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Flames Preseason Review - Possession Numbers Part 1

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First of a two part "brief" look at the Flames and their preseason advanced stats data for the team. There are some surprises both positively and headache inducing but it's all good right? I mean it's the rebuild!

Advanced stats god-king and captain of the Calgary Flames, Mark Giordano
Advanced stats god-king and captain of the Calgary Flames, Mark Giordano
Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

The phrase floating around the final days of training camp and the preseason, along with social media was "Always earned, never given". The words of an organization entering their sophomore season of a rebuild that should have happened a few years earlier show the existing strengths and flaws within Calgary. With the regular season roster set and a few surprises happening with that roster, I wanted to break down some data from the preseason.

David Jones, the $4 million dollar man who earned a contract on an awfully irregular 27 goal campaign back in 2010-2011 along with former 30 goal scorer Devin Setoguchi will be in the pressbox. Which is justified completely in varying degrees of discussion. Are Jones and Setoguchi better than newcomer Brandon Bollig and veteran facepunching blackhole monster Brian McGrattan? Yes. If you have to think about that for a second, I urge you to seek help.

Setoguchi had what some might call an invisible training camp. He didn't stand out as someone looking to pick up the pieces of a prominent career in the making. The former 8th overall San Jose pick in 2005 put up fantastic numbers in 08-09 playing along side now-pariah Joe Thornton. David Jones looked better at times but overall non-deserving of a top six role on the team despite how depleted our talent is on RW. Both are destined for bottom six roles, being traded, waived, or whatever.

Regardless of how the first game of the season goes, the preseason did provide some interesting data on the analytics side of things. All the games minus the Kraft Hockeyville game where the Flames won 4-3 in OT had data accessible online. To set the precedent with how valuable preseason data is, let's make a few things clear:

  • Sample size sucks! There is no way to get around that and there never will be. With players fighting for spots on the team, some players like Ben Hanowski for example might play one game. While Johnny Hockey got to play in six.
  • QOC (Quality of Competition) and QOT (Quality of Teammates) are completely skewed due to preseason. It's something to pay attention to and factor in during the season and the playoffs however at this time, it's bunk.
  • None of this data is adjusted for zone starts either.

During the writing of this, I stumbled across NaturalStatTrick.com created by the amazing Sammich BLT which ended up bringing in a ton more data into this post. It's still in Beta but the data looks fairly accurate and usable. Plus I've rewritten this thing like five times because every time I rewrite it, more data is found or it's presented better each time. So any feedback or anything you can add to this would help immensely when it comes to this stuff!

If you're not super familiar with the terminology being used in this post here is a brief breakdown of some of the acronyms and terms being used here. Often they're displayed as a % to showcase them in a more digestible format. You can use the +/- format as well on either too.

  • Tire fire - The Flames during a few games
  • Corsi - Shot attempts that include shots, missed shots, and blocked shots
  • CF (Corsi For) - Corsi events FOR the team. Ex: A shot attempt on the opponent is a corsi event for Calgary
  • CA (Corsi Against) - Corsi events AGAINST the team. Ex: A shot attempt against Calgary.
  • Fenwick - Shots and missed shots. Fenwick doesn't factor in blocked shots
  • FF (Fenwick For) - See example in CF
  • FA (Fenwick Against) - See example in CA
Game One: Flames 1 - Oilers 0 (Calgary Game)

This was the first of the split squad games between Calgary and our Alberta rival. We dressed a much more experienced roster that showcased the likes of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, possession gods TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano, and tumbleweed Brandon Bollig.
Even strength Data
      
All Events: Flames (Even strength isn't available via NaturalStatTrick Yet)
Some thoughts on the data shown above:
  • Based on some even strength data found on Greg's site; Gio and Brodie had an off night. However above at all events, it looks like they weren't terrible. Corsi Rel is pretty much useless on one game and since it's preseason it's more useless.
  • Sean Monahan, Devin Setoguchi, and Johnny Gaudreau had great nights in all events while having less offensive zone starts than the rest of the team
  • Morgan Klimchuck, Corban Knight, and Max Reinhart had a rough night this evening while getting softer zone starts.
  • Joe Colborne had the "tougher" zone starts this game and maintained positive possession numbers but let me stress once again that it's preseason.
Game Two: Flames 1 - Oilers 3 (Edmonton Game)

The second of the split squad series on the 21st of September showcased a "less talented" Calgary roster that went to Edmonton to play what was a "more talented" Oilers roster. Byron, Baertschi, Stajan, and Glencross were the more prominent names on this line-up.
Even strength Data
All Events
  • David Wolf really stood out. I know he was one of the first cuts made but he really had a strong game that evening in Edmonton. It's a bummer that it didn't continue and he didn't get more opportunity in camp. Hopefully he has a strong season in Adirondack and gets called if he puts up numbers.
  • Paul Byron had an okay game at even strength (data here on Greg's site) but much like everyone else; he was killed in other situations.
  • Lance Bouma had a really bad evening. He's a great shotblocker and a fantastic penalty kill guy but he got burned badly that evening.
  • Veterans Matty Franchise, Curtis Glencross, Jones, Dennis Wideman, and now assistant captain Kris Russell were ho-hum live and numbers wise. Glencross looked really apathetic all game.
  • Zone starts seemed to be the biggest concern here. With the cast of players playing and being given optimal starts, the Flames still suffered at times except for David Wolf.
Game Three: Flames 4 - Coyotes 3 (OT)

No stats available for this game... yet. I'm still trying to find a way to see if there was anything posted online or tracked. But who cares right? Sylvan Lake got a great hockey game and had a wonderful time.

Game Four: Flames 1 - Canucks 3

How we lost this game? We couldn't score at even strength even though the numbers were highly in our favour. Vancouver benefited from fantastic goaltending that game. It was an impressive effort overall but it didn't work out. That being said, there were plenty of surprises in this game data-wise.
Even strength Data

All Events

  • Giordano and Brodie (swoon) produced phenomenal numbers at even strength. They're consistently the best players on the ice for us and will continue to be a cornerstone of the team. Given their ability to control possession and play on the powerplay and at ES; the Flames will rely on them throughout the immediate future.
  • Lance had a great night and it showed. He was doing everything possible to create opportunities. Although he did had some favourable starts.
  • Sven, Michael Ferland, Bill Arnold, and Sam Bennett all had positive possession evenings at even strength (see link in first bullet point) but in all events they looked great too.
  • While newly signed Raphael Diaz, Ryan Culkin, Garnet Hathaway, and Mark Cundari all had some issue at even strength. In all events, Diaz did have some good numbers too! Culkin's positioning issue which lead to the Hunter Shinkaruk goal was really painful to watch.
Game Five: Flames 0 - Canucks 3

The second split squad between the two teams with a similar format to the Oilers/Flames split squad games. The Flames would get burned at even strength often; mostly by the Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Radim Vrbata which took it's toll all game. Markus Granlund would leave the game due to a concussion as well which skewed his numbers.
Even Strength Data

All Events
      
  • Jiri Hudler was definitely the best veteran Flame on the ice while Bennett showcased his skill in this game. Sam did a phenomenal job this game despite the loss. It sucks that he's not going to be playing for awhile in Kingston or representing Canada at the World Juniors this year.
  • Byron yet again showing why he is a perfect option on the third line this season. He was doing everything possible yet again to drive possession while on the ice.
  • Bollig wasn't completely horrendous. He did have 13:58 TOI at ES to drive his numbers that evening. However examining shift chart data, it looks like Sam Bennett may have helped pad those numbers a bit.
  • Hanowski, the prospect the Flames acquired in the Jarome Iginla deal had a rough night and looked flat to be honest. It doesn't look like he'll be anything beyond a bottom six player at this point. What a disappointment in hindsight.
  • Bryce Van Brabant, Kenny Agostino, and Max Reinhart all had rough evenings too. Max seemed to have been stuck with less talented teammates all training camp and it never really worked in his favour. Hopefully he has a strong year in the AHL which gives him a real opportunity to showcase himself with Calgary.
We'll pick up on this tomorrow with the remaining games from the preseason including the two wins over the Avalanche and the games against the Winnipeg Jets that closed out an interesting preseason for the team. Of course later on today, the Flames open the season against the Canucks. Check the game out on all the Sportsnet stations at 8 PM MST and follow along on our game thread and Twitter as the Matchsticks and Gasoline team have you covered when it comes to this season!