considered to be playing pretty easy-going hockey. it’s hard to talk about motivation at the same time as statistics because it’s not measurable, but it doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant – i just have a feeling much of this regular season’s numbers have a sort of asterisk hovering over them. whether they do or not we are soon to discover.

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    • Brandon
      April 11, 2012

      I know I shouldn’t, but I laugh whenever I see your name

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  3. J21
    April 11, 2012

    This being the Canucks, and this being the playoffs, I fully expect them to get killed on special teams. They’ll only get one PP a game, of course, though… this being the NHL.

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    • BruinsFan
      April 11, 2012

      Yeah. The excuse machine is already starting up. That being said, it’s not like Vancouver is playing Pittsburgh. You’ll get your share of PP time …

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  4. BruinsFan
    April 11, 2012

    When you have Roberta “Tire Pumper” Luongo in net, isn’t it just inevitable? The stats don’t mean diddly squat when a goalie’s psyche is shot.

    Congrats on winning the game in Boston this year. When they make the 90-minute highlight video for the 2011-12 Canucks, they’ll just use 60 minutes of that game.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      April 11, 2012

      You know your team is playing a different team tomorrow, right? I feel like you’ve misread something.

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    • Brandon
      April 12, 2012

      Is this the same guy from the radio show?

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  5. Brent
    April 11, 2012

    Well that sucked! I would say that we need to stay out of the box and have the power play play more like the last one. Lou had a good game. Hansen was great except on the last goal, he didn’t take his man. What was Bitz thinking? Guy was up against the boards and vulnerable. Hope he doesn’t get suspended, but I don’t think so.

    Lets hope things go better on Friday.

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  6. gumby
    April 12, 2012

    I don’t mind if Bitz getz (sp intentional) suspended. F*ck having Bitz in the lineup. Seriously. Whats next, Baumgartner? Forget it. We play our game, we get f*cked in the playoffs because the officiating changes. So we get tougher. But we suck at tougher. Torres, Rome last year. Boom, suspensions, we’re the bad guy. Forget it. The officiating then shifts back to keeping control for this game and … 2 minutes for a snow shower and head snap in the playoffs? Are we playing “whistles in the pockets playoff hockey” now, or “send a message keep it in control” hockey” now? Can the officials not just release a written statement at the beginning of the game to let folks know what game they will be watching and what rules are in effect?

    Anyway, f*ck all that. We can’t win the goon game. Let’s win the “scoring more goals than the other team” game. Which, as a side benefit, is more entertaining to watch.

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