Well, it was a statement game. The Flames' home record had them in a bit of hot water with the home crowd. They've had their share of bad luck there (compensated by good luck on the road) - but ask the Leafs how bad luck affects fanbase morale.
EV Shots On Goal : 6-10
EV Shots Toward Net : 12-21
EV Faceoff Starts : 3-5
EV Shots On Goal : 11-4
EV Shots Toward Net : 26-9
EV Faceoff Starts : 7-0
EV Shots On Goal : 8-12
EV Shots Toward Net : 19-22
EV Faceoff Starts : 4-9
EV Shots On Goal : 25-26
EV Shots Toward Net : 57-52
EV Faceoff Starts : 14-14
Well, pretty easy read of the game for us armchair coaches, I would say. A slow, sluggish (read: BAD) first period, followed by an absolutely dominant second frame. And a bit of back and forth in the third, some chase hockey by Phoenix and a few scary scoring chances against. All in all, though, a decent showing for the Flames - and as it should be, the people who put money on this game picked Calgary as a heavy favorite after all.
So it's the little details that interest me. Here we go:
- The matchups in the first and second periods were clearly delineated: Hanzal vs. Iggy, Lombardi vs. Langkow, Doan vs. Glencross. Made for an easy game to follow, at times it can be a clusterfuck. In the third Langkow was shifted up to play against Doan with Regehr behind: nice adjustment by Sutter as the Lanks line dominated.
- Always interesting to see who is given tough positioning in a game. For Calgary: it was the Langkow line and Regehr pairing. Which is weird because that Lanks-Moss-Dawes line looked like they spent a ton of time in the OFF zone, but really it's obvious after the fact - they just moved the puck north a TON. Look at the Corsi as evidence. Just a quality group of forwards, on this night.
- Also for Calgary: I was shocked about Bouwmeester's favorable positioning, I didn't catch that in the game at all.
- For Phoenix: The go-to D were Michalek (no surprise, #4 was everywhere behind the red line) and Jovo (BIG surprise to me, didn't catch it at all - nice catch Robert). The Winnik-Fiddler duo were also given easier positioning and mainly the Glencross and Sjostrom lines as opposition. That was easy to see in the game though, by process of elimination: Hanzal, Lombardi and Doan were Phoenix the three main EV units, and together they ate up almost all the time played against our three main EV units. Which leaves relatively easy minutes (matchups wise, and that goes hand in hand with positioning in this case) for the Phoenix fourth line.
- I like to see how other coaches use former Flames. Gives us a benchmark for how our coaching does. Vandermeer and Aucoin at EV: 17 minutes, most of them joined at the hip, played mostly against Iginla, but with favorable positioning. Iggy-minutes aren't always tough minutes. The tough Iggy-minutes on the night were taken by Michalek-Jovo. And I saw Jovo bad, this would contribute to that.
- Lombardi at EV: Nearly all of his minutes played against Langkow and Regehr. That's a tough job, Lanks is a quality forward by every measure. Positioning was basically a wash for Lombo, 4-3 OFF/DEF zone draws. He didn't have quite the stones to win the possession battle in those circumstances, but still.. you can bet your ass he's helping that Phoenix team win.
- And finally... this will be my last post on M&G in a while. My life just got enormously more hectic today than it was yesterday, and I enjoy writing these post-games but they do take a while to put together. I hope to still contribute when I can, hopefully back to the usual pace once things become more normal in 2010. And of course, I'll still be watching the games when I can.
Thanks for reading.