Behind The Numbers: Game 2 Review -"Feelin' The Hurt"

VANCOUVER, CANADA - APRIL 13: Henrik Sedin #33 of the Vancouver Canucks falls over goalie Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings after getting hit during the third period in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on April 13, 2012 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Ouch! 0-2 at home? ..Are you kidding? The special teams nightmare continues! Okay, try to stay calm, crunch the numbers and see just, how bad is it? And, if there is a way to turn things around? Let's check behind the numbers to figure things out!

Okay, first the good news. Coach Vigneault and his staff decided to make most of the changes for game 2 that were suggested by the numbers. Specifically, reuniting the All-American line, of Higgins, Booth,and Kesler, and putting Hansen with Henrik Sedin and Burrows. And playing top 6 against top 6. Keith Ballard was also inserted into the lineup, and Bieksa and Hamhuis were reunited and played 12 minutes of time together.

Let's take a look at the result. First, as we noted before the series, L.A. is the better possession team overall 5 on 5 with Vancouver having a slight edge on home ice:

Fenwick Close
(Season)
Game 1 Game 2
Vancouver (home)
52.1% 45% 55%
L.A. (away)
51.6% 55% 45%

{stats from behindthenet.ca, nhl.com, & canucksarmy.com}

The Canucks really turned around the possession battle. (Hooray!) And, as predicted the Kings top 6 forwards (especially Kopitar's line) found things quite different.

Scoring Chances L.A. Top 6

Game 1: Chances(F)
Chances (A)
Chances (D) Game 2: Chances (F) Chances (A) Chances (D)
Kopitar line 21 17 +4 11 19 -8
Richards line 11 10 +1 3 6 -3

It's one game but as was suggested , and expected, there is quite a noticeable improvement. Also, I pointed out that the Kings most dangerous forwards were on the first two lines. I felt that by playing best on best, it gave the Canucks the best chance to neutralize L.A.'s offensive strength, especially considering that the Canucks overall defense strength is weaker. This is exactly what happened. This ought to be seen as good news for suffering Canuck fans. My only beef is couldn't these changes have been tried sometime in game 1? Say period 3? (Yes, I was screaming at the T.V.) It was obvious to most that the Kings were winning the battle between Pahlsson's checking line, and the Kopitar or Richards line. Did the coaching staff really need to lose game 1 then look at the tape to figure this out? As we know in game adjustment by coaches can be vital in short playoff series.There can be a 'surprise effect' that can give the slight edge that decides a tight 2 -2 game in your favor.

In any event, and trying to be positive, by these metrics the Canucks were clearly the better team 5 on 5 last night. Of course, looking forward for game 3 Vancouver will have a tougher time getting these match-ups in Los Angeles where the Kings (the home team) have the last line change and where,statistically in terms of Pos F. the Kings have a wide edge:

Pos. F

Vancouver (road) : 51%

L.A. (home) : 55%

Topic two:

Okay quiz time?

Chance (F) Chance (A) Chance (D) Face/off Sh. Pnts. Give Take Hit
Player 1 12 7 +5 54% 7 2 0 4 6
Player 2 5 5 0 42% 3 3 1 1 8

By these metrics, which player has played better? if you had to choose which one would you take on your team?

Player 1 - Ryan Kesler

Player 2 - Mike Richards

Yes Richards score in Game 1. It was a soft goal that most would not count as an actual scoring chance. He also set up by gift-giver Alex Edler but made a great pass to Jeff Carter's skate. Oh ya, he got a point on the empty net goal.Still, Ryan Kesler has manned up. And, by this stat line Kesler has been the better player in the series.

Special teams:

OMG! Do we even have to look?

Power play (5 on 4) shots/60 :


Reg. season

Playoffs

Difference

Vancouver 56 45.1 -11
Los Angeles 46.3 54 -8

With (ADS) we like to at shot rates (not goals) on special teams as an indicator of long term success. Again, it's a tiny sample size but for what its worth: The Kings are smoking us. And, Of course,our power play is missing Daniel Sedin...but...

Special teams are largely regarded as being heavily influenced by coaching strategy.Critiscm needs to be pointed ain the right direction.Therefore, given the evidence,

It is reasonable to state that the difference in the series so far is coaching.

And, since I am not an experienced hockey coach, I have no flipping idea how to fix it now? I'll leave that to the coaches.That's their job.

Now let's fall further into the abyss. The backbreaking shorthanded goals. But, alas, this is nothing new :

League ave. Vancouver
2009 to 2012
Vancouver
2011 to 2012
Short-handed
Goals allowed
(~7%)
1 every 14 games
(~22%)
one every 5 games
(~30%)
almost one every 3 games!

Who would even think I would be making a table on frickin' shorthanded goals? This is a chronic problem! And, for the players, it must be the most embarrassing, and a really sh*** way to lose.There;s no denying the fact that

Shorthanded goals are almost always -'giving away', not earned by the defending team. The Canucks gave the Kings a huge gift! P.S. Drop passes in your own zone are moronic!

Again, I have no idea of the fix. It's been 3 years...just do something!

Finally -

Goaltending:

Coach Vigneault decided to go with Lui one more time.He didn't play badly but again let in another 'questionable' goal (#3) and, on the power play. again. As was predicted by their career numbers, so far, Luongo has actually been better than Quick at even strength.951 to .930. Quick has faced more chances overall, however, by my eye, Luongo has arguably, faced slightly tougher chances at even strength and far tougher chances on the special teams where the probability of scoring is much higher. I might have missed it (As I Raged Against The Machine) but I don't have the Canucks with one quality scoring chance on the PP?

Yes, Quick and his PK killers are batting a perfect 100%. They deserve all the credit. It seems to me that strong defensive teams often have strong penalty killing units.Now, if you believe the old Harry Neale quote that," your golatender has to be your best penalty killer," then Quick is outplaying Luongo The problem is in this case the Canucks powerplay is anemic, and that in general Pk Save% stats, (unlike those at even strength) do not appear to be repeatable year to year. Does this mean that in general goalies get to much credit for their work on the PK? Not sure? Still, more research is needed. However, if so, then the goaltending battle in the series is a lot closer than most are reporting.Canuck fans take heart there is still sufficient doubt whether Quick is an elite goalie? The fact is because of the team in front of him, he simply hasn't needed to be one in this series.

I preferred starting Cory Schneider for game one, then strongly suggested he should start game 2. Now there is another stat to consider:

Even save % 2008-2012 (home/away) :

Home Away *diff. (adj)
Luongo .929 .909 .918

{* difference adjusted for home ice advantage. total sample size ~3800 shots}

It appears that Luongo is not able to perform as well on the road. So perhaps this is another reason for the switch? Also, does the team need a potential psychological boost from a Schneider start? Is there a benefit from the fact Schneider doesn't have a negative playoff history with the team? Could it be time to: 'win it for the kid'?And, there's the fact that the team appears to play better in front of Cory. Whatever happens, the Canucks goalie in Gme 3 needs to be better. The L.A. defence is that good. (Why the heck did we let Willie go again? ..but that's a summer post). It's clear that the there lies a very tough road ahead. Down 2, on the road, versus a tough team to score against, without Daniel....

Obviously, Jonathan Quick was needed more by his team than game 2 and met the challenge. However, the truth is that despite the advantage in puck possession the Canucks have not had many memorable chances.

Quick, think of the Canucks three best scoring chances in the series!

It's been tight game 5 on 5. Again as anticipated, there have been few odd man rushes, few rebound chances, few opportunites in the high scoring area and in and around the slot. With this style of game the best way to score is by creating turnovers. The good news is it starts with puck possession and, on the plus side, the Kings showed that, like most other teams, they will make defensive turnovers under pressure. Pressure is created by speed and puck possession. When a team controls the play (puck) they can put teams in stressful positions (i.e deep drops, long shifts) and there is an increased chance of the other team being out of position (they chase the puck). The Canucks must keep the same lines and defense pairs so they can compete in terms of puck possess and utilize their chief advantage - skating speed. If they do, they should continue to get chances. A.V must work hard to on the road to get the right matchups. Otherwise are defence will be exposed. The 2nd period could be the most difficult (due to the longer change) and could lead to more chances against Vancouver. With a strong goaltending performance (hopefully from Cory) we can compete five on 5 score a couple 2....

That just leaves one goal from special teams....time for prayer...And hope ..

What are the teams chances...here is the formula

= p3*p4*p5*p6 + p3*p4*p5*p7 + p3*p4*p6*p7 + p3*p5*p6*p7 + p4*p5*p6*p7 – 4*p3*p4*p5*p6*p7

{fromwhowins.com}

With Daniel, I had Vancouver to win at home = .60 & Vancouver to win in L.A. = .47

so Vancouver chances to comeback with Daniel = 22%

Without Daniel (*** most importantly, as I pointed out, the Canucks did not have a fair chance to replace him, due to the time of the injury the Canucks). Let's try to calculate what Daniel adds?

First way, Daniel scores average 34 goals ,Replacement player (in effect this is a 4th liner) adds 5 goals

6 goals = 1 win (generally accepted in (ADS) so 5 wins is ~ 12% in Win%

Or, 2. Using Salaries, Daniel makes ~ 10% of salary cap ..but there is also the hometown discount.Let's use 12%. Is Daniel worth more/less?

Using the formula, I estimate the the Canucks chances~ only 13%

Another simple way is to say that the teams are now equal (with the loss of Daniel). Then, accounting for home ice,The Canucks have a ~17% chance.Clearly, it comes down to how much they miss their leading goal scorer.

Ouch! Again! But there is still a chance..

What do you think? And, its time for you to vote, Oh and could you also fix the power play!

More stats:

Overall Fenwick/Corsi, Shifts, Head 2 Head, Zone starts

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