Behind the Numbers: Canucks Survive as Cory IS the Story!

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 18: Cory Schneider #35 of the Vancouver Canucks stops Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings on a penalty shot during the third period at Staples Center on April 18, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)


The Canucks survive to play another day! Daniel makes a triumphant return. Henrik goes old time hockey on Brown. And, the power play is finally plugged in. But Cory is the Story! Who won the possession battle? Which coach got their match-ups? Can the 'Nucks keep it going? Let's check behind the numbers and it's time for your to vote!

The Canucks had a very tough start and were the second best team in terms of possession for large parts of the game. However, after Schneider kept them in, the Canucks increased their battle level and finished even with the Kings. Here are the numbers for the game and the series thus far:

5 on 5 Pos.F (close game)

Game 4 Overall
Vancouver 50% 60%
Los Angeles 50% 40%

Individually the Canucks possession numbers were well -balanced. The Higgins/Pahlsson/Hansen line did well and were only a - 2 combined. However, they played only 60% against the Kopitar line. Coach A.V. rolled the dice at the start of this game, as he did in game 1, and the Canucks started very poorly. And, predictably, the Kings out-chanced the Canucks badly 5 on 5 .(The Kings out -chanced Vancouver 3 to 1 in the first half of the game!) By the numbers, it was really bad folks! And, they finished up with a 12 -7 advantage at 5 on 5. Long-term, the numbers suggest this is a dangerous match-up for Vancouver and wonder if coach's decision is giving the team the best chance to win.The numbers suggest Kesler is by far the best match-up against Kopitar. Kesler can shut this line him down. That leaves the Sedins against Richards - good for the Canucks. The two best options are the Sedins with Burr. And, put the all-american line back together. Then put Lapierre on the third line with Pahlsson and Hansen.- That leaves Raymond on the forth line? Or, leave Booth with the Sedins and move Higgins with Kelser and Burrows. If A.V. keeps his 'checking line' together then that leaves Lapierre on the second line. But, by the numbers this gives Vancouver a much less chance to win the possession battle over the rest of the series and therefore make a comeback.

The Kings defense actually did a good job against the twins 5 on 5. The Sedins did not dominate the possession battle, only +2 , even though they received their usually high % of zone starts (87%) While Maholtra was used exclusively (100%) for defensive zone starts.Keith Ballard had a strong game (+5) as I predicted in an earlier post.

On the other hand, the Kings 4th line of Nolan, Fraser and Richardson were a ridiculous + 22 in Pos F. (you can check out Fenwick link below)They played a combine 30 minutes. Richardson was a force and the best King on the night. Sutter was right to praise this line in post-game interviews.Conversely, Vancouver's fourth line hardly played as Kassian and Maholtra played a combined 11 minutes.

This has been an ongoing problem, for the Canucks for finding a fourth line that can playing the playoffs, They may be able to come back in the series without it. But hard to see a team going on a long cup run using 3 lines. Zack Kassian has no confidence, so it's time to try Bitz again, and to call-up Steven Reinprecht. He has experience which is so valuable in playoffs.

But it's clear that the game was won by the Canucks power play and by Cory Schnieder.

One last stat:

As I pointed out in my last post, the Canucks again are getting the short stick in terms of the power plays.

After last nights game:

(Potential) power play time in Series

L.A. 41 minutes = 3.1 goals +(5 on3 adj) =3.3 goals

Vancouver 25 minutes = 1.8 goals

Difference = 1.5 goals

L.A. has now received 63% of the Power Play time.

We will see if the luck turns as the Canucks are due more calls. Yes! L.A. have a strong defense, however, Sutter's system is a throwback from the Pre-Lockout era. There is plenty of impeding, slashing, obstruction, preventing the Canucks from getting to scoring areas. Are the refs are simply choosing to ignore it? If the Canucks get more calls, then with Daniel back the power play they should continue to threaten. And, the Canucks coaches must find away to prevent high quality shorthanded chances against, it almost burnt them again last night, something I pointed out they haven't been able to do for 4 years! However, most importantly, the Canucks are going to need to continue to win this series 5 on 5 and find a way to generate more scoring chances.

Warning! A rant against Coaches decision!But it is based on advanced stats not mere opinion. Skip, until season is over, if you prefer!

{The Series ought to be tied 2-2. And, Canuck fans must be wondering, what if Cory was in earlier? It is a question that has to be asked. Cory was magnificent last night. But who is surprised? As I pointed out, his numbers are 'sick' this year? If the Canucks don't comeback they can point to Game 2 and the brutal shorthanded goals but also to the coaches decision not to start Cory Schnieder earlier, and to deny what we pointed out were Cory's amazing Vezina-like stats this year! Hands down, Schnieder has been the best goalie in this series! And, If we assume that the GM Mike Gillis did not pressure coach A.V. to play Luongo due to his contract, then Coach A.V. has nowhere to hide. Without Daniel for the first three games and needing at least one game to stay in the series, the best chance for a Vancouver win was going to be on home ice. Therefore, after the Game 1 loss, Game 2 was the must game. The fact the coach could not recognize this seems absurd? And, calls into question his ability to make tough decisions under the heat of the playoffs? I am a huge Luongo fan but loyalty has no place when trying to win a cup! Why a coach did not switch to a goalie who had played better throughout the season? And, the goalie that the team seemed to battle harder for? And, the goalie who suddenly now is the goalie of the future? Or, simply did the coach give the team and the long suffering fans of Vancouver the best chance to win? This is not hindsight I called this in all my posts. We pointed out that Vancouver's defense was not nearly as good as Los Angeles. Therefore, that more was needed from Vancouver's goalies in the series than from Quick. This has played out exactly as predicted. Therefore, the Canucks needed to get one of their two goalies to get on a roll . We have it now! But is it too late?}

More stats:

Overall Fenwick, Shifts h2h, zone starts

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