5 Categories in Which the Canucks Rank Dead Last

Jeremy Davis
November 10 2016 09:00AM

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.

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Beware of What Zone Starts are Telling You, Part II: Shot Metrics

Jeremy Davis
November 04 2016 06:03PM

In Part I of this series on zone starts, we discussed how coaches' are limited in their ability to completely control line deployment, particularly when we talking about only offensive and defensive zone shift starts (which make up a very small portion of all shift starts), as well as why the difference between zone starts and shift starts further muddies the relation between metrics like ZSR or OZS% and the actual intention of the coaches.

I hinted at the end that while starting in a specific zone has a large effect on the shot metrics for that particular shift, the overall effect of zone starts on measures like Corsi and Fenwick is actually quite small. In Part II of this series, we'll explore why that is the case, and discuss how metrics that adjust for zone starts function.

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Beware of What Zone Starts are Telling You, Part I: Coaches' Deployment

Jeremy Davis
November 03 2016 03:02PM

It’s early in the 2016-17 NHL season, but it’s never too early for Canucks fans to start complaining about player deployment! This season has already seen its fair share of head scratching decisions when it comes to who plays when (and with who), and it’s not going to get any easier on Willie Desjardins and his crew if the team keeps on losing.

NHL coaches can’t slip much past the general public these days, what with the ease of access to massive amounts of data, and deployment is no different. One of the most commonly cited events are zone starts, purported to be both an indication of how coaches deploy players and context to explain high or low shot differentials. As it turns out, both of these connections may be greatly exaggerated, meaning these numbers might not be telling you what you think they are.

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Adventures in Deployment: Matching McDavid

Jeremy Davis
October 28 2016 06:00PM

Willie Desjardins hasn’t been known for his line matching during his tenure as the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks - in fact, he’s been heavily criticized for it. The Canucks’ bench boss has long showed a preference for rolling four lines, but this year’s preseason held a notable exception: the game against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.

Tonight, the Oilers are back in Vancouver, and McDavid is one of the league’s hottest players - something that we’ll probably be a regular occurrence over the next decade. So will Willie and his staff put the same emphasis on hard-matching McDavid like they did in the preseason?

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The Canucks are Letting Jake Virtanen Flounder in "Limbo-Land"

Jeremy Davis
October 28 2016 11:41AM

For the second straight year, there are concerns in Canuck Nation about the deployment of young Jake Virtanen. The sixth overall pick in 2014 is averaging under 10 minutes a night so far this season, and the frustration is beginning to show. Be it a phantom injury, ice time woes, a lack of confidence, or a lack of trust from the coach, Virtanen’s 2016-17 campaign isn’t starting off the way that we were hoping.

While the comparisons to William Nylander and Nik Ehlers are always going to be there, at this point it’s best to view Virtanen on his own, and the biggest question right now is: is he being handled properly by Vancouver’s coaching staff and management. To that, I’d have to answer with a resounding no.

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