Well, we had a two goal lead only to see it disappear but thankfully Jiri Hudler tied it up allowing for a third period push and then Sean Monahan winning it in overtime. So how did the Flames fare last night against San Jose? Positively for the first period (score-wise) and the second period pretty damn impressively.
Besides that, they played a team that isn't as strong as they have been in years past but definitely give them a challenge and give us some exciting hockey. Let's dive into the underlying numbers from last night's victory. We'll start with the standard charts courtesy of HockeyStats.ca.
Moving forward, I think more emphasis on 5v5 play only may become the fixture here. Barring Calgary does something offensively on the power play.
I've combined these into one image for quick comparison since we're not doing the All Situations chart this time. What you can see is a pretty limited boost from special teams. San Jose had the slight edge in the first followed by Calgary dominating in terms of possession in the second despite the score. The third was more a stronger edge for the Sharks as they saw their hopes of a victory end in OT.
We're going to show off some scoring chance data this time to flush out the article a bit more. I've wanted to start incorporating this data as the season went on (once more and more readers were eased into the fancy stats). What you see is accurate to what happened in the game (by way of NHL data).
- Another game with Calgary finding a way to get a bit closer and in the home-plate area. That said, much of those home-plate shots ended up being blocked. So nothing quality is there on a blocked shock unless it’s recovered and either attempted again or passed to another play for a shot attempt again.
- Jiri Hudler’s goal of course came in that location and it was a quality shot in it’s own right. Dennis Wideman’s goal came from the typical point shot location which was only successful due to the screen in front of Antti Niemi.
- Most of Calgary’s successful shot locations came from various locations with a few important ones coming in close on Niemi. The remaining ones came from the slot or mid-offensive zone shots.
- While on the defensive side of things, the Sharks found success getting in close on Joni Ortio last night. Calgary’s trademark of blocking a high volume of shots (#1 in the league so everyone chug what they’re drinking) continued. As usual we clogged up a huge portion of shooting lanes and quality locations.
- That said, we failed on a few specific examples: Joe Thornton’s PP goal and the Melker Karlsson goal that was questionable. Positioning on the ice is so crucial and the Flames have a huge issue with communication and the collapse around the net.
- Paul Byron’s diminishing ice time may help him be a positive possession guy last night but besides his inability to finish on shots/scoring chances, he is the same guy from the start of the season. He can’t catch a break at all. The crazy thing about this is he played most of the night with Brandon Bollig and Matt Stajan. With them, he was 56.25% CF / 50% FF. Without them, despite the limited sample he was 100% on both.
- Markus Granlund had an interestingly positive evening. He was visible at times and responding to his performance as of late. I love the kid but going back to Adirondack only benefits him more long-term than playing the odd game here and there. The line with him, Colborne, and Raymond worked pretty well though they had some very comfortable zone starts.
- Continuing on that line, Mason Raymond had a decent game despite no points. His inconsistencies were the biggest drag on his three year contract he signed here. That said, if he could find his scoring touch and find a way to legitimately drive possession then we’ll all be happier.
- Mark Giordano’s night started off pretty bad — well below 50% CF by the first period. Thankfully when Hartley finally started pairing lines with he and Brodie’s pairing properly; he started clicking. The last few games has been rough for him and he had a giveaway last night that was not like him. Still, he along with Brodie are the true lifeblood of this organization right now.
- Dennis Wideman scores a goal. That’s fine. Good for him. Dennis Wideman learns to play defense? Well, I think it’s highly unlikely we ever see that. On the surface, he looks like a positive possession guy last night but these games only marginally cover up his deficiencies as a defender. Still, when was the last time we saw three Flames defensemen with 50%+ CF in a game?
- TJ Brodie had a similar situation like Giordano in the first period then he rebounded. He was 81.25% CF in the second period at 5v5 which may be one of his best second periods of the season (numbers wise). He was also on the ice for 10 SCF (scoring chances for) and two against in that period. Pretty fantastic stuff.
- The second line of Mikael Backlund accompanied by Johnny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler probably should be broken up due to Bob Hartley’s mismanagement of ice time last night. Specifically in the second period despite their 8 shifts they had limited usage. Give Backlund the shutdown role, and have Monahan up with the father-son duo. Backlund primarily matched up against the top pairing of Burns-Vlasic going 63.64% CF 66.67% FF against Burns – 61.54% CF / 57.14% FF against Vlasic. His top forwards he matched against? Joe Thornton, Melker Karlsson, and Joe Pavelski. He went 57.14% CF / 50% FF against the trio.
- Johnny Gaudreau enjoyed the exact same top-matches like Backlund and fared the same way. While Hudler saw more ice time against top players faring fantastically in most situations (baring TOI sample size).
- To continue building on the same point I’ve been making for the last few months: We need blueline help. It’s incredibly tricky right now but we can’t have half our defensemen each night at least impacting the ability for us to put up the offensive numbers we need to be successful. The second period boost only padded everyone’s numbers. More so when it comes to the less talented roster players like Deryk Engelland, Ladislav Smid, and Lance Bouma.
- Speaking of good ol’ Lance. He was given some impressive time last night play in a top six role. How’d he do? TERRIBLE. He dragged down Sean Monahan and David Jones immensely. The problem with his TOI was he was NEVER AWAY from Monahan at all. He played 15:46 with him and they were 37.93% CF / 42.11% FF in a very difficult 35.71% OZS. We have depth problems, but I’d rather adjust the lines and have Backlund play with guys like Jones, Byron, and Raymond.
The depth issues on wing are going to be a challenge despite Curtis Glencross being day to day. Given that he is probably on the trade block at the deadline (if he’ll move), we need to expect more from others in his absence to assess what kind of talent when Curtis is gone.
Last night shows that Lance Bouma despite all the good things he can do, shouldn’t be in the top six role. Reminder, we once had Brian McGrattan on the RW depth chart as the number two. Sooooo we should probably work on finding other options or converting Granlund to the RW.
Player Spotlight – Joe Colborne (also Sportsnet never call Colborne “Jumbo Joe” again…ever.)
Every once and awhile, I'd like to believe Joe Colborne can have nights like he had against San Jose. A night when you can deploy him in virtually every situation and he'll do pretty good. Last night we got a rare glimpse at what he can do when he is "on". That short-handed goal? Fan-fucking-tastic.
Positionally he was much more aware and he was attempting to do things logically for once. The only knock his is shot attempts at times are not thought-out.
This season, Colborne has sort of turned it around after the injury. He missed all of November and part of December which derailed him even more than you want. His injury history (specifically mismanagement and misdiagnosis while in Toronto) has hampered his development beyond a lot of things.
To keep things in perspective, this is his second *full* NHL season. He's sitting at four goals, 11 assists in 27 GP. Not bad for a guy who finds himself all over the roster and can be a drag possession-wise. If he can find his game and not the agenda of the coaching staff, maybe he can round out into a respectable 40-50 point guy at best (over a 70GP+ season). For now at least, he had a positive game and we should be grateful of his efforts.
by Mike Pfeil