Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Missing Piece

After watching Vancouver lose the last two games, the progressively frustrating question persists: why are the Canucks losing? Of course, the rational fan will credit Jonathan Quick for his superb play and the Kings for their strong defence and ability to play close, low scoring games and come out on top. However, the fact that there are two teams on the ice begs not only the question of what are the Kings doing right, but equally, what are the Canucks doing wrong?

The answer to this is both simple and complex. The simple reason: Vancouver is not scoring enough goals. As we further inspect this issue, the issue becomes more complex. In the last two games Vancouver has thrown 89 pucks on net, and has been rewarded with only two goals. On 14 opportunities, the Canucks have failed to score a single powerplay goal this series. Our top three active forwards in terms of points in the regular season have a combined five points in three games (Henrik, Burrows, Kesler). Fortunately, the remedy for the Canucks woes may return tonight in the form of the integral Daniel Sedin.

As noted above, the Canucks don't have a problem with shots on goal- they have a problem with shooting percentage. In the regular season, the two players with the highest shooting percentage (and more than 5 goals) were Burrows and Daniel Sedin, with 14.1% and 13.1% respectively. Of course, Burrows is active and playing, so you may be wondering why his shooting percentage is only 6.7% so far these playoffs. The fact that he has only played three games so far might have something to do with it, but with a bit of digging we find that while Daniel was in the lineup, 33% of Burrow’s goals came from the first assist of Daniel Sedin. This is telling us the obvious, but perhaps forgotten aspect of number 14: Burrows scores about a third of his goals from rebounds or bounces from Daniel’s shots. Yes, he scores some skilled goals too, but a significant portion of them are ugly and scored within a couple feet of the net. The return of Daniel will regenerate the type of opportunities that Burrows thrives on, and hopefully for the Canucks, his shooting percentage will increase. This, and the addition of the team’s second highest shooting percentage in Daniel himself, will help the Canucks generate more opportune shots that have a better chance of getting past Quick.

The power play has yet to score a goal so far these playoffs, and since Daniel’s injury our PP% has gone from 21.3% to 7.5%. Given these numbers, there must be more going wrong with the powerplay than just the absence of Daniel Sedin, but confidence often plays a large role in powerplay numbers, and the return of the leading powerplay goal scorer for the Canucks could provide a desperately needed improvement. In addition, in terms of the Sedins 1 + 1 = 3 and Daniels return will help Henrik's productivity on the man advantage, not to mention provide extra space for Kesler, who has not scored a goal since Daniel’s injury, as a result of an increased threat and awareness the Sedins command from the Kings penalty killers.

Everyone knows that Daniel Sedin is an integral part of this team, and obviously the Canucks are better with him than they are without him. But what might be less obvious is that the way in which he contributes seems to match the Canucks current woes to a tee, and the return of a healthy Daniel Sedin could be exactly what the team needs. Now more than ever the Canucks must take this series one game at a time, but if Daniel returns to the lineup their chances of seeing game 5 are markedly better.  

1 comment:

  1. Interesting stats, well written article, hope it all comes true! Keep up the good work man! Canucks in 7! #reversesweep