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Ducks vs Flames - Nothing Makes Sense BUT IT'S SO MUCH FUN (Stats Recap)

What is happening? Maybe spreadsheets can't explain it. Maybe the Flames have employed some sort of witch doctor to propel them towards success. My money is on the witch doctor.

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

All logic seems to escape the explanation of what the hell this team is. I mean we can list of several factors driving their success like third period shooting percentage, PDO, shot quality, and luck. All that's valid and acceptable means for trying to understand the riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a Flames jersey.

All tucked away within that here at Matchsticks among the writers is a giggling excited optimism that maybe just maybe we can blow all our hard earned blogger money and personal money on playoff tickets. All that aside, I still cannot comprehend how the Flames won last night. I guess it's those damn intangibles or maybe they just worked really hard.

Let's try and decipher the confusion, the goals, and all that fun stuff!

Period Summary data from Natural Stat Trick

Corsi - 5v5 Adjusted via Hockey Stats

  • When we examine score-adjusted Corsi we're looking at removing score effects and all those other conditions that exist to see how a team performs if those weren't factors. Calgary last night consistently had a pattern that is very similar all season: a burst and extensive flat-lines.
  • This comes from the basis that possession-wise as we've covered and you've ready just about everywhere: they aren't the hottest in terms of puck possession by proxy of shot attempts.
  • The third period overall was the weakest, driven by Anaheim's relentless pace to draw more blood. The unfortunate side of things is the limited utilization and accomplished players on the roster in terms of shot suppression. We'll get to that in a separate blog post at a later date because it's a really fantastic frontier of data.
Corsi - 5v5 Unadjusted via Hockey Stats

  • So that first period was primarily driven by three forwards: Matt Stajan, perfect hair forever Sean Monahan, and Johnny Gaudreau. All were realistically instrumental in overcoming the shot attempt differentials and crucial to making it 2-2. Monahan had three individual CF events, Stajan three as well, and Gaudreau had two.
  • Within the confines of the second period and despite the three total goals scored it ended up being very dire. A total of seven events with Lance Bouma leading the way with two. The only goal scored in the period at even strength was Matt Stajan's seventh of the season.
  • The entire sequence is really exciting on a systems level. Billy Jaffe broke it down on Sportsnet last night with emphasis on Bollig's role in the goal. To be honest, I agree. It doesn't absolve him of his other mistakes this year but it adds to his count of good things this season which puts him at three.
  • The gist of the goal goes as follows: Diaz has no outlet besides going around the boards. Bollig reads the play and heads up ice and CARRIES IN THE PUCK (YES MORE OF THIS), passes to rookie Michael Ferland who then feeds Stajan.
  • The third period aka our period of dominance didn't really do much due to the Ducks domination. Five shot attempts lead by Jiri Hudler who of course had a smart read on Mikael Backlund's play. Well, it was a lucky bounce but a great example of reading the play again and being intelligent with your positioning. Zone entries are incredibly valuable for this team - especially carried in zone entries.

Corsi - All Situations via Hockey Stats

  • Special teams played a factor in the shot attempt differentials from last night. Having two power plays in the first and two kills skewed numbers a bit but as we saw outside of the first Ducks' PP; the Flames were great on the Dennis Wideman high-sticking penalty. Calgary had four shot attempts while in a 5v4 state in the first period. Wideman had two iCF events on those PPs.
  • In the second period once again we saw Wideman with two iCF events. Gaudreau and Monahan had one each to round out the only other shot attempts.
  • The one thing to keep in mind on special teams are the overwhelming volume of factors that go into success. Playing a person down or two; or three is a huge one. Is the player you're killing a penalty for your best PKer? Are you playing an aggressive PK? Is your PP floundering due to systems and formation? So many things can be the difference maker here. Last night the Flames success and it's a positive that needs some attention.

Scoring Chances via War on Ice

As part of the Mikael Backlund pieces I did yesterday, I wanted to include scoring chance data to illustrate the importance of scoring chances. I was also hoping prior to last night's game that Calgary would have a decent game with chances to go through and break these down further. We don't have much to look at but we'll see what we can find here.

  • Hudler and Stajan lead the Flames in tracked scoring chances by the gamekeepers. The duo had three individual scoring chances. It showed in this poise and play on the ice.
  • Monahan and Bouma had two iSC last night including that dangle that John Gibson somehow stopped. Gaudreau, Jooris, Colborne, Raymond, and Jones all had one each. Gaudreau spent more time last night being a thorn in Anaheim's side than any other player.
  • Though he didn't have a lot of individual scoring chances, he was instrumental in setting up plays and allowing lanes/seams to open up.
  • Overall with the way Anaheim controlled play and Calgary's inability to generate shots, it's skewed heavily in Anaheim's favor.

Shot Plot data via War on Ice

  • A little thin, eh folks? Calgary found success in the lower slot and just on the edge of the faceoff circles. The only other area of considerable shot generation came from the left point (or stage left for you acting folks). The thinness along the right side is a glaring issue that has been visible throughout a lot of games this year.
  • Calgary's situation with shot suppression is one of the biggest things driving PDO and the negative possession side of things. It's an area of exploration I'd love to dive into soon when I have time and it's a fascinating perspective on understanding defensive systems, players, and what constitutes actual shot suppression.
  • Calgary had 16 blocked shots at even strength. Still rather high though a visible symptom of the woes of shot generation. The calling card of a Calgary Flames shot-blocking party is everywhere. The lone goal shown scored by the Ducks was a 5v5 goal as the others were 4v4 and 5v4 for them.
  • The most visible characteristic of the shot placement is the number of high slot attempts that were blocked with only four really in close to Karri Ramo. Others seem to be scattered from the high-points to areas of the ice that aren't optimal shooting locations.

Flames Even Strength Data from Natural Stat Trick

  • Josh Jooris was rather sheltered last night. He only had 0:11 of PP time and 0:40 of PK time to go with his 9:52 at ES. He spent much of the night with Mason Raymond and Joe Colborne finding very limited success. His opposition numbers saw him find success against the likes of Ryan Kesler (71.43% CF/FF at ES) at 4:25 against and Cam Fowler (75% CF / 66.67% FF) at a meager 2:48. Outside of those, he broke even against Andrew Cogliano and Tomas Fleischmann but was below 50% in CF against much of the team.
  • The top pairing -- well I think they're the top pairing for now of Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman had an up and down evening. They're still being slaughtered in terms of shot attempts and it's been trending this way prior and even more magnified since Giordnao's injury. You can't deny the productive numbers they're putting up but it's still a concern given their disastrous play in their own end.
  • Backlund, Bouma, and David Jones had a bad start to the game with Jones' giveaway to make it 1-0. It didn't get easier for them as Backlund with the duo were a Bollig-level 21.43% CF and 12.5% FF. Backlund away from them was 75% CF and 100% FF though the time away is skewed heavily. The additional impact of sub-50% possession from the blueline impacted his night as well. Brodie and Mikael together were 40% though away Backlund was 25%.
  • David Jones didn't get his ice time cut much due to his gaffe and he wasn't relegated to babysitting duty either but he also suffered from the contentious volume of shot attempts from Anaheim.
  • The top line of Gaudreau, Monahan, and Hudler somehow survived and created chances in the time it had the puck which is a positive. The downside is going 11.11% against Kyle Palmieri for Monahan and Gaudreau; for Hudler he was 12.5% CF against Palmieri.
  • Free TJ Brodie from Deryk Engelland. I promise things will be better for him if they do. With Engelland he was 18.75% CF and 25% FF. Without? 62.5% CF and 57.14% FF. In the five games since Gio's injury he's yet to be a positive possession guy or even about 40%. Scott Cullen of TSN mentioned it today in a video segment. Everyone notices it both with the eye-test and in terms of numbers with how Engelland impacts Brodie.
  • Brandon Bollig's assist on the Stajan goal was really nice. That's about it. He has done three good things this season as of now. We're all praying for a Bollig hat-trick. Low minutes with Ferland and Stajan and not really doing much besides well...anything.
Player Spotlight - Matt Stajan

Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I have positive words for Stajan. I think he's a perfect option at the third line centre as of this season and provides better stability over the rookies. He isn't a top-six guy and the experiments from the Iginla trying him in that role didn't work.

This season for some bizarre reason despite him playing and dragging along nearly everyone with him, he's stuck on the fourth line. With rookies getting more ice time than him and media expectations of Stajan needing to "do more" it's a bit absurd. Last night he proved he can be a capable bottom six centre with ice time given and the right teammates...for the most part.

  • As mentioned earlier, Stajan lead the way with three scoring chances and two goals. The entire team was a disaster in terms of CF% and FF%; and well, in terms of relative Corsi he was a negative too. His 4 individual CF events topped the team as well.
  • He definitely had some rough possession numbers against a bulk of the Ducks though the abundance of his zone starts were defensive zone. Along much of his top head to heads, he was 100% utilized in the defensive zone. His only extreme positives came in two small samples against Kesler and Fleischmann. On top of that, he was positive against Despres, Fowler, and Palmieri in as well.
  • Utilization of Stajan is almost always with a rookie and Bollig now which impacts him tremendously. Michael Ferland wasn't bad last night but Stajan's play should warrant him some more experienced players to help him out.