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.
15 | Powerplay goals against allowed by the Canucks’ league-best penalty kill, which is operating at an 89.1% clip, not far off the NHL record of 89.58%, set by the 2011–12 New Jersey Devils. The Canucks are on pace to surrender just 27 powerplay goals against, which I do believe would also be an NHL record. No team in the post-lockout era, which is as far back as I was able to track the stat, has ever finished a season with fewer than 30.
6 | Points separating the Canucks and the Phoenix Coyotes, who sit third in the Western Conference wild card race. Despite Vancouver’s struggles of late (which actually seem a great deal worse than they are thanks to the DRAMATIC ways they’ve been losing — they’re actually on a three-game point streak), they still have a relatively comfortable hold on a playoff spot.
1 | Games without a point in Vancouver’s last four, and here’s why this is notable: the team is currently in the middle of a six-game swing that most people thought was going to be difficult for them, with matches against the Kings, Ducks, Penguins, Blues, then Kings and Ducks again, but through four games, they’ve gotten points in three, and three straight at that. Considering the way they’ve been playing and how bad it’s all seemed, that’s really not all that bad, is it?
4 | Teams in the Western Conference that have collected points in more of their last 10 games than Vancouver. Chicago, St. Louis and Anaheim have come away with points in 9 of 10, and Colorado has points in 8 of 10. Then it’s Vancouver, with points in 7 of 10, followed by everyone else with points in six or fewer of 10.
3 | After this week, games remaining against the trio of exceedingly formidable California teams — two against the Ducks, one against the Kings, all of which are at home, and none against the Sharks. Meanwhile, the Canucks have 6 remaining against the Flames and Oilers.
7 | In fact, the Canucks’ schedule softens up considerably when they get back from California. They’ll have 34 games remaining at that point. 11 are versus Eastern Conference teams. And of the 23 versus the West, just 7 are against teams above them in the standings. They’re about to hit probably their softest stretch of the year as well. 7 of the 8 games they play to close out January are against non-playoff Western Conference teams.
3 | Assists this season for Zack Kassian, which, if you’ve observed the way he passes, is absurd. But he appears to be on the verge of establishing himself as a real top-six forward under John Tortorella, and I’d hazard a guess that having higher-end players on the receiving end of his feeds will lead to an increase in his assist totals.
36 | The Canucks’ goals against in the third period. Only five teams surrender fewer goals in the final frame. In other words, overall, they’re actually a good team at keeping the puck out of their net in the third, if you can believe it.
41.9% | Tom Sestito’s corsi for percentage at even-strength (the percentage of shots directed at the opposition’s net when he’s on the ice). It’s been on the rise for about a month now. We ripped him earlier in the season for being one of the worst players in hockey by this metric, and he’s still not great, but he’s no longer in the bottom 10. In fact, now he’s ahead of Dion Phaneuf.