The Flames At The Dot

Ryan Pike
October 29 2013 09:05AM

 

 

Even before the rebuild, one of the biggest holes for the Calgary Flames has been face-offs. This season, they're 30th in the league. Last season they were 28th. They were even 30th during Brent Sutter's last year as coach. Being bad at face-offs isn't a new phenomenon, and seems to be immune to changes in management, coaches or players.

Here's a brief situational look at how the Flames are doing at the face-off dot after 11 games.

NEUTRAL ZONE

Team-wide, the Flames win roughly 42% of face-offs at center ice. The breakdown among the regular centers is like this: Joe Colborne is at 47% (but has taken the least neutral zone draws), Mikael Backlund is 43%, Sean Monahan is 40% and Ben Street (now in Abbotsford) is at 31%. Matt Stajan's at 57%, but has only taken 23 draws (as opposed to Backlund's 65).

OFFENSIVE ZONE

Overall, the Flames are again at 42% in the offensive zone. Player-by-player, that breaks down to 57% for Street, 43% for Backlund, 63% for Monahan and a miserable 31% for Colborne. Monahan has taken the most offensive zone draws of the regular centers, while Colborne has not-shockingly taken the fewest. Stajan's at 58%, but has only taken a dozen draws in the offensive end.

DEFENSIVE ZONE

Arguably the most important zone to win your draws in, the Flames have had some success in the defensive zone – although they're still losing 52% of their draws and winning a mere 48%. Sean Monahan leads the regulars at 50%, followed by Backlund at 48%, Colborne at 47% and Street at 45%. Backlund's taken 87 of the team's 216 draws in their own end , which is a pretty big proportion (about 40%) and shows how he's been deployed by Bob Hartley thus far. Stajan's at 42% in his own zone through 19 draws.

EVEN STRENGTH

When things are even-keel, the Flames fare at 44% overall. The team's leaders are Stajan (50%), Street (46%), Monahan (45%), Backlund (43%) and Colborne (41%). Backlund takes the most of the team's even-strength draws (92), followed by Monahan at 70.

POWER PLAY

Overall, the Flames win 45% of their power-play draws. Curtis Glencross actually takes a number of these and has fared pretty well for somebody who's not a natural center. He's won 47%. Of the regular centers, Monahan takes the most power-play draws and, to be blunt, has been getting killed. He's won just 29% of his PP draws.

PENALTY KILL

The PK is where the Flames have been getting killed (in terms of getting scored on a lot) and they're not amazing in the face-off circle, winning just 44%. Matt Stajan has won 64% of his draws, followed by Backlund at 59% and Street at 23%. Backlund has taken the majority of Calgary's short-handed draws, which combined with his percentages make him pretty damn useful as a defensive player.

SUM IT UP

On the whole, Calgary's won about 44% of their face-offs, which places them dead-last in the NHL. Stajan's got the best team-wide winning percentage (at 52%), but he's also only played three games, so there's no telling where his percentages will end up over a longer span. Backlund leads the regulars at 45%, followed by Monahan and Colborne, both around 42%. Considering that Monahan and Colborne are both fairly inexperienced, they're likely to get better over time, but the team obviously has some work to do. They were excellent against Washington, so hopefully they can keep it up.

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Now in his third full season covering the Calgary Flames and the NHL, Ryan Pike is a Calgary native and FlamesNation's managing editor. He's trying to keep his head up, his stick on the ice and is giving it 110% every shift. You can also find his work at The Hockey Writers, the Wrestling Observer and Tough Talk MMA.
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#51 vowswithin
October 30 2013, 07:47AM
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@Jeff In Lethbridge

Yeah things got mighty quiet in Shelbyville

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#52 Justin Azevedo
October 30 2013, 10:06AM
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Bean-counting cowboy wrote:

You might not be prepared to give that up, bit then the deal likely wont get done. We need young D and Buffalo wouldn't accept marginal players for a guy with that much upside.

who says he has that much upside

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#53 mk
October 30 2013, 11:30AM
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I want to laugh at the Oilers ineptitude in their rebuild - but I try to bite my tongue when replying. We're only a couple months into a rebuild and small sample sizes make for bad analysis.

I'm definitely happy the Flames are not cellar-dwellers at the moment, but not ready to taunt the Oilers fans too hard. They REALLY can't catch a break. But at the same time - suck it Edmonton. :)

-- RE: Tyler Myers Is there any possibility the Oilers go after him? They seem to want to beef up and load up for some wins, and Buffalo is happy to be tank-a-saurus-rex. Myers to Oilers for prospect/young player + picks?

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#54 Jeff In Lethbridge
October 30 2013, 02:22PM
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is it just me, or could sven, Monahan, Porrier and Johny G be the next coming of some great players

:-D

OK yes, I'm killing time waiting for this pivitol game of this season.

If we win, we make the playoffs, if we lose, we are rebuilding.

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#55 Kent Wilson
October 29 2013, 11:36AM
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@Baalzamon

Breen played 10 mins in the NHL and he's hurt??

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#56 FireOnIce
October 29 2013, 11:41AM
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Baalzamon wrote:

Giordano: 6-8 weeks (broken ankle)

Stempniak: week-to-week (broken foot)

me: yikes.

Also, Breen is day-to-day. So, who do they call up for the #7 D?

Buffalo's not the only team that can be completely sh*tty. Just watch them catch the Flames now!

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#57 mattyc
October 29 2013, 12:05PM
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@SmellOfVictory

I agree.

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#58 RKD
October 29 2013, 12:30PM
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I know the Gio injury is terrible, but that improves our chances of another top 10 or hopefully top 5-7 pick. I'm not in favouring of tanking, but even if the Flames stayed competitive they would probably finish anywhere from 9-12th place and that's the worst position we would want. Drafting a guy 10-20 is not the same as top 5. To me Monahan is a top 5 guy unless he really goes south. We can't really be surprised, Gio was in a boot for the third jersey unveiling, usually a guy in a boot is not day to day. It really sucks for Gio who was off to such a great start.

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#59 piscera.infada
October 29 2013, 12:43PM
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@Kent Wilson

Faceoffs are potentially important, but the issue is teams and players tend to cluster so much in the middle that the differences don't tend to be meaningful. For instance, if you are a 50% player, you win 5 out of 10 draws on average. If you're a 40% player (which is a big shift in the NHL), you win...4 out of 10.

I agree with you. I think the big thing with faceoffs is situational, so that would have to be part of a statistical calculation. Obviously, a faceoff at centre-ice or the blue-line dots is going to have far less of a burden on the outcome of a game than a faceoff in either your offensive/defensive zone will. I think it's entirely pragmatic to want your top centreman to win those big defensive faceoffs, just like you want him to be able to win those offensive zone faceoffs on a PP. Chasing the puck into your own zone every time you start a PP is far less desirable than getting set up with possession.

I like the stat, and I hope it keeps up - but the reason I'm so passionate about it is likely because I played centre my whole life, so I get it far more than other positions.

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#60 BitGeek
October 29 2013, 01:15PM
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I think faceoff stats are similar in nature to blocked shots.

With blocked shots, the more blocked shots you have then the less puck possession you'll have too. But if you don't know how to block shots (if you suck at possession) then your goalie will have way more work to do. So being good at blocked shots is not necessarily a bad thing, just not something you want to have to do very often.

Faceoffs are similar in the sense that if you're just average at winning them, then it doesn't really mean anything in the big picture. There's no sense focusing a whole bunch of time on faceoffs if your team is never going to improve beyond mediocre. If you suck at them, then it does make a difference so it behooves a team to at least improve to the point of being average at them.

Now, if a team knew how to improve faceoffs to the point that the team was way above average, then I'm guessing it would be worth your while to spend the extra time on them in practice.

Sounds like most teams are average at faceoffs so unless your on one of the extreme ends of that chart then don't worry about it too much. Unfortunately the Flames suck at it, and haven't really been able to do much about it over the years.

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#61 insvenwetrust
October 29 2013, 01:43PM
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Cundari=young gio

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#62 everton fc
October 29 2013, 03:18PM
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gotommygo wrote:

Flames projected lines are posted. Backlund is centering 4th line with Bouma and McGrattan. http://flames.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=689067

If they keep winning with a lineup like this, you gotta hand it to Hartley and the coaching staff, me thinks.

Is Colbourne simply getting a look with better linemates? Having Backlund centre the 4th line is nuts, unless they play 10 minutes.

Is Backlund in the doghouse?

As for the next d-man called up, Cundari has experience... For what it's worth, I think it'll be him.

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#63 coachedpotatoe
October 29 2013, 04:51PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Hockey Prospectus reviewing the top 20 CHL players recently. I don't know if its been mentioned here already, but for interests' sake...

4. Emile Poirier, LW, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL) Draft Status: Calgary, first round (#22 overall) 2013

It may be somewhat of a surprise that Poirier is listed this high given some of the other high scorers in the CHL, but Poirier is thus far the most effective player in the Q. He has recorded four game-winning goals in the last three weeks. Poirier plays in all situations (he already has one short-handed goal), and can fight, if necessary. Poirier has posted points in 11 of the 13 games in which he has appeared, including all of the Olympiques October contests, and was recognized by the league as its First Star for the week of September 30th.

15. Morgan Klimchuk, LW, Regina Pats (WHL) Draft Status: Calgary, first round (28th overall) 2013

Klimchuk is not a sexy choice for a top-20 player in the CHL; he does not play on a team that is tearing up the league (Regina is right in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference) and he is not doing anything outstanding. What he does do is solidly contribute to every game. Currently leading the Pats in scoring (six goals, 12 assists in 13 games), Klimchuk is particularly effective on the power play.

http://www.hockeyprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1599

Where did Shinkaruk rank? What about Horvat? Many out there still would have prefered those picks.

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#64 Kevin R
October 29 2013, 07:38PM
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Bean-counting cowboy wrote:

Tyler Meyers anyone?

I think we could send Butler back to Buffalo in that trade. We are strong with LW prospects, if we sent Klimchuk their way, would those two be enough to get it done?

Meyers has had a tough go after his rookie year but is currently averaging 21 minutes of ice time and he is just 23 years old (still fits the rebuild mode)

This would soften the blow until Gio returns at which point our D would look really solid.

Can you imagine if we put Kanzig on a pairing with Meyers down the road? Opposing forwards can't wait to jump back on the bench!

Not a lot of love for Myers buddy but I am with you. I think a change of scenery & Hartley could get this kid playing way better. Not sure what it would take, Buffalo want 1st rounders but I'm not prepared to give a 1st. They are rebuilding like us, not sure what their farm is like but I would give up a Brossoit & Reinhart & maybe a 2nd to get him. Risk, yes, but Myers would be a nice top4 dman we sure could use while we wait the 2 years for Seiloff, Ramage & Tspoon to develop. We have the cap space for him as well.

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#65 vowswithin
October 30 2013, 11:01AM
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@Gratsman

Yeah ok buddy..... go frank off

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#66 Burnward
October 30 2013, 11:55AM
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I would love me some Myers.

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#67 mattyc
October 30 2013, 11:55AM
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Clyde wrote:

2nd year in a row the leafs have been lucky despite what the advanced stats say the should be. Hmmmm

In fairness, it's probably premature at best to say they've been lucky 2 seasons in a row, when they've so far only played 61 games in the last '2 seasons'.

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#68 SmellOfVictory
October 30 2013, 12:29PM
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clyde wrote:

Let me know when we can say it. Seems that they have some very high end talent, mobile def, great goaltending and a very gritty team. Who built this team? Who traded for that Kessel and Gardiner and Franson, etc? Oh, and they have a pretty good win loss record despite the stats.

No one is arguing that a team can't have consistently elite goaltending (not saying the Leafs do, but it is something that is repeatable). A team can have its PDO legitimately inflated by playing in front of an excellent starting goaltender, or pair of goaltenders.

The big thing is team shooting percentage - some teams have legitimately higher ones than average, but so far not to the extent that the Leafs do. Remember, their current team SH% is outstripping the Penguins, a team where the majority of the offense goes through Crosby (league high on-ice SH% talent), Malkin (less good, but still high on-ice SH% talent), and Neal (high personal SH%).

It's not entirely impossible, but I would be willing to eat multiple hats if the Leafs have managed to put together a team that legitimately (not by variance) scores on a greater proportion of its chances than the team with two of the top 3 offensive players (centres, no less) in the world on it.

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#69 Jeff In Lethbridge
October 30 2013, 02:14PM
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the thing about TO is they have Phenuef... hahahahaha

oops not nice to laugh.

I wondef if Craig Conroy will be bringing his wife to the game, being as Dion will be there... Bahahahaha rumors never die!

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#70 Baalzamon
October 29 2013, 11:17AM
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Giordano: 6-8 weeks (broken ankle)

Stempniak: week-to-week (broken foot)

me: yikes.

Also, Breen is day-to-day. So, who do they call up for the #7 D?

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#71 kittensandcookies
October 29 2013, 11:38AM
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Baalzamon wrote:

Giordano: 6-8 weeks (broken ankle)

Stempniak: week-to-week (broken foot)

me: yikes.

Also, Breen is day-to-day. So, who do they call up for the #7 D?

Fuuuuuuuuuuu.......

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#72 schevvy
October 29 2013, 11:43AM
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Well, could a Wotherspoon call up be in store?

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#73 Clay
October 29 2013, 11:47AM
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Something I've wondered for a while... is there any bias in this stat, like for example the way hits are counted rink to rink?

Calgary is probably very strict (winger wins, following the play at the dot right through possession), but are other rinks?

We still suck at it regardless.

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#74 Burnward
October 29 2013, 12:06PM
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As for Gio/Stemps. Dang...that's really going to hurt.

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#75 Burnward
October 29 2013, 12:23PM
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@Kent Wilson

Agreed, for sure.

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#76 Dave
October 29 2013, 12:24PM
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@Kent Wilson

Well said Kent.

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#77 Kevin R
October 29 2013, 12:35PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Giordano out? More minutes for Butler!

Grrrrr.....Who invited you???? :-}

Look out Buffalo, here we come.....you too Oilers.

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#78 gotommygo
October 29 2013, 01:17PM
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Flames projected lines are posted. Backlund is centering 4th line with Bouma and McGrattan. http://flames.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=689067

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#79 Craig
October 29 2013, 01:29PM
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It'll be cundari coming up, and hopefully he shows that he's better than Butler and SOB those two are god awful. I really like Cundari, and think he can make a big impact.

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#80 SoCalFlamesFan
October 29 2013, 02:26PM
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@Kevin R

We are 1-0 without these two already.

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#81 RexLibris
October 29 2013, 02:35PM
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@Kevin R

Ha!

Not too sure about that. I think the Flames finish higher than most predicted, including their fan base.

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#82 Bean-counting cowboy
October 29 2013, 04:24PM
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Tyler Meyers anyone?

I think we could send Butler back to Buffalo in that trade. We are strong with LW prospects, if we sent Klimchuk their way, would those two be enough to get it done?

Meyers has had a tough go after his rookie year but is currently averaging 21 minutes of ice time and he is just 23 years old (still fits the rebuild mode)

This would soften the blow until Gio returns at which point our D would look really solid.

Can you imagine if we put Kanzig on a pairing with Meyers down the road? Opposing forwards can't wait to jump back on the bench!

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#83 coachedpotatoe
October 29 2013, 04:49PM
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Careful what you ask for? There has been a lot of talk about seeing the prospects lately; now with the injury to Gio and Stemp we get that wish. There might also to be a tendency to over react and make a stupid costly trade.

Who will we likely see come up? While I liked what we saw out of Cundari last year but he has sat out a couple of the last few Heat games; either he was injured or in the doghouse. He would be the most likey choice but if he is injured then it comes down to Billings or Ramage. Billings is more like Russell and Ramage more like Gio. Spoon still needs more time in AHL.

Up front I would prefer to see one of the skilled forwards but I suspect that in the short run we will McG and Jackman. From the farm we will likely see Horak,Knight or Byron(yes I know there are lots here that don't like him but he has had a good season so far) the other would be Hank.

I would not want to make a trade out of desperation, I would prefer to see the prospects.

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#84 Bean-counting cowboy
October 29 2013, 06:02PM
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@coachedpotatoe

You might not be prepared to give that up, bit then the deal likely wont get done. We need young D and Buffalo wouldn't accept marginal players for a guy with that much upside.

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#85 Baalzamon
October 29 2013, 06:08PM
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@piscera.infada

Shinkaruk didn't make the list because of this:

"Players must have appeared in at least 10 games to be included on this list"

He's only played 7.

As for Horvat, he's been merely okay so far. The list was about the best performers in the CHL so far this season, not the top CHL prospects.

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#86 coachedpotatoe
October 29 2013, 06:13PM
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@Bean-counting cowboy

You actually think I really thought this deal would get done, don't you sense humor when you read it?

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#87 piscera.infada
October 29 2013, 06:43PM
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@Baalzamon

Right on. Where do you think he'd be on that list though?

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#88 mattyc
October 30 2013, 12:16PM
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@clyde

They're a reasonably good team, and have a few guys that defy the percentages a bit (obviously Kessel is a special player). But it's 13 games. They're only 5 games over 500, and only 8 points out of 12th in the east. This early in the season the numbers can say whatever you want, and have little meaning. Still way too early in the season for the contenders to separate from the pretenders.

We've only seen a few coin flips. I'm not calling it a weighted coin yet, but if it goes on for another month or two, maybe then we can start talking about something meaningful.

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