Winning is fun, eh? The Calgary Flames did a good job capitalizing off some shoddy moments that were apparently supposed to be the Winnipeg Jets defending, which gave them a lead they never relinquished relatively early on. That didn't stop the Jets, though, as they forced Jonas Hiller to stay honest, giving us a pretty good game.
Let's take a closer look at just how good it was, via the chart for all corsi events in all situations, courtesy of the always lovely HockeyStats.ca:
So the Jets took the lead in shot attempts, and while the Flames did their best to keep pace with them, Winnipeg was a step ahead throughout the entire 60. The Jets only really started to pull away only once they were losing, though.
So the Flames had the lead from early in the second period onwards, and pretty much put the game out of reach early in the third, with Rafa Diaz and Brandon Bollig scoring their first goals as Flames. So what about when we look at the 5 v 5 even strength score adjusted corsi chart?
So here, the difference is a little more pronounced. The Flames sat back a little more once they tied the game up. The Jets are the better possession team already, and when we adjust for the fact that they spent most of the game trailing, the shot attempts don't look nearly as close as they did in all situations. So the Flames were, overall, outplayed in this game.
But the Jets, who haven't exactly been running goaltending or defence clinics as of late, did give them all they needed to capitalize. Via War on Ice's shot plots, we can clearly see the Flames were blocking just about everything the Jets sent their way, while they directed more shots actually on net:
Holy crap look at the Flames' willingness to just chuck their bodies out there. Both Jets goals came from the same side - and come to think of it, last game, the Oilers had a goal from there as well - so the Flames' right defence may need some adjusting there. The Jets were also very willing to just try throwing anything on net, including from pretty far out.
The Flames, meanwhile, have a much lighter shot plot. Michael Hutchinson wasn't able to do much when they came in close, and all the goals came from their left (even the one right winger David Jones scored! Huh). There are some additional, unobstructed pucks shot from the right side, but still, most attempts came from the left.
So... the Flames led from early in the second period onwards. What's the period-by-period breakdown for their possession? And how did that possession break down? After all, we know the Flames outshot the Jets 28-19, but the Jets out-corsied the Flames 63-52. Via NaturalStatTrick:
Flames vs Jets - All Situations
- The Flames out-shot the Jets. The Jets out-corsied the Flames. But the Flames... out-fenwicked the Jets? The Flames blocked 22 of the Jets' shots, as opposed to the nine the Jets blocked. So the more data you add, the better the Jets looked, but fenwick is the better long-term indicator over corsi. (Of course, this is a single-game recap, so not a whole lot of this can be predicted for further use... but it's something to feel good about!)
- The Flames' attempts at offensive output were all pretty uniform, while we can see the Jets had a surge in the third period. As you would expect them to. Because the Flames kept scoring in the third, so the Jets became increasingly desperate.
- The Jets did most of their shot blocking in the second, while the Flames, needing to preserve their lead late in the game, blocked shots primarily in the third. They weren't giving the Jets much of a chance.
Flames vs Jets - Even Strength
- The Flames had one powerplay in the first, while both teams had a powerplay each in the second and third periods.
- So the Flames' first period numbers saw the only noticeable drop. That, and their overall numbers: the Jets were the superior even strength team. The one positive the Flames had - fenwick in all situations - was taken away from them when we ignore the man advantage.
- And the fact that it was the Flames' stats that fell in the second and third period, when both teams had a powerplay each, shows that Calgary was stronger on special teams on the night. Which is good! Because that powerplay is looking less atrocious, and they really needed that.
Flames Even Strength Data
- We can see the disparity between corsi and fenwick here, too. Only four Flames were positive - or even - possession players at even strength when counting blocked shots. When we look at just fenwick, though, that number jumps up to eight.
- Holy crap look at Mark Giordano. And those weren't easy minutes, either: he spent his time shutting down Winnipeg's top defence pairing and top line, while starting primarily in his own defensive zone. Hell of a way to play your 500th game. Give that man the Norris already.
- Defence partner TJ Brodie had more minutes at even strength, while facing that same tough competition. So he was less impressive than Gio - the Jets had an additional six corsi events for (five fenwick) when he was on the ice - but still pretty good. The two of them played very big roles in shutting down Winnipeg's top line of Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little, and Blake Wheeler (we're talking 90%+ CF when not sharing the ice with them).
- Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell saw the worst zone starts out of the defencemen, and now that Russell is off the powerplay, he saw more even strength time than his regular partner. The pair didn't see the big dogs as often, but they still faced good players. Wideman had the better numbers, but take into account Russell's corsi-fenwick comparison, and the fact that Russell blocked nine shots on his own. That, along with the difficult zone starts, has to sting.
- Diaz and Deryk Engelland were the beneficiaries of the best zone starts out of the defencemen. They played weaker competition. They still got burned. Here's a difference with their pairing, though: whereas with the other two, the player who played the most at even strength had worse possession numbers, Diaz played more at even strength and was better than Engelland. If anybody should be scratched for Tyler Wotherspoon - assuming that, you know, actually happens at some point - it has to be Engelland.
- Let's talk top line. Let's talk holy crap Jiri Hudler. With absolutely disgusting zone starts, Hudler was put in a position of disadvantage almost every time he stepped out on the ice, and yet, managed to be one of the very best Flames forwards at driving the puck on net. So. He's... turned out to be a very good signing.
- Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan weren't quite as good - and with Mikael Backlund out, Monahan got some harder minutes - but they weren't bad, either. Hudler was the real force on that line, though. The kids were better when playing alongside him, especially Monahan: from 47.62% CF with to 25.00% CF without.
- Sven Baertschi had a bit of a rough go at it. He wasn't given sheltered minutes - fifth worst out of all Flames forwards, in fact, so Hartley was trusting him out there - but he didn't face off much against the top line. His most common linemates, Mason Raymond and Josh Jooris, are down there with him.
- Joe Colborne was Baertschi's third most common linemate (and he actually ended up playing less than him overall!). He was taken off his line relatively early, and remained in a sheltered role with the rest of the primarily bottom six forwards. And apparently he saw a lot of shots being blocked, too, if the staggering leap between his corsi and fenwick is any indication.
- Bollig: barely trusted with any ice time, sheltered zone starts, can't break even. Scores a goal, though, while playing alongside Colborne. Considering how we've been defying logic all season long in regards to keeping him in the lineup, that goal probably just cemented his place further, meaning who gets scratched when Backlund comes back? (I think we all know it's unjustly going to be Baertschi.) But uh, hey... congrats on the goal.
- Matt Stajan got insanely sheltered for some reason, and consequently, he posted possession stats better than most of his teammates. It's nice to see him getting a little more ice time, though. He's not a fourth liner.
- And then there's someone who, ideally, should be a fourth line guy. His name is Paul Byron, and his stats are pretty great. He was sheltered some, of course, but he took those minutes and absolutely ran with them. That's the difference between a bottom six player like Byron and a bottom six player like Bollig. Also, Bollig saw more fourth line opposition, while Byron third, and still posted better numbers... so... y'know... Byron's the guy you want anchoring your fourth. He nailed it.
- Lance Bouma, meanwhile, kind of fell out of the top six for a little bit there. You know who he worked well with, though? Jones. The two of them can play a more physical game, and they fed off each other: especially Jones, who dropped from a 47.37% CF with Bouma to 25.00% CF without. Bouma was a touch more active when it came to generating overall offence. Oh, and they - along with Stajan - were the guys primarily facing off against Winnipeg's top line. Considering how they had middling zone starts and Winnipeg's top line is pretty good, they did a decent job. Not as good a job as Brodano, of course... but then again, who else can do what they do?
Player Spotlight - Sven Baertschi
So. Baertschi started on a line with Raymond and Colborne, but then Colborne gets swapped out for Jooris. He played a regular shift in the first two periods, only to get completely benched in the third (although when he did go out, it was still with Raymond and Jooris). The three of them put up overall poor possession numbers, but we can still see how they impacted one another:
- Baertschi and Raymond did alright with one another. They certainly created the most offence together (and that was a nice goal!). Take a look at their offensive zone starts with one another, too: 12.50% is dismally low.
- He performed better with Colborne than with Jooris, although again, turn your attention to zone starts. While apparently initially deciding to give Baertschi an easier workload, he and Colborne started 60.00% of their shifts together in the offensive zone. Colborne's numbers kept up. Baertschi's absolutely plummeted, as he and Jooris didn't start a single shift together on faceoff in the offensive zone.
- That already goes a long way towards explaining Baertschi's poor possession numbers: he was most frequently starting from a position of disadvantage with his most common linemates.
- Another reason? He experienced a rather poor quality of teammate. Baertschi played most frequently with the third defence pairing, then the second, then the first. Guarantee you his stats look much better if he spends more time on the ice with Giordano and Brodie.
- Holy crap Engelland is terrible. Baertschi wasn't the only guy whose offence he completely killed, either. Other victims include Raymond, Jooris, and Jones. And aside from his defence partner Diaz, Baertschi was the player Engelland played with the most.
- If Baertschi is scratched next game and Engelland isn't I'm going to scream.
- There are only two players Baertschi didn't see a second of ice time with: Hudler and Jones. You know, right wingers. If Baertschi can start putting together success while playing on the right wing, then it'd be a very wise move for the Flames to keep him. As we've seen throughout this season, the right side is pretty desolate. If he can fit the bill...
So Baertschi had poor possession numbers, but it's important to remember he was the victim of really poor zone starts, and really poor quality of teammate. Those will drag you down. He was still active in the play, looking for ways to contribute offensively at every turn and pretty clearly desperate to prove he belonged in an NHL lineup. Considering his circumstances were far from easy and he still managed to be noticeable in a good way, I'm going to say he had a pretty good game.
And should not be scratched.
Seriously, stop scratching him.