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Vasily Podkolzin is 100% on faceoffs and other fun, positive numbers for the Canucks

If we look hard enough, we can find some signs of positivity amongst the Canucks' numbers.
Vasily Podkolzin vs Kraken
Vasily Podkolzin turns up ice from behind the Vancouver Canucks net.

Numbers are not the friend of the Vancouver Canucks right now. The vast majority of the numbers surrounding the Canucks — wins, losses, goals-per-game, Elias Pettersson’s lack of even-strength goals, Jason Dickinson’s faceoff percentage, and Juho Lammikko’s games played — are quite depressing.

So, let’s take a moment to look at a few more positive numbers for the Canucks.

100% - Podkolzin’s faceoff percentage

Faceoffs have been an issue for the Canucks this season because, beyond Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller, their centres have been terrible.

Perhaps it’s time for a winger to step in, specifically Vasily Podkolzin, who has been dynamite in the faceoff circle, winning 100% of his draws.

Okay, so Podkolzin has only taken two faceoffs, which makes this statistic a little bit less impressive. But still, he won both of them!

Let’s take a closer look.

Podkolzin’s first faceoff win came against a legitimate faceoff ace in Leon Draisaitl, who has a 55.2% faceoff percentage this season and was at 55.7% last season. Over the past two seasons, Draisaitl is ranked 13th in the NHL in faceoff percentage, so it’s a decent feat for the rookie Podkolzin to steal one from him.

To be fair, his second win was against Kirby Dach, who has a 31.3% faceoff percentage this season, so that one was a little bit easier. 

You can see what might be the influence of J.T. Miller on his faceoff style, as he tried to win both times on his forehand, resorting to his backhand on the first faceoff when he and Draisaitl got their sticks tied up. That required both strength and savvy on the part of Podkolzin to hold off Draisaitl’s stick, then switch to the backhand to scoop the puck back.

Podkolzin has the strength on his stick to potentially be strong on faceoffs, even though he is a winger. Of course, two faceoffs is far too small a sample size to get excited about, but it’s still fun that he’s 100%.

.949 - Halak’s save percentage at 5-on-5

None of the Canucks goaltenders look great shorthanded this season, mainly due to the preponderance of cross-seam passes and backdoor plays given up by the penalty killers in front of them. At 5-on-5, however, they look a lot better.

Veteran backup Jaroslav Halak has been stellar at 5-on-5, with a sterling .949 save percentage that is good for fourth in the NHL among goaltenders with at least 5 games played. He’s behind only Jacob Markstrom, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Dan Vladar.

Both Markstrom and Vladar play for the Calgary Flames, which is a strong indication of the defensive structure in front of the Flames’ goaltenders that has helped Markstrom to a league-leading 5 shutouts. But hey, this is fun, positive numbers for the Canucks, not the Flames. Moving on!

2 - Goals against with Dickinson on the ice at 5-on-5

Jason Dickinson hasn’t created much offence since signing with the Canucks this offseason and he’s struggled on the penalty kill.

At 5-on-5, however, Dickinson has been a fantastic defensive centre. He’s been on the ice for just two goals against at 5-on-5 this season, which leads the Canucks. His 0.62 goals against per 60 minutes is good for 8th in the NHL among players who have played at least 100 5-on-5 minutes.

It’s not just that he’s been getting good goaltending behind him, though that helps. He’s also 14th in the NHL for fewest shots on goal against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5.

55.58% - Höglander’s corsi percentage

The best player on the Canucks at driving puck possession this season has been tiny power forward Nils Höglander, who has the team’s best corsi percentage at 55.58%.

Corsi is simply shot attempts for and against at 5-on-5 but works well as a proxy for puck possession. After all, you can’t shoot the puck if you don’t have the puck.

The Canucks have out-attempted their opponents 264-to-211 when Höglander has been on the ice at 5-on-5 and his resultant 55.58% corsi percentage is good for 48th in the NHL.

9.55 - Höglander’s scoring chances per 60 minutes

Höglander doesn’t just push puck possession in the right direction — he also does something with that possession. No one on the Canucks is creating scoring chances at a higher rate than Höglander, who is averaging 9.55 scoring chances per 60 minutes of ice time at 5-on-5, according to Natural Stat Trick.

That’s not too shabby, particularly with the Canucks’ overall struggles at creating scoring chances this season. There’s a reason he went on a tear, scoring 5 goals in 6 games after going goalless for 10 games to start the season.

9 - Penalties drawn by Garland

The Canucks haven’t been great at capitalizing on the power play but the hard work of one of their best forwards is at least giving them plenty of opportunities.

Conor Garland is tied for 16th in the NHL in drawn penalties with 9, while Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller are not far behind with 7 each. Höglander also deserves a shoutout here, as his 6 drawn 6 penalties have all come at 5-on-5, putting him among the league leaders.

It makes sense that the extremely shifty Garland is adept at drawing penalties. Not only is he incredibly agile on his skates, changing direction at a moment's notice, making it difficult for opposing defenders to keep up with him — he's also a pain in the neck and does well to get under the skin of his opponents to get them upset and off their games.

17.48 - Schenn’s hits per 60 minutes

Luke Schenn hasn’t been in the lineup much for the Canucks but, when he is, he’s laying the body.

Schenn’s 17.58 hits per 60 minutes is 13th in the NHL among players with at least 5 games played. That’s not too surprising: Schenn is 8th all time in hits in his career, with 2,591.

Kyle Burroughs has played a physical game too, landing in the top 50 in hits per 60 minutes with 12.51.

24.39% - How much of the Canucks season is already over

We’re basically a quarter of the way through the season. Don’t focus on how many games are remaining, focus on how far we’ve already gotten.