There is this weird vibe or mantra among Flames fans that the "bandwagoners" are going to leave now after four losses. Oh well, it shouldn't honestly be a concern for you. It's their choice, no big deal. It's not like Calgary hasn't had losing streaks like this in the past, hell the team that lost to Montreal in the 1986 Stanley Cup finals had an 11 game losing streak start in December '85 and go into the new year.
That said the one beautiful thing fans, new and old learned last season was the persistence they have for playing hard each game. It's something that I'll always love about the re-emergence of this team as one of, if not the toughest at times to finish a game against. Especially in the third period lately -- it's a good reputation to have.
Four losses? No big deal, I made it through the "Young Guns" era. It was painful enough. '04 no goal? Yeah, I'm still emotionally shattered and many reading this will be triggered into a catatonic shock from the mention of it. Seeing Jarome Iginla go and really accepting the rebuild happening? No problem.
That said, we're going to be pretty honest about everything we see this season and within reason, if we're wrong we'll accept it and own it. That said, last night's loss was something Ari and I discussed in length about hopefully sneaking out a win against a battered Penguins team. It didn't work out, so we move onto the next game against Chicago.
Let's dig into this game starting with data courtesy of Hockeystats.ca
- So this was all Pittsburgh to start. In fact, it was 2:41 before Calgary had their first shot on net, 5:11 was their next shot. Not the way you want to start after losing to Buffalo. What's more disappointing is that Blake Comeau goal, yeesh.
- Just under 5:00 into the game, it's 2-0 and the Penguins are just hammering on the Flames. What's even more shocking is the roster they dressed last night.
- With no Sidney Crosby, his best friend Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis' career is basically over, Beau Bennett is in a giant bubble to protect him, and Olli Maatta is recovering from his tumor/growth situation. So they dress a majority of bottom-six guys and AHL gents AND BEAT OUR ASSES INTO THE GROUND.
- To end the first period like we did, is frankly horrifying of what else the schedule has for the Flames...oh wait we play the Oilers twice this month so we'll be okay for a bit. Either way, we do have some tougher games coming up.
- By the time Johnny Gaudreau scores, it's 18-6 in CF for the Pens. We had no chance here.
- Second period was absolute flatlines of possession here. Penalties non-stop so it felt, and then one interval of time when the Flames looked capable of making something happen. Even then it was rough to gain the zone, do something, and create chances.
- The third was a bit better though. You'll see the first interval of sustainable pressure around 8:00 into the period. It encompasses some 5v4 and 5v5 time which is nice and it lasted just over a minute. They would create a bit more but with the Rob Klinkhammer goal it was basically over.
- So during 5v5, the Flames were definitely a better team in the third. All of which are due to score effects from what it appears to be. FYI: Really good primer on Score Effects located here.
- Flames manage to do 14-8 in the span of the beginning of the third to just prior to Pittsburgh's third and final goal. Which is an incredible stretch for them in this game relative to how they played prior. It's a small victory to take away tonight.
- Outside of that, I mean...there isn't much to really take away from a team performance overall.
Period by Period data and Calgary Flames data courtesy of the ever-amazing NaturalStatTrick.com
- It's games like these were you see the value of having a PP that isn't at the bottom of the league. Thankfully, ours is in the top 10 still which helped the situation despite not scoring.
- Even with the chances short-handed, it did impact the team a bit. Here's hoping we can recapture some of those SH goals from last year.
- Obviously with the third period being our strongest, it's the one small victory we can take away from this loss! Positive attitude, friends!
Flames vs Penguins - ES Period Data
- The first two periods may have been our worst periods of the season so far despite the Johnny Hockey goal.
- That third period is basically the Calgary Flames trademark of the season. Trail, trail, trail, and the turn on the overdrive to draw even. All the green and red sure adds a Christmas vibe.
- Positives? Mark Giordano had a decent evening. Another night of difficult starts combined with TJ Brodie having a really off night didn't derail him too much. He played against both top lines and both top pairings on a Penguins team who have become synonymous with playing through injuries and getting results.
- Speaking of Brodie, man what a night. He had three penalties called on him, two of which for sure looked soft but we're not getting into that. With Smid going down, it didn't help him out. Like Gio, he played against the top lines/pairings and had a rougher evening.
- Of all the players he faced off against, he broke even against Brandon Sutter, Blake Comeau, and Marcel Goc. Two others, Andrew Ebbett and Simon Despres resulted in positive possession numbers. He managed to be a better Fenwick player this evening (shots missed + on net) posting up some decent underlying numbers against players with TOI sample sizes that are reasonable.
- The second line of Jiri Hudler, Johnny Gaudreau, and Josh Jooris/Markus Granlund depending on the deployment was the best line for the evening. Which makes sense, considering the consistently padded zone starts they get.
- HOWEVER, Josh Jooris had absolutely no starts in the offensive zone; so it was all DZ and NZ for this rookie. He did play against some softer competition like Simon Despres and Rob Scuderi. His match-ups against forward lines appear to be a mix of the first and third lines for Pittsburgh. I love this kid and like everyone else, feel his story has been remarkable for this season.
- The top line of Sean Monahan and like a gaggle of others that included Joe Colborne (yeesh), Mason Raymond, Gaudreau, and Paul Byron got slaughtered. More accurately: Monahan, Byron, and Colborne had rough nights.
- They matched up in a similar fashion against the top line and second pairing and were murdered. Paul Byron was 0-10 CF against Patric Hornqvist, 2-12 against Christian Ehrhoff, and 1-11 against Robert Bortuzzo. Just insane.
- Colborne, in a similar fashion had difficulty against the same sort. Overall though, he didn't generate much (like many) and it showed. He's still only two games in from returning from injury so he may need more time, softer minutes, and padded starts for a bit.
- I saw someone ripping on Glencross midway through the first or second period last night and I can see why at times. That said, he is generating chances when on the ice. I still stand by what I said previously when I think dealing him is the best option for the team to get assets to improve the team now/soon than seeing him walk at the end of the season. He had a decent night on a night that was a tire fire.