Once again the scoring chances told the story in Game 2, and it wasn't a pretty one for the Calgary Flames. The Anaheim Ducks held them to zero scoring chances in the first period and only five overall. That said, the Flames were only one goal away from tying the game for most of the night.
You're simply not going to win hockey games if the other team generates 75% of the scoring chances. I don't care how good your goalie is. And Karri Ramo was stellar. In the first period alone, 9 of Anaheim's 10 even strength scoring chances were shots on goal, and Ramo saved them all except for Matt Beleskey's Royal Road goal.
The Royal Road
In addition to tracking scoring chances, defined as shots taken from the home plate scoring chance area, I also track whether or not shots result from passes that cross the Royal Road, pictured in red below.
Royal Road shots are some of the hardest to save because the goalie is forced to move laterally and often does not have time to get in position. Last night Anaheim generated 4 of these types of chances at even strength, all in the first period. Beleskey's goal is a great example of this.
That made it 1-0 Anaheim.
After a dismal first period, the Calgary Flames found their legs and for the first time in the series brought the game to the Ducks. The Flames were pressing for the majority of the period, out-attempting Anaheim 18-10 and out-chancing them 5-3. Unfortunately these 5 scoring chances were the only even strength scoring chances the Flames generated the entire game.
In the third period Calgary was still pressing, but Anaheim defended well allowing no scoring chances. Hampus Lindholm's goal (from just outside the scoring chance area) gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead with 8:45 remaining. An empty netter sealed the deal.
Guess who didn't make it onto this list. As in, guess who didn't contribute to any shot attempts. Sean Monahan.
We see Calgary defensemen Kris Russell, TJ Brodie, and Dennis Wideman near the top in shot attempt contribution. Active D-men is one of the major reasons the Flames have had so much offensive success this season, but this also requires contribution from key forwards like Jiri Hudler, Mikael Backlund, and recently Sam Bennett. These players did not contribute as much as they need to for Calgary to be successful.
There is no doubt Hudler's hurting. He left Game 1 early, and he briefly left the bench in last night's game after a blindside hit. Monahan's health was questioned prior to the start of the playoffs, and his contribution numbers are certainly down compared to the regular season. Let's not forget that the Anaheim Ducks are a great team.
Shots on Goal
As we saw with the team stats, the scoring chances were dominated by Anaheim. The player scoring chance contributions reflect that grim reality.
Guess who didn't make it onto the scoring chance list. To be honest most of the Flames didn't make it, but notably Johnny Gaudreau, Hudler, Bennett, and Backlund (and Monahan who didn't contribute offensively at all).
Bob Hartley played with the lines, starting Bennett on the top line with Hudler and Monahan. Call-up David Wolf even saw some time with the top unit. Yes, Game 1 was a disaster, but there was no need for this desperate kind of shuffling. Bennett found some great chemistry playing with Backlund in the first round, and the usual top line of Gaudreau-Monahan-Hudler has been one of the best in hockey. Hartley reunited this line in the third period, and hopefully he realizes his experiment was a failure.
Mason Raymond has been effective when he's played, and was one of the better contributors last night. Drew Shore sat out this game, but had a decent Game 1 relative to his teammates. The Calgary Flames are better with these two in the lineup.
The war-on-ice Shot Plots
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