This one is gonna be a hard one to explain, but bear with me folks. The Flames advanced 5v5 numbers are going to be heavily skewed towards the Jets favour, and I’m here to tell you why that’s a good thing. Normally the Flames don’t have the luxury of a multi-goal lead heading into the third. They definitely aren’t used to extending that lead in the third. When put in these situations the Flames coaching staff has the team trained to go into a “max shutdown” system. The team employs a dump and chase method and a 1-2-2 forecheck in these situations. They basically turn into the western conference version of the defensively stingy Columbus Blue Jackets. Flames as a team finished with a complete 5v5 stat line of: 44.32 CF%, 48.72 SCF%, 54.37 xGF%. These numbers tell a story, every game they do, please read along with me as i take it stat by stat to break down what happened.
Corsi King – He spent the first two games getting the other side of this matchup riled up and a bit off their game, and then Matthew Tkachuk (65.71 CF%) brought nothing but skill today. The puck followed him around like a bunch of kids chasing after the neighbourhood ice cream truck. Every single game he does something different to help his team. Tkachuk truly is one of the most versatile players in the league with a certain skill set that can’t be mimicked by others.
Corsi Clown – It might surprise people to find Sean Monahan (25.00 CF%) here, but the top (maybe 2nd) line center executed the teams’ game plan perfectly in the third as the Flames shutdown the Jets. This results in only taking high percentage risks when available, and playing against the Jets top players the scoring line just didn’t get many looks in the final frame. I would like to see Mony use some more physicality in future games. He’s a big strong young man and could be an absolute dominating menace out there, but he could find room to use his size more effectively in the offensive zone.
Taken By Chance – We gave out some Tkachuk love, time for some sweet swedeish sentiments. Mikael Backlund (76.47 SCF%). It just feels right that after years of high draft pick failures Backlund took his time to develop into an absolute matchup nightmare for almost every coach that doesn’t have a McDavid in the league. Can’t say enough good things about him and his play.
xGF% – This is where a bit more clarification is needed. While 3M killed it in CF% and SCF% literally everyone else on the teams numbers looked like a complete failure, but they weren’t. They executed the plan to perfection, like a miracle heist. Now your xGF% leaders were the entire 3M line, but the defence corps were able to all put up very good numbers based on this. TJ Brodie (72.51%) knocked it out of the park despite having sub 50% possession metrics.
Let this be said, even though the numbers look bad sometimes, they aren’t always bad. It really depends on if you know how to read the book in it’s natural language. And that’s what I’m trying to break down and summarize for those that are trying to expand their knowledge of the game. Hockey is for everyone, all the time.
Game Flow –
as the chart explains the Flames controlled play for the majority of the game. The part where the Jets “take over” is the part where the Flames coaching staff shifts to operation no goals and shut all high danger chances down immediately. Perimeter shots with good views and distance for Talbs to make easy saves. It’s a lot easier to live with when they have a multi goal lead than it is to see when it’s only a one goal lead and the Jets have their goalie pulled pressing (which we’ve yet to see)
Game Score – Game score is the one stat I include in here where boxscore stats can boost a player’s number. Sean Monahan (2.23) and Johnny Gaudreau (1.61) are examples of that. A successful powerplay goes a long way for a team that tries to play defence first even up, and today was evidence of how the system can work.
Shot Heatmap –
I said it in the last review, if the Flames get to the area in front of Hellebyuck between the crease and the hashmarks they’d score more goals. Well guess what! We got FIVE from there tonight. It’s the best way to beat any goalie, no matter how many trophies they’ve been nominated for.
In The Crease – Boy has it been nice to have some steady dependable playoff goaltending (knock on wood). When was the last time our fanbase could say that sentence out loud. I was actually shocked to hear people wanted to go to Rittich after the way Talbs played the first two games. Today at 5v5 Cam faced an expected goals of 1.32, only allowed the one even strength goal against, and had a sv% of 0.966. Talbs stopped all 5 high danger chances he faced. Though he did let a medium danger chance through, that was more because of exceptional eyesight and accuracy by a revitalized Ehlers than it was the goalies fault. Another job well done by Talbot.
(NEW) Today’s Specials – (Here we will take a team look at special teams, and how they helped/hurt the Flames nightly) – It’s quite difficult to measure the impact of certain PP stats, but we’re gonna focus on them today. Things like scoring chances and possession won’t be measured because it’s completely one sided, but this is another place where xGF% shines. Measuring good quality attempts on the Powerplay leads to success and you saw it first hand tonight. In 4:24 of PP time tonight the Flames had an xGF% of 99.85%. In 10:06 of Game 2 PP time the xGF% was only 83.67%. Now game 2’s may seem like a lot, but if on the powerplay you aren’t getting chances that rank 90% or higher consistently, you’re unit aint operating right. Below i’ll attach another heatmap of the Flames PP chances and where they came from this game, compare that with last games and the difference is night and day. Flames got to the scoring areas today and were rewarded with a bountiful amount of goals as a result.
Player Spotlight – Andrew Mangiapane – Paul Maurice praised Jansen Harkins the other day for earning every shift he’s gotten at the NHL level with hard work. Well the Flames have their own guy like that and he’s the breadmaster of the northern hemisphere. Seriously, Mange never EVER gives up on a puck battle, he usually wins them too, and most guys have about 2-4 feet and 20-35 lbs on him. Despite all that he’s still ferocious and tenacious every time he’s on the forecheck. Man this guy is something special and we got him 166th overall. I can’t friggin believe it. I can’t. Friggen. Believe it.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
Bonus: The benefits of swapping out Rinaldo for Jankowski – Rinaldo in 7 mins of ice time over two games had a 20.00 CF%, a 0.00 SCF%, and a 4.70 xGF%. Jankowsi in 9 mins of ice time over one game had a 40.00 CF%, a 60.00 SCF%, and a 33.43 xGF%. Janko was still bad, but an absolute massive improvement on Rinaldo. Mr. Mark can also somewhat kill penalties and be semi-effective in the faceoff dot, so here’s to him staying over Rinaldo. Eventually my hope of getting Czarnik in this spot will come to life, oh wait no, they’ll just keep rotating through these two, so much for using our heads.
(All stats and charts gathered from naturalstattrick.com // game score from hockeyreportcards.com // for all questions and inquiries please direct them to @Flash_33 on twitter.)
by Shane Stevenson