As we enter towards the quarter mark of the 2014-15 NHL regular season we can start to take educated guesses on which teams are tracking towards missing the playoffs and which teams are on their way to the dance.
Today I am going to take a look at the Vancouver Canucks.
To some people’s surprise they are currently in second place in the Pacific Division behind the Anaheim Ducks. Consider me one of those people. Given that the Canucks are doing so well in the standings you would assume that newly acquired goaltender Ryan Miller would be one of the driving forces. This has not been the case. In fact Vancouver’s goaltending has been pretty bad so far this year.
As a team the Canucks rank dead last in even-strength save percentage at .900%. Ryan Miller ranks 51st out of 60 goalies who have played at least 100 even-strength minutes with an EVSV% of .902%. Not good.
The Canucks haven’t been excellent on the possession front either. They rank 14th in the NHL with a Score-Adjusted Fenwick of 50.4%.
So they are winning with average possession and poor goaltending to this point. This is good news for the Canucks. This model is not conducive to long term success but I don't believe the Canucks will be utilizing it for much longer. It is true that Vancouver has been lucky winning this way so far this season, but their goaltending is not going to stay dead last in the NHL. Ryan Miller is at least a league average goaltender and his save percentage will eventually climb back. When it does the Canucks will be even more difficult to beat and the rate of winning will be more sustainable.
The Canucks have leaned heavily on their new top line of Henrik, Daniel, and Radim Vrbata. They have been excellent together and a big part of why the Canucks have been winning despite the below average goaltending. The Canucks top line has combined for 52 games played and has put up 46 points.
In another year the Canucks may have lost more games than they have won with this formula, but sometimes it is better to be lucky than good and the Canucks have been that in 2014-15.
The Canucks have the potential to get better and sustain their winning ways, they should consider themselves fortunate that they have survived their early season goaltending woes. Some teams like the Edmonton Oilers haven’t been as lucky.
Thanks for reading!
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