Sometimes, hockey is just plain mean. Like it was when the Flames visited Edmonton and thrashed the Oilers 5-2 on the scoreboard, despite being out-corsied 75-39. Or when the Flames visited Chicago and defeated the Blackhawks 2-1, even though they were out-corsied 96-33. Or when the Canadiens came to Calgary and won 2-1, but were out-corsied 70-47 themselves.
The Flames played a thoroughly dominating game, one we should not have expected. But it happened. And throughout 65, they were the better team. Via HockeyStats:
The Flames started to pull away in the end of the first, and by the time it was the third period, they were uncatchable. This was a game in reach of both teams, though. The Habs should have been fighting just as hard as the Flames. The Flames were simply better, limiting Montreal's offensive bursts and frequently generating their own.
So despite the score, it was pretty much a banner game in Calgary, for Calgary. Period by period, from NaturalStatTrick:
Flames vs Canadiens - All Situations
- So, other than the overtime period, which is only a quarter the length of a regular period, the Flames controlled this game by all accounts. Carey Price definitely won this one for the Habs.
- They only got stronger as the game progressed, too. That's reflected in the corsi chart up above. The third period, in particular, was monstrous.
Flames vs Canadiens - Even Strength
- The Flames still came out of the game largely dominant.
- In the first period, the Flames had three powerplays, including a 5 on 3, to the Habs' two. That was the most penalties the Flames took in a single period, so it makes sense that's the period where they dropped below 50% in possession.
- Both teams had offsetting penalties in the second, and both had one powerplay each. And it was the Flames' best period. How much do you want to thank Johnny Gaudreau for that?
- The Flames had three straight powerplays in the third, and couldn't do anything with them. Still, take them away, and they were controlling the game, just not as dominantly as they were with the man advantage.
- So it wasn't even powerplays making the Flames look like the better team. They simply were.
Even Strength Corsi Data
- Pretty much everyone was in the green except: the fourth line; Joe Colborne, who left the game early and only played 8:09 (fewer than six minutes at even strength); and Mark Giordano, who played some of the Habs' top competition.
- We'll give a pass to Colborne here, since his night was cut short, and he probably would have improved on those numbers had he been able to play the time his regular linemates, Sean Monahan and Jiri Hudler, did.
- Speaking of Monahan and Hudler real quick: they had some helpful zone starts, but faced off against good competition, and came away with good stats, and that's not counting the eight or so minutes of powerplay time both had. Good game for them.
- Back to the fourth line. Josh Jooris played the least out of everybody, had some of the worst starts on the team, and ended up with a poor possession rating. Not surprising.
- Lance Bouma and Brandon Bollig, on the other hand, both had horrific possession games despite starting 100% of their even strength shifts in the offensive zone. That's, well, bad. They were facing some pretty decent competition, and were getting eaten by them.
- So why am I picking on Bollig and not Bouma? Because Bouma has demonstrated additional value. For example, he played 2:17 on the penalty kill; Bollig played all of 23 seconds. Also, Bouma is younger. And has scored more in his career. So there's that.
- Gio: scored a goal, matched against top competition, held his own, comes out even when we take blocked shots (he had six) out of the equation.
- TJ Brodie: similar circumstances to his regular defence partner, played an additional 2:10, had a slightly better game.
- As for the rest of the defence, Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell had middling zone starts, faced decent competition (and did a pretty good job holding them in check), continued to prove themselves the Flames' second pairing, and even though Wideman's scoring streak was broken, they'll probably continue that way. Deryk Engelland and Ladislav Smid saw themselves get tougher zone starts but come out of it pretty good; they also played Montreal's weakest competition and were barely on the ice, especially when compared to the top four. So... at least they did well against easy competition.
- The worst zone starts of them all belonged to Matt Stajan, and he came out of it pretty good, while mostly seeing some pretty decent competition. His night was sadly cut short, and it looks like he may miss some time now.
- As Stajan's linemates, Curtis Glencross and David Jones also started primarily away from the offensive zone, but had a pretty good night overall. Glencross was better, but remember that Jones had only played one game this season prior to last night, so that part makes sense. Both did pretty well in a third line role, although Jones played far less.
- That just leaves the Gaudreau - Mikael Backlund - Paul Byron line, and damn, they were good. Backlund, as the most veteran of the group, had the worst zone starts, and still came away with pretty strong numbers. Byron came away as the middle guy of the group, and had an excellent possession performance, as he tends to. And then there's Gaudreau, whose skill was so evident out on the ice. He was a bit more sheltered - which makes sense, since he's the offensive rookie and all - but he really dominated possession. You could tell in the eye test; the underlying numbers just reaffirm that.
- The group didn't play super strong competition, but they didn't play really weak players, either. So their stats may be a bit inflated, but hey: a good game is a good game, and that line had a great one.
Player Spotlight - Johnny Gaudreau
This should be self-explanatory. We can all agree Gaudreau was incredible. Let's look a little further into it.
- Gaudreau's enhanced performance when playing with the bottom defence pairing is more a reflection of the competition he matched up against than the defence's abilities. Gaudreau is clearly skilled and finding his confidence, but he's not ready to do that against top competition quite yet. (Side note: for real, how great is Brodie?)
- He comfortably spent most of his time with Backlund and Byron, and, uh, that Backlund-Gaudreau combination worked really, really well with one another. They would have had a goal, too, had the net not come off its moorings.
- He was thrown out there with Hudler and Monahan a decent amount, too, and while they primarily faced some of the opposition's best, he played well with them as well.
- Still, Gaudreau on a line with Backlund and Byron is pretty interesting, since those are two of the Flames' better possession drivers. Backlund isn't as tall a "tower" as Colborne, but he's a better player. It would be great to see this line stick around a little more, and see how it fares against other teams.
But yeah, Gaudreau is a really special player. He's a lot of fun to watch, and he's the real deal. We're all starting to see him come into that now.