If you’re looking to dissect a weakness on this Vancouver Canucks team, you can look directly at the defence and the bottom-six.
However, if you’re going to call out the bottom-six, you might want to consider omitting Tyler Motte from the group’s deserved vitriol.
Motte was an absolute sparkplug in the Canucks bottom six. He firmly entrenched himself into Canucks folklore as well in these playoffs with four goals in two games.
If you put a lot of value on possession analytics though, Motte was not good. In fact, his 37.2% shot attempt differential was one of the worst totals among any player in the playoffs.
So, was he a solid bottom-six contributor, or a player who struggled mightily? We’ll break that down in this Canucks playoffs report card.
Here are some of the other report cards we’ve completed so far.
- Elias Pettersson
- Troy Stecher
- Quinn Hughes
- Brandon Sutter
- Chris Tanev
- Thatcher Demko
- Roberto Luongo (yes, you read that right)
Motte is such an interesting case study, because examining his play feels like a battle between the eye test and the analytics.
I’m a proponent of both, like most semi-logically people, but there is a steep divide between the two with this player in particular.
In Motte’s case, he skates harder and pressures the puck carrier more than any of his fellow counterparts in the bottom six. I can almost see Green showing the likes of Beagle, Sutter, Virtanen and Gaudette video of Motte’s game saying “why can’t you skate like that?”
Motte was also a hound on the penalty kill as well. In terms of possession, the Canucks were allowing the fewest number of shots and chances against with Motte on the ice shorthanded, but that penalty kill proficiency did dip for the Michigan native in the Vegas series.
Although Motte only showed up offensively for two games, he filled the scoresheet at the right time. His back-to-back two goal performances in Games 5 and 6 against St. Louis were a big reason why the Canucks moved onto the second round.
On a team that was starved for bottom-six production, Motte came through, if only for a brief moment.
By the time the playoffs concluded, Motte’s four goals accounted for a large part of the bottom-six production. Brandon Sutter (1), Antoine Roussel (2), Jake Virtanen (2) Jay Beagle (1), along with the likes of Adam Gaudette, Loui Eriksson, Zack MacEwen and Micheal Ferland combined for six.
I touched on it briefly off the top, but Motte plays a lot of hockey in his own zone.
While the eye test tells you that he forechecks harder than his teammates, the fact of the matter is, not many players can boast worse possession numbers than Motte.
The was a problem for the Canucks as whole rather than just Motte. Among 11 players with the worst shot attempt differentials in these playoffs, five of them were Canucks. Oscar Fantenberg and Beagle were the worst two players in the league. Motte was 7th worst, while Jordie Benn and Sutter finished 10th and 11th worst respectively.
Those numbers are a bit skewed since Beagle and Motte start almost every shift in the defensive zone. They almost account for next to no offence at even-strength aside from the odd rush chance (which Motte capitalized on, to his credit).
If you dig into some more of the numbers though, there’s an argument that Motte does his job defensively. His 1.89 goals-against/60 was nearly the median for the Canucks in the playoffs. However, he’s on the ice for less scoring chances against compared to more than half of his teammates. He’s also on the ice for the sixth-fewest number of shots against per-60.
Motte isn’t perfect, but his dreadful possession numbers aren’t that bad when you put them into context.
Motte’s four goals in two games was a clutch two-game stretch by the former college hockey star. However, the dangle on Alex Pietrangelo — his first of four goals — was the beauty that stands out.
His second goal of that game was a beauty as well, so here’s the compilation with both goals in case you want to relieve all of that Motte glory.
Overall Grade: B. Motte did everything you could ask of a fourth-liner. If he had quicker-forechecking linemates, both the player and the team would be better off.