The question on everyone's lips going into last night's edition of the Battle was: "revenge"? Thanks to Pat Quinn's asinine remarks about how (back in the day) he used to use the onion on his belt to beat people, there was some question of whether Jarome Iginla was going to get hosed by grease, so to speak. And so he did.
Oh, and the Flames dominated the Oil. That's not news though.
EV Shots On Goal : 8-6
EV Shots Toward Net : 11-10
EV Faceoffs Starts : 7-3
EV Shots On Goal : 9-7
EV Shots Toward Net : 12-11
EV Faceoff Starts : 1-5
EV Shots On Goal : 7-4
EV Shots Toward Net : 10-11
EV Faceoff Starts : 5-2
EV Shots On Goal : 24-17
EV Shots Toward Net : 33-32
EV Faceoff Starts : 13-10
Note: I'm doing the breakdowns a bit differently this time around. Shots on goal and toward net are listed as CGY-OPP (i.e. 10-5 means the Flames outshot the opponent, 5-10 means the Flames got outshot). The faceoff notation is thus: Flames_OZone_Starts - Flames_DZone_Starts. And of course Kent does the Flames scoring chances which just adds another layer of data.
This game was fucking awesome. An improvement at EV over the Columbus game, which was already a terrific effort. The first period was played to a standstill, the second was dominant and the Flames shutdown strategy in the third actually worked for once. The Oilers didn't get an EV shot for the last 10 minutes of the third, which the coaching staff must have been happy about.
Of course by that point the outcome was a forgone conclusion, the Oilers were mailing it in, and they're not exactly a good team anyway (the roster were flu-stricken - plus, they're the Oil). But this is a game that the Flames should have dominated, and they did. So give the Flames a slow clap because the boys deserve it.
It wasn't all tequila and strippers though. Here are some things the Flames need to work on:
- The PK is still bleeding goals and chances at a rate that this fan is not proud of. The first Oilers PP goal caught three guys (Kipper, Johnson and another PKer) watching the puck and not even remotely close to anticipating the wide-open backdoor play. Johnson's PK work in particular doens't impress me very much.
- Jokinen's a bum.
- The top line struggled a bit. I didn't notice but other commenters saw Glencross struggling. Myself, I saw Iginla lose a couple puck battles in the D-zone. His O-zone work wasn't great, he got two 10-cent chances but there was no sequence that I could remember in which he converted any sort of half-wall battle into a chance below the face-off dots. Disappointing night even though his numbers were ok.
Aside from their generally excellent EV play, here are some observations about the Flames strengths:
- The Flames first PP was uber dangerous and a big factor was the fact that Phaneuf was able to advance from his point position. The Oilers weren't pressuring the points and it cost them. The second PP saw an Oilers adjustment on the PK, but I think that can be broken with better pressure from the forwards.
- Boyd and Bourque were incredible. They had turns where they looked like Iginla-of-old out there. Boyd especially - when did he steal that off-the-boards move from Iggy, and when is he going to give it back?
- Bouwmeester's defensive stick work is a thing of beauty.
- How about that Kipper eh? Talk to me when game 70 rolls by but he's having himself quite the little run at EV (1 EVGA in his last three starts and a 0.981 EVSV%) - as if that'll last but let's enjoy it while it lasts.
And some general game notes:
- How about that McGrattan-Macintyre fight, eh? I don't like our current goon iteration - I don't mind a player with goon in him but he better be able to play hockey, like Georges Laraque or something - but that was a very entertaining tilt. McG's still useless (two shifts, 1:01 ice time - picking up a +1 was injustice) but he's good at fighting.
- I might be the minority in saying the officiating was pretty even (except for one glaring exception which is elucidated below). The Oil fans are complaining but the PP ledger ended up 8-3 in favor of the Oil - what the fuck more do they want? And some Flames fans are complaining but 4 of the 8 PPs came in the end of the second, and 3 of them were deserved (and the 4th - the second Sarich minor - was just plain bad luck that Stortini split open again). There were missed calls on both sides but these were mostly balanced out (again with a glaring exception) and the flow of the game was not interrupted.
- Mark Lee and Kevin Weekes might not be the most insightful CBC play-by-play duo, but "reach-around" and "shaft in his face" were priceless quotes.
Now I have three hockey ethics issues I want to rant about. In ascending order of importance:
1.) Aaron Johnson's crosscheck to JF Jacques' head bugged me a lot. It was dirty and unncessary and unbelievably dangerous. Shame on him.
2.) Mark Giordano needs to remove his helmet in the fight against Smid. He just has to. It's a point of honor, you do it as a sign of respect for your opponent, and Smid had just obliged him. I hope El Capitan took him aside for that.
3.) The Zack Stortini run on Iginla was a fucking farce. A helpful Oiler fan has provided a clip of the run on Youtube, which they are trying to pass off as evidence that the hit was a clean legal check.
- The hit was late. I don't care if the Oil fans are calling it "less than a steamboat late", the fact of the matter is that there is no way for Stortini to use the hit to gain possession since Iginla had relinquished the puck, and so it is penalizable. And it should have been, because...
- The hit was dirty. Don't fucking tell me that hit was just "finishing the check". I wasn't born fucking yesterday. Stortini comes in with speed, he is aiming to injure and it is just plain good luck that Iginla turns and receives the check in the chest. If Iginla had not turned Stortini would still have hit him straight into the boards.
What the hell, Stortini? A better player than you will ever be learned the hard way in 03-04 the consequences of eye-for-an-eye. There is a difference between the split-second bad decisions that often happen in a league as fast as the NHL, and the bush-league ... thing that you tried.