Game two of the mid-January California road trip gave us yet again another late night. Monahan's miraculously beautiful tying goal, Wideman doing Wideman things, and Ortio being a total hero (with perfect hair) capped off a game the Flames surely were outplayed in for the most part.
That said, this damn team is more exciting than years past for the simple reason of defying odds. That said, the same gaps and flaws remain for the most part. I can live with that for now but help needs to be pursued.
We'll start off with the period summary this time to set the stage for the rest of the data.
- This time I've went ahead and marked the points of the Flames PP. I wanted to illustrate how incredibly crucial the volume of shot attempts we had were compared to our 5v5 time. The first dot is the start of a PP and then the final dot after the sequence would be the end/final 5v4 shot attempt. Comparing it with the period summary above you see a clear necessity for an effective power play. Something we don't have lately.
- All of that said, I loved how persistent Calgary was last night. They were literally relentless for a few of those power plays. It was god damn necessary and they showed that they need to resolve this issue with special teams. The broadcast proved our PK is ranked so poorly due to the sample size of penalties we take (we're last in the league in penalties taken so that's good).
- If we can resolve the PP issues and find a way to adjust our 5v5 issues, we may become a bit more capable than a few other teams. That said, finding the proper defensemen on the 2nd unit is pretty hard. Dennis Wideman may be regarded as PP specialist but I don't see that anymore. He needs help or at least someone distributing the puck to him to get him to shoot more from a better slot.
- A lot of the lulls shown in the second period (around the beginning and mid-way) are from the Kings' PP. Equally devastating in a volume of shot attempts. I'm very proud to see the Flames finding ways to kill the penalties and prevent goals.
- Positives aside on the shot attempt volume on the PP and preventing goals on the PK; another rough night at 5v5 against a team that dominates 5v5 play. 11+ minutes without a shot attempt at even strength is a calling card of the Flames season now. Positives? They were generating attempts in the first five minutes, so we can sleep peacefully knowing that.
- The penalty riddled second period didn't help the Flames case at all though a measly four shot attempts at ES is nothing positive. Can this improve with time? Yes. Will it improve this season? Unlikely. Brodie, Giordano, Backlund, and Jones were the only shot attempters in the period at ES. Funny how three of those guys stand out as the core of Flames success.
- Jones, is someone I've always disliked due to the contract and misuse of skill. If he was cheaper and glued to the third line, he would be optimal though depth issues on the team often cause his over-deployment at times. Proper zone starts and the right players with him end up generating shots - more so that I expected. It's tricky to use him properly with this team.
- Third period was more like the Flames in a sense they were in their element. The third period IS Calgary Flames hockey this year. Down a goal? No problem, we'll probably score it and come back. Tied with us? Yeah, see you in overtime where we'll murder you.
- They had a slight edge at the beginning of the period until the Kings turned it on again. Matt Greene's goal only triggered the score effects to appear for the Flames.
- Not the strongest and visibly appealing interval of score effects in action but Monahan taking advantage of the turnover and scoring as a rise of shot attempts had been occurring helped tie the game and send it to overtime.
- The Kings volume of SCF (scoring chances for) matches up with what we saw last night. Lots of quality chances dictated by their shot generation. They have the innate ability to beat you in dirty areas, in close, and from the point at times. Ortio is the best and he is the reason the Flames won this game (besides you know...Monahan and Wideman).
- The Flames didn't have many quality chances besides the five in the first period, one in the second, and the remainder in the third. Which matches up with the problems with generating chances at 5v5.
- The Kings forced a lot of shots from non-optimal locations. Blocked shots in the high-slot area, slot, and low slot limited the Flames to maybe six or seven optimally quality shots themselves.
- While the Flames spent a lot of the night blocking shots primarily on the right side. LA found ways to get shots through perfectly fine on the other side, in close in the slot, and from unusual locals. Luckily Ortio is responsible for keeping the Flames in this one for what he faced. The second period saw seven ES shots and 17 overall on him.
- Jiri Hudler's diminished ES TOI is due to his PP time - that said, his deployment with his son Johnny has been more and more comfortable lately. Though he didn't really accomplish much offensively last night he did have a solid night overall compared to the rest of the team. He matched up against Drew Doughty (6:37), Jake Muzzin (5:29), and Jarret Stoll (4:06). Of those gentlemen, he was 50% CF / 55.56% FF against Doughty, 61.54% CF / 71.43% FF against Muzzin, and sadly 33.33% CF / 25% FF against Stoll. His varying ES sample sizes have some extreme positives in it but it's all not the most optimal measurement of success.
- His son, Johnny Gaudreau however had some incredibly insane matchups and came out on top. Though his deployment in those was insanely optimal. Against Doughty (7:07) 53.33% CF / 55.56% FF, Muzzin (5:29) 71.43% CF / 77.78% FF, and against Anze Kopitar (4:19) 78.57% CF / 80% FF for top samples. Much like Papa Hudler, his other sample vary and are below optimal examination.
- Mikael Backlund who centred this line had a great night and flourished in his zone starts. The lack of sufficient centre depth that plagued this franchise is basically over providing the other prospects and players pan out. Backlund's top samples included Doughty, Muzzin, and Kopitar as well. He went 60% CF / 62.5% FF against Doughty, 68.75% CF / 77.78% FF against Muzzin, and 61.54% CF / 60% FF against Kopitar. All 100% OZS though.
- Brandon Bollig. 50%. Thanks, Matt Stajan for your services of the fourth line to make Bollig look amazing. All jokes aside, Bollig had a chance last night to score and maybe-could-have-maybe did it. I want him to score on a goalie just so the world stops turning and society explodes. When he scores he will be Brandon Goallig.
- TJ Brodie, another night of tough starts with Gio. Another night proving his value in terms of Corsi Rel. It's a one game sample but having him on the ice does make the world a bit more beautiful and perfect all at once. It's insane how much of an impact he has on his teammates when 11 players of the 16 he played with last night had positive gains in terms of possession WITH him. He was equally deserving of All-Star nominations in all honesty.
- Mark Giordano faced the toughest starts, much of the toughest competition, and yet he was still relative to much of the team a much better player than them. We can pine day and night about how spectacular he is but he and Brodie continue to need support down the lineup. In order to achieve consistent success finding a way to alleviate the mismanagement (at times) of ice time impacts so many facets of the team's performance.
- Sean Monahan had yet another nice night. In the sense he was thrown to the wolves and managed to score a goal. Another game, another series of difficult starts and match-ups. If Hartley isn't going to deploy the Backlund with Huds and Gaudreau line; and produce offense then maybe put Monahan with those two for a bit. He isn't and he's giving Monahan a lot to manage; plus it doesn't help having Gaudreau + Hudler with him in a DZ start.
- Joe Colborne had a rough night. Compared to the night previously against San Jose this was night and day. He once again played with Markus Granlund (who needs to be on the wing or sent down at this point) and now approaching pariah-status Mason Raymond. All of which floundered together in starts and didn't get much going.
- Same ol' Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell situation. Send help, someone. We'll give you Curtis Glencross and five pocket dogs from the Dome.
- Same ol' Ladislav Smid and Deryk Engelland. I need a drink and it's not even 11 am at the time of this being written.
- Lance Bouma took an unfortunate dive back to regular possession territory. I love him on the fourth line and I like seeing him score the occasional goal. That said, I hope I never have to see him again in a top six role because he just doesn't have the skill set for it. With Monahan, for 9:36 of ES play he was 42.86% CF / 44.44% FF. Without? 25% CF / 33.33% FF.
Player Spotlight - Matt Stajan
Stone Cold Matt Stajan fights his own battles pic.twitter.com/MPzLXfhjwa— Bread Frathwaite (@bookofloob) January 1, 2015
ps: I love you, Floob.
I'm not sure what Bob Hartley thinks Matt Stajan is anymore. Fresh into his first year of an extension that sees him paid $3.125M until the end of the 2017-2018 season; he now sees himself on the fourth line. I love Matty Franchise/Matty French-Fries and I'd love to see him used more than on the bottom line. He does impact guys like Bollig and Bouma positively because he is a serviceable third-line centre.
We have the centre depth to allow for virtually anything on the fourth line and it'll make an impact more than previous years yet we're seeing Markus Granlund utilized incorrectly this season while Stajan could legitimately hold together the third line and produce (a bit better I may add). I feel like the parallels of last come to mind - with Backlund relegated to babysitting the less capable talent on the roster.
Then Hartley woke up and realized he was mismanaging some skill. I've never been really disappointed all that much with what Stajan has done this season. Sure, the bone-head roughing call on Dustin Brown last night may be a counter to this but really: If you had the chance to punch Dustin Brown in the mouth you would. Even then, it was a little sold.
From last night, Stajan's WOWY
On first glance, what you see is a lot of red and not a lot of ice time overall. So the impression you get is: Stajan sucks and we should get rid of him. The contrary to an extent exists that he is still very capable and much better than Granlund at this point.
The long and short of it is: Put Stajan on the third line with capable wingers (Raymond, Byron, and/or Granlund if he is moved to the wing) and see what he can do with 10-12 of ES time before making up your mind.
WARNING: TL;DR - Stajan would be better on the third-line. Below is a bunch of Corsi Hockey League stuff.
Example: Deployment this season
Blue = good, Red = bad. The basis of this is illustrating his OZ vs DZ starts along with the TOI against competition. So you can see that Stajan ends up taking some of the hardest starts at centre with some of the worst teammates too. Yet he is still coming out as not the worst part of those lines. That's why optimal line creation and usage is key here, he isn't being given a fair shot at the third-line role he should be on.
Example #2: ES 5v5 - All Situations
|Player||CF%||Corsi Rel||Corsi Off||CF60||CA60||ZSO% Rel|
|Sean Monahan||45.2||1.4||43.8||51.0||61.7||- 5.1|
ZSO% Rel, if you remember back is the fraction of OZ vs DZ starts relative to the team. Higher means more OZ starts while negative means you're spending more time starting in your own zone. In this season (though a bulk of the team minus Monahan has had varying GP samples), Stajan has continued to have the toughest starts. Monahan has had to fill in those tough starts while Backlund and Stajan were injured. Plus as the games continue, we're seeing Hartley deploying him more and more.
In terms of shot attempt generation, the whole team has some flaws with this. In terms of our centre depth used this season, the team is better with Granlund off. Everyone else is slightly above or generally well above the team when off. So far though Stajan is the third best in CF60 than Backlund and Granlund. Though the Backlund sample size is incredibly skewed.
Overall though what Stajan does is solidify a team on the third-line and can pitch in offensively at times. We need to rely on veteran strength in this role until someone develops into it or Backlund is eventually relegated there by way of Monahan and Sam Bennett's emergence. Stajan doesn't deserve to be playing with Bollig, Bouma, McGrattan, and co. He needs guys like Paul Byron that compliment his skill set and give the Flames some ability for secondary offense.