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Perception, and Reality: G20, Blackhaws @ Flames Post-Game

(note - only shows the first two periods for some reason)

Scoring chances

H2H icetime

ZoneStart, G20, Blackhawks @ Flames


A team is never as good as it seems when it's winning, and never as bad as it seems when it's losing.

EV Shots On Goal    : 6-5
EV Shots Toward Net : 14-8
EV Faceoff Starts   : 7-3
EV Shots On Goal    : 7-6
EV Shots Toward Net : 14-10
EV Faceoff Starts   : 4-4
EV Shots On Goal    : 8-2
EV Shots Toward Net : 14-8
EV Faceoff Starts   : 5-1
EV Shots On Goal    : 21-13
EV Shots Toward Net : 42-26
EV Faceoff Starts   : 16-8

For most fans, analyzing a game begins and ends with the score. Which is foolish and stupid for anybody who watches the game with a keen eye. But it's tempting, even for the coldest and most heartless bastards, when your team is drubbed to the tune of 7 goals against and 1 goal for.

But perception and reality are two different things.

It's funny how the game story last night changed according to the score. By the time the third period arrived the air was thick with rumblings of complacency and collapse. The post-game rolls around and the buzzwords are flying: lack of urgency, lack of leadership, adversity, casualness, inconsistency, accountability, laziness...

Damn, these things don't even happen on the ice.

Even the head coach got into it. ASIDE: The Sutters are cut from the same mold. Lying bastards, the lot of them. That's not an insult or a perceived shortcoming btw - the only requirement I have for the hockey people running the Flames is competence. We'll never be as hockey-smart as them but we don't need their words to shape our view of the game, not when their actions speak for themselves and especially not when we have the use of our own two eyes.

Folks, the entire purpose of this blog is to try and look under the surface, past the boxscore and the cliches and the lies that coaches and plaerys tell, to the parts of the game that drive results in the long-term. Phrases like "found a way to win" are not part of the vernacular here, so don't expect us to ever say "found a way to lose", let alone endorse concepts like sense of urgency or inconsistency. What does that even mean? How do hockey players look urgent, or not? How is inconsistency defined? Is it even possible to be consistent in doing something on the ice, under any reasonable definition of the word? I mean, these concepts do exist in the abstract, but discerning them in action is another matter entirely.

This is not some holier-than-thou kick or some such; just a plea for greater attention paid to what's happening on the ice, and less attention paid to the narratives. We all have biases, which color our perceptions, but reality never changes.

This is still only hockey, after all.


Last night, against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Calgary Flames had a great game at even strength and a poor game on special teams.

I commented last night that the Flames owned the puck at 5 on 5 through the first two, an assertion that I'll stick to. Commenter "d_p_h" made the point that the possession didn't translate to very many chances. I was skeptical about this, but Kent confirmed it.

Still, possession drives everything imo. Kent commented on the "chances at chances" that the Flames had - pucks in dangerous areas just missing sticks, or going wide when shot. It's not worth looking into too deeply, you get caught up in the minutiae PDQ. But the general point is that possession puts the puck in dangerous places and puts players in places where they can push that puck to the net. You can't really ask for much more after that.

I did think the Flames did a fairly poor job defending the transition. Could be a function of how aggressive they were in the zone. But I don't think it had much to do with passing plays or some such. I especially remember the Byfuglien goal where they were criss-crossing the puck around the Chicago box. I thought that was actually a brilliant play as they were also rotating the defenders, almost like a PP. It was just poor execution on the point shot, which exposed the Flames who were deep in the zone. Whoever that was who made the shot (Iginla maybe?) it was both bad luck and a bad effort.

The special teams though, were an unmitigated disaster. The Flames had all sorts of trouble gaining the zone on the PP. They had quality chances, especially that Bouwmeester chance. Huet made a great guess with his diving save but it was still pure shit luck it didn't go in, unless you're trying to convince me that he has psychic powers. Nevertheless, the Flames should have had more chances, they certainly had the PP icetime to do so. And the PK... well it's best not to speak about it. There were many goats last night but probably Nystrom was the biggest with that terrible puck clearing attempt.


The Flames deserved a better fate, no question. Did they deserve to win? No, not exactly. But a 4-4 score going to OT would probably have been more indicative of how the game played out. Certainly they deserved more than zero EV goals, at least in my humble opinion.


Game notes:

  • Iginla played a buttload against Keith and Seabrook, and his most frequent forward matchups were against Ladd and Madden. Clearly a Quennenville decision, it's his MO to use a dedicated non-Toews, non-Kane line playing the tough minutes (last year it was Havlat). He was also not given very favorable positioning by Sutter. All in all, I was pleased with his overall game.
  • Jokinen had seven shots on net? Interesting. He was a different player last night, he didn't get too many OFF zone draws either, and he also faced the Keith/Seabrook tandem with regularity. I don't expect it to last, but it was nice to see.
  • Bourque only played 13 seconds in the third period. It won't be good for this team if he's injured, that's for sure. Get well soon.
  • Giordano and Pardy were given a whopping 18 minutes of EV icetime each. Actions speak louder than words - either Sutter was not pleased with his defensemen, or he decided to mail it in during the third. Somewhere in the middle, I would imagine.