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Ducks vs. Canucks, Second Round Preview

I'm guessing there won't be too many people in the Eastern time zone staying up to watch the Western Conference Semifinal between Anaheim and Vancouver all the way through - between the late start times and the dominant goaltending, this series could be an insomniac's salvation for the next couple weeks. Be that as it may, let's see what might happen when you throw these teams together...

For table explanation, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

How the Ducks can score: The Ducks aren't exactly lighting the scoreboard up these days, and the prospect of facing Robert Luongo doesn't lead one to believe anything's going to change soon. Anaheim does generate a good deal of shots from the 10-19 foot range, where most scoring occurs, but their scoring percentage there is nothing to write home about (.148 vs. a league average of .183).

How the Canucks can score: "Shoot it long, and shoot it strong," should be the Canucks motto - Ducks goaltending may well have an issue with point shots (see the Sht % Factor for 50-59 feet), and fortunately for Vancouver, they happen to take quite a few of those (2nd most among remaining teams after Detroit). Elsewhere, strong goaltending should keep the scorekeeper snoozing for most of the time.

Summary: This one looks to be a defensive struggle, but the Canucks come out ahead at 1.97 to 1.61 Expected Goals per game. Anaheim might end up with a slight edge in terms of total shots, but they're just not converting them into goals like the Canucks. Take a look across the "Sht %" line for each team - this represents a moving average of shooting percentage, and you'll see that Vancouver outperforms Anaheim in almost every area (and considering that they just came off a 7-game series against an amazing performance by Marty Turco, that's saying something). One could make the argument that the Canucks offense is superior to the Ducks right now, and when you add the goaltending component as well, that makes a pretty steep hill for Anaheim to climb.

Outside the Numbers: Will Luongo come down off the emotional high of that first-round series victory and struggle to regain his form against the Ducks? It wouldn't be surprising to see a shaky Game One effort out of the first-time playoff workhorse.

Prediction: Vancouver in six games.

Table Key:
Shots For = average of shots per game by that team, from the range specified.
Shots Factor = a factor representing how many shots the opposing defense yields in that range (1.24 = 24% more than average, 0.89 = 11% less than average).
Exp. Shots = "Shots For" times "Shots Factor", how many shots are expected to occur within each range.
Sht % = The fraction of shots from within that range result in goals.
Sht % Factor = a measure reflecting how the opposing goaltender handles shots from a given range (0.74 = 26% fewer goals than average, 1.53 = 53% more than average)
Exp. Sht % = "Sht %" times "Sht % Factor", the expected shooting percentage for this matchup.
Exp. Goals = "Exp. Shots" times "Exp. Sht %", the number of goals per game expected from each range.
Values indicative of significantly higher goal-scoring are shaded green, values for lower goal-scoring shaded pink.
All figures represent exponential moving averages, giving greater weight to recent performance. Empty-net goals are excluded.

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