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Flames at Oilers stats recap: Depth is important

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Key aspects of depth include being able to roll four lines, and having your fourth line absolutely destroy the opposition's. To the tune of two goals? I mean, why not? Dream big and achieve those dreams. The Flames can.

Happy rookies! Happy goalie! Happy team!
Happy rookies! Happy goalie! Happy team!
Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout this season, the Edmonton Oilers have actually had better corsi stats than the Calgary Flames. Not great ones, by any means, but better ones; the Flames only have legs up on the Colorado Avalanche (sorry Iggy) and the historically and purposely awful Buffalo Sabres.

Last night's game did fit that bill, for two reasons: it took the Flames a little while to wake up, and the Flames' lead throughout the game did mean they didn't have to go for it as hard as the Oilers. Especially an Edmonton team just coming off a humiliating 8-2 loss on the tail end of a humiliating season in a long string of humiliating seasons.

Via HockeyStats.ca, the all situations corsi chart:

79flamesoilerscorsiALL

It took the Flames about half the game to wake up. Fortunately, they already had a lead by then, and Jonas Hiller was there to cover the rest.

The tale is definitely different when you look at the 5 v 5 score adjusted corsi chart:

79flamesoilerscorsiESSA

As the Flames' lead increased, so did the Oilers' need to score. And they couldn't. And the Flames were, ultimately, the better team on all accounts.

I mean, of course they were. But there have been a number of deceptive moments throughout this season. This? Was not one of them.

If you want to take a closer look at shot quality, War on Ice shows us something a little different when it comes to 5 v 5 scoring chances:

79flamesoilersESSC

A number of the Oilers' chances came off of scrums in tight on Hiller, hence that build up they got the Flames could never really match (although, with the Flames leading most of the game, again, they didn't really need to). It was fine, though: Hiller was definitely up to the task, right from the second he stepped in.

The 5 v 5 shot plot shows very concentrated efforts by both teams:

79flamesoilersshots

The Flames, of course, have been among the NHL's most efficient shooters, and it shows (uhh, one of Markus Granlund's goals aside): almost all of their chances came from right within hockey's home plate area.

The same went for the Oilers, showing the Flames might want to focus on clearing out their own home plate a little more. The number of times the Oilers scrummed in on Hiller was a bit much, and things could have turned out much worse than they did; especially if any of their first period scrums had resulted in something more.

That first period really did belong to the Oilers. It was great end-to-end play to see the Flames take the lead so quickly, but it really did take them a while to wake back up. Via NaturalStatTrick:

Flames at Oilers - All Situations

79flamesoilerschartAS

  • Yeah... not a great first for the Flames at all. They looked pretty listless out there, and it's a really good thing Hiller was as sharp as he was. May this be the game to turn his recent weak-goals-against fortunes around!
  • They woke right up in the second, and with a 3-0 lead for most of the third, all the Flames had to do was cruise on to victory, and look good doing it.
  • The overall stats are definitely deceptive, in their favouring the Oilers' one strong period that was ultimately fruitless. Flames were the better team in all facets: scoreboard, on-ice play, underlying numbers.
Flames at Oilers - Even Strength

79flamesoilerschartES

  • One powerplay: Keith Aulie crosschecking Joe Colborne in the third.
  • One corsi event: Dennis Wideman's goal.
  • Heh.
Flames Even Strength Data

79flamesES

  • Those who played least, played best. Well, not totally; but those who played the least did rack up the better possession stats.
  • David Schlemko had a great game as a depth defenceman. He wasn't granted super easy minutes - although he did primarily face off against, umm, not great players - but starting most often in his own end, he really helped move the puck up the ice. And imagine if he'd scored off Granlund's tip-in try for him!
  • Corey Potter, former Oiler and obstructer of Tyler Wotherspoons everywhere, meanwhile, got incredibly sheltered, both in zone starts and in terms of competition. At least he wasn't a trainwreck in literally the easiest circumstances possible.
  • There's a reason the rookie line looked so good last night: they were genuinely excellent. In on so many chances, creating offence, and scoring two goals, all while being given respectable minutes. Granlund and Josh Jooris looked particularly great in the offensive zone, while Michael Ferland was the perfect big body compliment to them. We really don't need to see Brandon Bollig out there again, thanks.
  • Of course, it's important to keep in mind that they, like the bottom defence pairing, rarely ever saw any Oilers players that could be considered "threats". Edmonton has no depth of which to speak.
  • Look at it like this: the Oilers' fight leaders this season are Matt Hendricks and Luke Gazdic. They played most often against the rookie line. The rookie line scored two goals. Hendricks and Gazdic did nothing. See how it's better to just dress capable players rather than face punchers? You can dance around the face puncher and they can't do a thing about it. And the rookie line escaped unharmed and didn't need to be protected by anybody.
  • Dress four lines. Don't waste a roster spot on someone who can't play thanks to an outdated notion. Who cares about fights when you're scoring goals?
  • The top line was just flying with chances all night, too; it's just they weren't able to bury any of them. Corsi events for-wise, they were about on par with the rookies, only playing in much harder circumstances - worse zone starts, tougher competition - so they had to work harder to bring up the offence, all the while it was natural for more chances to go against them.
  • They're pretty to watch though, eh?
  • Jiri Hudler played the least, hence fewer corsi events against him; while Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan were about on par, with just a few extra events with Gaudreau on the ice due to his extra ice time.
  • Wideman played harder circumstances than Kris Russell - more zone starts from his own end, not to mention more minutes - so of course, more chances went against him than his partner. Offensively, he and Russell were about the same, with Russell with just one more event for in three fewer minutes of ice.
  • Matt Stajan and Mikael Backlund got new linemates last night. Stajan's line took the worse zone starts, while both lines played top competition (that is to say, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall); Stajan moreso.
  • Stajan was okay with Lance Bouma and David Jones; Jones was the only one who had any success away from his linemates, but that has more to do with him playing more than they did.
  • Mason Raymond brought Colborne and Backlund down. He did not have a good night, and both his linemates had greater success when away from him.
  • Speaking of greater success when away from him... TJ Brodie and Deryk Engelland, in which Engelland was much more sheltered. They faced top competition, albeit Brodie moreso (he was Hall's most common opponent, and helped put a dent in his numbers; without Brodie, Hall was at 87.50% CF, with him, 71.43%. Hall is, um, kinda good?).
  • In the continuing saga of "Brodie and Engelland are not a good defence combination how about we stop playing them together", albeit with super tiny numbers here, Brodie and Engelland together posted 35.00% CF. When Brodie got to occasionally play with Schlemko, however, he was 83.33%. A fair chunk of that time was against the Oilers' top line, too. Engelland, meanwhile, was 100% away from Brodie. Maybe don't play him against top competition so much? Hmm. Small sample sizes, but... this has kinda been going on like this for mostly a month now, so...
Player Spotlight - Dennis Wideman

Wideman had a three point night, which was great. He also played more than his defence partner, and kind of suffered for it while that was going on. What happened?

79widemanWOWY

  • Wideman and Russell really aren't top-pairing quality, but considering the Flames' lack of options... uh... wow. I guess keep them together? Most of the time when Wideman joined Brodie, it was against the Oilers' top line, and it... really did not go well for them. At all. In any capacity. Not that the complete lack of offensive zone starts helped them out at all, but...
  • Otherwise, he trends pretty well with the forwards: lots of time spent with the top line, decent numbers. Middle six, less-than-great numbers. Rookie line? Not much time spent with them at all, but when he was out there, well, they helped. A lot.

The Flames are definitely stuck with Russell and Wideman together for the remainder of this season, not that it's necessarily a bad thing. Maybe an upgrade on defence will change that next season, but this season, it's probably best to just stick with what you know for the final few games, eh?