Black Box: Week 20

Robert Vollman
February 20 2012 09:54AM

 

 

Calgary is yet to lose in regulation time in February, going 5-0-3 in that span, doubling their odds of qualifying for the post-season into the 49%-52% range, their highest of the season. However, they are still 27th in close-game shot-based possession metrics, and their -13 goal differential would certainly be the worst of any post-season participant, so they're peddling uphill.

OZQoC Charts (explanation)

Calgary's OZQoC chart demonstrates how Brent Sutter doesn't subscribe to the popular coaching theory of slanting the ice in favour of certain players – everyone gets roughly the same opportunity to play in the offensive zone.

Calgary's also a four-horse team on the blue line, making Cory Sarich a $3.6 million replacement player and Anton Babchuk a $2.5 million paperweight.

Even-Strength Scoring (explanation)

Since we wrote an article about his potential to come back to life, Mike Cammalleri has 5 points in 6 games. Thank you for your cooperation, sir!

Calgary's top six enjoyed a lot of scoring this week, but that was despite poor possession-based metrics. Things could get pretty ugly should they regress any time soon, especially with Olli Jokinen.


Top-Six Forward ESP/60 CEF CEA  CE% SCF SCA SC%   GF   GA    G%
Mikael Backlund  0.9   53  50 51.6% 16 14 51.7% 1.57 2.92  35.0%
Mike Cammalleri  1.7   49  54 47.5% 17 20 45.3% 2.26 2.95  43.4%
Alex Tanguay     2.2   48  57 45.6% 19 17 52.9% 2.98 2.34  56.0%
Curtis Glencross 2.3   48  58 45.2% 14 17 45.7% 2.84 3.04  48.3%
Jarome Iginla    2.1   48  60 44.7% 17 18 48.1% 2.61 2.55  50.6%
Olli Jokinen     2.2   47  60 44.0% 15 18 46.2% 3.34 2.66  55.8%

Beyond when the top-six is playing, scoring really drops off at both ends of the ice, with the possible exception of quasi-top-sixer Lee Stempniak.


3rd Line Forward ESP/60 CEF CEA  CE% SCF SCA SC%   GF   GA    G%
David Moss       1.9   55  49 53.0% 11 14 43.3% 1.85 1.48  55.6%
Lee Stempniak    1.9   54  51 51.3% 16 15 51.7% 2.61 2.70  49.2%
Blake Comeau     0.9   49  51 48.9% 13 14 47.7% 1.19 2.30  34.1%
Lance Bouma      0.8   45  53 46.1% 13 13 50.7% 1.15 1.15  50.0%
Blair Jones      0.9   44  52 45.7% 19 19 50.6% 1.11 1.29  46.3%

One of this season's biggest mysteries is how their veteran fourth line of Matt Stajan, Tim Jackman and Tom Kostopoulos can generally have possession of the puck more often than their opponents, but get outscored so incredibly badly.  It's especially puzzling since the exact opposite thing is happening to fellow depth players like Roman Horak and Paul Byron.


Depth Forward  ESP/60 CEF CEA  CE% SCF SCA SC%   GF   GA    G%
Matt Stajan      0.8   52  47 52.7% 13 13 49.4% 1.32 2.80  32.0%
Tim Jackman      0.8   50  49 50.9% 11 12 47.8% 0.93 2.91  24.2%
Tom Kostopoulos  0.7   50  52 49.1% 12 13 47.8% 1.42 2.64  35.0%
Krys Kolanos     0.0   51  58 46.9% 11 10 52.0% 0.95 0.95  50.0%
Greg Nemisz      0.0   34  43 44.5%  4  9 33.3% 0.00 0.00   0.0%
P-L. Leblond     0.0   46  58 43.9%  8 12 40.0% 4.16 0.00 100.0%
Roman Horak      1.3   40  52 43.3% 13 12 50.8% 1.98 1.59  55.5%
Paul Byron       0.9   34  52 39.8% 11 11 50.0% 1.49 0.60  71.3%
Raitis Ivanans   0.0   27  65 29.4%  5 27 16.7% 0.00 5.41   0.0%

On defense Butler is still carrying the bags (yeesh – sorry about that one). Scott Hannan's continued slide has to be troubling – it looks like he might need to transition to a depth unit. Mark Giordano may have enjoyed some scoring last week but his possession numbers were miserable.


Top-4 Defense  ESP/60 CEF CEA  CE% SCF SCA SC%   GF   GA    G%
Chris Butler     0.6   50  56 46.9% 16 17 48.5% 2.49 2.43  50.6%
Jay Bouwmeester  0.7   49  56 46.9% 16 17 47.6% 2.26 2.42  48.3%
Mark Giordano    0.7   46  57 44.7% 13 14 48.6% 2.18 1.88  53.7%
Scott Hannan     0.5   43  57 42.7% 13 17 43.0% 2.24 2.71  45.3%

One of Calgary's bright spots is the respectable play of their depth defensemen T.J. Brodie, Cory Sarich and Derek Smith. 


Depth Defense  ESP/60 CEF CEA  CE% SCF SCA SC%   GF   GA    G%
Brett Carson     0.0   70  41 63.4% 19 11 63.6% 0.00 5.41   0.0%
T.J. Brodie      0.7   50  47 51.6% 14 13 51.9% 2.18 2.18  50.0%
Cory Sarich      0.3   49  48 50.2% 13 12 52.2% 1.66 2.18  43.2%
Derek Smith      0.8   50  50 49.9% 15 13 52.3% 2.08 1.82  53.3%
Joe Piskula      0.0   50  59 45.9% 19 14 56.7% 0.00 5.54   0.0%
Anton Babchuk    0.9   39  60 39.8%  8 17 32.5% 1.45 1.74  45.5%
Clay Wilson      0.0   29  48 37.5%  5 12 28.6% 0.00 0.00   0.0%

Special teams (explanation)

Calgary remains league average with both their power play and their penalty killing, the former of which has required a little bit of luck, and the latter of which has been accomplished without a single short-handed goal – something no team has gone an entire season without in over a decade.


Primary Forwards    TOI/GP PTS/60 CE/60
Mike Cammalleri      3.0     2.6   97.0
Olli Jokinen         3.1     5.3   82.3
Jarome Iginla        3.3     4.0   82.3
Alex Tanguay         3.4     4.7   78.7

While Calgary's top four is humming away, and may even improve once Cammalleri starts catching some breaks, their secondary options have been hammered by injuries – and Coach Sutter seems to be giving up on the only one to remain standing (Krys Kolanos).


Secondary Forwards  TOI/GP PTS/60 CE/60
David Moss           1.3     0.0   88.7
Mikael Backlund      1.1     3.9   85.0
Lee Stempniak        1.7     2.0   78.6
Krys Kolanos         1.5     0.0   75.4
Curtis Glencross     1.9     6.2   64.5

Calgary has a few depth options, but very few of them are particularly spectacular – Blair Jones is the only one with even a single point with the man advantage.


Depth Forwards     TOI/GP PTS/60 CE/60
Roman Horak          0.6     0.0   84.9
Blair Jones          0.8     2.2   73.6
Tim Jackman          0.4     0.0   73.1
Blake Comeau         0.7     0.0   59.3

On defense Calgary leans heavily on their highly-paid pair of Jay Bouwmeester and Mark Giordano. T.J. Brodie and Derek Smith may occasionally look good on the scoresheet, but the Flames aren't getting as many opportunities with them on the ice. 


Defensemen          TOI/GP PTS/60 CE/60
Clay Wilson          2.5     0.0  130.7
Anton Babchuk        1.9     3.8   99.5
Jay Bouwmeester      2.4     3.8   79.9
Chris Butler         0.7     2.9   79.7
Mark Giordano        3.3     2.4   78.6
T.J. Brodie          1.9     3.6   67.8
Derek Smith          1.4     5.2   65.1

The penalty killing department is where Calgary has been hit hardest by injuries – Blake Comeau and Tom Kostopoulos are the only ones of their six regular forwards currently on their feet.


Primary Forwards TOI/GP CE/60
Lee Stempniak     1.7    76.2
Blake Comeau      1.1    78.2
Tom Kostopoulos   1.2    86.2
Curtis Glencross  2.2    87.0
Mikael Backlund   1.0    90.5
David Moss        1.5   143.1

Calgary's gone with Alex Tanguay and Olli Jokinen recently, which worked quite well for them earlier this season. Blair Jones and Mike Cammalleri could be another couple usable options.


Depth Forwards   TOI/GP CE/60
Mike Cammalleri   0.8    69.0
Alex Tanguay      1.0    74.1
Olli Jokinen      0.5    79.5
Blair Jones       0.6    79.7
Roman Horak       0.2   115.8
Lance Bouma       0.4   125.5
Matt Stajan       0.6   127.0

The one bright spot of Scott Hannan's season has been killing penalties, where he's been Calgary's best option, along with workhorse Jay Bouwmeester.


Primary Defense  TOI/GP CE/60
Scott Hannan      2.5    82.8
Mark Giordano     1.9    88.2
Jay Bouwmeester   3.3    88.6
Chris Butler      2.2    91.6

Calgary rarely dips below the big four, preferring to rotate three defensemen rather than risk having anyone else on the ice when they're down a man.


Depth Defense    TOI/GP CE/60
Derek Smith       0.4    60.0
Brett Carson      0.3   109.1
Cory Sarich       0.5   112.3

Goaltending (explanation)

Miikka Kiprusoff was 2-for-3 on Quality Starts this week, maintaining his impressive 65% Quality Start percentage for another week.  Kipper is in the top-ten in even-strength percentage (minimum 20 starts), just 2-3 points below last year's Vezina winner and runner-up Tim Thomas and Pekka Rinne.


Goalie           GS QS   QS%  ESSV%
Miikka Kiprusoff 49 32  65.3%  .932
Leland Irving     5  4  80.0%  .922
Henrik Karlsson   5  1  20.0%  .904

That's how it looks under the hood after 20 weeks.  Either Calgary is teasing us just long enough to cheat us of good returns on deadline-day trades, or laying the foundation for their first post-season appearance since Mike Keenan was behind the bench.

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Rob Vollman of www.HockeyAbstract.com is a regular feature writer on ESPN Insider, co-author of Hockey Prospectus 2010-11 and 2011-12, and regular contributor to NHL Numbers, Flames Nation and Arctic Ice Hockey. Innovator of Player Usage Charts, Quality Starts, GVS (Goals Versus Salary), the Snepsts Projection System, and known for work in League Equivalencies (NHLE). Twitter: @robvollmanNHL
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#1 Kent Wilson
February 20 2012, 10:08AM
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The last time Kipper was above .930 at ES was 2006-07. It's been a pretty incredible run for him this season, even if it doesn't last.

And if it does, the Flames suddenly have a very attractive trade piece in the summer.

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#2 Rain Dogs
February 20 2012, 10:42AM
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@Kent Wilson

It's certainly true Kent. I'm conflicted about the Flames trading Kiprusoff as always because of teams in need of goalies and the few UFA available again:

Vokoun, Nabakov, Harding,

to a lesser extent Brodeur who will potentially retire.

As well: Schneider is a RFA and will (very likely) be traded.

In addition to the fact we'd have to take a goalie back, cause Karlsson is a bust and Irving needs another year... maybe two, but he's close (finally)

If Feaster can really fleece someone in the summer, then we should do it for the team going forward... but we have to make sure we've got a goalie, and Ramo, Irving and Karlsson don't appear to the answer (yet).

Kipper won't be traded in 2013... the UFA pool is insane.

Thomas, Quick, Howard, Lehtonen, Backstrom, Giguere, ... maybe Mike Smith.

It's either this summer, or never IMHO. He would either retire a Flame, or re-sign for 2014 (likely cheap)

But if we trade him this summer to who? CHI, NJD, TBL, and TOR... maybe BUF (but then that means Miller is available). But who of those has the $$$/need/assets?

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#3 RKD
February 20 2012, 10:52AM
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Not surprised the fourth line has the best possession numbers, they work like horses. They skate with the puck in the offensive zone and cycle quite a bit.

However, that line is terrible at keeping the puck out of the net when they are on the ice. Here are some not so good looking numbers: Matt Stajan -9, Tom Kostopolous -11, Tim Jackman -17. I know the lines are different now but that's a combined -37. Ouch.

Before going down with injury Backlund sits at -13.

Cammalleri is -10 and Comeau is -13, but with those two I think most of the minus play comes from their former clubs. The Flames could get good return for Kipper, however I think it would be a mistake. It took this organization over half a decade to find a consistent starter. I say keep Kipper but increase the workloads of the backups in Irving. Craig Conroy who is probably one of the closest guys to Feaster said on the radio the Flames were not trading Kipper.

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#4 wawful
February 20 2012, 10:53AM
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It would have been nice to get a better look at Irving down the stretch, but he's been sent back down and Karlsson has been brought up. Not only does this hurt the Flames chances in back-to-backs, it keeps us guessing as to whether or not we've found the man to succeed Kipper!

Then again, maybe the plan is to trade Karlsson and bring up Irving. By a strange coincidence, the Flames' next back to back is on March 1st/2nd, right after the trade deadline!

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#5 wawful
February 20 2012, 10:59AM
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@RKD

Cammalleri was -6 in 38 games with Montreal, and is -4 in 14 games with the Flames. However, he probably had better line-mates to cover his butt in Montreal than he has right now! He also had a slow stretch when he first came over, but I like how he's been playing since his move to center. His competitive nature seems to have risen to the challenge. I can't wait to see what the 2nd line is like once Glencross and Stempniak return!

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#6 Kent Wilson
February 20 2012, 11:05AM
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@Rain Dogs

Although we don't know how the landscape will shift between now and the summer, CBJ might be a good target. FLA will also be in need of a tender and I think Tallon wants to compete there sooner rather than later at this point. Heck, the Islanders may want to take a shot as well.

The question will be if the Flames have the stones to move Kipper after his being so integral to the team this season, I think.

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#7 Kent Wilson
February 20 2012, 11:10AM
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On Jackman - like Backs, he has been incredibly unlucky this year. His on-ice SV% is 892 and his on-ice SH% is just over 3% (!).

Now, I'm willing to concede he's near the bottom end of NHLers in terms of finishing ability and is probably one of those guys who will settle out below the 8% mean over his career. That said, 3% is ghastly and I doubt any NHLer is truly that bad. Last year, for example, he was at about 7% and 92.6% (and Kipper was MUCH worse last season), respectively.

The good news with Jacks is he's still pretty good at moving the puck the right way against other 4th liners. I hope the team considers re-signing him for cheap.

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