A long road trip to kick off the season doesn't usually work in a team's favour, but somehow (mostly goaltending and luck), the Flames managed to come away with a 4-2 record. They return home 4-3 overall, looking to kick off a five-game homestand that will hopefully see the players better rested and flu-free.
The Flames looked terrible to start the game, but I think they can be forgiven for that: nobody is expecting much out of them, and for good reason, and hey, it was the end of a rather long road trip. They had a fighting chance against the Jets, though, and it came because while they only had one good period, they made the absolute most of it.
Corsi chart, via HockeyStats:
So the Flames were never able to catch up to the Jets throughout the game. If we look at it period by period, though, via NaturalStatTrick, we'll see the one period that made all the difference:
Flames at Jets - All Situations
- So the Flames got demolished in the first, when they went down 1-0, had an excellent second, and got destroyed again in the third.
- The difference here is the Flames actually capitalized on their shot attempts, and Jonas Hiller easily outplayed Ondrej Pavelec.
- A lot of the third was the result of the Jets trying to catch up, since they were down by three most of the period. Hiller held them off, though, so while the Flames were outplayed overall, goaltending was definitely a factor - especially during that disastrous first, when it could have been so much worse. Chicago, anyone?
Flames at Jets - Even Strength
- The Jets had two powerplays in the first, the Flames had one in the second, and the Flames had two in the third (thanks, Blake Wheeler!). Taking those out of the equation and the numbers balance out a little better.
- Except the third period. The Jets were all the stronger in trying to tie it up when special teams weren't involved. So, uh, thanks, Blake Wheeler?
Even Strength Corsi Data
- Brandon Bollig was pretty sheltered and yet had the worst corsi on the team please make it stop.
- Ladislav Smid is the other red guy, and he was pretty sheltered, too. Smid played the second least out of all Flames defencemen, and blocked a couple of shots himself, but man, he did not have a good game.
- Smid's partner, Rafa Diaz, was also pretty sheltered. He ended up with better stats overall because Bob Hartley, along with the rest of us, quickly recognized he was having a poor game, and sat him before more damage could be done. Smid played nearly six more minutes than Diaz.
- Johnny Gaudreau was just as sheltered as Diaz, though he played four more minutes. He's also a rookie just coming off a healthy scratch who had a lot of jump to his game and had a two-point night, and considering how most of the team didn't do well possession-wise, he can be forgiven. He'll get there one day.
- Dennis Wideman, Mason Raymond, and Sean Monahan round out those with more favourable offensive zone starts. Wideman and Raymond clearly benefited from them, since they put some points on the board, and managed to maintain some decent possession stats (Wideman moreso than Raymond, and Raymond had slightly more favourable circumstances, plus he only played 14:56 to Wideman's 23:19).
- Monahan, though? He played the second most out of all Flames forwards, and had the greatest ice time for centres with 16:46. He was one of the most-used forwards on the powerplay, with 2:52 of time on the man advantage. He was held off the board for the fifth straight game, and has yet to score this season. He had an unsustainable shooting percentage when he entered the league last season, and it may be starting to show itself now. It isn't so much a "sophomore slump" as it is "regression"; still, he's not scoring and his possession stats leave something to be desired, so something needs to be changed.
- If Monahan had started last season the way he's started this one there's no chance he would have played a full year in the NHL. Just something to think about.
- Onwards! Curtis Glencross, Matt Stajan, and Devin Setoguchi were thrown to the wolves. Glencross and Setoguchi got to spend most of the game together, and actually put in a pretty good effort, considering how few offensive zone starts they got. Although Glencross played about six additional minutes.
- As for Stajan... Well, he was freed to start the game, but was soon put back on the fourth line, with Bollig and Bouma. He's kinda clearly a step above them, though.
- Speaking of Bouma, not a particularly great night for him. Still way better than Bollig though. The fact that he blocked five shots kinda shows in his fenwick, as well.
- Joe Colborne ended up taking back over at centre and playing a fair amount of time with Glencross and Setoguchi. He did not seem to handle the minutes as well as they did.
- Two someones with comparable zone starts to Bouma are Kris Russell and Mikael Backlund. Those two were also the Flames' best possession players on the night. They were frequently on the ice with one another, and the Flames performed pretty well when they were. Russell in particular has been waiting to have a better stats game. Backlund, though, has always had this in him, and remains the Flames' best centre.
- Then there's Jiri Hudler and Paul Byron. Worse zone starts, great possession. Hudler especially, clocking in fourth in corsi and third in fenwick. Even though he was held pointless, he had a great night.
- Last but never least... Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie. They got buried, Brodie especially, and couldn't really rise above it. Brodie played over 27 minutes, though, scored a goal, and none were scored against when he was out there, so he can probably be forgiven/go ahead and get that contract extension already.
Player Spotlight - TJ Brodie
IT'S TJ BRODIE DAY, EVERYTHING TJ BRODIE MUST GO no, wait, except for the actual TJ Brodie, please never leave us sir, we love you.
- No surprise to see Brodie spends so much time with Gio. The Flames trend more towards "hopeless" when the two of them aren't out there.
- Brodie received some of the poorest zone starts on the team, so it makes sense that his teammates tended to do a bit better when they didn't share the ice. Still, though: look at how little he hurt them. And in quite a few cases (Backlund and Raymond, for example), he really helped them.
- Even Glencross, his fellow outcast away from the offensive zone, benefited from him, although they didn't spend that much time together.
- Oh my god Brandon Bollig WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING HERE.
tl;dr Brodie will very rarely hurt you, and he has the potential to help you. Immensely. He played the most and the toughest minutes, and very much held the opposition in check. Chances are good that whenever he's on the ice, the Flames will be significantly better for it.