I'll be honest. I wasn't going to watch the game live last night; I had friends over and was playing some Smash Bros. I was going to sit down later last night, watch the game on GCL, and then do this recap. THEN SOMETHING MAGICAL HAPPENED. My phone blew up with chatter of the Flames doing the most Calgary thing ever this season. Then the texts came in. I derailed my evening with friends to see that the Flames scored on themselves.
Joy, pure joy rushed through my body. Followed by vomit filling anxiety, rage, bargaining, and acceptance. It's almost like I was at the doctors and they told me I had like 5 months to live. My friends sensing that I needed to watch this game went home and I was left to pick up the shambles of my evening to see the Flames
sorta maybe basically come back but lose in OT.
That coupled with the Giordano missed shot in OT that lead to Chris Tanev's goal may have created the most memorable game of this season for us to reflect on. I'm sure in a few years when we've all drank ourselves silly countless times over last night's game we'll be able to talk about it with kander. Or we'll have war flashbacks and be unable to cope with existence. I still did go back and watch the period after - it beautiful.
Enough of me rambling about the existentialist crisis that this sport causes me, let's talk about those ol' fancy stats shall we?
- The first 4:00 or so was fine. Then you know, that goal happened. The life was basically sucked out of Calgary at this point. Vancouver is back to their old tricks, being a capable team again this year despite their 5 game losing streak going into the game.
- By the mid-way point of the first period, they were up 16-8 in shot attempts. By three-quarters of the way through? 23-13. Yeesh. Even their luls in play didn't stop them at times. Oh well, right?
- Alright, the second period is the prime example of a what you shouldn't do. Those two too-many men calls killed the Flames. Because Vancouver was a more capable and experienced team with players capable of driving possession, the timing of the calls couldn't have come at worse time.
- 10 seconds into the first penalty, the Canucks had their first shot attempt and it continued consistently until the end of the penalty then back into 5 on 5 play. Calgary would generate all of 6 shot attempts in a 8+ minute interval. YEESH.
- Their real best stretches of play came during the David Jones' goal and near the end of the period in all situations.
- Finally the third period, the push from the Flames in this period was a bit more noticeable along with their few stretches in the second period thanks to score effects. The push to draw even eventually paid off on their 43rd shot attempt of the game. That said, they only had 3 prior in the period until Gaudreau scored.
- At 54:07 of play, the Flames had their best interval of play in the third generating 5 shot attempts in just over a minute of play. Not bad.
Flames vs Canucks - Corsi (5v5 Situations)
- The first period marred by penalties, an own goal, and the Canucks consistent play killed the Flames. This might be one of the worst first periods from a purely visual standpoint this season. 7+ minutes at 5v5 without a shot attempt isn't exactly what we needed.
- Thankfully at 5v5 in the second period, the team was a bit more consistent. With the David Jones' goal interval being the most prominent and visible here.
- Though at 5v5 in the third, the Flames seemed to have found consistency problems. I'd strongly consider the schedule itself and the literal schedule loss here as one of the underlying themes to the underlying numbers here. The venerable and often criticized food-critic Travis Yost of TSN.ca wrote this phemonenal piece on team performance on back to back games.
Flames vs Canucks - Fenwick (5v5 situations)
- Just a quick note here on the Fenwick chart and examining some positives from this perspective. Halfway through the second period, the Flames were noticeably a better team in regards to it than the Canucks.
- Finding better shooting lanes and getting shots on Ryan Miller is the obvious eye-test itself, but leading the way in that stretch was David Jones and Mason Raymond stand out here. Jones had 3 Fenwick-related shot attempts while Raymond had 2. Nothing substantial but still better than the team.
Courtesy of our pals at NaturalStatTrick, we have the period by period charts and Flames ES possession data.
- The second period as we've mentioned was their best period in the game. The Fenwick related chart above speaks to it as well due to David Jones driving it there. Beyond that, the Flames played the sort of hockey expected of them, though impacted by the schedule of a B2B game.
- Vancouver on the hand took advantage of this, along with a handful of mistakes by the Flames to come out on top utilizing match-ups, sustained play, and their better line-up to steal this one.
- The penalty kill in full use justifies what we see here along with other non-5v5 play. That said, I'm thoroughly disappointed by the Flames inability to generate shot attempts with their power play. I fear that as it falls out of the top 10 in the league and further down we'll see the offense dry up more.
- That said, besides the Radim Vrbata goal, the PK wasn't a trainwreck.
Calgary Flames - ES Corsi/Fenwick/Shot Data/Zone Starts
- Mason Raymond was the fortunate Flame to "top" the good ol' Corsi chart here. Playing predominantly with Sean Monahan at 7:37 TOI, followed by Paul Byron with 6:41 TOI, and finally Deryk Engelland (Seriously) at 5:11. He was the product of benefiting from play with Byron and Monahan while taking a hit with Engelland. Engelland would be a drag on Raymond,
- With Byron, he was 80% CF/ 83.33% FF with 3 shots for and 1 against. Not bad for 6:41 together. With Monahan however, 84.62% CF / 85.71% FF with 4 shots for, 1 against. That said when on ice with both, they did primarily start 60% (Byron) and 66.67% (Monahan) of their zone starts in the offensive end. Away from the two, 50% CF / 33.33% FF (Byron) and 33.33% CF / 20% FF.
- Going with Monahan next, I mean what can you say about this kid? He's fighting as much as he can to produce, do little things, and drive possession. Another great night underlying wise, he had a few smart plays as well including forcing a turnover which didn't go much further but his game is rounding out nicely. He'll have his rough nights and his great nights like all kids.
- The product of playing with Raymond and Byron much of the night as well as the second pairing of Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman; he was a better player away from Wideman and Russell at 40% CF / 28.57% FF (Wideman) and 46.67% CF / 36.36% FF (Russell) to 75% CF / 66.67% FF (away from Wideman), 81.82% CF / 75% FF. That said, Monahan had 33.33% OZS with Russell and 100% OZS with Wideman. You be the judge.
- The Jiri Hudler and Johnny Hockey pairing continued playing with Monahan at times but primarily Josh Jooris. It had a rough night. Playing against noted shit-stain Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Stanton (some guy), they were around the 46.5% CF combined though their TOI against differentiated around 2 minutes TOI. Regardless, from there they matched up primarily against the Canucks' second line and top line. They fared not swell with very comfortable zone starts.
- Hartley has done a good job at times sheltering Gaudreau and it's worked at times, last night however it was like seeing Monahan last season possession wise. He's got so much upside and if his sophomore is anything like Monahan's, it should be okay.
- What I can guess is the the third line of David Jones (who scores and shoots lots when on the ice) and noted slow, abomination who has fallen out of favor with fans lately Curtis Glencross; who all flanked Markus Granlund through the possession drudges. The line wasn't spectacular but Jones and Glencross did benefit the young centre who has seemingly fallen down the roster due to health and Jooris' spot on the second line.
- With Jones, Granlund was 50% CF / 52.94% FF. Without? 18.18% CF / 0% FF. Personally I'd love to see Granlund with Raymond and Jones for a game to see what the numbers looked like. I'd imagine we'd see a higher SF% and FF% than with Glencross.
- Lance Bouma is an interesting fourth line gentleman. He's a fan favourite, he blocks shots, he hits, he fights, and he's everything the embodiment of that #GRITCHART fans love. Hell, even my friend has a crush on him. That said and if you push those qualities to the side, he's not exactly the best driver at possession. Him on the bench at times benefits the team more than his "intangibles".
@mikeFAIL 5V5 - 40.2% on 47% off - One of four players with CF Rel's below -5% that have played in over 15 games.— Les Mavus (@HockeyGoalieEh) December 21, 2014
The translation: When Lance is on the ice at 5v5, the Flames are 40.2%. The CF Rel portion? He's on the ice for at least 5 more shot attempts per 60 minutes of play at ES. While off, the Flames are a much better 47% CF team. Still, below 50% but better. He's not going to be a 30+ goal scorer, a guy who puts up 50+ points in a season, or anything of the sort. He's there to "shutdown" (if we can even use that term anymore) the opposition and play a physical game. I'm not sure what to make of him long-term but I do love watching him fall into benches.
Player Spotlight: Kris Russell
Sometimes I have trouble understanding Kris Russell. Part of it is I think he is overvalued for what he is, which is a really good #5 defenseman who is playing in a second pairing role with a partner who can't play defense if his line depended on it. Often we see the Russell - Wideman pairing pinching, making risky decisions both in the offensive zone AND in their own zone. They can generate points but it's offset by their inability to dictate or at least manage a defensive zone situation.
So what do we do about it? I've been calling for this all season long to go out and find a better option for the pairing. Could Russell flourish with a bit less minutes and with say...Raphael Diaz? Probably. That would then slot and/or push out Deryk Engelland + Ladislav Smid *WINK WINK*. The other option is relegating Wideman to the bottom pairing, which won't help much. We have some pieces we could part with to make a trade or attempt something.
Russell does too much, I think it's his biggest weakness. Often he's called on to cover up Wideman mistakes leading to his own either by positioning or by taking a risk. That said, his deployment and match-ups need some serious work. Hartley can only be blamed so much for this as the organization has not provided the best line-up at times due to injury, bad contracts, or depth issues.
Last night is a prime example of this.
- Russell played 9:24 TOI at ES with Wideman. Of that time together, they were 30.43% CF / 29.41% FF together. Apart? 63.64% CF / 61.1% FF for Wideman. That's huge, though it's impacted by OZS% as well and who they played against; both together and separately.
- Granlund, Byron, Bouma, Stajan, Brodie, and a few others with small sample sizes all were dragged down a bit because of it. Though we should continue to factor in deployment and match-ups as well.
- Of the canucks that Kris Russell played against last night, he matched up mostly against Bieksa, Chris Higgins, Nick Bonino, and Ryan Stanton. Trailing that were Linden Vey, Brad Richardson, and Alexander Edler. Of those players mentioned, only was he 50%CF + against Vey at 61.54% and Richardson (53.85%). On the FF% side of things, only a positive against Vey at 55.56%.
- Shot wise, he did succeed in a positive fashion against Vey, Bonino (even), and Bieksa. His most successful match-ups came against Luca Sbisa (70.59% CF / 66.67% FF), Yannick Weber (72.73% CF / 62.50% FF), and Radim Vrbata (71.43% CF / 100% FF). TOI against them? 5:34, 4:50, and 2:02. So some varying TOI together.
- Worst match-ups beyond those mentioned? Jannik Hansen (who I hope is doing okay today, thoughts are with you) at 12.50% CF / 0% FF at 3:11 TOI; Daniel Sedin and his weird twin Henrik Sedin (20% CF / 33.33% FF) at 2:11 TOI and 3:06 TOI.
- Russell consistently seemed to be a middle of the road guy with the rest of the team. Much of his ZS% with others were positive and a bit sheltered. He did have impacts with SF% though which may be a crucial aspect of his game that we can examine as the season goes on; whether or not he is sustainably getting shots to the net while on the ice versus missed or blocked chances.