Saturday night’s game between the Flames and the Edmonton Oilers was the first appearance of the year for recent acquisitions Jiri Hudler and Roman Cervenka. It was also the first game where Flames coach Bob Hartley could start rolling the lines that he wanted to roll with an entirely healthy line-up.
Let’s take a look at how Hartley deployed the lines 5-on-5 and how the lines did.
IGINLA – TANGUAY – GLENCROSS
Even-strength TOI: 15:14 (Iginla), 14:13 (Glencross) and 13:42 (Tanguay)
The putative first line had ten shift changes prior to face-offs, giving them only a single defensive start, three offensive starts and the remaining in the neutral zone. In the offensive zone, this line was undefeated in the face-off dot. They batted .500 in the defensive zone and lost two-thirds of their neutral-zone draws.
In terms of driving the play, this line generated 7 shots and a goal. On the other hand, they gave up 6 shots, 2 missed shots, 2 blocked shots and a goal.
Overall, Hartley’s first line was given roughly even ground to begin their shifts. They ended up a little bit underwater in terms of scoring chances and gave up the only even-strength goal against.
HUDLER – STAJAN – CERVENKA
Even-strength TOI: 13:49 (Cervenka), 13:25 (Stajan) and 13:24 (Hudler)
Featuring the debut of two new Flames, this line was sheltered quite a bit in the early-goings, primarily getting offensive or neutral zone starts in the first chunk of the game. Once the line had their legs, though, they were integrated much more into the rotation regardless of location. This line got roughly seven “fresh” starts, including three in the offensive zone and two in the defensive zone. In terms of draws, they were 50% in their own zone, 100% in the neutral zone and 67% in the offensive zone.
The Stajan trio generated 3 shots, 3 missed shots and a blocked shot, while facing 4 shots, 3 missed shots and 2 blocked shots against. Like the Flames first line, the Czechs and Stajan were slightly underwater in terms of chances 5-on-5.
CAMMALLERI – BACKLUND – STEMPNIAK
Even-strength TOI: 13:30 (Cammalleri), 11:35 (Stempniak) and 11:29 (Backlund)
Featuring arguably the two most consistent Flames forwards, this line was not particularly sheltered 5-on-5. They were given zero offensive fresh starts. They lost every single defensive zone face-off they had. They batted .500 in the neutral zone. They were effectively thrown to the wolves, compared to the other forward lines.
But in terms of chances? They fared quite well. They generated 8 shots, 4 blocked shots, 2 missed shots and a goal. They surrendered only two shots and two missed shots. That’s a huge positive shot differential 5-on-5, particularly considering the disparity in zone starts compared to the other lines.
BAERTSCHI – JONES – COMEAU
Even-strength TOI: 6:14 (Jones), 5:30 (Comeau) and 5:01 (Baertschi)
The most sheltered of the four lines, by far, was the Baertschi and Grinders line. They were given zero defensive zone fresh starts. Nobody got more high ground than this line, although because this line has who it has on it, it’s likely that they were given draws whenever the Iginla or Stajan lines were tuckered out. They won two of three neutral zone face-offs and one of three offensive zone draws.
In terms of chances, this line was fairly even but fairly quiet owing to limited ice time. Three shots for, three shots against.
Are the Flames rolling four lines evenly? Sweet heavens, no.
With two lines that Hartley seemingly had confidence in deploying, the Iginla line was given more shelter to begin while the Backlund line was sent behind enemy lines. That said, Hartley did tend to play Iginla’s unit against the other team’s best more often. Once it appeared that the Stajan line with the Czech newcomers had their sea legs, it seemed to become more of an even three-line rotation (with the Backlund line getting the defensive starts).
The Baertschi line was very sheltered, but the offensive zone starts (and shifts in general) tended to go more towards the lines that were more likely to produce scoring chances.
It’ll be interesting to see how the lines are deployed against Colorado and Chicago this week, particularly given that Cervenka and Hudler will have a greater opportunity to learn systems during this week’s practices and will likely be less coddled in those games than they were in this one.
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