Although “Holiday” might be one of the most beloved goal songs in team history, the Vancouver Canucks might be gunning to remix another Green Day song.
Wake me up when November ends…
Over the past four years, November has been a house of horrors for the Canucks. They haven’t had a winning record in the season’s second month since 2014-15, when they posted a 9-4-1 record.
Here’s how they’ve done in November since then:
- 2018-19: 3-9-3 (30th in NHL)
- 2017-18: 6-7-2 (24th in NHL)
- 2016-17: 6-8-1 (27th in NHL)
- 2015-16: 4-7-4 (27th in NHL)
After ending October with and 8-3-1 record (7th in NHL) this season, the Canucks have limped to a 2-4-3 record this month (25th).
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But unlike previous seasons, the Canucks haven’t been as bad as their record suggests. Here are four reasons why the November struggles are a bit of a mirage.
1. They should be scoring more
At even-strength, the Canucks goals-for percentage sits at 40% in November, tied for second-worst in the league.
However, that’s not indicative of the offensive opportunities they’ve been creating. Only Dallas has registered more scoring chances at even strength and the Canucks sit fourth in the NHL in expected goals percentage (56.7%).
A small part of the reason is that the Canucks have been playing from behind a lot this month. They’ve scored the first goal just twice in nine games – in both of their wins against the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks.
However, the Canucks haven’t been sluggish early in games. They’ve either controlled or have been even in the shot attempt department during the first period in every game except the Blackhawks contest.
2. Surging power play
On the season, the Canucks have had the most power play opportunities in the league. That includes 34 in November, third-most in the NHL.
They’ve been making the most of those opportunities as well. Scoring eight power play goals in November, they’re tied for second-most in the NHL this month, with a 23.4% efficiency, which ranks seventh.
With their dominance at five-on-five and with the man advantage, it is surprising that they’ve won so few games this month. Since Quinn Hughes joined the first power play unit on October 22, the Canucks rank fourth in the NHL, clicking at 28.8% with the man advantage.
3. Secondary Scoring Apparent
All of the attention this season has been on the Lotto Line, and for good reason. They’ve flat out been one of the best lines in hockey, but they haven’t been carrying the team through the month of November.
Both Tanner Pearson and Adam Gaudette have done their part on offence this month. Gaudette is tied with Pettersson for first in goals (4) in November, and his seven points are second only to the Canucks Swedish star. Pearson is tied for third on the team with Miller six points in nine games.
Jake Virtanen leads the team with three goals and four points at even-strength this month. While Josh Leivo has yet to score, he’s contributed four assists, with three of them coming at even-strength, tying him with Brock Boeser and Pettersson.
The secondary scoring is there, which is saying something considering the Canucks have been a bit unlucky in that department this month.
4. Victim of tough schedule
The Canucks had about as easy of a schedule as you could have in the month of October. There was ample rest in between games and they beat up on bad and/or tired teams with regularity.
Now when you look collectively at the opponents they’ve faced this month, they might not jump out as powerhouses. However, many of them are hitting their stride this month.
Here’s the November record of the opponents they’ve faced.
- Anaheim Ducks: 2-4-2 (27th in NHL)
- San Jose Sharks: 6-2-0 (7th in NHL, Canucks win)
- St. Louis Blues: 5-1-2 (8th in NHL)
- Chicago Blackhawks: 6-1-2 (2nd in NHL)
- Winnipeg Jets: 6-1-1 (5th in NHL)
- New Jersey Devils: 5-3-1 (9th in NHL)
- Nashville Predators: 1-4-1 (31st in NHL)
- Dallas Stars: 6-0-1 (3rd in NHL)
- Colorado Avalanche: 4-4-0 (18th in NHL)
It doesn’t get any easier for the Canucks, who embark on a grueling six-game road trip to end the month tonight. Based on the upcoming opponents and travel schedule, the Canucks should consider it a victory if they leave the road trip with the .500 record.