The Flames have been itching for some relief on their defensive corps, especially on a disastrous road trip where they could neither buy goals or saves. Thankfully, Mark Giordano's best friend and possession king TJ Brodie came back, and wow what a difference it made (in a sample size of one game)! Let's take a look at what went right for the Flames.
Whoa, would you look at that! There wasn't ever really a time when the Senators were in control of this game. Maybe the best part is that even after devastating goals, the Flames didn't fold like they have in previous games. This is a stats recap, so we don't put much faith in intangibles, but seeing how the Flames did after goals against hasn't been positive so far this season. This brings good hope.
And would you look at that, 5v5 domination! The Flames were in the bottom five for that category last year, but now they're slowly working their way towards the middle (we're still rebuilding, remember). However, this brings up some troubling points. Excluding overtime, the Senators had 14 more corsi attempts in all situations than at 5v5. The Flames only had 10 more. They both had the same number of powerplay opportunities, which suggests that the Flames have problems suppressing shots attempts on the PK and generating them on the PP. While they held the Sens pointless on PK attempts, and they themselves having scored a PP goal, these are the types of problems that will pain a team for most of the year.
Score adjusted 5v5:
And the gap widens. This further proves how in-control the Flames were, despite trailing for a significant portion of the game. The big lesson the team needs to learn from last year is to play like you're trailing all of the time. If you keep putting shots on net at a consistent rate, you won't be trailing all of the time.
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. From war-on-ice.com
Now here's some more progress. Notice how the Flames have distributed their shot selection somewhat evenly. It's not all on the left side anymore. Even better is that they are getting closer to the net rather than firing from the blueline every time. On defence, they did spectacular by mostly containing the Senators ourside of the home plate area, blocking everything that came that way. However, when they did allow the Senators inside, they paid for it dearly. Maybe those guys ranting about Ottawa becoming more intrusive were right all along.
|CF% All||OZS% All||CF% EV||OZS% EV
Would we take a look at anyone else besides TJ Brodie? It didn't look like his season debut at all, considering he played like he always does. While he was barely a positive corsi player, he did get the worst zone starts and turned them into offensive zone chances. With instability in the defence, his return is much welcomed as is evident by these stats.
- Hartley seems to have found a niche for Dougie Hamilton and Deryk Engelland. They were heavily sheltered, but they kept the team safe by putting pucks towards the net.
- David Jones and Mason Raymond are probably not going to be on this team much longer, unfortunately, but they're playing great. They both looked like studs tonight, and could probably use a bit more than 10 and 12 minutes respectively.
- Mikael Backlund is still amazing
- I don't know why Bollig did well, but six minutes isn't really enough to judge someone seriously.
- I'm not quite sure what's happening with Michael Frolik. The guy was one of the bright lights in the early few goings, but seems to have fallen off the map a wee bit. Even with offensive spark plugs Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett, both seemed to fare better away from him than with him. Maybe he's in a slump, but considering that he's still an average possession player while in a slump, that bodes well.
- Speaking of, Gaudreau and Bennett lost a lot of ground despite their zone starts. Bob Hartley's giving them the best chance possible to work their magic by putting them in the offensive zone, but they have to keep possession there if they want to be lighting the lamp. To be fair, this is the same situation Hudreaunahan was in last season. It's going to happen.
- One of the defensive problems that was clearly obvious tonight was the Wideman-Russell pairing. Remember when they were seperate and everything was so lovely? Nope, not happening again. They had very generous starts but very poor corsi. When they were broken up and placed with different partners, they succeeded. It's time to go back to that. If Russell is indeed in the future plans for the team, they have to use him effectively. Placing him with Wideman is more than likely not going to help.
Bonus Question: Should Ladislav Smid or Jakub Nakladal slot in sometime?
The caveat being that they replace Russell
Smid hasn't been terrible to start the year, which is very generous considering we're talking about Smid. He's seen some success with various members of the lineup, so he can't hurt to play. Nakladal had a very promising start to his AHL campaign, and placing him within the rotation just to get a fresh look also can't hurt. Brad Treliving has been rumoured to want to shake up the defence via trade. Why do that when you have some safe options in your own lineup?
Uh-oh, the Flames play the big, bad Montreal Canadiens on Friday in Calgary. This game brings a lot of optimism heading forward, but can they make it count against the NHL's top team? We'll find out.