That's more like it! Not only did the Calgary Flames end up winning, but they looked like they deserved it, too. And indeed, they did. In part because man, the New Jersey Devils can be... well... a little boring to watch, so one can only imagine what it's like to actually play them. But mostly because they just plain outplayed them. And it was great.
Kicking things off via HockeyStats.ca, and their all situations corsi chart:
The two teams had a rather evenly played first, but the Flames really turned it on in the second half of the game, and try as the Devils did, they were just unable to keep up.
That's all situations, though. What can be more telling is when the game is played at even strength, since that's how the strong majority of hockey actually ends up. And the 5 v 5 even strength corsi chart shows us a slightly different tale:
The Devils needed special teams to keep up. But distilled to its most basic, this game belonged completely to the Flames. It took the Devils a while to even get any shot attempts off, and they were almost never able to give Karri Ramo as much as Cory Schneider had to deal with. This was a win the Flames fully earned.
Which isn't to say Ramo had an easy night, because the Devils certainly had their fare share of chances; it's just that the Flames had the puck more often, and so, were more likely to score. But when it comes to 5 v 5 even strength scoring chances, as War on Ice shows us, the game was much more even:
Turning our attention back to the volume, though, their 5 v 5 even strength shot plot does show us a much-improved Flames team from their efforts the night before.
The Devils didn't have quite the level of defence the Rangers did, as the Flames were able to force their way into the middle, and it definitely paid off. Again, their left side has a much greater offensive presence than the right, but this is a concern we've known about for a while now.
The Devils' shot plot, by comparison, looks sad, lonely, desolate, and so very, very empty.
The period-by-period data, as always via NaturalStatTrick, does a pretty good job of telling us just how the game played out, too.
Flames at Devils - All Situations
- The Flames really must not have been feeling great after their loss to the Rangers from just the day before, because they came out and owned that first period. It's a shame the Devils took the lead then, because other than that, they looked completely in control.
- The second reflected a much more evenly played game, but the Devils having the lead definitely influenced that.
- And give New Jersey the edge in the third period... because the Flames took the lead very, very quickly right at the end of the second and start of the third. The Devils spent 19 and a half minutes playing from behind. Most of their offence came from the late penalty Johnny Gaudreau took, though...
Flames at Devils - Even Strength
- The powerplay breakdown went thus: one for each team in the first, one for the Flames in the third, and two for the Devils in the third.
- And... the Flames' numbers in the first and third jump up to outright dominant. Which tells us two things about the Devils' performance: their powerplays were great, and their play at even strength much less so.
- This is pretty much exactly the kind of redemption performance the Flames needed. They played great.
Even Strength Flames Data
- Gaudreau certainly had a noticeable jump to his game, didn't he? He, Jiri Hudler, and Sean Monahan were dominant all game. They got the benefit of high offensive zone starts, but they absolutely made them count, and playing mostly against the Devils' top players didn't hinder them at all.
- A redemption game for Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell. They worked well with the Flames' top line, and again with the benefits of starting most of their shifts in the offensive zone, bounced back to play well against an (admittedly far more) inferior team.
- Don't mid the big jump in Deryk Engelland and Rafa Diaz's positions on the possession chart. Diaz was out there an extra half minute, and just one extra shot attempt went against the Flames over that time. They were some of the most sheltered guys on the Flames, but they were still positive possession, and that's all you can really ask of them.
- The shutdown line of David Jones, Lance Bouma, and Mikael Backlund were amazingly consistent, with the exact same corsi stats working for them. There's a bit of difference in regards to fenwick, but this is a line that's played together for over a month now, and they're really figuring out how one another works. Backlund's the biggest hero of the line thanks to more ice time and more defensive zone starts, but he's been the hero pretty much the entire time.
- Rookies Emile Poirier and Michael Ferland didn't get much ice time, but did well with the minutes they had. Hartley ensured they had an easier time than last game, giving them easier zone starts and far easier competition. Definitely worth noting that Poirier had fewer offensive zone starts than Ferland, but was just as good possession-wise. He was very noticeable out there, and is definitely looking like someone for the opposition to soon fear as he continues to develop.
- On the other hand, some concern is warranted for Markus Granlund. He had the highest offensive zone start percentage, and didn't face difficult competition, and yet, his numbers stand out easily as the ugliest. Two possible explanations for this: he didn't have the benefit of playing with Backlund, as his wingers did on occasion; and he's coming up on 40 NHL games this season, far more than was probably the plan coming in. He could simply be tired and not ready to be a regular NHLer.
- Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie exhibited the same consistency found throughout line combinations and defence pairings this game. They didn't see a ton of the Devils' top line; more of their second and third lines, whom they were able to handle. They also didn't get to spend a ton of time with the top line, who, as earlier established, were really, really good.
- That leaves the bottom line in possession: Joe Colborne, Josh Jooris, and our favourite trade bait and goal scorer, Curtis Glencross. They saw middling competition, and had the benefit of great zone starts - but not as great as the top line's - but along with Granlund, were the only negative possession players for the Flames. The zone starts and middling competition were probably a continued bid to advertise Glencross' services.
- So many guys being over 50% CF is a great sign, though. Nobody was exactly a liability, although we should probably continue to look out for Granlund.
Player Spotlight - Curtis Glencross
Was that the last time we're going to get to see Glencross in a Flames jersey? Maybe, maybe not; time is definitely running out, though. And while he did take his patented stupid penalty, he also got a goal! Let's take a closer look:
- Glencross played the least out of everyone on his regular line, and spent almost all of his forward time with Josh 'n' Joe. They did not exactly work well together, as the J's did better away from Glencross, giving up no corsi events against once he was off the ice. (Although it should be stressed these sample sizes are INCREDIBLY tiny and not necessarily a reflection on Glencross' play. Yes, I'm talking to you, teams who want him. He's great. Give us lots.)
- He was passed around with all the defencemen, and no surprise, found himself having the easiest time when with the defencemen who posted the best fancy stats of the night: Wideman and Russell.
- He spent more time with Brodano, but they had the worst (but still not bad!) possession games out of the defence, and he got hurt by that.
If this truly was Glencross' final game as a Flame, it wasn't a bad one. It wasn't a perfect one, either, but he broke the Flames' shutout streak just before it hit 100 minutes, and played some okay minutes. He can be a valuable depth player for a team, really.