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Golden Knights vs. Canucks playoff series preview: By the Numbers

Patrick Sharp and Anson Carter explain why the young Canucks team is going to have their hands full with a rested Golden Knights squad.

NBC’s coverage of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs continues with the Second Round matchup between the Golden Knights and Canucks. Watch the Golden Knights-Canucks series stream on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Key stats: Golden Knights - Canucks Second Round Series playoff preview

35.5 vs. 25.3 (or shots shots shots)

When you back up the point that the Golden Knights hog the puck viciously, you can throw out their best-in-class expected goals percentages in both the regular season and playoffs. Such stats factor in things like “quality chances,” after all.

But it might be easier to digest raw shots on goal totals, and the Golden Knights come in handy in being so dominant in that area that you can’t really miss it.

During the regular season, the Golden Knights averaged the most SOG in the NHL (34.5) while allowing the third-least (29.3). That carried over to an extreme so far during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, as the Golden Knights fired 10+ more SOG on per game than they allowed so far (35.5 vs. 25.3).

Meanwhile, the Canucks allowed more shots than they generated in the playoffs (28.2 vs. 35.1) and the regular season (31.2 vs. 33.3). As expected goals conversations can testify, not every shot is created equally. Still, if patterns hold, the Canucks will definitely need a lot of quality to outpace the Golden Knights’ stranglehold on quantity.


Vegas Golden Knights v Vancouver Canucks

VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 19: Elias Pettersson #40 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates a goal during their NHL game against the Vegas Golden Knights at Rogers Arena December 19, 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)"n

NHLI via Getty Images

24.2 vs. 76.6

As you may know, many possession stats focus on even-strength. (Not all, but many.)

The highly skilled Canucks boast a deadly power play, one that could very well tilt this Second Round series against the Golden Knights. Vancouver’s power play seems to have carried over the sort of work that made its power play the fourth-most efficient in the NHL (24.2 percent, 57 PPG [tied for second]).

Unless the Golden Knights’ solid playoff penalty kill work is a sign of a turnaround (and/or the impact of Robin Lehner), this could be a problem. Vegas only killed 76.6 percent of its penalties during the regular season, the fifth-worst mark in the NHL.

Considering some of those numbers, the big, often-rough Golden Knights might want to be on their best behavior against the Canucks.

[PHT predictions for Golden Knights - Canucks, other Second Round series]

3 vs. 0

Which offensive approach works better in the playoffs: top-heavy or balanced?

None of this is to say that the Golden Knights lack any star power altogether, as casual observers have become increasingly aware of how strong a player Mark Stone is. And it’s not like Elias Pettersson scored every First Round goal for the Canucks.

Still, you can broadly argue that the Canucks are more top-heavy, while the Golden Knights are more balanced offensively.

Consider that the Canucks boast three players in double-digits in scoring during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Pettersson [13], J.T. MIller [10], and Quinn Hughes [10]), while the Golden Knights don’t have any yet (Stone and Reilly Smith are tied for the team lead with eight points).

Again, this isn’t necessarily to say that the Canucks boast the superior forward group, but their top guys might be the most explosive. Maybe that will make a difference if goals become hard to come by, or if the two teams trade punches in a scoring fest?

No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 5 Vancouver Canucks

Game 1: Sunday, Aug. 23, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 2: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 9:45 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 3: Saturday, Aug. 29, 9:45 p.m. ET - NBCSN
Game 4: Sunday, Aug. 30, 10:30 p.m. ET - NBCSN
*Game 5: Tuesday, Sept. 1 - TBD
*Game 6: Thursday, Sept. 3 - TBD
*Game 7: Friday, Sept. 4 - TBD

*if necessary


Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.