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Calgary Flames at Detroit Red Wings stats recap: So much offence, so few attempts

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The Flames are an incredibly opportunistic team, not creating much offence of their own, but somehow finding ways to make what they do generate count.

TJ Brodie is the biggest ray of sunshine in a bleak defence.
TJ Brodie is the biggest ray of sunshine in a bleak defence.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Calgary Flames keep on winning! This is obviously good. But they are without Mark Giordano. This is obviously bad, because Giordano is a key cog of this team, and they're much worse without him. You can interpret that in two ways: an optimist looks at it as saying Giordano is very good, while a pessimist takes the approach that the Flames are very bad. Both are mostly true.

The fancy stats have not been kind to the Flames this season, and with Giordano out, they're even harsher. Taking a look at the all situations corsi chart, via HockeyStats.ca:

65flamesredwingscorsichartALL

The even strength and score adjusted charts look pretty much the same - although actually, the gap is bigger - so we don't need to include them. Fact is, and it was evident just from watching the game: the Flames were outplayed. The Detroit Red Wings spent a lot of time simply dancing through the Flames zone and peppering Jonas Hiller with shots. The Flames, meanwhile, struggled just to set up in the Wings' end. They got better as the game went on - some very tired legs at the beginning of the second of a road back-to-back hindered them - but they still weren't great.

While they certainly made the little offence they generated count, it was Detroit who ruled in 5 v 5 scoring chances, too. Via War on Ice:

65flamesredwingschartESSC

That's just straight up domination.

And in shot generation in general:

65flamesredwingsplot

The Flames' side just looks so... lonely. There's next to nothing there, especially when you look over at what Hiller had to deal with. The Flames were primarily blocking shots on their left side, but there were a lot of those in general.

A blocked shot may signify grit and heart, but just look at it through this context: it also signifies a time when the opposition has the puck and the Flames do not. If you do not have the puck, you are not going to score. Ergo, blocking an insane number of shots is actually bad, because it means you are not getting the chance to score; you are merely preventing the other team in one instance.

The Flames were lucky to win this one, for sure.

Period by period analysis, via NaturalStatTrick:

Flames at Red Wings - All Situations
  
      
65flamesredwingscorsiAS
  • The Flames did get better as the game went on, but they had a very steep hill to climb to even reach that third period 50% mark.
  • Score effects didn't even play a particularly big role here; the Wings simply continued to dominate.
  • Although massive props to what had to be an at least somewhat tired Flames team for having a great third period, even with the opposition pressing to tie. It was easily their best period of the night.
  • The Flames were the ones blocking all the shots - they had 21 to the Wings' five - so fenwick is a little kinder to them. Not by a whole lot, though, because for all the supposed prowess of the Flames' shot blocking comes the fact that they seriously need to have the puck more often.
Flames at Red Wings - Even Strength

65flamesredwingscorsiES

  • The powerplay breakdown went as such: one for each team in the first, one for the Flames in the second, and one for each team in the third.
  • The Flames' numbers go down in all periods when counting even strength situations only, showing that the Wings were the superior team throughout the most common circumstances hockey has to offer.
  • The Flames definitely needed the man advantage to generate more shot attempts.
Flames Even Strength Data
  
      
65flamesES
  • The only players who could even resemble positive possession were all the bottom guys with barely any ice time. The Brandon Bollig - Matt Stajan - Michael Ferland line did well - and even put up a goal, which was great - particularly against Detroit's fourth line equivalent.
  • Ferland, the rookie, was the most sheltered of the three, with the highest offensive zone starts of everyone on the team.
  • Rafa Diaz did a pretty good job for somebody without a single offensive zone start at even strength. Of course, it is weird how he's continually shafted when it comes to ice time.
  • His partner, David Schlemko, worked his way up - and very rightfully so! He looked great out there. If he can help drag his poor defence partner up with him to create a more balanced defence, then that would be ideal.
  • Mason Raymond makes a special guest star appearance in the top possession Flames category, pulling away from his usual linemate young'uns in Drew Shore and Josh Jooris, who somehow managed to post the exact same stats. I'm interested in that just because, well... does that mean they're going to work well together? Shore is staying up for the rest of the season. You need good depth to win games, and maybe Shore and Jooris will end up being perfect fits with one another. Something that is awfully nice about the two of them together is either can play centre at a moment's notice, so there's a lot of flexibility there.
  • Raymond, meanwhile, as the line's veteran, was the better player. Here's something I find interesting: against Pavel Datsyuk, both Shore and Jooris had CFs of 0%. Raymond at least managed a 25%. Granted, the difference is one shot attempt for, but Datsyuk completely prevented the younger guys from creating anything.
  • Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman did relatively well facing some of Detroit's best. They were actually better when they were playing against them directly. Although it's important to keep the "relative" part in mind because they still weren't particularly great.
  • Jiri Hudler had a pretty good homecoming. He was started more often in the offensive zone to help make that a possibility.
  • Just as with Raymond, Shore, and Jooris; Hudler, by being the vet on the line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, was the key to the line. The differences are a bit more dramatic, though, with Hudler generating way more shot attempts for and preventing way more against. He's definitely the best veteran forward on the Flames.
  • Mikael Backlund is a gift. (A gift who made Hudler and Gaudreau better in the limited minutes they played together, even.) Wanna compare Datsyuk stats? He was 80% CF when they shared the ice. Backlund rocks.
  • Top Six Forward Lance Bouma, who remains glued to him, is not nearly as good, and continues to rely on Backlund.
  • While Bouma occasionally passes for a top six guy, Joe Colborne is somebody who... doesn't? Not recently, anyway. He did not have a good game at all, and was significantly worse when separated from Backlund. The minutes were limited, but nothing went towards the opposition's net with Colborne on the ice and Backlund not. And away from him, Backlund's CF shot up by more than 40%.
  • Deryk Engelland was 0% CF when separated from TJ Brodie. Brodie's own CF went up when separated from Engelland. It's almost like a parasitic relationship: Engelland reaps all the rewards while Brodie reaps, well, nothing. He needs a better defence partner. Wishing really really hard isn't going to make Engelland capable or a top four guy or anything like that. He just... isn't.
  • I miss Gio.
Player Spotlight - TJ Brodie

Brodie's on his own, now. Where the Flames were once a two-defenceman team, they're now down to just one guy. Russell and Wideman are also there, playing more minutes than they should be out of necessity. Maybe breaking them up and mixing up the pairings a little to give Brodie someone other than Engelland to spend most of his time with would be something worth considering.

65brodieWOWY

  • Brodie was better when with literally anyone not carrying Engelland's last name. This is over about four and a half minutes of ice time, so not a lot, but... he just was. He performed better when spending time on ice with any other player.
  • The next defenceman he spent the most time with, albeit only by about half a minute, was the Flames' number three in Wideman. Together, they were close to breaking even on possession.
  • Backlund gave Brodie his best meaningful performance, which isn't surprising. The two of them are among the best the Flames have, period, so of course when they play together they make one another better, and the team is all the better for it.
  • Not quite the case with Monahan, at least not in this game.
  • Playing with the fourth line helped boost his numbers some, if only because he got to play against fourth line competition, which is substantially easier than the top lines he tends to spend most of his time against.

It's only been a few games, but don't hold your breath for Brodie and Engelland to work well together any time soon. I'd much rather see Wideman shift up and the remaining bottom four defenceman sorted out amongst themselves. The Russell - Wideman pairing has been overrated, and a change for the two of them might help them figure out the best situations for themselves, rather than continuously reverted to the standard default already set like someone with an extremely severe case of confirmation bias would do.

Ahem.

Just try Brodie with someone not named Engelland for the better part of one game, and see if the Flames aren't quite as comically outshot as the Wings did to them last night.