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Calgary Flames

Flames vs Penguins – Stats Recap

We've lost four straight now and the wheels on the bus appear to be falling off. Nah, not really. Mark Giordano is still amazing and so is a large portion of this roster. It was just a bad loss.



There is this weird vibe or mantra among Flames fans that the "bandwagoners" are going to leave now after four losses. Oh well, it shouldn't honestly be a concern for you. It's their choice, no big deal. It's not like Calgary hasn't had losing streaks like this in the past, hell the team that lost to Montreal in the 1986 Stanley Cup finals had an 11 game losing streak start in December '85 and go into the new year.

That said the one beautiful thing fans, new and old learned last season was the persistence they have for playing hard each game. It's something that I'll always love about the re-emergence of this team as one of, if not the toughest at times to finish a game against. Especially in the third period lately — it's a good reputation to have.

Four losses? No big deal, I made it through the "Young Guns" era. It was painful enough. '04 no goal? Yeah, I'm still emotionally shattered and many reading this will be triggered into a catatonic shock from the mention of it. Seeing Jarome Iginla go and really accepting the rebuild happening? No problem.

That said, we're going to be pretty honest about everything we see this season and within reason, if we're wrong we'll accept it and own it. That said, last night's loss was something Ari and I discussed in length about hopefully sneaking out a win against a battered Penguins team. It didn't work out, so we move onto the next game against Chicago.

Let’s dig into this game starting with data courtesy of

Flames vs Penguins – All Situations

  • So this was all Pittsburgh to start. In fact, it was 2:41 before Calgary had their first shot on net, 5:11 was their next shot. Not the way you want to start after losing to Buffalo. What’s more disappointing is that Blake Comeau goal, yeesh.
  • Just under 5:00 into the game, it’s 2-0 and the Penguins are just hammering on the Flames. What’s even more shocking is the roster they dressed last night.
  • With no Sidney Crosby, his best friend Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis‘ career is basically over, Beau Bennett is in a giant bubble to protect him, and Olli Maatta is recovering from his tumor/growth situation. So they dress a majority of bottom-six guys and AHL gents AND BEAT OUR ASSES INTO THE GROUND.
  • To end the first period like we did, is frankly horrifying of what else the schedule has for the Flames…oh wait we play the Oilers twice this month so we’ll be okay for a bit. Either way, we do have some tougher games coming up.
  • By the time Johnny Gaudreau scores, it’s 18-6 in CF for the Pens. We had no chance here.
  • Second period was absolute flatlines of possession here. Penalties non-stop so it felt, and then one interval of time when the Flames looked capable of making something happen. Even then it was rough to gain the zone, do something, and create chances.
  • The third was a bit better though. You’ll see the first interval of sustainable pressure around 8:00 into the period. It encompasses some 5v4 and 5v5 time which is nice and it lasted just over a minute. They would create a bit more but with the Rob Klinkhammer goal it was basically over.

Flames vs Penguns – 5v5 Situations


Period by Period data and Calgary Flames data courtesy of the ever-amazing

Flames vs Penguins – All Situations Period Data


Flames vs Penguins – ES Period Data


Flames – Corsi / Fenwick / Zone Start Data

  • Positives? Mark Giordano had a decent evening. Another night of difficult starts combined with TJ Brodie having a really off night didn’t derail him too much. He played against both top lines and both top pairings on a Penguins team who have become synonymous with playing through injuries and getting results.
  • Speaking of Brodie, man what a night. He had three penalties called on him, two of which for sure looked soft but we’re not getting into that. With Smid going down, it didn’t help him out. Like Gio, he played against the top lines/pairings and had a rougher evening.
  • Of all the players he faced off against, he broke even against Brandon Sutter, Blake Comeau, and Marcel Goc. Two others, Andrew Ebbett and Simon Despres resulted in positive possession numbers. He managed to be a better Fenwick player this evening (shots missed + on net) posting up some decent underlying numbers against players with TOI sample sizes that are reasonable.
  • The second line of Jiri Hudler, Johnny Gaudreau, and Josh Jooris/Markus Granlund depending on the deployment was the best line for the evening. Which makes sense, considering the consistently padded zone starts they get.
  • HOWEVER, Josh Jooris had absolutely no starts in the offensive zone; so it was all DZ and NZ for this rookie. He did play against some softer competition like Simon Despres and Rob Scuderi. His match-ups against forward lines appear to be a mix of the first and third lines for Pittsburgh. I love this kid and like everyone else, feel his story has been remarkable for this season.
  • The top line of Sean Monahan and like a gaggle of others that included Joe Colborne (yeesh), Mason Raymond, Gaudreau, and Paul Byron got slaughtered. More accurately: Monahan, Byron, and Colborne had rough nights.
  • They matched up in a similar fashion against the top line and second pairing and were murdered. Paul Byron was 0-10 CF against Patric Hornqvist, 2-12 against Christian Ehrhoff, and 1-11 against Robert Bortuzzo. Just insane.
  • Colborne, in a similar fashion had difficulty against the same sort. Overall though, he didn’t generate much (like many) and it showed. He’s still only two games in from returning from injury so he may need more time, softer minutes, and padded starts for a bit.
  • I saw someone ripping on Glencross midway through the first or second period last night and I can see why at times. That said, he is generating chances when on the ice. I still stand by what I said previously when I think dealing him is the best option for the team to get assets to improve the team now/soon than seeing him walk at the end of the season. He had a decent night on a night that was a tire fire.

Player Spotlight – David Jones

Sometimes I don't understand the deployment and usage of players under the coaching of Bob Hartley. He's a riddle wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in a very nice suit. He's got 400+ wins in the NHL, something to be proud of. He an AHL championship with the Hershey Bears, a Stanley Cup championship, and most recently a Swiss-A championship. So when it comes to his back history of usage of players, tactics, and treatment it's questionable at times. Specifically with younger talent, notably Sven Baertschi. Lately, it's gotten better and you've seen that in the emergence of players this year.

That said, the curious case of David Jones puzzles me more so lately. Yes, he is glass. Yes, he has a delightfully bad contract and salary. Yes, he isn't your ideal option for a top-six RW but we're thin at times. That said, the last few games I've been honestly impressed with him at times. He's putting in some goals, he's becoming a bit of a nice sight in the underlying numbers, and he is healthy right now. So when I see his TOI being cut more and more, I get puzzled.

Last night, he wasn't bad. He had a quiet game but it could be because he has been relegated down to the third line. Still, he did lead the way with 4 shots for the Flames. Predominately playing with Smid and Engelland prior to Ladi's injury, at even strength he was on ice for 100% shots for the entire time he was on ice. 100%. Not on the ice for one shot against. I mean, it's one game and that alone is a small sample size in the grand scheme of things. Yet, if he is out there, on the ice with shots and shot attempts predominately happening then why not give him more?

Colborne, Byron, and Monahan all struggled. Maybe putting him back up there with Monahan and maybe Glencross again might have been a better option. Maybe I'm wrong though and I'm just an armchair coach. Though, if Hartley was so focused on shaking things up, I'd have given Jones a chance.


Final notes:

What's your Christmas wish for the Flames this season? Comment here, post on Facebook, etc, etc. Is it on the blueline? Is it a scoring winger or seeing prospects being called up? Is it wishing some players are traded, waived, buried in a shallow grave? Let's have at it.

by Mike Pfeil