Manor Analytics Perspective: Kings at Canucks vs. Canucks at Kings


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Two games, and nearly two different tales. Why?

Recently in Vancouver, the Kings picked up a 5-1 victory over the Canucks. Then, a 2-1 OT loss followed when the clubs met up in LA the following week. Why were the Kings able to defeat the division-leading Canucks by a four-goal margin just five days prior.

On their leap day matchup in Canada, the Kings blowout win was largely driven by an entire team contributing at both ends of the ice, including goals from a veteran Anze Kopitar and rookie Brandt Clarke.

Yet the rematch was a different story, needing overtime to decide things after the game was tied at one-a-piece after 60 minutes. Canucks forward J.T. Miller secured a revenge win for his team with a goal in the extra frame.

What made these games so different?

In this week’s Analytics Perspective article, we’ll break down and compare the numbers from each game and analyze what went right, as well as highlight what went wrong.

All stats come from Natural Stat Trick.


We previously explained Corsi in-depth here; but for those who don’t know, it’s simply a team’s total shot attempts in a game.

In the 5-1 win, in all situations, the Kings had a Corsi For (CF) of 38 (rounded from 37.6%) and the Canucks had a CF of 63 (rounded from 62.4%). This tells us the Canucks were taking many more shot attempts than the Kings, but weren’t really successful with them – only scoring once. On the flip side, the Kings looked to have executed what we previously wrote about here, becoming more selective with their shots.

Tuesday’s loss was a somewhat similar story in CF%. The Kings had 41% of the game’s shot attempts and the Canucks had 59%. The difference is that both teams took more total shot attempts. LA took 45 and Vancouver took 65 in the rematch.

This is a somewhat negligible difference, yet what really stands out is the discrepancy in high-danger shot attempts.

When they first played in late February, the difference in high-danger shot attempts was only one – the Kings had 11 and the Canucks had 12. Then, in their 2-1 OT loss, LA only took three high-danger shot attempts but allowed Vancouver to take 16.

This is significant.

To find out more about what exactly counts as a high-danger shot attempt, read the Natural Stat Trick Glossary or we’ll provide a basic breakdown.

They assign every shot attempt a danger value based on the location of the shot and the situation (i.e. if it came on a rush or from a rebound). If the value is at least three, it is considered high danger, two is recorded as medium danger, and if it is one or less, it is ruled a low danger shot attempt.

The fact Vancouver led in both shot attempts (Corsi) and high-danger shot attempts indicates they weren’t just flinging pucks at the net from anywhere on the ice, but actually generated more quality scoring chances than the Kings did.

Shot Location​

As discussed before, quantity of shot attempts alone should not be used to analyze a team’s performance.

More specifically, shot location is one of the most important variables when it comes to scoring goals. A player can try to pick a corner from the blue line all they want, but it will always be easier to get one by the goalie when they shoot from closer to the net. See this article for more of a breakdown on why location is so important.

A great way to look at the shot attempt location and quantity is through heat maps. A darker color indicates that more shot attempts were taken from that area on the ice, and a lighter area indicates fewer shot attempts. Let’s take a look at the heat maps of unblocked shot attempts from the past two games against Vancouver (see the key below for exact numbers):



First, let’s evaluate Vancouver.

In both of these games, Vancouver scored one goal in regulation. Their heatmaps look very similar, with many attempts coming from the slot and a decent amount from the faceoff dots, but low to none coming from the middle of the offensive zone. The Canucks also seemed to slightly favor the right faceoff dot over the left. Looking at who took these shots, there does not seem to be an obvious pattern or reason why they favored this side of the ice – they probably just had better opportunities from the right side in this particular game.

Now, let’s look at the Kings.

Los Angeles was able to take a lot of shot attempts right in front of the net in their win but they were clearly forced out of the slot this week. The shading of the heat maps also indicates that although they did take some shot attempts from higher in the zone last week, they took many more in their recent loss. The Kings also seemed to favor the right side of the ice in the second game when compared to last week’s initial game in the season series.

What does this all mean?

While the Kings were successful at taking more shot attempts in both games against the Canucks, they were forced to take lower-quality scoring opportunities in their 2-1 overtime loss, as evidenced by the heatmaps. This further reinforces that shot attempts alone do not tell the full story when it comes to a team’s on-ice success.

Sometimes, hockey can come down to pure puck-luck, but it’s also a very strategic sport. If a team can limit their opponent to only shooting from the edges of the zone, they will generally be very successful in preventing goals. This is something Vancouver recognized they needed to do a better job of leading into the rematch after allowing a plethora of shots to come from the slot in the late February series opener. And they were able to successfully adjust during the early March rematch played in Los Angeles.

Looking ahead to the next two games between LA and Vancouver, the Kings will need to continue focusing on taking quality shots; and as we saw in Vancouver, the goals will likely follow.


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