The Flames won. They scored six goals. Mark Giordano and Johnny Gaudreau had three points each. They remain near the top of the league's standings, and top three in the monstrous Pacific Division. Four games into a five game road trip, the Flames have a 3-1-0 record. So everything's great, right?
It took the Flames nearly five minutes to get their first shot attempt - not shot on net, a shot attempt - and about 30 more seconds to get an actual shot on net. The Panthers led in shot attempts the entire game, just as they led on the scoreboard most of the time.
Both teams had the same number of powerplays, so as you can guess, they weren't too big a factor when it came to the overall game's possession; the Panthers led in shot attempts at even strength as well.
Most of the game was played in close circumstances (within one goal in the first and second periods, and tied in the third), and as you can guess...
... the Panthers led the game in shot attempts the entire time in those conditions.
But the Flames did battle back from their deficits. It was a crazy game with a lot of back-to-back goals, but hey, the Flames still won it. They're one of the best third period teams in the league. It was inevitable, right?
Again, not exactly. It's nice that it happened, but when we break down possession period by period, it gets uglier. Via NaturalStatTrick:
Flames at Panthers - All Situations
- The Panthers dominated the entire game. They were at their best in the third period, a time when they took two penalties, and the Flames - the supposed excellent third period team - scored three goals.
- The third period was also when Jonas Hiller played. Karri Ramo is not a bad goalie, but he had a bad game, and once he was pulled, the Flames shutout Florida. But it was ultimately the Panthers outplaying the Flames throughout the game, and most strongly in the third.
- The second period was the busiest, and also the Flames' best, although they were honestly still pretty poor overall.
- Timely goals and Hiller were definitely the difference here, because make no mistake about it: the Panthers were the better team.
Flames at Panthers - Even Strength
- There were six penalties all game. Both teams had a powerplay each in the first, the Panthers had four minutes of powerplay time in the second, and the Flames had just under four minutes of powerplay time in the third.
- So, unsurprisingly, the Flames had a better second when factoring out powerplays (although the shorthanded goal was awesome), and a worse third.
- And they had the worse overall game when we factor out special teams. But hey, to gleam a positive from this, that just means the Flames have the better powerplay and penalty kill! Not by enough to make a major difference when looking exclusively at position, but that has to count for something, right?
- (Of course it counted for something. That was represented in the shorthanded goal. That's hardly something to rely on, though. The majority of the game is played at even strength.)
Flames Even Strength Data
- So, the Flames had a crap possession game. But someone managed to break even in corsi, and that someone, in all his 8:53 of even strength ice time, was Lance Bouma. Poor zone starts? Whatever.
- Noted "how are you a real person" Krys Barch grouped Bouma in with Brandon Bollig and Brian McGrattan as "guys who should commit cheapshots" at the start of the season (the actual tweet has since been deleted, possibly proving that Barch might actually not be as out of it as he originally appeared). Bouma should not be compared with those two, for he is better than them. Also he led in ice time on the penalty kill. The game winner was pretty cool, too.
- But wait! Who's that right behind him? Why, it's Bollig, somehow, who had a great fenwick night with poor zone starts. Bollig was not a human disaster against the Panthers. He himself didn't block any shots - the two taken off his overall tally were probably Bouma and Josh Jooris'.
- Jiri Hudler and Gaudreau had some pretty decent possession games, albeit with some sheltered zone starts. Sean Monahan is up there as well, and once Gaudreau joined his line, both players were much better. So. They might get to stick together a while yet.
- Ladislav Smid had just a smidge better numbers than Deryk Engelland, though he wasn't necessarily better (or worse, for that matter). Smid had more minutes, but Engelland had more penalty kill time. The difference in their possession percentages is probably just from a few isolated events, since they spent most of their even strength time with one another. Three blocked shots between them accounts for an improved fenwick.
- Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman posting relatively poor possession stats despite very beneficial zone starts is at least a little concerning. The magic seems to be wearing off. The Flames are thin at defence.
- Curtis Glencross and David Jones had similar games, but Jones required more help. It'll be interesting to see if he gets to stick on Monahan's line if Gaudreau is going to take over Glencross' spot. Considering how he had some pretty decent power moves this game, and the Flames' apparent need to "protect" smaller guys like Gaudreau, he just might.
- There are more drastically negative than positive standouts in this group. We can toss Devin Setoguchi a bone, because he got injured early in the second period.
- That saw his line broken up, but they weren't having a great game to begin with. Sven Baertschi was, once again, benched, but he followed up his fantastic-first-period-inexplicably-benched-the-rest-of-the-game effort against Tampa with a much worse try. Paul Byron tends to put up great possession numbers, but it looks like Aaron Ekblad seriously kept him in check.
- Markus Granlund, meanwhile, is a rookie with a lot of potential, but still a rookie who is probably being asked to play above his level due to lack of options.
- Monahan and Granlund were heavily leaned on, and the only Flames forwards to play over 20 minutes. It shouldn't be surprising that Monahan had the better overall game. Another observation: Monahan had a lot of powerplay time, while Granlund was entrusted with the penalty kill.
- And this wouldn't be complete without giving talk to Gio and TJ Brodie. Here's a pretty fun fact: both were much better when Gaudreau was on the ice.
Player Spotlight - Johnny Gaudreau
To start, Gaudreau was with his regular linemates, Granlund and Hudler. By the third period, he'd swapped places with Glencross, joining Monahan and Jones on the de facto first line. So hey, let's take a look at how that line change worked out for him.
- So, Gaudreau's original opposite wing was Hudler. He's one of the best veterans the Flames have, so it's not surprising Gaudreau's performance dropped off when separated.
- Then it was Jones who ended up on his other side, and nobody should be surprised that this caused Gaudreau's numbers to drop off. Hudler is better than Jones, and I don't think you'll find anyone who will disagree.
- But what about centres? Monahan is a second-year pro, while Granlund is a rookie. Monahan also has the higher pedigree, and deservedly so, so of course Gaudreau had better percentages when they hooked up, although the zone starts probably helped out here.
- And just look at how drastic a drop Gaudreau had when he wasn't with Monahan. The same goes for Monahan: when Gaudreau wasn't with him, his CF was only 37.50%. The two have the very real potential to feed off one another, and if the Monahan line is now the first line, why not put Gaudreau on it?
- Granlund's stats absolutely plummeted without Gaudreau, for the record: just 11.76% CF.
- And what of Glencross, who Gaudreau replaced? He performed better with Jones, but worse with Monahan. His percentages dropped with both Hudler and Granlund. But as a rebuilding club, the Flames' focus should be on finding ways for the kids to succeed, and not necessarily the veterans.
- That said, if Gaudreau joins the first line, what happens to Granlund? It's loading up the top line at the expense of team depth. But maybe that'll be better for the team overall. Defensive depth is nice, but actually scoring goals is pretty important, and Gaudreau with Monahan may provide better chances.
- And a quick look at the defence just reaffirms Giordano and Brodie are great, great defencemen, while Russell and Wideman are falling off.
So do we see Gaudreau starting on Monahan's line next game? They combined for two goals in the third, and the percentages absolutely match up, so it would be odd if they didn't. Keep it rolling. Gaudreau and Monahan could have not only a big year, but big careers with one another. This is just one game - one period, really - but it's a start that's worth looking further into.