Colorado and Calgary play each other tonight. That means one of the teams must have a positive possession game. It's like inception— Jen LC (@RegressedPDO) December 4, 2014
Just brilliant, Jen. Bless your heart.
The tale of two cities, two teams, and players all trending differently. You have the Colorado Avalanche, a team among others in the stats community lore. A team projected to bottom out due to their lackluster possession numbers after a season last year where they rode hot goaltending from a dumpster of human waste named Semyon Varlamov.
Last night was an impressive showing, albeit to the delight of many who refuse to let the stats community talk and examine things with data to back-up what many expect to happen soon. The stats community doesn't want the team to fail, in fact many of them have been praising over how enjoyable the play at times has been. It's exciting hockey and when we talk about regression, it's just explaining that the randomness and luck should start disappearing and we'll see the team for what they really are.
Let's just let the marriage of stats and the sport exist as peaceful as possible and enjoy the sport though. We may not always have the same view but we can all agree that hockey is a beautiful thing.
Courtesy of Hockeystats.ca
- The battle of two poor possession teams opened very closely for much of the first period, keeping possession at times at the 50% mark until Calgary jumped ahead with just over 8 minutes left. Colorado would end the period with some momentum going their way but it flatlined in the second period.
- The flatline was because of the Niick Holden penalty allowing Calgary's PP to go to work. Michael Ferland's penalty would allow the Avalanche to get closer and eventually overcome the Flames at times. Thankfully a late push at the end of the second period would see the Flames on top.
- Calgary and Colorado would exchange leads in shot attempts in the third leading to the blitz late to tie the game. Notably Colorado had much more sustained shot attempts than the Flames leading to yet another third period comeback and subsequent victory in OT.
- The main draw of what drew discussion online was the play of the teams at 5v5 as they're both some of the weaker in the league. Calgary by the midway point of the first period showed to be a better team than the Avalanche.
- That said, in the second period I was extremely impressed with Colorado's opportunistic way of play which lead to a number of amazing scoring chances and sustained pressure in the offensive zone. Calgary would battle back late into the second period however.
- Calgary had serious issues generating anything in the third and thus lead to yet another push late in the third. It's the same ol' story here, folks.
Avalanche vs Flames - period by period data courtesy of NaturalStatTrick.com
- Calgary's PP along with strong play late in the first lead to a nice 60% share of possession by way of CF% being it's proxy. It's the ony thing to keep in mind that Corsi/Fenwick are all proxies to examine the rate of possession for the team.
- Calgary and Colorado were as close as I was expecting in second third periods. Colorado's reliance on youth up front and speed courtesy of Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon play smartly, taking advantage of turnovers and mistakes to gain the zone.
- Calgary and Colorado are marginally different possession wise. Calgary continued their assertion as a "top shot blocking team" blocking another 17 shots last night.
- The main focus is going to be on the team as a whole. With underlying numbers on the table here, last night's game looks better for the Flames overall. Six players were below 50% CF at ES. This is something to be happy about albeit against Colorado.
- Leading the way as usual was TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano on the blueline. This is something Colorado doesn't have. They don't have this caliber pairing and it's killing them. That said, they took advantage of their more comfortable zone starts to do a number possession wise. Outside of the work Chris Tanev and Alex Edler are doing right now, the Brodano pairing is still among the league's best.
- I loved the line of Johnny Gaudreau, Josh Jooris, and Jiri Hudler together. I think that with the very small sample size of the trio now, we have a better option until Markus Granlund matures a bit more into a top-six role. That said, the cut in minutes and the adjustment of competition seemed to have benefited the #SuperiorGranlund a bit more than expected.
- To continue with Johnny Hockey, his ability to control play, feed amazing passes, and enter the zone confidently are improving with each game. If he can find a way to slow it do a bit more at times, I think he'll be up there with Filip Forsberg at the end of the year for the Calder.
- The "top line" of Curtis Glencross, overtime hero Sean Monahan, and David Jones is really looking great. When Jones is healthy he is definitely an asset to the team. One has to wonder whether or not Joe Colborne will return to Monahan's wing when healthy. Part of me doesn't want to see that happen but we all know that Colborne does help Monahan quite a bit.
- The newly formed 3rd line of Granlund, Paul Byron, and Michael Ferland is a real treat. I'd love to see more of what they can do but with Matt Stajan projected to return for the next game, we may see it broke up; along with other lines.
- Sven Baertschi has been exiled and he's probably not coming back. He had a few great chances last night and was a real "driver of possession" on the 4th line. RIP SVEN
- Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman continue to put up points and drive possession at times. I think they're being paired at times with the wrong lines at times and their pinching on plays while in the offensive zone add to a lot of chances against them.
- Finally, the bottom pairing of Ladislav Smid and Deryk Engelland: It could have been worse. I mean, we could still have Shane O'Brien.
- What can you say other than "wow"? The kid has talent and he's getting better with each game (minus the occasional slip-ups from what appears to be too much TOI).
- By himself, in most of the sample sizes worth examining he's around 53% CF a much more massive improvement than last season's questionably roller coaster season. His ability to spend much more of his starts in the defensive or neutral zone is the most important thing about his game this year.
- Points matter, but having someone more reliable and capable of facing top competition, tougher starts, and finding a way to drive possession WHILE making players around you better is a must in this era.
- The combination of Scoreface + Monahan is something we should continue. As usual he is playing primarily with the top pairing so it will impact him a bit. In this case, marginally which is a sign that it's not always Gio and Brodie driving possession with him on the ice, but Sean as well.
- I would to see more of Wideman and Russell with the top pairing at times to help balance their play. I could see Monahan's responsibility being a balance to the often questionable play of the pairing.