Well, you can't win every game. That is unless your name is Joni Ortio, apparently, who rose up from the AHL to become our new Finnish lord and saviour. Which is to say nothing mean about Karri Ramo, but there're a lot of things working against him right now: the crowded crease, his contract status, the fact that he hasn't played a full game since Dec. 11...
The point being: the Arizona Coyotes were the better team most of the game, but a (and stop me if you've heard this one before) lovely third-period surge ensured the Calgary Flames the victory. You know, after their goalie ensured they were still in it. Via HockeyStats.ca:
Ortio is better than Mike Smith. This may or may not end up becoming a true statement over the course of their careers, but last night, he was very much the better goaltender. Every time the Coyotes started to pull away, Ortio kept the Flames in it, including a couple of very nice saves. He also didn't do anything dumb, like let a bad goal in, or kick a rebound right back into the open slot, or be Mike Smith.
Heck, speaking of rebounds in the slot, take a look at War on Ice's helpful shot plots:
So while the Coyotes ended up having the greater number of shot attempts, the Flames did a pretty decent job of keeping them away from the slot. The Yotes were either held off to the side or pressed further back, giving Ortio a much easier time. Meanwhile, the Flames absolutely piled on right in front of Smith, and what with Smith being not particularly great to begin with, he had some issues. Especially on that David Jones goal.
That was throughout the game. Then there's the period by period breakdown, via NaturalStatTrick:
Flames at Coyotes - All Situations
- First period: hmm, okay, mostly back and forth, the Coyotes have the puck a little more but it's a road game and it's still tied so we're not doing too bad (other than it being insanely boring, but it's the Coyotes, so there's a certain degree of expectation there).
- Second period: wait what. What are you doing. Why do you always do this thing where you're terrible. Stop that.
- Third period: going into this one tied, it's nice the Flames got their butts back into gear and really piled it on. Now, if they could just, you know, stop taking the entire game off before that happens, that would be great. Do your goalie a favour, like he's doing you.
Flames at Coyotes - Even Strength
- There were only two powerplays all game. Both belonged to the Flames, and both occurred in the second period. They were both terrible.
- Shot attempts for the Flames on both powerplays: four. Shot attempts for the Coyotes on both penalty kills: three. What.
- It's great and all that the Flames are drawing penalties and not taking any themselves, but for the love of god SOMEBODY FIX THE POWERPLAY. Not only are they not scoring, but they're barely out-corsiing the opposition when they're the ones with the man advantage. That's, um, bad.
Flames Even Strength Data
- That third period really helped lift a lot of guys up, including getting seven Flames to be positive possession players. Good job, the seven of you.
- Starting on defence: for the love of god SOMEBODY GET THEM SOME HELP. Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie are amazing, we know this. They played the most minutes, they played the most difficult circumstances, they had the best possession stats. We're over halfway into a season doing this. This can't keep up.
- Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman get top four ice time, favourable zone starts, and sink like stones. Deryk Engelland and Rafa Diaz are in the exact same boat. And to make things even better, this is the one position the Flames do not have any particularly strong prospects in.
- This is a tough situation, because the Flames are still rebuilding, but very much mathematically in the playoff race. So they can't afford to give up much, but at the same time, if you're this close, it's so much better to finish eighth than ninth, yeah? And this team very, very desperately needs another top four defenceman, and if you want to keep pawing for a wild card spot, they'll need one soon. Zbynek Michalek, Andrej Sekera, Cody Franson, the miraculous rising of Tyler Wotherspoon; I don't really care who, but it needs to be somebody. If it comes via trade, hopefully Treliving can work some of that Corban Knight for Drew Shore magic, because I still have no clue why the Panthers actually made that trade.
- How's that for a transition? Shore, along with linemates Joe Colborne and Lance Bouma, were the Flames' top possession line of the night. They did this while primarily facing the Coyotes' better players, not their scrubs. So you know, really good showing from that group, and that line is probably going to stay together for at least next game.
- An extra note of credit to Bouma, who does not typically play 20-minute games. (The last time he did was, uh, never.) I still say he isn't much more than a fourth liner, but thing is, he's a fourth liner who can step up in case of injury, which is what happened in regards to Curtis Glencross last night.
- Also he provides my favourite stat line of the game: when Bouma and Sam Gagner shared the ice, Bouma's CF was 91.67%. And this is over 7:08 of shared ice time, the player Bouma saw fifth most often. During that time, Gagner was on the ice for only one corsi event for the Coyotes. How does that even happen? That's awesome.
- Thanks to Shore being new and all, Matt Stajan got to play more than normal. By the way, he and Paul Byron were linemates for 5:33 last night, and when together, the Flames' CF was 100%. Oh my god, this bottom six is so much more fun than one that had Kevin Westgarth and Brian McGrattan. They're more likely to score and not be a trainwreck and everything. That's awesome.
- I gotta jump all the way to the bottom to find Stajan's most frequent linemate, though. His name is Brandon Bollig. He did not have a good night. Seriously: scratch him, dress Mason Raymond. It makes so much more sense. Dude barely got 10 minutes, and that's with a fellow left winger going down after one period. There's no salvaging the trade for him.
- Mikael Backlund and Johnny Gaudreau are excellent players, but despite their being sheltered, they did not have a super great possession night. They had a goal and an assist respectively, so that part was great, but the rest of it... I dunno what happened there. Although both were caught out there during that Coyotes possession flurry that led to every Flame standing around dumbly and the lone goal against of the game, so that might have had something to do with the poor numbers.
- I'm willing to bet with Jiri Hudler back on their line, things will improve. What an asset he is for this team: he's obviously one of the best forwards (hey there, scoring leader), and never seems to hurt the team.
- Jones had an interesting night, as Glencross' injury also saw him bumped from the Backlund and Gaudreau line. He found a spot alongside Sean Monahan and alternated left wingers between Bouma and Byron. Out of the five forwards he spent most of his time with, Bouma - Monahan - Jones was the winning combination for him. With those two, he was at least 50% CF.
- Monahan wasn't a positive possession player, but he wasn't too far off from being one. Even with Backlund back, he took the tougher zone starts tonight (although with Backlund playing alongside Gaudreau, it makes sense if Hartley still wants to give Gaudreau an offensive zone boost). He was on the ice for all of the Flames' third period goals, though, directly factoring in on each of them (while he didn't get an assist on Jones' goal, his driving the net played a part in Smith floundering and kicking the rebound right out to Bouma and Jones). Good job.
- Glencross only got a period's worth of play in, so his numbers aren't really worth looking at, but he was doing pretty okay before he went down. And because this is me, I'd just like to point out that if this injury is long-term (which I hope not, because he's probably the Flames' best trading chip this season that actually might get traded [Hudler ain't going anywhere, guys]), Sven Baertschi is Adirondack's highest scoring left winger. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. (This is kind of one of the reasons I want him traded, too...)
Player Spotlight - Drew Shore
Well, this was Shore's Flames debut, so let's take a closer look at how he fared with his (admittedly limited, because he's new and all) minutes.
- Don't put too much stock in Shore's performance away Colborne. He played all of 41 seconds separated from him.
- That said, Shore with Colborne and Bouma seemed to work pretty well. The trio put up very respectable numbers together. Shore and Colborne had two shots apiece.
- Byron remains one of those guys who just quietly helps out others he plays with.
- Somebody get Brodie and Giordano some help. Shore was at his best when those two were backing him up. Although he was good enough that when Russell and Wideman were on the ice with him, he was still a positive possession player.
- Really the only times Shore was getting outshot was when he had the third pairing with him. It's... not a very good third pairing.
Quiet, but very solid performance from the newest Flame. It'll probably take him a few games yet to really get into the swing of things, but as far as introductions go, this was a good one.
Player Spotlight - Lance Bouma
What's this! Well, this is the most Bouma has ever played in his career. Optimally, he's a fourth liner. When somebody gets hurt, he's clearly capable of rising his own game to help out his team, and he was especially called on last night, somehow ending up being the Flames' most-played forward. Glencross' injury saw him share a lot of time with pretty much everybody.
- It's almost as if Brodano are the only capable defencemen the Flames have oh wait they are.
- Bouma - Shore - Colborne really did work out rather well. While Bouma saw a taste of just about everyone, he was best with his original linemates. (Of course, he also did spend the most time with them, so take it with a grain of salt. Still.)
- Bollig really is not good.
- Bouma did a pretty decent job being one of the sub-ins on the top line alongside Monahan and Jones.
Bouma is, ultimately, a far more versatile player than I think most of us give him credit for. While you don't typically want Bouma to play 20 minutes a night - especially not against a team that's, well, better than the Coyotes (which is most teams) - in spot duty, he's a realistic option to at least keep the team above (or near) water.