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Flames at Blackhawks stats recap: At least they keep it interesting

If you're not a Cup contender (and let's be very clear here, the Flames are not), at least you want the games to be fun to watch, right? That's the era we're living in. It's not so bad.

So... whatcha guys doin'?
So... whatcha guys doin'?
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

And falling 2-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks makes five. Five losses in a row for the Calgary Flames. For the first three, they were the better team. Then they started playing guys known as the real elites of the league. The Penguins didn't need Sidney Crosby to handle the Flames, and the Blackhawks had more than they needed to take care of them as well.

That's not a bad thing, though. The Flames have a number of interesting prospects on the cusp of making the big leagues. These years are growing pains. These games are growing pains. Via HockeyStats.ca:

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So yeah, the Blackhawks kind of took it to the Flames all game. It's a testament to this group that it was only a one-goal game, though, and they were tied for most of it. Besides, look at where the Blackhawks were before, and look at where they are now. Who's to say Sean Monahan isn't a younger Jonathan Toews, Johnny Gaudreau a littler Patrick Kane, and I'm not entirely sure who to compare Sam Bennett to because he looks exactly like Kane except I already used the Gaudreau comparison there, but basically, he's going to be awesome?

That got away from me. My point is there are still totally things to look forward to, and signs things may just turn out okay. But we're definitely not there yet. Because the Blackhawks definitely had that game under control pretty much the entire time.

Let's take a look at it period by period, via NaturalStatTrick:

Flames at Blackhawks - All Situations

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  • Yeah, the Blackhawks flat out dominated this one.
  • No scoring until the second, so when everything was even in the first, they were still controlling the play and the most likely to score.
  • And it was tied going into the third, so knowing one team would have to score at least once more, they absolutely decimated the Flames, and got a goal for their efforts. You could tell even just by watching it: the Blackhawks were in complete control. The numbers simply back that up.
  • Not surprising, then, that the Flames scored in their best period (the second).
  • Fenwick (discounting blocked shots) just further shows how wildly the Blackhawks dominated the third. While the first and second periods are respectable battles, the third is closer to a massacre. The Flames had 26 blocked shots to the Blackhawks' eight. Yikes.
Flames at Blackhawks - Even Strength

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  • The powerplays were pretty evenly spread out, so it's not surprising to see not a whole lot changes when regarding the teams at even strength.
  • Notice how the Blackhawks universally improved when we count out times with the man advantage, though. They're so good they don't need it to win. That's what the Flames should be striving for.
Even Strength Flames Data

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  • Nobody managed to break even on corsi. Everyone was below 50% on CF. Kris Russell was the only one to go above 50% on FF: he had four blocked shots, while defence partner Dennis Wideman had five.
  • That said, Russell very, very clearly stands out here. What the heck happened? It's not like he had a particularly fabulous game or anything, but compared to his teammates, he was a god. He had one of the strongest ice times, all the while primarily facing off against Chicago's second line, which contains Patrick Kane.
  • Here's a bizarre Russell/Kane stat. Okay, so when the two shared the ice, Kane posted a 47.62% CF. When separated, Kane played at 94.44%. That is a crazy number. That is, in part, skewed by small sample size, but keep in mind, these two saw a lot of each other. About half the time Kane was on the ice, Russell was there with him.
  • So basically: while Russell didn't dominate Kane, he kept him very much in check. Very much in check.
  • Going with some other strong colours, this time in the land of zone starts: notice how the Flames' top line (Curtis Glencross, Sean Monahan, and David Jones) all had the absolute worst zone starts on the team, while the fourth line (Lance Bouma, Mason Raymond, and Matt Stajan) were all heavily sheltered, starting every single one of their shifts in the offensive zone? Nobody posted great corsi ratings, but for whatever reason, Glencross and Bouma skewed much greater than their linemates. (Also notice that while minuscule, Monahan and Jones posted greater possession stats than Raymond and Stajan, and over way more ice time).
  • They all played roughly the same competition as well. Bouma and Glencross were on the ice for fewer shot attempts than their linemates.
  • The Paul Byron - Markus Granlund - Joe Colborne line posted worse fenwick percentages than their corsi stats, indicating they weren't on the ice for many blocked shots. Compare this to the Russell - Wideman pairing, who blocked nine shots apiece and were on the ice for more: their fenwick is kinder to them, since it doesn't hold the blocked shots against their possession stats. (If you take a shot and it's blocked it indicates you had possession of the puck, so it counts as a possession stat, but was it really a scoring chance? The shot was blocked, so the goalie was never even going to see it. Hence the distinction between corsi and fenwick.)
  • Colborne was much better, by the way. Last game, in all his 13:37 of ice time, he had all of one shot attempt for while on the ice. That's abhorrent, especially for someone playing on the first line. Take him off that, and he jumped up to 13. While he gets up to speed, he definitely needs to play in easier circumstances. Hell, the other two injured returnees are on the fourth line. Not sure why Hartley thought slotting Colborne in on the first line right away would work.
  • Something I just found interesting: Mark Giordano and Deryk Engelland posted the same corsi percentages, only Giordano had double the events Engelland did in almost double the ice time. Albeit with far worse zone starts. And Giordano faced WAY tougher competition, but you probably figured that out on your own already.
  • Kinda weird how Russell posted such better stats than Wideman when they played the same guys. Same goes with TJ Brodie and Giordano. Rafa Diaz and Engelland were pretty much equal; the difference between them is pretty much just two shot attempts. They're also clearly not trusted.
Player Spotlight - Kris Russell

Seriously, it's weird when a single player stands so far and above his peers for whatever reason. I like Russell, but he's not exactly someone you'd expect to stand out this way.

32russellWOWY

  • Looks like the guys who had the greatest effect on Russell - guys with reasonable ice times, that is (sorry Deryk, but playing 47 seconds with a guy just isn't worth looking into) are Gaudreau, Jiri Hudler, and Granlund. All shared the ice with Russell for over five minutes. Honourable mentions to Bouma and Brodie.
  • Gaudreau's the guy I want to key in on here, because, well, he's one of the most fascinating rookies (overall players?) in the league. He and Russell performed better when on the ice together than when apart. Although Russell did play 19 minutes without Gaudreau, and Gaudreau about 11.
  • Also looks like Russell had a better performance when away from Jones. Jones, meanwhile, was way worse without Russell backing him up. It's kinda weird that Hartley was benching him the past three games, only to put him right back on the top line, where he appears to have been more detrimental than either of his linemates (not that anybody was particularly great).
  • I'm not even bothering to mention Wideman in a with-or-without you scenario because the two spent all of, like, four minutes apart from one another. That's really small to get a read on. Though I guess Brodie is the better player, but would they be able to keep up a 66.67% CF when playing together for seven times what they did?

There's a lot of middling data here, and it's only one game (and at that, bits and fractions of that one game; Russell may have been an ice time leader, but he was still out there for only 25 minutes, and it's really hard to get meaningful data with just 25 minutes to work with). Still, it does highlight a couple of players worth looking at in the bigger pictures, and helps show we may be able to expect Gaudreau to be a guy who, as he himself grows and develops, will be a positive impact on his teammates. (For example, Byron, while not flashy, is someone who improves his teammates' stats when they play together. Get that kind of guy who also happens to be someone who can score and, well, that's a good thing.)