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Game 18 fancy stats recap: Paul Byron is the kind of guy you want in your bottom six

An excellent performance by the Flames, especially when it comes to one little guy who hadn't been able to score in a while.

Can you spot Paul Byron?
Can you spot Paul Byron?
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

It was a pretty close game. Even with the Flames scoring five goals, the Coyotes were frequently able to claw their way back into it, limiting Calgary to no more than two-goal leads, and not particularly lengthy ones at that. The Flames outshot the Coyotes by 25-23, but that doesn't really reflect just how much they controlled the game, and how some poor goaltending could have cost them.

Via Greg Sinclair's HockeyStats:

Game18ChartALL

It took the Coyotes 6:22 to get their first attempted shot. Not shot on net - attempted shot. For all the six minutes and 22 seconds beforehand, the Flames were the only ones actually directing the puck where they wanted it to go. The Coyotes' first actual shot on net came 9:40 into the game. It's a shame the Flames weren't able to capitalize immediately on their big possession lead (by 9:40 in, they had 12 shot attempts). That could have been the difference, although we can see in the overall chart that the Flames maintained a pretty firm grip throughout the game.

Game18ChartES

Take away special teams, though (in which the Flames had a 3-1 advantage) and things look a bit more fair for the Coyotes. In fact, they ended up with more shot attempts at even strength alone, but it's also important to remember the Flames led the entire third period, and the Coyotes needed a goal way, way more than Calgary did.

With NaturalStatTrick, let's take a look at how things shook out period by period:

Flames vs Coyotes - All Situations

Game18AS

  • Well, of course the Flames were going to have a particularly dominating first after it took the Coyotes nearly half the period to get just one shot on net.
  • They controlled play through the second as well, although not by quite so extremely.
  • The third period isn't any cause for concern. It was basic score effects in work: typically the team with the lead is going to go into a defensive shell and the team that's behind is going to try more things because they need to tie up the game as soon as possible. The Flames led going into the third, and added to their lead. The Coyotes, for all their attempts, never got back in it.
  • Both teams were about even in blocked shots - 19 for the Coyotes, 18 for the Flames - so the fenwick numbers don't change much. Although the Flames blocked a lot of shots in the second, and had a lot blocked in the third.
Flames vs Coyotes - Even Strength

Game18ES

  • The Flames were the only team to get powerplays in the first, hence, their first period possession stats fall when excluding them. The Coyotes had the only man advantage in the second, which they did score on, so Calgary sees a slight bump.
  • And the Flames had the lone powerplay in the third. They had six shot attempts during it as opposed to the Coyotes' two, and Arizona was already desperately working to get back in the game, so, score effects.
  • The Coyotes out-possessing the Flames at even strength isn't that big a deal because the two teams were tied in corsi for and against at 29-29 after two, with Calgary leading 4-3 on the scoreboard. So, again: score effects resulted in the Coyotes having the stronger overall possession game.
Flames Even Strength Data

Game18FlamesES

  • Your possession standouts: Sean Monahan, Mark Giordano, and Deryk Engelland.
  • Seeing Monahan perform so well when receiving not only some of the worst zone starts on the Flames but also facing some pretty decent Coyotes players (Connor Murphy, Keith Yandle, and Antoine Vermette were his top three) is really encouraging. The sophomore is continuing to make major strides in his game, and is now scoring above a 50-point clip after a slow start courtesy of the flu. Hard not to get excited.
  • His linemates, David Jones and Curtis Glencross, also put up some decent numbers, though none as good as his. They were the only ones on the team to get worse zone starts. Hartley has clearly identified his top line, though, and has a fair amount of trust in them.
  • Typical Gio. Typical TJ Brodie, too.
  • Engelland has definitely had worse games than this. He looked confident, jumping up into the play a number of times, and it never really hurt him. He and partner Ladislav Smid had the best zone starts out of the defencemen, which definitely helped their numbers, but the important thing is in this game, they could handle it. And seriously, Engelland had a good game.
  • Other than Brodie, the Flames' next group of top possession players were, of course, Paul Byron and Sven Baertschi. The two combined for four points, after all. They mostly played against Sam Gagner, and were better than him.
  • Here is a thing I don't get: when the Flames were trying to get Byron his first career hat trick, Hartley stopped sending Baertschi out there for the game's final 10 minutes. Uhhhh Bob did you totally miss who set him up the first two times orrrrr...
  • Linemate Josh Jooris was less sheltered, and so, had worse possession stats. Still, he broke even, and he's one of the best stories of the Flames' season thus far.
  • The Johnny Gaudreau - Markus Granlund - Jiri Hudler line got completely killed out there. Just one assist and the absolute worst possession stats despite the best zone starts between the three of them. It's a two-rookie line with a centre definitely playing more than any of us would've anticipated, but man, Vermette, Mikkel Boedker, Lauri Korpikoski, Zbynek Michalek and Oliver Ekman-Larsson just throttled them.
  • Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell had the worst stats for defencemen on the night, but also the worst zone starts.
  • That just leaves the fourth line. Lance Bouma is a pretty good guy to have down there. He's reliable to play some decent minutes, chip in above if needed, and contribute every now and then without harming his team. Max Reinhart could probably use a bit more time. And Brian McGrattan, in his limited performance, was notably not a human disaster, which is an upgrade on Brandon Bollig - for now.
Player Spotlight - Paul Byron

Byron has a tendency to drive possession, and have a good impact on his linemates. It took him a bit to break into the league, but he looks like he's here to stay. He's clearly not the best scorer, as we can all attest to after a month of watching him go in on a breakaway only to miss or get stopped several times over, but if the Flames are doing well when he's on the ice, that's not a big concern. He's not a first line guy. He's a former sixth round pick whose value is really starting to show through.

Game18ByronWOWY

  • Byron only spent a little above three minutes away from Jooris, and nearly five minutes away from Baertschi. That line played the bulk of their minutes together, though, and they did well. The next forwards he tended to play with were Bouma and Glencross, but because they didn't spend too much time with one another, it's hard to get much out of their joint performances.
  • A tale of two defence pairings: Byron's only negative possession stats of the night came when he was with Russell and Wideman. Brodie and Giordano, on the other hand...
  • He spent about half the time with Brodie and Gio as he did with Russell and Wideman, so it's a little skewed, but. Fact is. Not a single start in the offensive zone for the trio, and putting up 90%+ corsi stats over about four and a half minutes of shared ice time is, well, pretty insane.
  • One shot attempt against the Flames the entire time Byron + Brodie + Gio were out on the ice together. ONE.
  • Is Byron like a little Backlund? Both in the literal and figurative sense. Last season, the Flames were a tire fire when they didn't have Backlund, Brodie, and Giordano on the ice. Backlund's been injured pretty much the entire season, and while Byron isn't as good, he's doing a pretty admirable job filling in when it comes to helping the Flames out-possess their opponents.

Paul Byron is a guy whose true value shines in these numbers. He doesn't get huge minutes, but if, going forward, the Flames continue to utilize him in a bottom six role, they'll probably be in pretty decent shape. Byron's the exact kind of guy you want down there. Sure, he's probably never going to be one of your top scorers, but he's probably not going to hurt your team, either. Plus he can step up in case of injury and still chip in some goals every now and then.

More Byrons! Less McGrattans/Bolligs! Because for all the quips about how important size is, Byron is much more difficult to play against than those two.