Well, it makes sense this was an ugly game for the Flames. The Blues have Stanley Cup aspirations, while Calgary trends closer towards the Connor McDavid end of the spectrum. It also doesn't help that Jiri Hudler had the flu; Rafa Diaz, who had a pretty good game against the Oilers, was a healthy scratch for some reason; and all the suboptimal players the Flames dressed (too many!) went out of their way to be, well, exceptionally suboptimal.
And so, the Flames fell to the Blues, 4-1. | Recap
Here's the game's overall Corsi chart, courtesy of HockeyStats:
Yeesh. The Flames were actually in it for a bit, but looks like the Blues didn't have much trouble pulling away as the game went on. Let's go a little deeper, courtesy of NaturalStatTrick:
Flames at Blues - All Situations
- Yeah, so, the Flames got dominated.
- Except... in the first? Despite going down 2-0 early (due to a freak play/particularly special moment of incompetence in the first minute, and a powerplay goal), the Flames kept themselves even with the Blues. In the first intermission, Joe Colborne said he felt the Flames really came on in the period's second half. He was right.
- And then they died in the second period. RIP Flames. They fared better in the third - in part because the Blues already had a four goal lead (score effects!) - but it was far too late.
Flames at Blues - Even Strength
- The Flames had six powerplays to the Blues' five, but the Blues scored pretty quickly on two of theirs. Taking out all the penalty data, despite spending more time on the powerplay, the Flames actually fared a little better.
- That is, except for in the second period. Wow they did NOT have a good second period.
- Still, this game was not nearly as bad as the Oilers game, which the Flames somehow (re: Karri Ramo; also, they were playing the Oilers) won.
Even Strength Corsi Data
- There are four very, very red names there: Brian McGrattan, Matt Stajan, Brandon Bollig, and Deryk Engelland. Ladislav Smid is a not-so-pleasant orange joining them. Now, to be fair, they all had pretty poor zone starts, so that was definitely a part of it. On the other hand, those are some abhorrent percentages.
- #FreeMattStajan. He tried his best, but he's just not going to be able to escape that sad, sad pitfall. And he's the one name in that group of five that definitely does not belong.
- Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman are also a not-so-pleasant orange. Russell's numbers are a bit better than Wideman's, which makes sense: he did have a better game. At the same time, he got slightly better zone starts. Still, there's a reason Wideman was scratched last game.
- Rounding out the defencemen: oh. Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie are a very, very nice shade of green. The Flames really do only have the one good defence pairing between them; still, I wonder how substituting Rafa Diaz for one of Smid or Engelland would help things?
- No surprise the greenest of the forwards - Joe Colborne, Johnny Gaudreau, and Mason Raymond - also received favourable zone starts. Really, really favourable ones. Gaudreau had the best numbers of the three, though, and that was with a worse offensive zone start percentage. We should get to see him out there more!
- Going down a step, how friggin' impressive is Mikael Backlund? Negative zone start ratio, fourth best forward. Paul Byron got a pretty good boost playing with him, too, and it showed in the game, since the two of them really started piling on corsi events in the third together.
- Rounding it out are the orange-yellows of Lance Bouma, Curtis Glencross, Devin Setoguchi, and Sean Monahan. Setoguchi really did not have a good night. Despite having a greater zone start ratio than Bouma, his possession statistics were worse, and Bouma is playing above his level. It's becoming clearer why he was found in the bargain bin late in the summer. Glencross, meanwhile, put in a fairly respectable effort, while Monahan didn't have his best game.
Player Spotlight - Mikael Backlund
- Backlund's most common linemate was Glencross. Together, the two combined for a modest possession effort, although, as we can see from the disparity between CF% and FF%, a number of their shot attempts when on the ice together were blocked.
- On his right wing, he split time between Bouma and Byron. This is a testament between the two player's abilities: Bouma simply does not belong. Backlund fared better when away from him. Bouma can do an admirable job, but when you come down to it, Backlund is the team's best centre, while Bouma is, at absolute best, a third liner. He'd be great for his role, if Hartley would just play him in it. As it stands, if you're looking to generate offence, the two don't belong together.
- Byron, on the other hand? He's a very good match. He drew the highest percentages with Backlund, and this was very visible as the Flames were trying to come back in the third, and the two were out there together. The Backlund-Byron combo is one worth continuing: Byron helped Backlund, too.
- To defence! Backlund spent most of his time with Giordano and Brodie, which makes sense: they're the Flames' top players, and Hartley is going to want them out together to defend against the toughest competition. They are, unsurprisingly, a great combination.
- The second you got Backlund with Giordano and Brodie, and away from any of the other four defencemen, Backlund's possession statistics shot up. This only speaks to how thin the Flames' defence core really is. The misery with Russell in particular surprises me, because Russell's a head above the other three; this game was clearly not kind to him. It also just reinforces how Diaz should draw in again, because maybe the drop won't be as drastic with him.
Backlund was the only Flames player with a sub-50% offensive zone start to come out with a plus-50% CF rating. Keep that in mind if you ever hear anyone slagging on him. He's legit. If things go well for the Flames in regards to Sam Bennett and Monahan, then Backlund would be an outstanding third line centre who can be trusted against the opposition's best and still potentially score, and wouldn't that be amazing to have?
(The answer is yes. Yes it would be.)