Big Numbers: Canucks blocking a whole lot of shots, much to our surprise

Every now and then we like to take a break from all the words and just post some numbers. And some words describing the numbers, as otherwise it would just be a whole bunch of numbers with no context, which would be really weird. Big Numbers is a weekly feature on Pass it to Bulis in which we identify the numbers and statistics that really matter or, frequently, the ones that don’t matter at all but are still pretty interesting.

Last time we saw this feature, the season was a piddly three games in, so there really wasn’t much for us to do besides muck around with the small sample sizes. At 10 games, well, we could probably still do a lot of that if we wanted — the season remains quite young.

Here’s a helpful maxim: are the Leafs terrible yet? If not, the season has really yet to get going and you really can’t take the numbers seriously. (Last year, to my mind, this moment occurred late in the third period of Game 7 of round 1, which is way later in the year than usual, but hey man, that’s just climate change.)

All that said, we’ve now had 10 games to observe this Canucks team, and while I’d caution you that pretty much everything you’ve see can change, we can at least put a little more stock into the numbers now than we could two weeks ago.

150 | The number of blocked shots it takes to lead the NHL in the category through 10 games, as well as the number of blocked shots the Canucks have. When John Tortorella took over the team, he talked a lot about blocking shots (although that’s mainly because he was asked a lot by a panicky and somewhat unimaginative local press corps), but did anyone really think the Canucks would become the most blocky team in the league? I did not, and I stand corrected.

It’s worth noting that, for all those blocks, the Canucks have lost just one dude to a shot-blocking injury thus far, and it happened in the first game. So we can probably chill out on the notion that Tortorella will be icing a lineup that’s 75% Utica Comet by game 15 due to all those shot-blocking injuries.

114 | The combined number of shots from Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler, and Chris Higgins’, who are not only the Canucks’ most trigger-happy forwards — they’re 7th, 8th and 10th in the league overall. And yet not a one of them has more than 3 goals this season. I’d expect that to change if they keep shooting the lights out, and I’d especially expect that to change if John Tortorella continues to insist on playing 2 of those 3 on the same line as Henrik Sedin, a setup man on par with Eros. But speaking of Kesler’s goal totals…

42 | A pretty mediocre biopic about Jackie Robinson, but also the number of goals Ryan Kesler would need to score to eclipse his career-high. It’s unfortunate. You know who’s never had a 30-goal season, let alone a 40-goal season? Patrice Bergeron. And I think the Bruins’ fanbase is better for it, because rather than spending the entire night waiting for Bergeron to start scoring goals, they appreciate what a complete player he is — the way he wins shifts, shuts down the opposition, and keeps the puck within scoring distance, even if he doesn’t do it himself.

Kesler’s a very similar player, to my mind (as well as the Selke voters). He just happens to have this one outlier season that’s completely warped the expectations of those who watch him on a nightly basis. He’s a purer scorer than Bergeron for sure, but he’s not a pure scorer, and it’s problematic to think of him that way, I think.

12 | Days of Christmas, the last of which features the gift of a dozen Lords (and I might point out that giving your true love 12 men that might compete with her affections and can probably outspend you to do so seems foolhardy). But it’s also the number of points for Henrik Sedin, good for a tie with Joe Pavelski for second in the NHL. Or first, if you only want to count normal people. Sidney Crosby’s ridiculous.

Anyway, it’s important to note that, with 10 games under his belt, Henrik has played one more than every other top-30 scorer, save Jason Garrison (!!!), who’s in a 12-way tie for 19th. But even still, Henrik is producing just shy of an 100-point pace. A lot of people said the Sedins were in a decline, and that they’d never be 100-point producers again.

91.4% | The Canucks’ penalty kill rate, which sits number one in the NHL. (Granted, it had better, since their powerplay is 11.1%, good for 27th, but still.) More impressively, through 10 games, the Canucks have surrendered three powerplay goals and scored a league-best three shorthanded goals, so they actually boast an even goal differential when down a man.

0 | The number of powerplay goals scored by a Canucks’ forward that isn’t the identical twin of another Canucks’ forward. While the fans probably need to tweak their expectations of Kesler, I think it’s safe to say we should expect him to produce a little more on the powerplay. Really, we should expect all the forwards to produce a little more on the powerplay — definitely more than not at all.

 

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10 comments

  1. Brent
    October 21, 2013

    “Last year, to my mind, this moment occurred late in the third period of Game 7 of round 1, which is way later in the year than usual, but hey man, that’s just climate change.”

    Too funny! I am not sure this correlation was in the IPCC report.

    Your point about the power play is valid. They seem to get lots of shots, and commonly really dominate play, but few goals. True, until last game we only got 1-2 a game, but I think we will see a regression on this stat soon. Or else we have to go back to Newell Brown, and we all know how that worked out.

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  2. madwag
    October 21, 2013

    88 | the percent of the season yet to be played before the Canucks contend for Lord Stanley’s mug.

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  3. Paul from YT
    October 21, 2013

    I would like to see Tortorella put Kassian on a line with Kesler and Higgins.
    Kesler has that ‘shot-first’ mentality so when you add the tenacious forecheck from Higgins, who can make the odd pretty pass, and Kassian who protects the puck really well along the boards and skating out from them and with his ability to make nice little passes he would be able to set up Kesler for the shot, in addition to creating a good screen so Kesler could get his shot off from the circle.
    This in turn might create some confidence in Kassian and help Kesler as he needs someone who can put the puck on his stick. Right now it seems like he is missing that.
    Once Burrows is back, put him on the 1st line and Santorelli on the 3rd with Hansen and Booth for the speed line. On the 4th, scratch Sestito and keep up Welsh with Weise and Richards. There is no way Welsh is any worse the Sestito.

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    • Lemming
      October 21, 2013

      I only hope they keep Welsh so I can keep calling someone Welshie. I hope someone gets the reference…

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    • NarkusMaslund
      October 21, 2013

      I’m pretty sure I’d prefer to see Alberts or Weber dressed as a 4LW for depth in the event of an in-game defenceman injury rather than Sestito out there. Or even just put a jersey on a pylon and have it out there somewhere in the defensive zone whenever Sestito is supposed to be getting a shift.

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    • Aaron
      October 22, 2013

      Yep Setito scares me a lot when hes on the ice, ut Wiese doesnt comfort me either. We sure need some more reliable 4th liners. Maybe we Could have Richards center two Pylons??

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  4. shade of blue
    October 21, 2013

    What a great blog — even the “filler” posts like this one on a quiet day between Canucks’ games offer humour and insight. Keep up the good work.

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  5. steviewire
    October 21, 2013

    I expect Henriks numbers will pick up a bit once Daniel gets rolling.

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  6. Mitch
    October 21, 2013

    To be unfair to the Leafs, their breakdown did happen at game 55 of last year. That sounds about right.

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  7. Gimmic
    October 22, 2013

    2. Two is the # of people Canucks lost to blocking shots (Burrow/Schroeder)

    3. Three is the # of people Garrison put out of commission due to blocking his shots.

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