The Canucks held off a rather tepid comeback attempt for a win. Despite the fact Thatcher Demko played very well, the Canucks were full value for the win.
Per Natural Stat Trick, the LA Kings had 34 scoring chances to Vancouver’s 21 at 5v5. They also had 2.86 expected goals to 1.58. This is a real issue with the way that the NHL counts stats, and why what the NHL releases is just so limited, because I don’t think the Canucks gave up nearly that much.
Since the beginning of last season, the Kings are among the top teams in scoring chances and expected goals, 5th in both categories. Despite this, they’re 19th in actual goals. Some might say that the Kings have bad luck, or bad finishing, but I think it’s more than that. Watching them, they have a lot of zone time, but don’t zip the puck around the offensive zone like a lot of the good offensive teams do. They either go on individual jaunts to the middle of the ice, or attempt long shots and play for deflections and rebounds.
It’s not a well-oiled machine, and a critical eye would make it clear why the Kings aren’t scoring as much as you might expect. At some point over the last two years, somebody told Kings forwards that goals come from the middle of the ice closer to the net. In practice, how the puck gets there is as important as where the puck is. A quick pass can knock the goalie off balance, another pass may find a shooter in space with time to set up a better shot. None of this was really happening. The Canucks have bled chances this season where they’ve given up a cross-seam pass in front of the net, but did the Kings do that at all this game? One play that sticks out for me in the third period is Drew Doughty taking off from the left point, moving down to the slot, and having the puck knocked off his stick.
Maybe this is post-hoc analysis, but I didn’t think this was a very impressive offensive performance from the Kings. Nor did I think that they moved the puck well-enough to beat an NHL goaltender enough times to win this game. Demko was solid, and got the benefit of some bounces around the net that haven’t gone his way in the past, and they certainly deserved to lose this game.
On the Canucks end, well, it was good to see Brock Boeser finally score. They didn’t have a great offensive night either, but connected on enough scoring chances to win. I’ll also argue in a bit that Ethan Bear seems to have taken that extra step, and I’d be fully comfortable with him as a regular in the top-four on a good team.
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