Sometimes, you unexpectedly find yourselves third in the league. And while a +9 goal differential - the sixth best goal differential in the league - is nothing to sneeze at, sometimes, it's just a case of luck. The Flames find themselves on a season-high three game winning streak (though the season is young yet), and a 6-2-2 record in their last 10, which is pretty good, but also pretty indicative that sometimes, the bounces just go your way.
And as last night's game showed us, that isn't something you can rely on. The bounces seemed to be going all Washington's way until Markus Granlund's improbable tying goal, and a combination of good goaltending and simply gutting it out allowed the Flames to come away with the overtime win. But the Flames probably should not have won that game.
Corsi - All Situations
At absolutely no point in the entire game did the Flames lead in shot attempts. Not once. The Flames kept it pretty close in the first period, but after that, the Caps started to take over.
Things do look a bit better, though, when we cut out all situations, and only look at the fenwick close stats (shots on net and missed shots when the game was within one goal in the first and second periods, and tied in the third - which was the situation most of the game):
That said, the Flames couldn't lead in this category, either. And despite where they currently are in the standings, that's not a good sign. Prepare yourselves for regression, for it just might come.
Here's the good news, though. While Calgary never caught up to the Caps in directing the puck towards the net, they did get better when it counted, which is a theme we've seen with the team since the rebuild began. Here's our period by period breakdown with NaturalStatTrick:
Flames at Capitals - All Situations
- The Caps absolutely decimated the Flames in the first two periods. It's a wonder that by the end of all that they only led by one goal, and it was the benefit of a lucky bounce and a 5 on 3 that gave them that lead. Thank you, based Jonas Hiller.
- Down by a goal for almost the entire third, the Flames needed to turn it on, and they did as best as they could. While the Caps thoroughly dominated possession in the first two periods, the Flames controlled it in the third, although by not nearly as strong a margin. Still, they came through when it counted, and it was with a lucky bounce of their own.
- This is why corsi is so important. Two of the Caps' goals indeed came on lucky bounces, but they outplayed the Flames, and by virtue of getting so many shot attempts, generated more chances where it was likelier those bounces would happen. It's the idea of "just get the puck on net" quantified.
Flames at Capitals - Even Strength
- Basically all of the penalties occurred in the second frame (with a couple seconds' carry over into the third), so we'll just look at that.
- Take out the penalties, where the Caps had a 3-1 edge - including extended 5 on 3 time that led to a goal - and the Flames had a slightly better second.
- Slightly. They were still pretty bad, although Mark Giordano's goal was pretty nice.
Even Strength Corsi Data
- HE'S SO BAD.
- Brandon Bollig most frequently saw the Caps' fourth line. He started every single one of his shifts in the offensive zone. And he had, by far, the worst corsi and fenwick on the team.
- HE'S SO FUCKING BAD.
- His linemates, Lance Bouma and Josh Jooris, were not only given significantly more ice time and trust (Jooris played nearly double what Bollig did all in all, and Bouma was sent out to kill a 5 on 3 call), but had better percentages while doing so. And Jooris set up the overtime winner.
- The next possession dregs are David Jones, Mark Giordano, and TJ Brodie, all of who saw the worst zone starts on the team while facing the toughest competition (a little less so in Jones' case).
- Giordano and Brodie are, once again, gods. They received extremely difficult circumstances and shone. Brodie, in particular, made Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom's lives much harder.
- The rest of the defence - Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman, Ladislav Smid, and Deryk Engelland - had slightly better possession numbers, but much easier circumstances to work with. Far greater zone starts, far lesser competition. And yet Russell and Wideman came out on top. Because Smid and Engelland aren't particularly great. They faced the easiest competition with the best zone starts out of the entire defence and not only barely out-possessed Wideman, but couldn't catch Russell.
- Here's a hint: if someone's listing a player's positive attributes and the only thing they can think to say is they're "gritty" and "tough to play against", that typically means the player actually sucks.
- Bollig + Smid + Engelland were on the ice multiple times together, and every single time, they were a disaster waiting to happen. The Caps really should have won this game.
- Moving up the possession ranks: Curtis Glencross had an okay game (ignoring the untimely penalty and temper tantrum, although it was probably fair of him to throw it, but not smart), and Sean Monahan is really improving. Monahan is now the Flames' number one centre by default, and he had a great performance, considering that he faced top competition with poor zone starts.
- Also the overtime goal. That was good. Kid's noticeably improving.
- Johnny Gaudreau looks like he did pretty well for someone with the flu.
- Markus Granlund and Paul Byron didn't play a ton, but they weren't liabilities when they were out there, and the two of them did a good job of both creating scoring chances and generating shots (they led the team with three each) (also, Granlund's goal). And I promise you, Byron will score again one day. He does all of the little things right, and he makes his teammates better. It'll come back.
- Jiri Hudler is probably the Flames' best veteran forward.
- And then there's the sheltered Devin Setoguchi and Sven Baertschi. Extremely beneficial starts, not particularly tough competition... but they came out of it pretty good. Although their limited ice time was definitely a factor in such high possession stats.
- All is not well in Svenland right now, and he really needs to get something going. But hey. At least he can play against soft competition. He's not Bollig.
Player Spotlight - Brandon Bollig
It cannot be stated nearly enough how terrible at hockey he is! I mean, okay, yes, this was one game. In a long line of many (well, 14, but if this goes on much longer...). Bollig has time and time again been given favourable circumstances and soft competition, and almost every single time he's failed. He's a better option than Brian McGrattan, but the second someone gets healthy, he needs to be scratched.
- How is he in the NHL???
- Jooris had to babysit Bollig literally the entire time. Together, they shared a 20.83% CF. When apart, Jooris had a 50.00% CF. Jooris did not deserve this.
- Bollig spent almost all his time playing with Bouma as well. Together they shared that poor 21.74% CF rating. When apart, Bouma jumped up to 33.33%. And that includes the time he spent killing a 5 on 3.
- Again: Bollig + Engelland + Smid = disaster waiting to happen. Bollig + Smid in particular, it would seem. And yes, the defencemen's percentages jumped by leaps and bounds when they didn't have to spend time with him. By about 50 points each. That's not an exaggeration, and Engelland and Smid aren't particularly great themselves.
- Playing with Brodie and Giordano meant playing with the best the Caps had to offer in the worst circumstances possible. Bollig was, unsurprisingly, not very good at it.
- I don't care how rough a go Baertschi is having, he is unequivocally a far, far better player than Bollig could ever hope to be and the fact that Bollig played more than him is insulting. I don't care how much Baertschi is sulking. He should never, ever receive less ice time than Bollig.
- Oh and he took a penalty, too. Because the Caps weren't dominating enough. Just. Oh my god.
- I was at the draft when the Flames traded for him. I couldn't help myself; my immediate reaction was to scream, "WHY?!" My question still stands. Why?!
Somehow Bollig has played every single game this season so far. I seriously do not get it. The Flames basically traded Lee Stempniak for him. I seriously do not get it.