December 19 2010 06:53PM
Scoring Chances for NHL Game Number 20482
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Another night when the Flames didn't do much until they were chasing in the third. Five ES chances through two periods against a soft opponent in your own barn is hardly compelling work. Calgary actually spent a decent amount of time in the offensive zone through the second period onward, but had a lot of issues trying to convert possession to actual scoring chances. Like many of their losses in November, the Flames directed a lot of shots from outside the scoring area at the net or into blocks. They ran up the count at the end when the Wild were satisfied to ice the puck, but by then it's obviously too late.
The individual numbers are self explanatory, so I'm going to go into some live observations about coaching. My seats were conveniently situated in the second balcony behind both benches, so I was able to easily monitor the bench management of both clubs. This evening was a case of almost diametrically opposite methods.
Todd Richards spent a lot of time trying to get Koivu favorable circumstances. He targetted Flames third and fourth lines whenever possible and Calgary's third defense pairing. Not having last change, Richards wasn't shy about changing on the fly when he saw the Flames soft underbelly exposed. The strategy worked too: one the Wild's second goal, Backlund's unit with Babchuk and Pardy iced the puck. Koivu et at came out for the ensuing face-off and the overmatched Flames line wasn't able to get the puck beyond the red-line, leading to Koivu's marker. That's probably the reason Sutter benched Backlund and Kotalik for the final frame, although one cana hardly blame the guys in question: they were fighting outside of their weight class in those circumstances.
Richards changed on the fly to get Koivu out against Pardy and Babchuk again for the Kobasew marker. Sutter only got Iginla and Tanguay on the ice before the Wild cashed in.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is an example of how to run a bench when you have limited options. I critcized Richards in my pre-game post, but I was relatively impressed with how active he was in his bench management*.
*(There was also an interesting sequence in the second period where Richards made four line changes inside a minute with the Flames Iginla line on the ice. The shift included three face-offs, including two in the neutral zone and Richards cycled through each of his lines except the Koivu unit while Jarome was on the ice. I wondered what the hell was going on at first and my conclusion now is that Richards was testing to see how senstitive Sutter was to match-ups and whether Richards could run the Flames bench by making them chase certain Minnesota lines. To Brent's credit., he didn't take the bait)
Sutter, on the other hand, spent a great deal of time giving his fourth line the high ground last night. Now, Moss and Jackman were playing pretty well and they managed to generate some shots and possession more than once, but this is abjectedly ridiculous. If you click the face-offs link above, you'll see that the Moss line was gifted the most offensive zone draws at ES last night on the team (8!!). So the reason the Flames 4th line looked like the best one on the evening last night is because Sutter made them the best unit. I lost count of the amount of times he put them out after an icing. At the end of the first period, with the game tied and just 33 second left on the clock, there was a draw in the Wild's end. Out comes the fourth line. I was incredulous. Jarome Iginla had half the amount of offensive zone face-offs as Tom Kostopolous. That's flat out nonsense.
Take a look at the Wild face-offs numbers. Richards didn't waste time feeding John Madden and Erin Nystrom offensive zone draws. In Vancouver, AV doesn't put Glass and Hanson out after icings - he uses the Sedins. And to good effect.
Sutter did a lot of this silly conservative stuff last year and I hated it. He needs to pull up his socks,