A Touch of Iginla

Robert Cleave
November 17 2011 10:59PM

 

There's been plenty of talk this year about the level of effectiveness, or lack thereof, that we've seen from Jarome Iginla through the first six weeks of the season. The captain is wallowing in the depths thus far, with 9 points in 17 games, and a scruffy looking -10 next to his name. The underlying numbers aren't any source of comfort either, as Iginla has been outshot thus far against middling comp with a neutral ZS %.

With that noted, it seemed like a worthwhile plan to watch Jarome even more carefully than usual to see what exactly was happening. I reviewed the video of last Friday's game against the Hawks, collecting data showing every touch Jarome had in the game, along with a few items of interest added for illuminative purposes. 

Before we get into the meat of it, a bit of an explainer is in order. I think the OZ, DZ, NZ acronyms should be clear enough, as well as the RW/LW and F/O stuff. I've just used the player numbers generally for the sake of brevity, since typing Bouwmeester a dozen times was just more than anyone should have to bear, but on the off-chance you aren't clear on the Hawks, 2 is Keith, 4 is Hjalmarsson, 7 is Seabrook, 8 is Leddy, 19 is Toews, 81 is Hossa, 88 is Kane and 10 is Sharp.

Let's look at what we have, then:

 

Period Time Activity                      
                           
1 00:07 Pass received on RW, NZ. Skated into CHI Zone, offside.                      
                           
1 02:40 Pass received at top of slot, OZ, from 4, One-timed shot, saved by Emery. Rebound resulted in multiple chances for 11.                      
                           
1 03:02 Took OZ F/O, won draw but zone cleared.                      
                           
1 03:11 Pass received on RW, NZ from 27, skated up boards into CHI zone, but passed puck behind net to no one in particular, CHI retrieved and broke out.                      
                           
1 03:33 Pass received on RW, DZ from  27, flipped out of zone for line change.                      
                           
1 06:19 Touched puck along boards in DZ for CHI icing.                      
                           
1 09:41 Went to front of net, jammed at puck to the right of CHI net, drew penalty by CHI 4.                      
                           
1 10:15 Pass received above slot in OZ from  20 on PP, blocked by CHI 19 and 81.                      
                           
1 11:24 Pass received on RW, DZ from  34, passed to  23 in NZ, puck dumped in.                      
                           
1 11:50 Retrieved puck via good backcheck on CHI 19, took puck up RW to CHI zone, passed to 23, no sig.action after that.                      
                           
1 15:00 Pass received on RW, NZ from 4, made strong rush up RW, then cut across to left circle in CHI zone, backhand shot, rebound cleared by CHI 19.                      
                           
1 15:25 Collected loose puck on RW, DZ, passed to 13 to exit zone, line change.                      

 

Jarome had three shifts where his activity caused some action in Chicago's end. Emery made a good save off of him at 02:40, but the rebound allowed Backlund to have three attempts from the doorstep. At 09:41, he went hard after the puck behind the Hawk net, forcing Hjalmarsson into a penalty, and the rush at 15:00 was a good one, with speed carried from the neutral zone to the off-wing. Good period for Jarome's line in general, and Backlund looked sharp in his first game. 

 

Period Time Activity                          
                               
2 00:08 Pass received on RW, NZ from 44, passed back into mid-ice to 4 for Flames to enter zone.                          
                               
2 00:46 Collected Puck NZ, skated up LW, drop pass to 13, shot blocked                          
                               
2 03:37 Pass received on RW, NZ from 7, made quick pass to onrushing 11, went to slot, but return pass was behind him, CHI collected and broke out.                          
                               
2 03:53 Puck chipped up boards by 44 into Iginla's feet, regained control briefly, then turned the puck over at center ice.                          
                               
2 04:14 Blew zone early, pass received on LW, NZ. Skated up LW into OZ, but easily muscled off puck by CHI 7, line change.                          
                               
2 07:03 Intercepted CHI break out pass in NZ, passed to 11, dumped in.                          
                               
2 07:38 Cross-ice pass received on RW, NZ, skated up RW, tried to chip puck past CHI 2, failed, turned over.                          
                               
2 11:59 After extended pressure by CHI 88/10, touched puck to stop play, CGY penalty.                          
                               
2 15:09 Good lead pass from 44 to 40 to enter zone. 12 took drop pass in slot, fed 11 for a very good chance from just to the right of the net, which 11 shot wide.                          
                               
2 15:26 Cut off CHI pass on LW, DZ, passed to 44, CGY cleared zone.                          
                               
2 18:02 Pass received from 44 on LW, NZ. Made good cross ice pass to 40 for shot. Attempted to retrieve rebound, but muscled off the puck by CHI 81.                          
                               
2 18:53 In tandem with 40 dispossessed CHI 2 in OZ, left corner, then fed 25 in front of net for shot, saved by Emery, rebound cleared.                          
           
 

 

Again, Jarome was decent in the second period. His sharp pass at center ice at 03:37 got the Flames a good entry into the zone, but Backlund's return pass was a couple of feet behind him. At 15:09, he, Backlund and Tanguay made a good rush, and Iginla's pass had Backlund in a good spot. Backlund likely should have finished that play. Iginla also made a fine play to Tanguay at 18:02, and he made a good play in tight quarters to Moss about a minute later that set up a very good chance from about 4 feet out.

Two plays that gave me a bit of pause were when Seabrook and Hossa easily out-muscled him for pucks in the Chicago zone. Those guys are very good, but Jarome still needs to make physical plays as a matter of routine if he's going to be effective, and he was dusted off pretty handily on those two occasions.

 

Period Time Activity                            
                                 
3 00:12 Cut off initial clearing pass by CHI on RW near CHI blueline, lost ensuing puck battle with CHI 2, CHI breaks out.                            
                                 
3 00:24 Pass received in NZ from 40. Skated up RW into CHI zone, chipped puck behind net to 40, 40 dispossessed, CHI zone cleared.                            
                                 
3 02:49 Pass received on RW, NZ, immediately cut off by CHI 2. Ensuing turnover resulted in CHI SC.                            
                                 
3 02:58 After chance by CHI 19 off previous turnover, 12 collects loose puck on RW, DZ. Passed to 11 to break out, and 11 ends up with SC after a pass from 40.                            
                                 
3 05:00 Tipped pass from 4 just wide of net on right side, then line change.                            
                                 
3 06:42 Won OZ F/O vs. CHI 19, ensuing puck battle won by CHI 81, zone cleared.                            
                                 
3 07:02 Pass received on LW, DZ from 11. Made good return pass to 11 for break out, then after 11 and 40 exchange passes, Iginla received pass on the left F/O dot. Shot saved by Emery.                            
                                 
3 11:10 Won OZ F/O vs. CHI 19, 11 has shot blocked, CHI clear zone.                            
                                 
3 11:40 Puck battle in tandem with 40 vs. CHI 2 Initial battle won, puck moved to 40, but 40 has pass into slot blocked, takes hooking penalty to stop break out.                            
                                 
3 14:26 Loses puck battle in left corner, DZ to CHI 8 Puck won back by 11, but ensuing shot by 40 from poor angle goes wide, CHI break out.                            
                                 
3 16:49 12 never touches the puck on this shift, but it's the one where CHI 25 scored to make it 3-1. 11 was the evil-doer on that play, leaving CHI 25 a clear path to the net.                            
                                 
3 18:42 With 34 on the bench, starts on RD as a set play on a NZ F/O. Takes pass up RW to enter zone. Puck lost to CHI 2, then regained and passed to 5.                            
                                 
3 19:03 Ongoing play in CHI zone, won puck battle in right corner, passed to 40, but puck cleared by CHI.                            
                                 
3 19:36 Pass received at the top of the slot in CHI zone from 40. Shot attempted completely jammed by CHI 2, then CHI 2 took loose puck, zone cleared.                            

 

With the Flames chasing the game in the third, Jarome had 9 shifts, but other than the Backlund shot at 02:49 and his own good chance from the left dot at 07:02, the period was fairly quiet for Iginla and his mates. He didn't get much help from Tanguay, who struggled in the period with a penalty and some questionable OZ play. Backlund was pretty good right up until he fell asleep on the Stalberg goal, but that goal obviously finished the affair for Calgary.

One thing that really stood out in the third was the way Duncan Keith picked up his play head to head versus Iginla. I've spent the last few years noting it, but Keith is, in my view, the most effective individual defender in the league against Jarome. He's incredibly aggresive in the neutral zone and the Hawk line, getting right up against Iginla, which takes away Jarome's ability to enter the zone with any pace at all. Keith isn't overpowering by any means, but he's very quick to the puck, and very effective at taking away any space for the Flames to operate. Hossa was good as well playing the left side against Iginla, and his strength as a two way player was a boon when facing 12.

Something else that seemed fairly clear was that the Flames' breakout in this game utilized Jarome as an outlet on a regular basis. The Flames used Bouwmeester and Butler behind that line much of the night, and the duo were solid, routinely finding Iginla on the wing to allow the Flames easy exit of the zone. It was fairly obvious that Kane and Sharp were a much bigger menace on the cycle going head to head with Gio and Hannan. 

In all, Jarome's line played decently against Toews and Hossa, battling them to a draw until the late goal. Iginla himself was quite good in the main, with very few poor decisions or turnovers on a night where he had the puck quite a bit. If he played that way every game, I suspect that the results would start to fall into place in short order, but as we saw on Tuesday against the Senators, that type of performance isn't always a lock. 

 

1a1030a8151ca7a0d81aea58f0fb1dbc
Robert Cleave is a perpetually grumpy Winnipegger.
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#1 SmellOfVictory
November 17 2011, 11:16PM
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Awesome breakdown. I'd like to note that Iginla getting muscled easily off the puck has been a trend I've observed for at least a couple of years. He used to be rock solid in the offensive zone, but he's currently about 50/50 as to whether he'll fight for it or just get knocked off it with disappointing ease (he also gets fully knocked down too often for my liking).

I also think it's a mistake for the Flames to use him as a primary mode of zone entry. Both Tanguay and (now that's he's back) Backlund are better bets to create space with the puck - partially because they've been better at shielding it than he has and partially because he gets the strongest defensive coverage. If he can come in as an accessory to the carrier more regularly I think he'd be a lot more effective at being able to release his shot.

What I'm trying to say is: SoV for coach.

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#2 Kent Wilson
November 18 2011, 07:54AM
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As you say, this was one the captains better games so far this year. Still, lots of nothing and getting bumped off the puck.

I agree with SoV that Iginla carrying the puck through the neutral zone should be limited. That's easier to say than do I assume though.

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#3 Michael
November 18 2011, 09:10AM
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Iggy used to lead the league in fitness and training. Since the lockout, the entire league is fitter, stronger, faster, and trains harder than ever before.

I wonder if Iggys 'relative' decline is partly age related, but partly related to the fact that the league has caught up to his fitness / training levels. He simply no longer has the 'relative' strength advantage when pushing to the net.

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#4 ChinookArch
November 18 2011, 09:12AM
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Robert,

Iginla is still a great talent and a marginal effort from him will give the kind of results you've illustrated in the Chicago game. I agree with Kent, in that this was a better outing for Iginla. He was not good against the Sens, and my real fear is that it's desire that is lacking, as opposed to a big decline in skill, strength and speed. If I'm right, I expect Iginla's days are numbered as a Flame, and this is a first step in asking for a trade out.

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#5 SmellOfVictory
November 18 2011, 09:36AM
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Michael wrote:

Iggy used to lead the league in fitness and training. Since the lockout, the entire league is fitter, stronger, faster, and trains harder than ever before.

I wonder if Iggys 'relative' decline is partly age related, but partly related to the fact that the league has caught up to his fitness / training levels. He simply no longer has the 'relative' strength advantage when pushing to the net.

He's still the top guy on the team in terms of fitness, and probably one of the top guys in the league. He gets knocked off the puck more easily now likely because he dropped 10-15 lbs of muscle over the past few years in order to get faster (turned out super well for him, clearly).

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#6 Domebeers.com
November 18 2011, 09:50AM
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"Something else that seemed fairly clear was that the Flames' breakout in this game utilized Jarome as an outlet on a regular basis."

I hate that breakout as well, SoV. It's been noted on my site and Loobs site too, but I am sure everyone has noticed it. I simply do not understand why the team makes Jarome touch the puck in the NZ.

If somebody had an explanation that made sense I'd be up to hear it, but IMO it's a silly way to do it. I'd have Tangs or whoever is the C take it into the NZ, and as the Flames don't do the whole 'centre ice' thang, that means Tangs should be carrying it up. And he has the vision to make a good pass.

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#7 the-wolf
November 18 2011, 10:12AM
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Iginla was better off before he shed that weight a few years back. I'm not sure it really increased his speed all that much and he's far more effective playing a power game than a finesse game.

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#8 suba steve
November 18 2011, 10:18AM
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the-wolf wrote:

Iginla was better off before he shed that weight a few years back. I'm not sure it really increased his speed all that much and he's far more effective playing a power game than a finesse game.

I think his body is older and less able to fill that power foreward roll (more likely to be injured and slower to heal) so he has probably tried to adapt because of that. Also, he hasn't got faster, but he probably would be noticeably slower now if not for that 15lb loss (again due to age).

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#9 Kevin R
November 18 2011, 10:24AM
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Domebeers.com wrote:

"Something else that seemed fairly clear was that the Flames' breakout in this game utilized Jarome as an outlet on a regular basis."

I hate that breakout as well, SoV. It's been noted on my site and Loobs site too, but I am sure everyone has noticed it. I simply do not understand why the team makes Jarome touch the puck in the NZ.

If somebody had an explanation that made sense I'd be up to hear it, but IMO it's a silly way to do it. I'd have Tangs or whoever is the C take it into the NZ, and as the Flames don't do the whole 'centre ice' thang, that means Tangs should be carrying it up. And he has the vision to make a good pass.

So does anyone think Feaster should try 1 last shot at trying to find that #1 centre for Iggy? Sounds like Carter wants out of Columbus in the worst way. I do feel you cant compare Carter to Heatley because he signs a longterm deal with Philly expecting to have a career there & then they turn around and trade him to Columbus before his no trade clause kicks in. Kind of understand where he's coming from. But does Feaster take a run at him & what do we cough up in return?

A different note to this is that at as bad as Iggy seems to be to fans, look at the big names that are just sucking right now as well:

-Ovechkin-my God what is going down with him??? Is Wash ready to move him? Maybe not now but another mediocre season & early playoff exit, the smoke may be rising in Washington DC

-E Staal- Is his game suffering from the hit on his brother? Family dinners could be interesting.

-Nash- Holy moly, big bucks & he's been invisible during this crisis in Columbus

-Datsyuk & Zetterberg- Lumped them both together, have them in my hockey pools & they are killing me!!!

-Bobby Ryan- Something not right about his game & the big line touted as the best line in the NHL havented been playing their best. Maybe they're waiting to play Calgary.

-C Stewart- Whats the deal with him. Another anchor in my hockey pool!!!

-Stamkos- If you just signed him for 7.0mill a year would you be happy about his production as you approach the 1st quarter of the season?

The moral of this is that high salary players(stars) with huge expectations crapping the bed is not just in Calgary. Guard against the pasture is greener on the other side syndrome & be sure not to under value your big assets, they all go through what Iggy is going through, maybe not as consistently as Iggy goes through at the start of each year. It's one thing to decide to go a new direction as an organization, but I dont think for one second Iggy doesnt care or comes to the rink or play a game thinking, meh, I think I'll coast tonight, hopefully they'll trade me.

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#10 DearJay
November 18 2011, 10:59AM
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Iggy for Carter...make it happen! Heck Jbou for Carter. Kipper for Carter... if you can make a deal to get a top line young center out of a bad situation you do it...but so would 28 other teams.

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#11 the-wolf
November 18 2011, 11:03AM
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suba steve wrote:

I think his body is older and less able to fill that power foreward roll (more likely to be injured and slower to heal) so he has probably tried to adapt because of that. Also, he hasn't got faster, but he probably would be noticeably slower now if not for that 15lb loss (again due to age).

Except that it was 15lbs of muscle he shed, not fat and he's been extremely injury free during his career.

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#12 John
November 18 2011, 12:31PM
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Iginla had the ability at one point to take over a game. When the Flames got behind, I always looked to Iggy to step up with a big fight, or a big goal and he more often than not came through.

I agree the past few years he has changed. He seems to get knocked down to the ice at point of contact too easily. His passes are off, his puck handling skills in traffic are horrible. He has become a one dimensional player and that is his ablity to shoot the puck. Adjustments need to be made on the team to limit his minutes and to put him in situations where he can successfully help the team.

He cannot continue to get through just on his reputation and past accomplishments any longer. Power play time and maybe 2nd or 3rd line minutes at best.

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#13 RKD
November 19 2011, 12:50PM
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We go through this rigamarole every season with Iginla. Last year, he had a slow start then exploded around this time last year and was solid in the second half.

He's always been a slow starter, plus this season missing training camp may mean it might even take him longer to get it going.

He'll hit his stride eventually.

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