Big Numbers: Seven wins, incredible penalty-killing

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.

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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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Harrison Mooney is the co-editor of Pass it to Bulis at The Vancouver Sun. Have a tip? Email him at harrisonmooney@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter!

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24 comments

  1. Erik Lonnrot
    December 16, 2013

    Is it strange that I can usually peg the author of PITB posts from the first simile? I may be spending too much time on this blog.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      December 16, 2013

      Haha Daniel and I have slightly different styles for sure. I’d love to know what gives it away.

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      • Helen
        December 16, 2013

        Have to admit..the Bruins IWTG threw me, that opening sentence seemed like pure Harrison to me. Turned out it was written by Daniel, so the differences aren’t always that obvious!

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      • akidd
        December 16, 2013

        it’s instantly distinguishable. and if one can’t then look for the tell-tale signs, like evidence of corsi scaterred in the underbrush, or the still-warm coals of a fenwick fire-pit. still not getting it? well one guy uses expressions like “vintage booth” (maybe vintage-panther booth,) and the other guy suggests that booth gets excited for thanksgiving day because that’s a day when a lot of animals are killed(although it does get confusing when the latter also says that booth is the key to the entire canuck season.)

        imo, daniel thinks/writes hockey first while harrison thinks/writes funny first. daniel works harder. harrison leans more on his talents. and if you still can’t tell the two apart. if the IWTG still isn’t up by 4am… it must be the turn of the guy with two young kids at home.

        a pretty good duo, i’d say. they live to entertain me. good deal.

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        • Harrison Mooney
          December 16, 2013

          “daniel thinks/writes hockey first while harrison thinks/writes funny first.”

          That’s actually a pretty fair assessment, for better or for worse.

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          • akidd
            December 16, 2013

            for the better, for the cosmic better. for the bettor you’d have to go back to the old kurtenblog.

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      • dontpassjustshoot
        December 16, 2013

        I’ve noticed the same – you can tell right away. Just the tone, I would say – similar enough for consistency, and distinct enough for – distinctness. (Good writing. How do you guys do it???)

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  2. cathylu
    December 16, 2013

    Those are some pretty good numbers…may they continue!

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  3. Tengeresz
    December 16, 2013

    I actually laughed out loud on the last quip of the piece.

    Nice indirect reference to Nelson Mandela too. Well done.

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    • Naturalmystic
      December 17, 2013

      I see a reference to “The Gods Must Be Crazy”. I don’t see a reference to Madiba.

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  4. Rob Robertson
    December 16, 2013

    That Chris Tanev goal differential stat is just incredible.

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  5. Chris the Curmudgeon
    December 16, 2013

    1.38: the Canucks GAA with Edler out of the lineup this year, in which games the Canucks are 7-1. It drops to 1.00 over the 7 wins if you discount a road stinker in Montreal while Edler served the first game of his suspension. I mean, I know he’s a better played than Yannick Weber or Andrew Alberts, but I don’t know if the team really misses him (and his team worst -12 rating) in the lineup. Granted the whole team is playing well, and correlation isn’t causation as we all know, but the numbers are the numbers. When he comes back, perhaps it should be to greatly reduced minutes, as frankly both Tanev and Stanton have been better than him this year, an assertion supported by traditional and advanced stats. I also wonder if he might be considered trade material too. It would leave us a little lacking on the back end but might bring a good return.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      December 16, 2013

      This is one of those stats, like the Canucks’ record with Burrows out, that doesn’t seem fair. While it correlates, it’s not causal. I think the Canucks’ turnaround was inevitable, and Edler’s injury just happened at a bad time. He’s still good and the team would be silly to let him go just yet.

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      • NarkusMaslund
        December 16, 2013

        But for a legit 2nd line player that can put the puck in the net? I’d be willing to let him go under those parameters…

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        • ikillchicken
          December 16, 2013

          Yes, that would be my thinking. It’s not like I want to get rid of Edler. But with Tanev stepping up massively, Garrison largely replacing him on the PP and Corrado down in the minors, I would consider him highly expendable. I mean, the question is, how much worse are we without Edler? And I think this latest injury has shown us: Not very. But how much better could we be if Edler brought back a top 6 right handed winger to play with the Sedins?

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      • Chris the Curmudgeon
        December 16, 2013

        I suppose, but Burrows has killer possession numbers and despite not scoring, his positive impact on the team’s play is always noticeable. Edler’s decision-making has long been suspect and it’s seemed to me like if you were to make an Index of Boneheaded Decisions (IBD) stat, it would probably correlate pretty well with Edler’s icetime. I’m not suggesting he get waived or anything, only that I have my doubts as to whether when he’s healthy he should be returned to a role that others seem better suited for.

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    • RG
      December 16, 2013

      The Canucks need Edler. Who else lays out unsuspecting forwards at the blueline the way Ohlund used to? Big hitting D-men instill fear. The Canucks need to instill more fear. Garrison’s beard can only do so much.

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    • J21
      December 17, 2013

      Two things: (1) that Montreal stinker was a home game, unfortunately (just with a lot of Habs fans).

      (2) Even if the Canucks were an honest-to-goodness, bona fide better team with Edler out of the lineup, that’s only because the top guys are picking up the slack for his absence. This isn’t sustainable over the course of a long period (i.e. playing 5 defensemen), which means at some point you’re replacing him with Alberts or Weber. I don’t believe the Canucks are a better team when that happens, no matter what you think of Edler.

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  6. Amor de Cosmos
    December 16, 2013

    I’m inclined to agree. I don’t think any team can afford two top four defencemen who make the number of blunders that Edler and Bieksa do. Granted they both have massive upsides, and one talented mistake prone player behind the blue-line is worth the risk, but not a couple of them, especially in a play-off series. Of the two Edler seems to have more trade potential, and besides (hockey aside) Bieksa’s more interesting.

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    • akidd
      December 16, 2013

      i wouldn’t lump those guys together. bieksa’s having a great season. we got ‘good kevin bieksa’ this year.

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      • Amor de Cosmos
        December 16, 2013

        He is, and when Edler returns he may too. I lump them together only because both suffer from occasional major brain cramp. They’ll somehow be on the opposite side of the ice to their check, or end up the corner when they ought to be in front of the net. Doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s a genuine “WTF….!” moment, because you don’t expect it from players with their abilities, and, in Bieksa’s case, intelligence and experience.

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    • smj
      December 17, 2013

      NTC…is it the general idea that these are meaningless?

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  7. Doop
    December 16, 2013

    Chris Tanev scoring a shorthanded goal is easily my favourite part of this season so far. Without Tanev, the function that he serves on this team would be so I think hypothetical in hockey that his very existence thrills me.

    Plus, you know, he’s actually Ted Mosby, which is an obvious bonus.

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  8. Handy hands
    December 17, 2013

    1999-2000 was the previous millennium, 01 is the first year of a millennium .

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