Despite my post yesterday on Butler/Bouwmeester, Smith, and Stempniak all having pretty good underlying numbers for the Flames- it's not all sunshine and roses and tasty beer. Okay, maybe there's a lot of tasty beer regardless.
The point is, the Calgary Flames are sitting at 6-6-1, with no signs of either improvement or worsening. So if so many players are surprising us with great play, why the mediocrity? And who else has some surprises for Calgary?
Kent pointed this out in the comments of my article yesterday, but I'd like to address it more explicitly: Mark Giordano, our defensive MVP from last year, has been awful. He starts in the offensive zone more than the defensive, and yet ends up in the defensive more than the offensive zone (zone start/finish differential of -2.8). His corsi adjusted for zone starts and overall team play is third worst on the team: -8.5. Put bluntly: Cory Sarich is having a better year. Of course, a lot of that can probably be attributed to...
2. Scott Hannan
Gio's most frequent defensive partner, Hannan, has not exactly come as advertised. Admittedly, I was one of the writers who expected a semi-Regehr performance, but it's looking like even hoping for Sarich level play might be a bit too much. He's slow on the puck, misses defensive assignments, and generates little to no offensive pressure. Remember how I pointed out that Gio was third worst on the team? Hannan's the worst (Babchuk sits comfortably between the two). At -13.8, Scott Hannan is bleeding shots against, and it's not fun.
It's worth noting that the worst part about Hannan is that he doesn't have a grudge against Ales Hemsky. Which was the best part of Regehr.
3. Roman Horak
I said it wasn't all bad- and Roman Horak is the good part. While his points are largely due to a high shooting percentage (just like RNH, by the way), he's been doing a solid job in his limited ice time regardless; especially if you consider that he's a rookie straight out of the WHL. He's been starting in the offensive zone less than any other player (39.7% ozone ratio), which speaks for the trust Brent Sutter puts in his defensive capabilities.
Here's the real crazy part though: while Horak is hardly knocking that job out of the park(-5.7 is, well, eh) he's doing a better job at driving possession than the following players: Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, Rene Bourque, Brendan Morrison, and the aforementioned Mark Giordano (and of course Hannan and Babchuk). Oh, and he's also playing a better level of competition than any of them.
While Horak is hardly on the level of fellow rookies Luke Adam or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the fact that the former fifth round pick is having this level of impact in his very first pro-season out of junior is nothing short of terrific.
On a side note, thanks for Eric T. of Broadstreet Hockey for helping me to adjust for zone starts.