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.
In honour of the home stretch, with the Canucks having just nine games remaining until the end of the year, all of today’s numbers will be under 10.
2 | The Canucks’ current winning streak, tying their longest winning streak of 2014. Granted, it came again noticeably non-playoff opponents in the Sabres and Predators, but it’s a start.
5 | Games remaining against former Northwest Division opponents. Time was, contests versus the likes of the Avalanche, Wild, Oilers, and Flames were easy wins for the Canucks. In order for the Canucks to make the playoffs, which, again, is unlikely, they’ll have to do what they’ve done for years before: rack up the points against these four teams. If Vancouver came make like old time’s sake, they have a fighting chance. Otherwise, they may be eliminated by their former division rivals, in a grand stroke of irony.
3 | That said, the Canucks also have three games remaining against California teams, and here they’ll need to break some new ground. Vancouver plays the Anaheim Ducks twice, and the LA Kings once, and it’s probably safe to say that if they don’t come away from this trio of games with at least five points, they’ll be completely finished. That’s a tall order, since they’ve got just one win in 11 games against LA, Anaheim, and San Jose, and it didn’t come against either LA or Anaheim.
3 | Vancouver’s goals per game over their last seven. Quietly, the team has remembered how to score goals again, notching 21 since the collapse versus the Islanders. It’s probably too little too late, and it probably helped that, of the seven teams, only Tampa Bay wasn’t among the bottom 10 teams in goals against per game, but still, it’s something. The Canuck offence is showing some signs of life.
9th | The Canucks’ Corsi and Fenwick percentages at even-strength with the score close. Still. In terms of possession, they’ve been a top-10 team in the NHL all year long, which normally bodes well for a team’s chances of making the postseason. Their downfall, of course, has been that they haven’t been able to turn their superior zone time into superior goal totals. But now that they’re starting to score a little, I’d give them a fighting chance in the two games against Anaheim, who are actually a mid-level possession club.
2.8% | The Canucks’ chances of making the postseason, down one tenth of a per cent from last week in this space. But fret not. They’re actually up from 1.4%, which is where they sat after the loss to the Lightning. And with some favourable outcomes on Monday night — a Winnipeg win over Dallas, say — the Canucks could gain a whole percentage point and wake up tomorrow with a 3.8% chance at the dance.
2 | This would be the number of games the Canucks have played, post-Olympics, in which they finished the night with two healthy Sedins. It was the first two out of the break. Daniel Sedin was injured in game three, and Henrik Sedin didn’t make it through Daniel’s first game back. John Tortorella said after the Buffalo game that, just once, he’d like to see an injury to one of his bottom-six forwards, and I don’t think he was joking. If he could guarantee the health of his top line the rest of the way, I’m pretty sure he’d throw Zac Dalpe into a volcano.
2 | Empty-net goals for the Canucks this season, a league-low. They were scored by Jason Garrison and Henrik Sedin. If you ask me, this is the Canucks’ real problem. With Boston, Colorado, Philadelphia, Montreal, and LA taking up the top five spots in the category, it’s clear that good teams score empty-net goals. If the Canucks don’t make the playoffs, I think we can probably point to this as their Achilles heel.
.002 |The percentage points separating Roberto Luongo’s even-strength save percentage (.924) from Eddie Lack’s (.922). Meanwhile, Cory Schneider boasts a save percentage of .910. None of these are particularly elite numbers, and obviously all goaltending statistics need to be considered within the context of the team, but what it suggests is that Lack is barely a downgrade on Luongo this year, and he’s actually been better than Schneider.
Overall, that is. Not since the trade deadline, where Lack’s save percentage has been a league-worst .876 as he struggles with bad luck and adjusting to increased expectations and workload. But he appears to be sorting that out.
If he does, consider: for all the consternation over the Canucks losing two number ones and finishing the year with Lack, there’s an optimistic argument to be made that the team could survive moving two number ones because they had a third in waiting, and they massively improved their centre depth, got out from under a bad contract, avoided another goalie controversy, and freed up a ton of cap space in doing so.