FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) December 23, 2014
Going into last night's game I had a sick sensation in my stomach all day that this would be the outcome of the game. I've live in Edmonton for 8 years (as of tomorrow) and I've seen the Oilers team, it's fans, and well just about everything surrounding it get to this point. You'd have to only assume that the Flames would jump out to an early lead, turtle, and score effects would take over. Oh wait, that happened. Here is something I want to make clear though:
Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, the Edmonton Oilers are a better possession team than Calgary.
Does that change how bad their blueline is? No. Does that explain why their goaltending sucks? No. There are a lot of factors that do go into their success with improving possession while Calgary's dwindles. Time trailing, score effects, composition of team, coaching, play-style, etc, etc. If you don't care then take this away from last night's game:
- Johnny Gaudreau is the best
- The Oilers are systematically so horrendous in comparison to the Flames
- Johnny Hockey.
- The Calgary Flames, everybody. An expected neck and neck start to the game much like every Battle of Alberta. Then the afterburners got turned up to 11 and Calgary went for a kill shot.
- In a span from 7:06 to 8:48, Calgary had 7 shot attempts. 3 resulted in a goal. That's the high point of the game and the period. 2 of which from the wonderkin.
- Then they flat-lined. Why? Score effects. They started taking less risks, they protected their lead because we know Calgary can blow a lead from time to time, and then they became a bit more opportunistic. They waited for breakdowns to occur and then struck. That's it. They didn't try fancy stuff, they just played protectionist hockey.
- By the end of the second period, thanks to power plays, penalty kills, and 5 on 5 play; Edmonton had a commanding +17 Corsi differential.
- The Oilers kept surging all game, finally striking with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' 10th of the season. Then just as expected, with now only a 2 goal lead; the Flames started making chances and plays to make it 4-1.
- After a short burst mid-way through the third period; Curtis Glencross' goal capped off some more resurgence in the Flames' play. Giving them another interval of stronger play that would really kill off much hope for the Oilers and a comeback.
- When we look at 5 on 5 play, a few things stand out here. The first being, 9:48 of play to end the opening period without a 5 on 5 shot attempt. This may go down as one of the biggest WTF moments of the season here.
- To make it worse, the Flames at 5 on 5 didn't get another attempt until 3:43 of play into the second period. So that's 13:31 of play between 5 on 5 shot attempts. Barf.
- Two more significant flat-lines occur with under 5 minutes to go in the second and then in the third when Andrew Ference was human-garbage and started stuff in front of the net. We'll touch more on this later, but Ari did a good job summarizing how we feel here.
- Calgary at 5 on 5, had literally 3 moments in the game; one in each period of decent chances. Nothing sustained due to score effects or penalties. Just 3 single intervals. The final coming with just over 5 minutes left in the game.
- They had this wrapped up in the opening frame but it still is a little painful to look at.
Courtesy of our pals at NaturalStatTrick we have our period summaries and player data.
- Mason Raymond of all folk would be "top dog" in terms of underlying numbers for the Flames. That said, his 60% OZS would be second to only Raphael Diaz. Raymond would play primarily against Tyler Pitlick (funny name) - 63.64% CF / 75% FF, Leon Draisaitl (should be in the WHL) - 70% CF / 85.71% FF, Nail Yakupov (enigmatic Russian) - 70% CF / 85.71% FF, and Brad Hunt (all-round bad hockey player) - 70% CF / 66.67% FF. All of which he had 50% OZS against (soft still) and he still performed well.
- #LordByron as the Calgary Flames Twitter calls him had another strong night. Playing 11 minutes ES, 42.86% OZS was a bit more "difficult" than Raymond; but Paul Byron typically has had the experience of tougher minutes and playing well. He spent the bulk of the night with Raymond and Joe Colborne (woo he scored finally). Matching up primarily against Pitlick - 61.54% CF / 66.67% FF, Draisaitl - 66.67% CF / 85.71% FF , Yakupov - 66.67% CF / 85.71% FF, and Justin Schultz - 66.67% CF / 75% FF.
- Continuing with that line, Colborne had a decent game. He isn't a driver of possession by any means, but he had a decent night. He primarily matched up against the same aforementioned names and came out 60% or higher against them; only 50% against Jultz. Still, a good night and a positive to take away.
- Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie as usual were given the toughest minutes of the night, toughest starts, and match-ups. Due to the nature of how badly out-Corsi'd (seriously that is a terrible expression)/out-Fenwick'd (I'm sorry); they weren't horrendous.
- Giordano matched up against RNH - 42.86% CF / 28.57% FF, Jultz - 41.18% CF / 38.46 FF%, Jeff Petry (UNDERRATED) - 44.44% CF / 33.33 FF, and Andrew Ference (useless) - 50% CF / 33.33% FF. All of which were the top TOI against Gio. Though it should be noted all of those players had significant zone starts in the offensive zone which lead to more chances.
- Brodie meanwhile in a similar fashion matched against the same fellows with similar results: RNH - 42.86% CF / 28.57% FF, Jultz - 37.50% CF / 33.33 FF%, Petry - 44.44% CF / 33.33 FF, and Ference (useless still) - 50% CF / 33.33% FF. Same zone starts against these guys like Gio as well.
- As we go through the rest of the roster you see the same. One thing that stands out is Sean Monahan. Last night was a rough night for him. He had to deal with Ference; but he also had some of his toughest zone starts of the season...and was slaughtered much like the team numbers wise.
- The bulk of his starts were in the NZ or DZ; and he played the "top talent" of the Oilers. Against RNH - 35% CF / 18.18% FF, Jordan Eberle (mind the tooth gap) - 36.84% CF / 18.18% FF, Taylor Hall - 27.78% CF / 9.09% FF, and Jultz - 16.67% CF / 12.50% FF. Not good, but like I said: score effects, turtling, and letting this happen.
Player Spotlight - Brandon Bollig
I'm not going to spend this time ripping on Brandon Bollig too much. He had another decent game to bring his decent game total to like 2 or 3 games. Last night he made Andrew Ference look like a pylon. He had 1 shot last night and was hungry for his first of the season. That said he also had a whopping single takeaway. His play wasn't a complete human disaster to say the least.
After drawing an important penalty against the Kings, he seemed to maybe be rounding into mid-season form of contributing. Everyone on Twitter was calling for a Bollig goal too. Stats wise, he wasn't completely horrible. I wonder if it has anything to do with Matt Stajan relegated to fourth line babysitting duties?
Of the 8:06 TOI he played, 7:25 of that was with Stajan. While together, they were a 50% CF / 36.36% FF tandem. That said, they also had a bulk of their starts away from the OZ (16.67% OZS). He spent 7:23 with Lance Bouma who is slowly turning a possession blackhole. Together, they were 43.75% CF / 22.22% FF; while apart Bollig was 100% CF / FF though the sample size is small.
He spent the bulk of the night with Deryk Engelland (5:04) and Raphael Diaz (4:41). With Engelland, they were 42.86% CF / 25% FF; with Diaz they were 27.27% CF / 14.29% FF. Nothing impressive. His best play was arguably with talent like Giordano, Brodie, Dennis Wideman, and Kris Russell. Though those ssample sizes are small and not reasonable to measure off of.
Here are Bollig's match-ups:
- Nothing to really write home about besides the very small samples against the "top talent" like Hall, Eberle, etc. He was just a marginal NHLer last night and I figured we'd give him a bit of praise. I mean it is the Christmas season right?
We play the Kings again tomorrow. They'll be looking for revenge for blowing that 3 goal lead before the Christmas break. I'm sure they all asked Santa for a win against the Flames too. I'm also certain that Dustin Brown asked for a get out of free jail card so he could maybe throw his knee into someone's on Monday too.
Big shout-out to Katie and Matt Stajan though, CBC/Sportsnet announced on the broadcast that Mrs. Stajan is pregnant with a boy; so we're hoping everything goes well. They lost Emerson shortly last season shortly after birth. The Flames and the Stajan family are promoting A Night Under The Stars for January 3rd.
All the funds are going to the Emerson Stajan Foundation NICU at the Foothills Medical Centre.
You may remember the amazing shoot-out goal that Stajan scored against the Oilers that was hella emotional to see live (I was there, it was perfect).