The Vancouver Canucks have started their 2016-17 season terribly, and critics of this team’s architects haven’t been shy about voicing their displeasure.
The Canucks 5-3 win against the New York Rangers on Tuesday busted a nine-game losing streak and had the added effect of calming their discontent fans. They’re hardly out of the woods yet though.
Perhaps one of the more amazing things about this losing streak is that, before it began, the Canucks were the at the very top of the NHL standings — 1st overall with a 4-0-0 record. 19 days and nine losses later, they sit 29th, and a loss against the Rangers could have put them in 30th, if not for a series of busted goal droughts.
Though they’ve managed to avoid 30th in the overall standings, they haven’t been so lucky in other areas. Here are five categories in which the Canucks rank dead last.
1. Points Percentage – 0.393
Even though they managed to avoid 30th overall in the standings with their last win, the Canucks are still at the very bottom of the league when it comes to points percentage. They share their 0.393 mark with Calgary, as the only two teams to achieve less than 40 percent of potential points so far.
The Canucks do have the luxury of looking down on three teams right now: Arizona, Carolina and Colorado are each sitting on 10 points. However, each of those teams have played 12 games, compared to the Canucks’ 14.
2. Goals per Game – 1.86
Much has been made about the anaemic offence of the Canucks so far this season, and even with ten goals in their last three games, they still rank dead last in goals per game with 1.86. Heading into Tuesday’s game, they also ranked dead last in raw goals, but have since managed to pass Colorado and Buffalo.
Many of those goals are coming from familiar places, with Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Bo Horvat accounting for 13 of them. Up until Loui Eriksson, Sven Baertschi and Alex Burrows busted their goal droughts on Tuesday, the Canucks only had goals from seven different forwards. So much for their bottom six outscoring other teams’ bottom sixes.
Benning on Oct 13: “I believe our third and fourth lines can outscore other team’s third and fourth lines.” https://t.co/bXC7pBcWdn
— Omar A (@omarcanuck) November 3, 2016
3. Shooting Percentage – 6.77%
The Canucks may be having trouble scoring goals, but it’s not solely from a lack of shots. Granted, that’s still a big issue – their 27.4 shots on goal per game also ranks 29th in the league. On top of getting very few shots on net, the vast majority of those aren’t going in. The Canucks’ all-situations shooting percentage of 6.77 percent is easily the worst in the league.
Not helping them in this cause so far are Sven Baertschi, (21 shots on net, shooting percentage of 4.7%), Loui Eriksson (22, 4.6%), Brandon Sutter (32, 3.1%), Philip Larsen (22, 0.0%), Brendan Gaunce (12, 0.0%), and Jake Virtanen (13, 0.0%), although last game was a step in the right direction for a few players.
4. Games in Which They Scored First – 2
This used to be an area in which the Canucks were dominant – in 2010-11, they scored first 49 times, while in 2011-12, they scored first 56 times. Heck, even in the Tortorella season they scored first 38 times.
This year, the Canucks are on pace to open the score an abysmal 12 times, after doing so just twice in their first 14 games. On top of that, their four first-period goals also rank 30th in the NHL. Their inability to get a lead early in games is a major reason for why they’ve only got five wins – and that they got their first three wins without ever holding a lead. Worse yet, the one time they opened to scoring in the first period, they relinquished the lead before the period ended, meaning that they’re the only team yet to lead after 20 minutes. They also have the league’s fewest leads after 40 minutes, with one.
Speaking of holding a lead…
5. Time With a Lead – 47:47
In one of the most ridiculous statistics of the season, the Canucks have spent just 47 minutes and 47 seconds in 2016-17 with a lead, including the 15:27 they banked against the Rangers on Tuesday. The second lowest such time belongs to the Philadelphia Flyers, who have led for over 106 minutes – that’s just short of a full game more than the Canucks. Needless to say, spending that much time chasing in games is not a recipe for success.
Just Missed the Cut
The truly impressive thing about this list is that I restricted it to items that the Canucks are not just horrible at, but the absolute worst in the league. If we were to consider stats in which they ranked close to the bottom, the list would get a whole lot larger. Here are some examples:
Power Play Percentage – 9.3% (29th)
Part of the Canucks’ offensive woes are due to their brutal power play conversion rate. Despite having 41 opportunities, the Canucks have just four power play goals – only Arizona, with 3, has fewer. This is surely an indictment of two of Jim Benning’s offseason acquisitions, Loui Eriksson and Philip Larsen, both of whom were charged with helping with the power play – while Eriksson finally got off the schneid (at even strength mind you), Larsen’s latest accomplishment was being relegated to the press box in favour of Troy Stecher.
On the bright side, they scored a power play goal two games ago – which is the only reason that they’re no longer ranked 30th here as well.
5v5 Score-Adjusted Corsi – 46.8% (28th)
Considered to be among the greatest predictors of future goals and wins, 5-on-5 Score-Adjusted Corsi is also one of the Canucks’ biggest weaknesses. No doubt the league leading 467 minutes they’ve spent trailing is to blame for this – without adjustment, the Canucks are nearly a 50 percent possession team. But shots are easier to come by when your opponent is protecting the lead, and the Canucks’ “average” shot differential is even worse than it appears. The Canucks have been 30th in this category a couple of times already this season, and they’ll probably get back there again.
It’s neat that the Canucks were able to get the win in New York and stop a complete and utter free fall, but if they want to make something out of this season, they’ve got a lot more areas that need a tonne of work.
Besides, some would argue that when it comes to what they really should want to get out of this season, they actually took a step back last game.