We weren't looking for more proof of the unpredictability of 2020, but the Vancouver Canucks gave it to us anyway. After emerging victorious over the defending Stanley Cup champs in Round 1, the young Canucks have now rallied back from a 3-1 series deficit against another formidable opponent in the Vegas Golden Knights.
Now, with a berth in the Western Conference Final on the line, the Canucks and Golden Knights go head to head in what is sure to be a thrilling Game 7 Friday night. Here's a by-the-numbers look at the series:
0 - Number of goals scored against rookie goaltender and certified brick wall Thatcher Demko in a must-win Game 6 Thursday night to force Game 7 against Vegas. It was just his second-ever playoff start, after also starting Game 5 following the announcement that Jacob Markstrom was listed as unfit to play. His 48 stops is now a new record for most saves in a shutout by a rookie in the post-season, and the most saves posted in a playoff shutout that didn't go to overtime.
0.47 - Demko's goals-against average through two games against the Golden Knights -- his first two playoff starts, no less. And it's not like he's faced a light load. The 24-year-old saw 43 shots fired his way in Game 5 followed by 48 more in Game 6, letting just a single puck past him in that time to keep the Canucks alive.
.990 - Another other-worldly number put up by Demko: his save percentage against Vegas. (This also includes an eight-minute stint in Game 1, in relief of then-starter Jacob Markstrom, in which he stopped all five shots he faced.)
2 - That Demko has shone in such a high-stakes situation is what makes his story all the more remarkable. He is the first rookie goaltender to win each of his first two career NHL post-season starts while facing elimination since the legendary Jacques Plante stood tall for the Montreal Canadiens in 1953.
2.17 - Vegas netminder Robin Lehner's save percentage this post-season through 11 starts -- five of which have come against the Canucks.
2.67 - The goals-against average of Vegas' Marc-Andre Fleury this post-season through just a trio of starts -- one of which came against Vancouver. He's been relegated to backup this post-season with the emergence of Lehner as the starter, with intrigue brewing about whether that might change Friday night.
2.85 - Jacob Markstrom's goals-against average in these playoffs. Before landing on the "unfit to play" list, the netminder has been a true difference-maker for the Canucks and is one of the biggest reasons they've come as far as they have.
3 - The men in the blue paint have been taking turns stealing games. Through six games of this series, we've seen three shutouts -- Vegas starter Robin Lehner twice shut out Vancouver, first in the series opener (5-0) and then Game 3 (3-0), while Demko's moment came in Thursday's Game 6.
3-1 - The Canucks are far from being the only club to climb back to force a seventh contest after being down 3-1 in this second round. In fact, they were the third to rally back from such a deficit -- the Colorado Avalanche (vs. Dallas) and Philadelphia Flyers (vs. Islanders) were also down 3-1 before climbing back and tying things up to force Game 7s in their respective series. Hockey fans are getting spoiled this summer.
3 - Of the top 10 scoring leaders in the playoffs right now, three are Canucks. Forwards J.T. Miller (6G, 12A) and Elias Pettersson (7G, 11A) are in a three-way tie with Tampa’s Brayden Point for fourth place with 18 points, while rookie rearguard Quinn Hughes is right behind them with 16 points (tied with Nazem Kadri and Nikita Kucherov). Hughes’ 14 assists through 16 games are third-best in the category, and his 16 points this summer puts him in the league's history books:
4-6-0 - Robin Lehner’s all-time record (regular season and post-season) against the Canucks. He has started five of six games against them this series, facing 122 shots in that time, giving up just nine goals and registering two shutouts.
5 - As evidenced this post-season, we truly are entering a special era of talented young defencemen, with Hughes, Colorado's Cale Makar, Dallas's Miro Heiskanen, and Vegas's Shea Theodore officially declaring themselves the next great d-men in the game. Theodore's five goals this post-season ties him for the goal-scoring lead among defencemen with Heiskanen and Lightning veteran Victor Hedman, while his five-game point streak against Vancouver has made him a true offensive force in this series.
5 - The Canucks have leaned heavily on their workhorses this post-season, with five players averaging above 20 minutes of ice time per game — including, interestingly, two forwards. Defenceman Alex Edler leads all Canucks in this series with 23:16 per game, followed by Quinn Hughes (22:40) and his second-pairing partner Chris Tanev (21:41). Captain Bo Horvat, who leads the league in goals this post-season (10), has been putting in a ton of time upfront — 20:30 per game, which is tops among all forwards on both teams — as has fellow centreman J.T. Miller (20:29). Vegas has four players averaging above 20 minutes per game this post-season: Nate Schmidt (23:01), Shea Theodore (22.29), Alec Martinez (22:22), and Brayden McNabb (20:33).
6-5 - The Canucks' all-time Game 7 record. Their last Game 7 was particularly painful, losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final to the Boston Bruins. (Sorry to bring that up again.) The Golden Knights' history obviously isn't as extensive, but there's definitely some pain there: Vegas has played just a single Game 7 in their franchise's young existence, a wild 5-4 loss to the San Jose Sharks in the first round of 2019. It's worth noting that the Sharks trailed in that series, too... 3-1.
9 - Number of goals the Canucks have scored on Lehner this series.
11 - The Canucks' shooting percentage this post-season, third-best among all return-to-play teams (minimum five games played) behind Colorado and Chicago. Vancouver has fired off 437 shots on goal in these playoffs, cashing in on 48 of them.
16 - Of all remaining teams, the Canucks have played the most games. Game 7 will be No. 17 this summer -- quite the grind. (Friday's matchup will be Vegas' 15th of this post-season.)
16-14 - Though the series is all tied up at 3-3, it's taken a bunch of lopsided games to get there. All but one game has seen the winning side outscore the loser by at least two goals, but when you zoom out on the series, scoring is pretty even overall: Vegas has outscored Vancouver by a cumulative score of 16-14.
27.3 - Such a tight series score is surprising when you look at this number -- the Canucks' average shots per game, ranking 20th among return-to-play clubs -- and compare it to our next two stats...
28 - Number of shots coming off the stick of Vegas forward Max Pacioretty -- most among all forwards in this series by a mile. It also presents an interesting comparison that's kind of indicative of how this series as a whole has gone down: Bo Horvat is Vancouver's leader in shot production, with 17 -- 11 fewer than Pacioretty. Both have four goals in this series to show for it, each leading their team in goals scored through six games of Round 2.
37.2 - Vegas has scored an average of 3.29 goals per game this post-season, as one of the most potent offences in the league that depends heavily on shot volume. The Pacific powerhouse has averaged 37.2 shots per game since the post-season began, which is third among return-to-play teams and tops among those still standing.
58 - Of all players in this series, no one has fired more shots at the net this post-season than defenceman Shea Theodore -- his 58 shots is 10 more than teammate Nate Schmidt, and just two shy of the league-wide league behind Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon. He's had 27 shots on goal in this series alone.