Look, let's not kid ourselves: even with the faint possibility of attaining playoff home ice on the line, the regular season finale between the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets was meaningless. Both teams had already locked themselves firmly into playoff position. All that was left was to feel good, introduce some kids to the NHL, and play an 82nd game. That was it.
Down their entire top line and new-look (re: sans Mark Giordano) first defence pairing, and dressing three kids who had never played in the NHL before in their lives, it was a very new, and very green, Flames team taking to the ice. And in all honesty, they started off very, very well. All situations, via HockeyStats.ca:
Decent start by the Flames, dominating second... aaaand a disastrous third, as was punctuated by the four goals the Jets scored. Good thing they already clinched, eh?
War on Ice helps show us a similar tale in regards to 5 v 5 scoring chances:
And punctuates it with the 5 v 5 shot plot:
What most stands out here is, obviously, the goals the Jets scored, and they came all over the (prime scoring chance areas) map. Just wasn't a good afternoon for Joni Ortio, who, it should definitely be remembered, hadn't played since late February since suffering a high ankle sprain. Although it is sad to see his once prestigious .931 save percentage for the season plummet to .908.
The Flames had their fare share of chances as well, but mostly couldn't hit the net. It does look like there was an increased willingness to shoot, however, even if from far back; John Ramage, for example, had four shots on net in his first ever NHL game, which is a pretty decent feat.
Period by period analysis, via NaturalStatTrick:
Flames at Jets - All Situations
- Legitimately great periods for the Flames in the first and second. Even without considering just who, exactly, the lineup consisted of - and was missing - those are great periods, but throw in context and it's all the better. Just unfortunate they couldn't capitalize beyond the first 33 seconds.
- The Jets ended up turning it on in the third, and whatever they touched seemed to go in. The Flames weren't too far behind them possession-wise, but they weren't getting the bounces they needed to get back in it.
- End result: a dominant third period won the game for Winnipeg, but if you want to look solely at just who had the puck, well, the Flames could have done substantially worse in that department.
Flames at Jets - Even Strength
- The Jets had one powerplay in the first, and two in the second. They had a powerplay in the third as well, but the Flames had two to counteract that.
- So taking just even strength into consideration, the Flames had an even better first two periods, especially their second. Just no goals. Dang.
- And the Jets, meanwhile, had a better third when you discount Calgary's powerplays, resulting in them losing a couple of corsi events for. It's pretty much what you'd expect.
Flames Even Strength Data
- You all noticed Markus Granlund flying out there, right? Well the numbers did, too; although he's a rookie who has been thrust into a role he likely wasn't entirely prepared for - that is to say, more often an NHLer than AHLer this season - in the finale, at least, he did well.
- As did his linemates, Brandon Bollig and Josh Jooris. Granlund just ended up out there for more offensive attempts, but as the real baby of the line, had a slightly better offensive zone start percentage to thank for that. He was even the best player on his line, although he did benefit from Jooris' presence (and, surprise, improved a bit when separated from Bollig).
- Skipping down a bit, on to the real man of the hour: Sam Bennett. His first NHL shift was inspired as heck, and he was rewarded for his efforts with a point right off the bat. Bennett played a little bit with pretty much everyone, and looked good doing it; however, when the Jets sent out their top players against him - which was frequent - he did falter some.
- Drew Shore was spread around a fair amount, too, and he had a pretty good game. He could probably stand to get a few more minutes. Remember that pretty decent fourth line he was a part of a few games back, when the Flames were fighting for a playoff spot and before they came through? Right now, at the very least, he's a good depth player. And that's just right now.
- David Wolf experienced a pretty decent return to the lineup, but despite his good possession stats, if the Flames are looking to add just one more functional tough guy to the regular NHL roster next season, it's not gonna be him. It's gonna be...
- Michael Ferland. Ferland has been absolutely flying out there as of late, and it shows. He had the most corsi events for as a forward, with a sub-50% offensive zone start, and over a pretty decent sampling of minutes. If he keeps it up, his AHL days may soon be over.
- Joe Colborne was on the ice for all goals against. That isn't to say he was responsible for all of that, but it is worth noting that he was the only one present throughout. He spent most of this time with Bennett, but was pretty terrible away from him; on the flip side, he and Mikael Backlund didn't fare too well together at all.
- Backlund didn't get big minutes, but considering how he's one of the Flames' best players and there was a brief injury scare thanks to a blocked shot, that's totally okay. He definitely could have had a better game, but Colborne didn't help him, either.
- And neither did Mason Raymond, who once again finds himself near the bottom, possession-wise. Raymond had significantly better performances when separated from Backlund and Colborne, and when playing with rookies in particular, mostly Wolf and Shore.
- Emile Poirier barely even got to play, and when he did, he barely had the chance to break even... while getting some relatively tough zone starts. NHL ready? No. Still growing, learning, and in need of guidance? Yes. Hopefully he'll get there, and right now, there isn't any real reason to think he won't.
- Matt Stajan, already a veteran of the normal Flames but especially a veteran of this rookie-filled version, took the hard minutes, and suffered appropriately for them. Considering how the rookies may very well flounder without someone as stabilizing as him leading the way - see: earlier fourth line reference - he's a good piece to have.
- Brett Kulak and Ramage primarily played together, and both very recently removed from the ECHL was just one piece in the puzzle showing they aren't NHL-ready. Not that anyone in their right mind would have expected them to be. They were both heavily sheltered, always starting in the offensive zone; Kulak faced some lighter competition, though.
- David Schlemko, continuing to prove he's very capable as a depth defenceman at minimum. I wouldn't be surprised if the Flames re-signed him for insurance.
- His partner Corey Potter played big minutes as well, taking the more difficult zone starts along the way. Both guys were actually much better together than apart, but I suppose they have been playing the past few games together, so.
- Deryk Engelland with the tough zone starts and reduced minutes. Kind of odd how the one current top four defenceman didn't even receive top four minutes, eh? He played the least out of all defenders. Either this is a sense of awareness from Hartley, or him just choosing to give Engelland a touch more rest since he was the only current top four guy to make the trip. Probably won't ever know what it really is.
- Tyler Wotherspoon, in his first NHL game after four recalls and after over a year, was immediately pitted against tough competition with the lowest zone starts on the team, so I'm not going to be hard on him. He was thrust into very difficult circumstances, and couldn't totally hold up. It makes sense why he couldn't though; those would be hard minutes for anybody, let alone someone who has spent the entire calendar year to date bouncing between leagues and only playing in the inferior one.
- If Rafa Diaz doesn't recover soon enough, and if nobody uses magic to heal Giordano real quick, who's the Flames' sixth defenceman for the playoffs? Based on ice times alone, it looks like Potter, but Potter only played 2:26 against the Los Angeles Kings in the playoff clinching game. If you can't trust your defenceman then, when are you going to make room for him in the playoffs? I suspect he's in, but playing with five defencemen will be... an adventure, to say the least, in the post-season.
And thus concluded the regular season, with more of a whimper than a bang (although we got enough of that in game 81, didn't we?). The real fun begins soon!