August 23 2010 11:47AM
Last season was an offensive nightmare for the Calgary Flames, we all know that. Now that we look back on the season that was and get set for the upcoming campaign, we can delve a little further into who made eachother tick (and who didn't). When doing some number crunching, two specific forward duo's ended up doing some pretty good work.
Granted, an NHL team is made of up four player lines (thanks professor Steinberg), but because Calgary's line combinations were so fluid last year, analyzing pairs of forwards becomes a little more relevant. Lines were juggled constantly, and very few players stayed put with eachother for a long period of time.
I took a look at scoring chance data collected last season, which tracked 72 of Calgary's 82 games. Obviously this data is subjective, and it doesn't always take into account other factors on the ice. However, the larger sample size you're able to gather, the more acccurate picture this type of stat can provide. So, after going through the numbers, these two forward pairs stuck out:
Rene Bourque and Daymond Langkow
In the comments thread of my previous post heralding the career year Rene Bourque had, a discussion got started as to who would be good linemates for #17 this upcoming season. To me, Langkow is a no brainer, as the two did some very good work when together last season. Langkow and Bourque played the first part of the season on a line with Nigel Dawes, and the three played consistent minutes against top opposition forwards. But, with Dawes no longer on the team, it's only pertinent to look at Langkow and Bourque.
Together, Bourque and Langkow were on the ice for together for 110 even strength scoring chances for the Flames, and 93 scoring chances against. Overall, when those two were on the ice together, 54.2% of scoring opportunities would be at the right end of the ice. Now, combine that with who they were playing against, and the numbers look pretty impressive. I was always a proponent for Bourque and Langkow playing together, because of the job they do moving the puck up ice combined with their strong play in their own end.
However, this table should give a litlte more depth to the impact Bourque and Langkow can have:
We all know it was a rough year for Jarome, at both ends of the ice. However, when playing with Bourque, things were on the right side of the middle. It's even more drastic when you look at Iginla's time with Langkow, and with the amount of Langkow support on FlamesNation, that shouldn't suprise anyone (other numbers back up Langkow's impact even more). But it seems as if the feeling is Iginla will be put together with Alex Tanguay to start the upcoming season, so that leaves Bourque as a second line winger, and a perfect fit with Langkow (if his health continues to progress).
Craig Conroy and Curtis Glencross
The signing of Craig Conroy to a one year contract earlier this month made some people very happy, and raised annoyance levels of others. However, if used correctly, he can be effective. Conroy saw significant playing time with Curtis Glencross at times this year, and they did some fairly impressive work together.
Looking at even strength numbers, the duo was well above the middle when it comes to generating scoring chances. The pair was good for 78 chances for versus 55 against, which works out to 58.6%. That shouldn't surprise people, especially when it comes to Glencross. On his own, he was +28 this past season, with chances resulting at the right end of the ice 53.7% of the time. When Glencross plays against similar opposition, he is straight up dominant, and should be used in a similar role this year. For a guy you can use on your third line, he can do some serious damage.
Conroy helped Glencross because of his ability to move the play forward, and his superior positioning helped guard against numerous chances going the other way. The only problem with this pairing is the low likliehood of them being a consistent duo for the upcoming season. With Calgary's situation down the middle crowded already (Langkow, Jokinen, Stajan), Conroy will most likely be given bottom three minutes, a that Glencross isn't suited for.
In conclusion, by no means am I saying the numbers trotted out above are iron clad and all telling. However, they do paint a very interesting picture that backs up a lot of what I saw transpire on the ice over an 82 game season. It's something to keep in the back of your head as we approach training camp.