The Flames had some real problems in their third game of the season despite the close score. As stated in last night's recap, the same issues which have dogged this team for a while now popped up again. Ineffective powerplays, bad line usage, and bad line combinations contributed to the loss against the Blues. Let's take an in-depth look why:
All from hockeystats.ca
This certainly looks like Calgary Flames hockey. Fall behind early, fall behind further, try to catch up when you're down. These numbers are even more surprising when you consider that they had four powerplays in the first period alone. On those four powerplays, they generated seven shot attempts and three total shots. The Blues are a stellar PK shot suppression team, only allowing eight corsi attempts against in six shorthanded opportunities, but you'd think that the Flames might solve them more than once in four opportunities. No dice.
Yup, still bad on 5v5. As the nice bits of the second and third show, the Flames can generate some good 5v5 offensive momentum, but they still have that shot suppression issue. There were a lot of rush attempts for both teams in this game, so the issue then becomes holding the puck in the offensive zone. Troy Brouwer's goal came off of a breakaway after some botched offensive zone play. That can't be happening. As we saw in game two versus Vancouver, the Flames are at their best when they sustain pressure, and not when they go for the stretch pass. Boring, yes, but winning isn't as boring as you think.
Goals are in red. Misses are in black. Blocks are in green. Saves are in blue. Rush attempts are larger and italicized. Rebound attempts are larger. Via War-on-Ice, 5v5 data:
If you want to make a case for shot blocking, look at what the Blues do. They block things inside the home plate area, not necessarily every shot. As you can see, this makes those shots easier to corral, and gives you a better chance of taking possession. They had 14 blocks, and only two rebounds from those blocks. Looking at the Flames shot plot, you can see that they allow way more rebounds off of blocks: 18 blocks, 10 rebounds. That's giving the Blues another chance to shoot, which is most likely why they were able to control the puck more often than the Flames did.
Individual corsi chart:
Data from NaturalStatTrick:
|Player||CF% All||CF% ES
||OZS% All||OZS% ES|
- Look at that third line! It's like we're playing in Vancouver all over again.
- The defenders, minus the rookie Kulak, did pretty well considering things like zone starts. Deryk Engelland continues to be a pleasant analytics surprise early in the season.
- Frolik is still good.
- St Louis' first line ran over Calgary's first line, and it wasn't very pretty. Check out this handy table to see (first number is Flames' CF With, second is CF Without):
Alexander Steen Paul Stastny Vladimir Tarasenko Johnny Gaudreau 26.09 | 68.75 19.05 | 72.22 20.00 | 68.42 Sean Monahan 26.32 | 60.87 26.32 | 60.87 23.53 | 60.00 Jiri Hudler 31.58 | 68.18 27.78 | 69.57 25.00 | 68.00
- It was just Colton Parayko's night. In addition to his two goals, he killed nearly everyone on the Flames in terms of possession, save for Micheal Ferland. It may have had to do with always starting in the defensive zone against the Human Missile though.
- Mason Raymond scored an early goal and then figuratively left the game. The former is good enough for Hartley to continue selecting him for the team, the latter damning for his long term goalscoring prospects. It's not really the nature of advanced stats that will be the burden of Raymond, but the nature of Raymond himself. We're talking about the man who goes on goal droughts longer than election campaigns.
- Mikael Backlund had a bad night, placing next to last in ice time. He would probably be last had Lance Bouma not been injured and missed the entire third. I feel this is unfair, as he has both Bouma and Brandon Bollig on his wings. It's strange that Hartley would forget his work from 2013-15 where he was very successful with better linemates. Hopefully the Flames' own Sisyphus gets a boost from the inclusion of Josh Jooris in the lineup.
Statistical oddity of the night:
Do the Blues intentionally seek out defenders with long last names? If so, they may have found a marketplace inefficiency. The minimum number of letters in a Blues defender's last name is seven, with an average of 9.7 letters. This probably explains why five-letter Brett Kulak did bad. In unrealted news, Ladislav Smid is trying to legally get his name changed to Ladislav Smiddddddddddd. We hope this is the career turnaround we've been waiting for.
Bonus question: who starts on Friday?
Jonas Hiller didn't have an awful game. He received no offensive support, and was peppered with shots in the defensive end. The goals allowed were a powerplay goal (while being screened), a breakaway goal, a defensive error on Hamilton's part, and a goal with about six people screening him. It was a weird goaltending game all-in-all (Brian Elliot finished with a .750 SV%), so it's not as if Hiller deserved most of the blame.
This conflicts with Bob Hartley's goaltending rotation system of "win and you're in." This philosophy does keep the rotation healthy while rewarding hot streaks and allowing goalies to recover from cold streaks, but also confuses a bad performance with a bad goalie and ignores statistical anomalies. Karri Ramo wasn't great in his only start, while Hiller has been a better keeper. It's going to be interesting to see how things shake out on Friday. Or we get Joni Ortio, which I wouldn't mind.
Goaltending controversy aside, the Flames have to have more than one functioning line and a good powerplay unit against the Jets, one of the most undisciplined teams in the league. As already stated, the inclusion of Jooris should help with possession and with Mikael Sisyphus. A very hopeful prediction would be that the AHL callup in place of Bouma (preferably Emile Poirier or Garnet Hathaway) makes the lineup over Bollig, but we're still dealing with Bob Hartley here.