Last night's shootout loss to the Ducks hit a bit of a sore spot for me. I'm always annoyed by those little quirky streaks that teams and players randomly go on. You know the ones: Flames always lose on TSN (was that last year?), Khabibulin is a Flame killer, Flames never win afternoon games, Flames never win at the Pond/Joe Louis/Atlanta/Buffalo/ACC... yeah you know the ones.
EV Shots On Goal : 11-6
EV Shots Toward Net : 16-12
EV Faceoff Starts : 5-3
EV Shots On Goal : 7-6
EV Shots Toward Net : 10-9
EV Faceoff Starts : 5-6
EV Shots On Goal : 17-7
EV Shots Toward Net : 24-14
EV Faceoff Starts : 4-2
EV Shots On Goal : 4-6
EV Shots Toward Net : 8-6
EV Faceoff Starts : 1-2
EV Shots On Goal : 39-25
EV Shots Toward Net : 58-41
EV Faceoff Starts : 15-13
So, the overwhelming consensus seems to be that the Ducks were lucky to win last night's game. On the back of a terrific Flames third period, mostly.
Not to this fan, though. What I saw was that:
- We got played to a draw at EV in the first two periods...
- On the back of their top unit negating our depth advantage...
- And got killed on special teams...
- And played a fantastic comeback period in the third with the Ducks playing prevent defense...
- But were altogether lucky to be down by only one goal at that point...
- And were pretty fortunate to salvage a point from this thing.
I think points #1 to #4 up top there aren't that contentious. Comment if you have a contention, though. But a friendly warning, I'll fight you :-)
But #5 and #6 will probably draw some criticism, just as the assertion that we were unlucky to be down 6-1 to Chicago and unlucky to lose the game in that manner drew some criticism four days ago.
But it's the truth, folks.
We talk about luck here and part of that is knowing that sometimes you just don't get the result in this game that you would have in a thousand other identical games. When you don't have an advantage at EV through two periods and are absolutely destroyed on special teams (to the tune of 1-7 in chances), the odds of losing the game are high, even before turning your playing-to-score switch to TURBO. And not to take away from that third period, it was perfect chase hockey, but the play up to that point would have made comebacks unlikely on most nights.
You don't want to read that, hell I don't want to write it, but if we're to be honest with ourselves, that's what happened.
- I may have been overly harsh in my tirade against Olli Jokinen's first period last night. He was a disaster on the second goal, I won't take that back. But Lawrence in the comments is right to point out that his clearing flip pass that led to the Glencross goal was a safe play. We were stupid lucky that we got a breakaway from that, but it was a good defensive play.
And Olli sure looked better after the thirty-minute mark. Though Iggy even more so, I thought, very hard to push 12 off the puck in that latter half. So that is something. It's been a few games now where that top unit has looked... not severely outclassed in aggregate? Just a bit outclassed now. So we are getting somewhere, and the "baby steps" label might not apply in a couple games. We'll see.
- I was not that impressed by Mark Giordano nor Adam Pardy. They looked overmatched when they faced quality - I remember one particular shift in the second vs. Koivu and friends where Pardy gave away the puck under pressure from the forecheck, and Giordano was not able to handle the incoming forwards on the subsequent battle. Kent's count didn't show a chance against but there was definitely pressure.
Giordano in particular was getting the love last night, and not that it's undeserved per se, but it's a bit much to say he was "better than Dion Phaneuf".
Not to be rude, but my ass he was.
Giordano was put in a position to succeed last night: five OFF zone draws and one DEF zone draw at EV. That makes you many things but a liability that night is generally not one of them. And if you're getting put in that gig, you're also getting a lot of minutes against the Marchant types or tired legs, and getting thrown over the boards to assist in the rush, and less so to defend against it. And as little time as your coach can manage against Getzlaf and co. with fresh legs. Easy to look like a star with that kind of ice time. Whereas Phaneuf - he got his share of OFF/DEF positioning too, but in a smaller measure than Giordano, and was as near as you get to a hard match with Regehr against the top Ducks unit.
Context is everything, folks.