Understanding the Canucks' sizzling begin, by the numbers

The Canucks are off to their finest begin in 18 years. It is about Elias Pettersson. But in addition about Quinn Hughes, Thatcher Demko and JT Miller.

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For the primary time in most likely a decade, the Vancouver Canucks are deserving to be the speak of the NHL.

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They’ve had sizzling begins within the years because the remaining season of Alain Vigneault’s tenure as Canucks bench boss, however they’ve confirmed to be mirages, the Canucks crashing again to actuality after loads of rhetoric being thrown round — particularly from observers outdoors the market, with tourist-deep evaluation — about “hustle” and “want” and issues of this nature. For all the nice vibes Canucks may need produced, the numbers had been by no means form.

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The autumn was all the time predictable.

However in 2023-24, via 10 video games, we are able to now say that there actually does appear to be one thing. They’re a bit fortunate to be 7-2-1, however not outrageously so.

Below head coach Rick Tocchet, these Canucks are taking part in a structured, aggressive type. They’re not getting badly outshot night time after night time, which was an issue in previous seasons.

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Sure, their stars a scoring at a red-hot tempo — Elias Pettersson is second within the league in scoring, J.T. Miller fourth, no defenceman has extra factors than Quinn Hughes — and sure, that scoring tempo will decline a bit, however this group has constructed itself a base in opposition to opposition they need to be beating, like Thursday’s 10-1 thrashing of the San Jose Sharks.

A lot about making the playoffs is gathering factors early within the season. The extra you seize now, the extra leeway you’ve gotten down the highway.

The Canucks are off to their finest begin since 2005-06 as a result of their finest gamers have been simply that: their finest gamers. They’ve additionally had a good bit of luck in capturing and defending. However the fundamentals are additionally there to assume this group is for actual.

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The Canucks have the very best PDO within the league, the mixture of save proportion and capturing proportion is well-understood to be a predictor of luck, with groups inevitably regressing in direction of 1000.

The Canucks have the very best 5 on 5 capturing proportion within the league and the third-best save proportion.

Not often do two these two figures line up so effectively.

Thatcher Demko is taking part in as he has for many of his Canucks profession – very effectively. What’s higher is the defensive surroundings in entrance of him is way much less chaotic that it’s most likely ever been for him within the NHL.

The Canucks are usually not bleeding loopy scoring probabilities in opposition to. The cross-slot go, which prior to now appeared to be given away with abandon by the Canucks’ defenders, is a rarity this season.

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Each goalie will let you know they’ve an opportunity if they’ll see the puck.

Demko isn’t going to maintain his superhuman 95.2 5 on 5 save proportion, however he’ll preserve his excessive commonplace of goaltending. Even a drop of two proportion factors would nonetheless match his full-season quantity from 2021-22, when he was on the sting of the Vezina Trophy dialog.

On offence, Vancouver is at present scoring on 13.5 per cent of their pictures at 5 on 5. Just one group in 2022-23 completed with a 5 on 5 capturing proportion above 10: the Seattle Kraken at 10.3 per cent.

Final season’s Canucks scored on 9.15 of their 5 on 5 pictures, which was above common.

It’s simply easy actuality: Canucks are going to cease scoring on so lots of their pictures. However they’ll nonetheless be a reasonably potent offence.


Elias Pettersson is taking part in even higher than he did final 12 months, when he had 102 factors.

Thursday he tallied three assists, the seventh time this season he’s had a multi-point recreation.

Solely Mario Lemieux (twice) and Conor McDavid had extra multi-point video games within the season’s first 10 video games since 2000-01.

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He’s on tempo for 156 factors, probably the most since Lemieux’s 161 in 1995-96.


Brock Boeser is taking part in the very best hockey of his life.

He’s rediscovered his scoring contact.

He’s additionally change into fairly the scoring likelihood creator.

His line is taking part in excellent two-way hockey.

And he’s on tempo for 66 targets on the season.


An absurd 14 per cent of the Canucks’ pictures taken at 5 on 5 with J.T. Miller on the ice have change into targets. That’s not going to hold on.

However what’s necessary to know as his scoring dips a bit is that there are nonetheless rather a lot good issues occurring with him on the ice, just like the share of shot makes an attempt: the Canucks are taking 51 per cent of the shot makes an attempt with him on the ice.

Not each shot is made the identical, but it surely’s nonetheless an excellent rule of thumb to search for the gamers who’ve extra good issues — like pictures on the different group’s internet — than dangerous — like pictures taken towards your individual — and that’s been occurring when Miller is on the ice.

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He’s additionally doing this whereas going through robust matchups, like Connor McDavid within the first two contests of the 12 months. He shut the down the sport’s best participant each night time.


Quinn Hughes is just dominating play each shift.

When he’s on the ice at 5 on 5, the Canucks are taking 59.4 per cent of the pictures.

That’s dominance. The perfect defence is an effective offence, they are saying, and Hughes is the NHL’s main level getting amongst defencemen.


Right here’s the ultimate key thus far: solely two Canucks have been on the ice for as many as 5 targets in opposition to at 5 on 5: Elias Pettersson, who clearly is way outscoring the targets entering into in opposition to him and he’s taking part in huge ice time in addition, and Tyler Myers, who struggled within the first handful of video games of the season however is way much less of a narrative now that he’s taking part in third-pairing minutes with Carson Soucy as his associate.

In reality, there’s only one Canucks common who has seen the opposition outscore the Canucks with him on the ice at 5 on 5: Dakota Joshua, who was scratched on Thursday night time.

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