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Oilers vs Flames - NYE Blood Bath (Stats Recap)

Thankfully Jooris returned from the dead before the end of the year to vanquish any chances of the Oilers ending 2014 on a positive note. That said, the Flames ran into the same possession woes that have plagued them all year in victories.

"I'M GOING TO PIZZA HUT TONIGHT" - Josh Jooris on celebrating the win
"I'M GOING TO PIZZA HUT TONIGHT" - Josh Jooris on celebrating the win
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Happy new year to all of you poor, hungover, or still drunk souls. I hope everyone had a safe and memorable night to end 2014. I stayed inside, watched hockey, ate pizza, and looked at numbers. How exciting!

This was arguably the most exciting Battle of Alberta this season and thankfully if you weren't out drinking or partying too hard you'll remember it as Joe Colborne's goal-scoringpolooza. The Flames once against utilized a comeback and strong third period play to slay the Oilers in OT thanks to the return of Josh Jooris.

The Flames ended the 2014 Calendar year with a positive record and optimism that will lead us into 2015 and the last half of the season with the pursuit of staying healthy, winning games, and growing as a team.

Courtesy of our pal Greg Sinclair's we have our possession graphs:

Oilers vs Flames - Corsi All

  • The Oilers started off with visibly more jump and control to the game than Calgary. Thankfully the Mark Fayne penalty allowed the Flames to generate a few shot attempts but nothing sustained beyond a few short moments.
  • The Oilers would battle back right before the Keith Aulie penalty and with Hiller on the bench with the extra attacker, the Flames would get a strong flurry of chances. On the power play however, they would only generate 2 chances before the penalty expired.
  • With Matt Stajan's penalty, the Oilers began a rise and comeback possession-wise. Surging ahead of Calgary all because of their insane desire to shoot from whatever angle; not setting up at all.
  • The gloriously disappointing flat-line you see spans for about 7:30 of play before we had two quick attempts at the end of the period.
  • With the second period started, Keith Aulie in the box for his vicious hit on Stajan; the Flames may have produced one of their finest power plays that didn't result in a goal. With 9 shot attempts until it expired, the Flames looked to be commanding and intelligent with their shot placement at times. Though, they spend a lot of time passing the puck around it's nice to see them looking for better shooting lanes than just simply firing it on net.
  • Then another 10:00 of play without a shot attempt again. So, at this point you're probably a little concerned. I would be. This is mostly because of the Colborne and Glencross penalties but it extends beyond that. The Flames looked absolutely abysmal at times last night and this graph is just one interpretation of it.
  • The Flames continued to ride the man-advantage just to generate anything at all which would be responsible for Colborne's 2nd of the season on the PP.
  • The third period itself would be another score effects driven period. Heck, the first 4 minutes of play 5 shot attempts between the teams (4 for Calgary) so nothing to pander over there until Bouma's 6th of the season really woke up both teams again.
  • Both teams would share intervals of decent play, in part of more penalties, and the drive to get ahead. That said the Flames were much better at 5 v 5 than the Oilers though they still used their PP to keep it going.
Oilers vs Flames - Corsi (5v5)

  • The first two periods of play are embarrassing at 5 v 5. Through 34:18 of play, Calgary generated 10 shot attempts. Fortunately, 3 of those were blocked shots so there are tiny positives to be found.
  • When you generate 6 shot attempts at 5 v 5 though, it's a recipe for disaster. No team can sustain this for the entire season before seeing another collapse. See: 8 game losing streak.
  • Blessed by the stats gods, the Flames woke up in the third. Nearly doubling their entire output in the period alone and forcing OT.

The one thing I do love about Calgary, especially when they play Edmonton is the attention to getting better shots through. Be it a missed shot (I'm looking at you Dennis Wideman) or shots on net itself, they do find themselves improving here. As shown above, and if you watched the game last night; Edmonton is just firing the puck as much as they want or shooting from bad angles. Though they find themselves luck at time (see: like 5 or 6 David Perron goals), they're not that great overall.

That's one thing that I believe has been responsible for the Flames having such a strong power play as well for this part of the season. They might pass the puck 40x more than the other team but they are looking for optimal positions and shot placement to be successful. It's a nice touch and I hope it continues.

Shown above is the 5 v 5 Fenwick data (shots on net, missed shots) and the Flames despite their possession woes last night actually did alright at times. Though it's very apparent again the third was their best period. I hope this continues, it would be something to keep building on and observing until the end of the season.

Courtesy of our friends at NaturalStatTrick we have our period breakdowns and Flames underlying stats:

Oilers vs Flames - Period Breakdown (All Situations)

  • The Flames were right around where they are in the "possession stats rankings" last night through two periods of play. In all situations this season they're 26th at 47.14% CF / 21st at 48.07% FF. The big thing is they're improving with their FF% overall.
  • They did out-shoot the Oilers overall in those first two periods and overall through the evening they were the better Fenwick team. So huge round of applause for that. It all goes back to the Oilers' chain gun approach with the puck. They'll fire it until it's turned over/ stoppage in play/ scrum around the boards, and then play goes back the other way.
  • 30-16 isn't too bad for the Flames there. Thankfully score effects exist (by their name or by the actual nature of the play in hockey when trailing).
Oilers vs Flames - Period Breakdown (Even Strength)
  • To contrast some of the positives shown in all situations, the ES data highlights the biggest pain-points of the Calgary Flames' 2014-2015 season. Once again, they sat around their average in CF% at ES last nightthrough the first period. They're currently 27th at 45.34% CF, though their FF% is 26th currently at 46.46%.
  • They did improve overall during the 8 game losing streak whether we want to accept it or not, but once guys like Mikael Backlund return; I'm optimistic the numbers will improve as well.
  • Due to score effects and the very visible lead in possession in the third period for Calgary; you'll see that Edmonton ended up blocking far more shots than in the first two periods which is why Calgary's FF% was below 50% for the period. They did fire the puck rapidly at times but they did spend more time trying to generate quality chances too.
Calgary Flames - Even Strength Corsi / Fenwick / Shot Data / Zone Starts

  • First off, Deryk Engelland Raphael Diaz might have been lucky last night to be the top possession players for the Flames. They played less than 9:00 each but had some less than "favored" zone starts too but they were actually pretty okay. Diaz needs to shoot more though.
  • Engelland primarily played against Matt Hendricks - TOI: 4:08, CF 75%, FF% 100, OZS: 100% -- Tyler Pitlick - TOI: 4:08, CF 75%, FF 100%, OZS: 100% -- and Boyd Gordan - TOI: 4:01, CF 66.67%, FF 100%, OZS: 100%. So he wasn't necessary seeing the top competition but he succeeded in against them.
  • Diaz matched up against the same players and succeeded as well; including Oscar Klefbom as well. Diaz is identical to Engelland in these samples too. Seriously though Rafa needs to shoot more and maybe we could see these numbers improve, goals scored, and points generated.
  • Josh Jooris returning from injury was interesting. How would he respond after missing a handful of games? Pretty well actually. At ES, he had the most ice time than any forward but was given a softer zone starts for sure. He saw an assortment of forwards (mostly the top line) but his top match-ups were against blueliners:
    Andrew Ference - TOI: 6:18, CF 80%, FF 66.67%, OZS: 66.67%
    Justin Schultz - TOI: 5:27, CF 66.67%, FF 80%, OZS: - (none shown, was put out their via line changes)
    Klefbom - TOI: 5:25, CF 61.54%, FF 75, OZS: 40%
    Jooris was not a negative possession player at all, even in zone starts in the DZ/NZ. Impressive, though we know playing with Hudler and Gaudreau are the reasons behind this.
  • TJ Brodie, part of the Brodano pairing with our captain Mark Giordano had one hell of a game last night for several reasons. The first being they limited the top line of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins quite a bit. Below are some examples of the Oilers' players numbers against Brodie/Gio and then without them on the ice.
  • Brodie on against Hall? 41.18% CF, 36.36% FF. Brodie off? 72.73% CF, 85.71% FF. Against Eberle? 50% CF, 50% FF. Brodie Off? 70% CF, 83.33% FF. And finally Brodie on against RNH? 52.63% CF, 50% FF. Brodie off? 100% CF and FF%.
  • Gio for example playing against those aforementioned Oilers limited Hall to 41.18% CF, 41.67% FF while on the ice against each other. Giordano off? 72.73% CF, 83.33% FF. Excuse my language but that's motherfucking impressive. Against Eberle? 50% CF, 53.85% FF. Giordano Off? 70% CF, 80% FF. Finally against RNH? 52.93% CF, 53.85% FF for the RNH. Giordano off? 100% CF and FF% for RNH. Just insane.
  • They did all this and still above 50% in possession against them. They are the best.
  • Johnny Gaudreau had a rough night being man-handled and not generating any offense. That said he is still spectacular at entering the zone, generating chances, and working hard. Even in games when he is held scoreless he is still a spectacle.
  • Jiri Hudler had a silent but strong night possession wise again.He and his on-ice son still were given comfier zone starts but they did ensure the team was generating chances with them on the ice.
  • Sean Monahan had another rough night with regards to these ol' numbers. He is consistently being subjected to the toughest zone starts of his career and managing to play well. That said he matched up against the Oilers' top line and got rocked. Against RNH and Eberle: 27.27% CF/FF, with them off? Monahan was 61.54% CF and 60% FF.
  • Hall had a bit less time against him, but Hall is a possession driver too. Against Hall, Sean was 40% CF, 50% FF. With Hall off, he was 50% CF, 45.45% FF. That said, he would have been utilized in trying to shut them down considering his zone starts were 33.33% OZS. I'm not the hugest fan of throwing Monahan out there in shutdown roles yet but he has been proven to hold his own and it's rounding him out nicely. Plus he had 2 assists last night so I can't complain.

Player Spotlight - Kris Russell

Kris Russell - WOWY Opposition

Kris Russell - WOWY Teammates

The curious case of Kris Russell continues to puzzle me. Mostly because he was signed, I believed (and now will admit I'm wrong) that he was a top four defenseman. He is not however -- at least in my mind that guy. He has very limited intervals of driving play but he's a risk in the defensive zone. I've beat this drum all season that I think he is an optimal 5th guy and that we need to facilitate something to compensate for Dennis Wideman's lack of defensive awareness at times.

With teammates, in more optimal zone starts he isn't improving many players. He gets a fair chunk of time on ES, PP, and PK so he has some decent sample sizes overall. It's just baffling at times.

Russell has a list of positives that stand out and inflate his value on TV, to the media, and to the average fan. To them, they see a guy who blocks shots (GRITCHART), jumps up in the play, and makes great passes at times. To others, you see a guy who does too much for his role; and still has to compensate at times for his partner. That or he is caught out of position and oops there is a goal.

So examining last night's data from Kris Russell's play, a few things stand out:
  • Matched up against your "meh" competition like Derek Roy, Boyd Gordon, etc he is just average. Nothing jumps out. The 75% CF against Mark Fayne  might look great but most, if not all of the team had success against Mark Fayne last night.
  • He blocks a lot of shots. It shows in the eye-test and it shows in looking at underlying numbers. It also shows on official NHL data too.
  • He's on the ice quite a bit for generating shots but he's not the one doing it. He isn't driving actual shot attempts anymore than Deryk Engelland to be quite frank.
So what do we do? I mentioned weeks back about trading with Pittsburgh. Everyone hated it and thinks I'm crazy. I still stand by it and it could work out. That said, I hope Treliving takes a long hard look at improving the blueline at the deadline by trade or something. The last thing we want is an aging Mark Giordano in a few years with TJ Brodie having to shoulder all of the load.

Developing players does take extensive time and it's different for each player, but maybe it's about time we target a player via trade to see if we can help improve the situation. It's a rebuild but we also need bodies to keep the progress coming.