It took the Flames a couple of minutes to get into the game, but once they were there, they never looked back. They led in shot attempts for most of the game, and scoring on a number of them gave them a comfortable lead that while the Hurricanes improved as the game went on, they were never really a threat to get back in it. Via HockeyStats:
Yeah - the Canes weren't able to match the Flames' output, and subsequently, lost very handily. It wasn't total dominance for the Flames throughout the entire game, though. Going period by period, via NaturalStatTrick:
Flames vs Hurricanes - All Situations
- The Hurricanes did not have a good first period.
- They had an okay second period. But the Flames scored twice really early into the second, so, score effects.
- And then they had a pretty decent third period, but they were down 5-0 for nearly its entirety, so... yeah, it genuinely didn't matter by that point. The Flames were also clearly blocking a ton of shots, which shows two things: 1. They went into a defensive shell, and 2. They were committed to protecting the lead. Good sign!
- All in all what looked like a flat out dominating effort by the Flames looks a little less so when we go period by period, but that's because the Flames could let off the gas and not suffer for it. For example, normally we can count on TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano to play around 25 minutes a game, and the bottom pairing - now Ladislav Smid and Deryk Engelland - much less than that, but last night, all defenders played about 20 minutes.
Flames vs Hurricanes - Even Strength
- The Flames had one powerplay in the first, both teams had powerplays in the second, and the Hurricanes had one powerplay in the third. So it makes sense the Flames' stats dropped a bit in the first, and things balanced out for both teams in the second.
- The Hurricanes actually performed better at even strength in the third period, but we saw they couldn't get anything going during their powerplay, and the Flames probably generated more scoring chances overall in it. That's reflected here.
Even Strength Corsi Data
- Kris Russell had a 94.12% FF last night. That is absolutely insane. He was on the upper echelon for Flames zone starts, but still... The Hurricanes only got one shot, whether it was on net or missed, towards the Flames net when Kris Russell was on the ice at even strength. One. That's nuts.
- His partner, Dennis Wideman, also had some of the top possession stats of the game, but wasn't quite as good as Russell was. Probably safe to say Russell's the #3 and Wideman's the #4 by this point.
- Carrying on with great possession numbers: Paul Byron. Relatively good zone starts. One of the Flames' best players. Again. It doesn't seem to matter who you play him with or where; no matter what, Byron's going to give you a really good performance.
- His linemate, Curtis Glencross, is up there as well. Matt Stajan lags behind a bit, but hey, the line looked good last night; their percentages confirm this. Byron in particular, though, is just nuts.
- Fourth line! They all played roughly the same amount of time. Brandon Bollig made it out with the best possession stats, but middling zone starts; Lance Bouma got the strongest zone starts on the team, and wasn't far behind Bollig possession-wise; and Josh Jooris, the rookie, received relatively poor zone starts, but still put together a pretty good effort. They didn't face top competition, but they matched up well with who they had to face (which, considering Carolina's current injury predicament, were kind of just AHL players). But hey - two games in a row now Bollig's played in beneficial circumstances and hasn't performed poorly! Improvement!
- Jumping to a forward line that had strongish zone starts: Johnny Gaudreau played in some of the best circumstances available for the team (a far cry from the previous outing, where he started 0% of his shifts in the offensive zone; now it's 50%), and came away with relatively poor possession stats. But while his fellow rookie, Jooris, performed well, Gaudreau played about three additional minutes against tougher competition, so.
- Mason Raymond got hit relatively hard as well, while Mikael Backlund had the best possession stats of the trio despite starting in the offensive zone the least (this isn't surprising. Backlund's established himself as a great possession player and shutdown guy already, and he saw a lot of Alexander Semin).
- Poor possession: the bottom D pairing, Engelland and Smid. Well, they're the third pairing and didn't receive zone starts as beneficial as Russell and Wideman. Eh.
- Meanwhile, Brodie and Gio had among the worst zone starts on the team, top competition. Both came out above 50%, yet again, because they're both very good.
- That just leaves the line that combined for two goals and six points. Jiri Hudler, Joe Colborne, and Sean Monahan all received poor zone starts - Colborne especially - and hence, are towards the bottom of the team's possession spectrum. Understandable, and the goals are still, of course, very nice.
- Curious with Colborne, though, that he had the worst starts of the trio and yet came out above 50%, something neither of his linemates could do. He played the most out of the three of them as well. Huh.
Player Spotlight - Kris Russell
Even with somewhat helpful zone starts, Russell had a monster game and I am curious to see just how well he interacted with his teammates on the ice.
- So there are the culprits. Russell was sharing the ice with Bollig, Wideman, Jooris, and Bouma when that one fenwick got by him at even strength. Shame on the fourth line. Shame on them.
- So, Russell and Wideman only spent about three minutes apart while at even strength. They seemed to perform really, really well together. And by "seemed" I mean "did". Yup, that pairing's probably staying together.
- The forwards he spent most of his time with were the fourth line and Stajan's line. Playing with the fourth line had next to no impact on him (he marginally improved when away from Jooris, but that's about it; also, that one fenwick). Which means he also saw the fourth line's competition, but hey: they didn't hurt him, and he didn't hurt them.
- As for Glencross - Stajan - Byron, he fared better when with them. Byron especially. For five minutes the two shared the ice and the Hurricanes didn't get a single shot attempt. That's insane. It is, of course, an extremely small sample size, which is why it can be insane, but it's insane nevertheless.
- Russell primarily played against Riley Nash, Justin Faulk, and Tim Gleason; not exactly the AHLers of the group, but not exactly star players. Jeff Skinner was one of the players he saw the least of, and he only shared the ice with Semin for about four seconds, for example, to give you an idea of the kind of competition he was facing. A repeat performance definitely can't be expected, but hey, he was a possession standout in a 5-0 blowout. Nothing wrong with that.
The tiny sample size of this being just one game (and an anomaly of a game at that; the Flames only get to play the Hurricanes once more, and they may have the Staals back by then; and how many times do you think this team is gonna win 5-0, anyway?) makes all of this virtually meaningless. But it's fun to look at, and shows that, at least if given favourable circumstances, Russell is capable of taking them and running. He's not on Brodie or Giordano's level, but at least for now, he's the next best thing the Flames have.