The Flames, down by a goal in the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks, tried and tried and tried to even it up, but just couldn't do it. The Flames, down by a goal and then two in the third period against the New Jersey Devils, tried and tried and tried to even it up AND THEY DID IT BECAUSE THEY ARE THE GREATEST.
Sometimes it'll happen. Sometimes it won't. The Flames are defying all expectations right now and riding some outstanding numbers that aren't likely to keep going (and Brad Treliving agrees), but right now, it's fun. It's so much fun. When was the last time you had this much fun watching the Flames? Probably the second half of the 2010-11 season for me.
Let's all agree to never stop having fun. Here are corsi charts via the wonderful HockeyStats:
The Flames may have been down 2-0 after the first, but they were still generating scoring chances. What the heck is up with that major flatline in the third, though? Tuomo Ruutu increased the Devils' lead to two at the end of it. Not that people don't love an exciting finish, but the Flames were cutting it a LITTLE close there. Just a little.
That's with the game at all situations. The picture is a little less pretty when we factor out powerplays, of which the Flames had a ridiculous abundance:
But factor out blocked shots as well (Calgary had 18, New Jersey 11) and it gets nice again towards the end:
All in all, though, we can see that both teams kept it a very close, even game. There was a bit of a gap in the third period, but the Flames eventually managed to right it (and thank goodness for those two goals, too). Let's jump into our period by period analysis with NaturalStatTrick's help:
Flames vs Devils - All Situations
- Man, the Flames sure love blocking shots, don't they? Excluding them dramatically improves the team across the board. Makes sense, though: Kris Russell is tied for the league lead in blocked shots with 60, while Mark Giordano is tied for fifth with 51. No other team has two players in the top five, of course.
- The second period was the Flames' worst, and yet the only goal the Devils scored was a last couple seconds powerplay goal. Sometimes it just works for you.
Flames vs Devils - Even Strength
- Powerplay divvying up: even in the first, Flames 3-2 advantage in the second, 2-0 advantage in the third, 1-0 advantage in overtime. That's a bit ridiculous, and as you can see when we focus on even strength only, the Flames' numbers suffered.
- They lose the even strength corsi battle, but are still victorious in the even strength fenwick battle. This team loves blocking shots and we love them for it.
Flames Even Strength Corsi
Now sorted by CF%! What a pretty column. Clearer to read, and helps the fenwick stats stand out a bit more. Fenwick is friendlier to the shot-blocking Flames, but individual games provide a small sample size as is; corsi increases that a bit so it's what gets the main focus.
- The Dennis Wideman and Russell pairing received sheltered starts, which left a positive impact on their overall possession stats.
- What the heck, then, Curtis Glencross?! The two goals were, of course, awesome (especially that last one), but take those away and he still had a fantastic game. And that's without the limited offensive zone starts. He did all that while mostly facing the Devils' top line of Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri, and Jaromir Jagr. Wow.
- What the heck, Paul Byron? He didn't record a single blocked shot, but apparently was on the ice a lot when the Flames were blocking 'em. Check his zone starts, too: third worst on the team, but seventh best in possession. He remains sneaky good and the kind of guy you want around. When Mikael Backlund comes back I hope the two are on a line together: they play similar situations and both tend to do that kind of thing.
- Markus Granlund was very much sheltered. It makes sense. The Flames' second line centre and second best option is a rookie who had played all of six NHL games (plus 12 seconds) before he was called up this season. He's typically been out-possessed, so it's nice to see him come away above 50%, no matter his circumstances.
- Sven Baertschi, Corban Knight, and Devin Setoguchi did not have a good night. They were both sheltered and decimated. But then, there's only so much you can attempt to prove in six and a half minutes of ice time.
- Of course I'm thrilled both Brandon Bollig and Brian McGrattan were simultaneously scratched (first time this season!), but this means you can roll four lines now, Bob! You don't have to bench them partway through the second. All three actually do have the potential to contribute. Although Setoguchi did have one shift in the third for some reason.
- Ladislav Smid and Deryk Engelland did not face top competition, but of course if you bury your worst defencemen in their own zone they aren't going to have good numbers.
Player Spotlight - Curtis Glencross
It bears repeating that Glenny had a hell of a game. He got to run around for nearly 20 minutes (all situations), score two goals (a lucky shot - just put pucks on net! - and some composed excellence with the clock ticking down right out in front), three shots, four hits, and somehow apparently had six takeaways. He was busy!
Now sorted by time he shared with the player, so the more relevant information is right there at the top.
- Of course, as the team's current first line left winger, he spent most of his time with the top defence pairing, top centre, and new top line right winger, Byron (in David Jones' absence) (and thank goodness it's Byron - I love Lance Bouma, but he is not a first liner. Neither is Byron, but Byron has the more suitable skill set).
- Anyway, they were respectable with one another, and the five of them were out there for his first goal.
- Now, what's really weird are his stats with Jiri Hudler. Comparatively, they didn't spend much time with one another, but when they were together, they were perfect.
- Hudler and Glencross didn't really start spending time with one another until the third period. Hudler's normal linemate, Granlund, barely played with him in the third at all.
- Glencross was the last guy sent out there with Karri Ramo pulled. That paid off, eh?
- Also interesting to note: Glencross faced top competition, and outplayed them. His CF was above 60% when sharing the ice with Andy Greene, Cammalleri, and Zajac. Jagr held him to a mere 56.25%. He was better when separated from all of them (except Cammy), but New Jersey's top line didn't seem to give him much trouble.
- The only Devil to out-possess the Flames with Glencross on the ice was Calder candidate Damon Severson. He held Glencross to just 45.45 CF% over 7:09 of ice time. Away from him, Glencross shot up to 77.78%.
- Meanwhile, Glencross absolutely wrecked - and I mean wrecked - Adam Larsson. The young defenceman has had his struggles in New Jersey, and had the worst stats for them on the night. When they shared the ice, the Flames out-shot-attempted the Devils 11-0. Over 6:50 of ice time. That's... kind of incredible.
For the record, I'm all for trading Glencross. His contract is up this season, and with him turning 32 in about a month, he's approaching the downside of his career. He gave up big money to stay with the Flames for his most recent contract, and probably isn't going to do that again on what may be his last chance at a real payday. Glencross may never actually hit the 30 goal mark he's been approaching the last little while, and the Flames are doing pretty well when it comes to prospective left wingers, what with Johnny Gaudreau and Baertschi and Morgan Klimchuk and Michael Ferland.
The Flames are super fun right now, but don't forget, this is only year two of the rebuild. Offloading expiring assets at the trade deadline should still be a thing. He probably isn't worth as much as Cammalleri, but that doesn't mean the Flames should Cammalleri him in hopes of him providing in a playoff run.
You still wanna see the guy have good games, though. Glencross is one of the longest tenured current Flames, after all. But there's an added bonus if games like this can up his trade value. After all, how clutch was that?