Well, with 82 games a season, some of them are bound to be duds. Both in terms of entertainment, and in terms of the your team's play. The Calgary Flames have had an emotional, gut wrenching past few games: from a miraculous comeback overtime win to being peppered with shots to just barely hanging on to, uh, another miraculous comeback overtime win. New Years was particularly emotional, so, how would the Flames follow that up?
... Not very well. But it happens to all teams at one point or another, and these aren't your New York Islanders of yesteryear. A very savvy offseason has them right at the top of the league; they're a pretty tough test, now. Via HockeyStats.ca:
That's the corsi chart for the game at all situations. First off, an absolutely disastrous start for the Flames, as it took them over five minutes to have their first shot attempt - a blocked shot by TJ Brodie - and 10 minutes to get their first actual shot on goal, courtesy of Kris Russell. That wasn't the only time the Flames flatlined throughout the game, either: it was throughout, with a disconcerting number of plateaus considering they spent most of the game trailing.
I mean, the Isles scored before the Flames even had a shot on net. That's... bad. They were the much better team when it came to laying on the pressure.
The Flames did, noticeably, have a better time in the third period, though. Here's the period-by-period breakdown, courtesy of NaturalStatTrick:
Flames vs Islanders - All Situations
- The Flames were pretty outplayed in the first two periods. I think we can agree on that just from the eye test alone: the Islanders were a consistent feature in the Flames' zone, especially at the game's start.
- Still, good on the Flames for managing 13 corsi events for in half a period. Because, you know, their start to the game was disastrous and majorly lacking.
- Down by one - and then down by two - the Flames kicked it into absolute overdrive in the third to try to tie it up. Admirable, and there were a number of close chances, including that crazy flurry of activity by the Johnny Gaudreau, Josh Jooris, and Jiri Hudler line, as well as Sean Monahan's very unfortunate luck.
Flames vs Islanders - Even Strength
- Even strength only wasn't any better. The Islanders only got two powerplays all game, and both were at the same time, thanks to back-to-back stupidity courtesy of Lance Bouma and Matt Stajan. It's actually pretty impressive how well the Flames managed to fend off the Islanders during a two-minute five-on-three. Taking away the Islanders' man advantage doesn't hurt them much, though: they only lost two corsi events for.
- The Flames had a powerplay in the second, which was already their worst period. Take that away and their even strength-highlighted performance just drops.
- Two powerplays for the Flames in the third as they were pressing. Their jump in possession at the start of the third really reflects that. Consider the Flames at even strength only, and there are five fewer corsi events for. They needed those powerplays to out-possess the Islanders, rather than break even with them; not great for a trailing team. (At the same time, hey, they did enough things right to draw the powerplays in the first place - but I'd prefer a better even strength performance, because it would mean greater consistency in the long run.)
Flames Even Strength Data
- Credit where credit is due: the Flames' fourth line did some good last night. Brandon Bollig played the least out of everyone, but managed top possession statistics while playing in relatively difficult zone starts and while facing the Islanders' top forwards (yeah, that includes John Tavares). He didn't hurt the team when playing them; at the same time, remember it's a small sample size.
- Still, Brandon Bollig: not a human disaster. At least not recently.
- Fellow fourth liners on the night Stajan and David Jones are also up there in possession stats, but take note they had the worst zone starts on the team; hence, their raw numbers weren't quite as great as Bollig's. Raw and WOWY data tells us Jones was the weakest link on the line: a far cry from someone who was just playing as the Flames' first line right winger.
- (Absolutely none of this forgives Hartley for putting out Bollig in the last minute, though, because, seriously, ??? He has no goals? He's not a scorer?? That was a very odd decision.)
- Jumping up to the first line: Monahan had himself a hell of a game. Not great zone starts while facing off against the Islanders' top competition, and he ended up being one of the very best Flames on the ice. In all honesty, he should have had a goal or two to his name on top of everything. Monahan's been really unlucky as of late: he's the Flames' most frequent shooter, but he hasn't scored in 10 games now. Oh yeah, and he's still only 20 years old. Not bad.
- Monahan and Joe Colborne had very favourable numbers with one another, and that reflects on Colborne's own position on the above corsi chart. Both players benefited from one another, although Colborne reaped way more of the rewards. Together, their CF% was 56.52%. Separated from Colborne, Monahan's dropped to 50.00%. Separated from Monahan, Colborne's dropped to 33.33%. Quite the drop.
- But Monahan and Colborne at least worked well with one another. Curtis Glencross was the weak link on that line: his presence hurt both his younger linemates, and when someone like Paul Byron joined them, everyone's percentages went up.
- So I guess what I'm saying is, if Gaudreau - Monahan - Hudler isn't going to be a thing... how about Byron - Monahan - Colborne? Granted, these are all tiny sample sizes, but Glencross did not have a positive impact on that line at all.
- All of the Flames' rookies got absolutely crushed. Jooris and Gaudreau were the beneficiaries of very generous zone starts, and they got curbstomped. Veteran Hudler wasn't hit nearly as hard as his linemates were, and managed some respectable numbers relative to the rest of his team. As for Jooris and Gaudreau, hey, it's rookies on a learning experience.
- I want to give Markus Granlund a hug. The remaining rookie was absolutely crushed, and had very little help. He didn't work out with Bouma and Byron at all, at least not last night. He didn't even play the Isles' top players. He had better zone starts than his older linemates, too, but nothing really helped him at all.
- Quick notes on the defence: give Rafa Diaz more ice time; DO NOT LET DERYK ENGELLAND PLAY AGAINST JOHN TAVARES EVER; Brodie and Mark Giordano were absolutely crucial in limiting the Islanders' top line (when they did not share the ice with Tavares and Kyle Okposo, the Isles players had CF%s of 100%. Last game against the Oilers, the same thing happened with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The Flames are nothing without Brodano); and Russell and Dennis Wideman still look to be in over their heads, and need to be relied upon less.
Player Spotlight - Mark Giordano
I already touched upon some WOWY data when it came to the forward lines, so I wanted to jump to the backend, especially after emphasizing yet again that without the Flames' top defence pairing, they'd be, well, extremely bad. Giordano always gets the big minutes, and last night, he played the most out of absolutely every skater on the ice, registering 26:12 total. The game against the Islanders wasn't the Flames' best, but the captain's performance in particular shows just how dependent they all are on him, in all situations:
- Giordano was split from Brodie for all of about four and a half minutes of ice time. As you can see here, it clearly didn't work out particularly well.
- Pretty much everybody he plays with benefits from his presence. It's worth noting, though, that Giordano fared better with Monahan on the ice than with Colborne. Monahan is, of course, the better player, so that makes sense.
- Really the only negative impacts were with the rookies and Hudler, who all got crushed possession-wise. This is definitely a game-specific thing, because we've seen the opposite in other situations. Still, what we see is that overall, playing big minutes with Giordano tends to either help even things out, or make players better.
- Like... he almost certainly won't win it, but Giordano should definitely garner at least some votes for the Hart.