Rick Tocchet was measured in his post-game comments on Thursday, following a dispiriting 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins.
His team has been picking up points.
But you know he’s a little worried. To stay at a top level you have to be relentless in how you work.
And what he saw from his Canucks against the Bruins was sloppy.
If this team is going to even have a chance at realizing its ambitions, they can’t be sloppy.
And so, while he couched his post-game critiques in the truth his team hadn’t lost outright in regulation in 13 games, he was also frank about the easy comparison to be made between his team and the Bruins.
“There were a lot of eyes on us tonight. They (the Bruins) didn’t play well last game. Their coach called them out. They showed up,” he said.
The subtext in that observation was that his own team didn’t.
They fell behind early and never found much of anything. He was critical of his star players. He noted there hasn’t been enough quality from the top end.
There’s a good chance the Canucks will play a team like St. Louis, Seattle or Nashville in the first round of the playoffs.
None of those teams are nearly as talented as these Bruins — but they play a hard-edged, organized defensive style akin to Boston’s. The Blues have already caused plenty of problems for the Canucks.
You can see why Tocchet is worried.
What’s with Petey
Elias Pettersson may have been named one of the NHL’s stars of the month for January. There’s no doubting he had a big statistical month.
But then you look a little closer and you see something a little more worrying.
He’s produced on the power play and in overtime, but it’s been 11 games since Pettersson scored at five on five.
It’s good he’s been there in important moments, but you still would like to see him finding ways to control the game at five on five — especially with the playoffs now sitting on the horizon.
The Canucks remain the “luckiest” team in the NHL.
If you add up shooting percentage and save percentage — a figure known as PDO — you’ll find most teams settle around a combined figure of 1000. It’s a well-known, well-understood truth.
What it means is if you get above 1000, you’ve been a little bit lucky, and if you’re below, you’ve been a little bit unlucky.
Anyway, the Canucks’ PDO all season has been wild. It’s currently 1046, far and away the best in the league.
It’s being driven by a sky-high even-strength shooting percentage.
Year over year, the best teams shoot close to 10 per cent.
The Canucks’ is currently 11.5 per cent. It has been above 12 per cent at times.
The expectation is it will slide back under 11 and down toward 10. Given how well they’re playing defensively, more than likely they’re just going to find themselves in more one-goal games than anything.
The Canucks have an outstanding rate of wins by two or more goals — they have 23 of those this season, twice as many as they have one-goal wins.
The fun comparison point is who is second in PDO: the Boston Bruins.
The Bruins’ high PDO — 1035 — is driven by an outstanding save percentage.
They’re going to leak some goals themselves, but like the Canucks, they’re likely to absorb some of this in their multi-goal win rate, which matches the Canucks’ exactly.