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.
7 | Let’s start with an easy one. The Canucks’ win over the Boston Bruins made it seven in a row, as the Canucks have yet to drop a game in December. Has the win streak affected their position in the standings? It sure has, as the team is now holding down the top wild card spot, although they haven’t made gains on every team. When it comes to LA, they’ve hardly moved. At the beginning of the month, the Canucks were 5 points behind the Kings. They have since gained 2 points. And they’ve gained just 3 points on the Ducks. However, they went from 3 points behind the Coyotes to 4 points up, and 4 back of Minnesota to 2 up. The biggest gain is over San Jose, however. They were 10 points behind the Sharks the morning of December 1. Now, the two teams are separated by a single point.
90.2% | The Canucks’ penalty kill percentage, the best in the league. They’re the only team in the NHL above 90%. It’s an absurdly high kill rate. The best penalty kill of this millennium belongs to the 1999-2000 Dallas Stars, who put up an 89.2% kill rate, and the best kill of the post-lockout era, when you could no longer obstruct the chaser on dump-ins while your goalie retrieved the puck from wherever he wanted behind the goal belongs to last year’s Ottawa Senators, at 88.0%. In other words, while I highly doubt the Canucks will remain above 90, they’re flirting with the best kill in modern history.
+1 | The Vancouver Canucks’ goal differential in Chris Tanev’s 88 minutes of 4-on-5 icetime. You’ll recall last week that this was an even goal differential. But not only did the Canucks not surrender a powerplay goal with Tanev on the ice this week — he scored a shortie. So now he’s up.
1107 | The number of corsi events the Canucks have produced this season at even-strength with the score close (tied or a goal apart). Remember: corsi events are just shot attempts, counting those that are blocked and miss the net as well as those that reach the goaltender. It’s a good proxy for possession or zone time. And fenwick events are the same thing, but with the blocked shots removed. The number drops to 826 if we do that. I bring this up because both numbers are first in the NHL.
53.1% | The Canucks’ fenwick close percentage, i.e. the number of fenwick events they creates versus their opponents. This number is believed by most of the advanced stats community to be the best evaluator of teams. It’s the number most pointed to two seasons ago when the Kings went from the eighth seed to the Stanley Cup with little hassle. Anyway, the Canucks’ Fenwick close is 6th in the NHL and 5th in the West, behind Chicago, San Jose, St. Louis and Los Angeles. After the Bruins game, John Tortorella said he believed the Canucks were one of the best teams in the West, and this number supports his belief.
523 | Total blocked shots by the Canucks, making them the third most-blockingest team in the Western Conference. Only the Anaheim Ducks and the San Jose Sharks block more.
8 | The Canucks’ wins when surrendering the game’s first goal, still the most in the NHL.
70.5% | The league-high percentage of shifts that Brad Richards of the New York Rangers starts in the offensive end, as Alain Vigneault continues to be aggressive with his zone starts in order to produce scoring. This year, the lone Canuck in the top 30 in a category the Sedins used to top annually is Daniel Sedin at 60.4%.
+13 | Okay, back to more mainstream stats. This is Mike Santorelli’s team-high plus/minus. My opinion on plus/minus is that it’s not very useful game-to-game, but over the course of a season, it’s pretty telling at the high and low ends. If you’re best or worst on your team in the category, that’s probably notable, and it seems notable that Santorelli’s plus-13 is not only best, but it’s 7 ahead of the next-closest forward, Chris Higgins at plus-6. Some of this is luck, no doubt, but another part of it is Santorelli’s defensive effort. Outside of Ryan Kesler, he’s also the only forward averaging a blocked shot a night.
6 | The number of powerplay goals the Canucks have scored in the first seven games of December. Suddenly now the bounces are going their way and the powerplay is beginning to click like a man speaking Xhosa.
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