Flames 20-Game WOWY Check-In: Centres

The Calgary Flames have been ravaged by injuries this season. Both fortunately and unfortunately, depending on your perspective, the injuries have largely been concentrated to the forward ranks and to the centre position in particular.

As a result, the Flames have used seven different regular centres, as well as an eighth (Paul Byron) who’s dabbled everywhere and isn’t included because he was only really a center for a couple games. Given the importance of centres to the defensive game, arguably the centre’s WOWY differentials (their teammates CorsiFor% with and without that player) are more important to the team’s success in a two-way game than any other forward.

Here’s a brief look at Calgary’s seven pivots. (The cut-off for comparisons is 50 even-strength minutes together and given Max Reinhart hasn’t played 50 minutes period, he’s also not included. Sorry, Max.)

SEAN MONAHAN

Monahan has played 282 even-strength minutes and has played 50+ minutes with nine different players. He is, overall, a huge difference-maker possession-wise for his club.

His face-off percentage at even-strength is 51.1%.

48.5% (overall) With Without Difference
Brodie 50.2% 44.3% +5.9%
Glencross 49.0% 45.6% +3.4%
Giordano 50.7% 44.8% +5.9%
Hudler 49.5% 43.8% +5.7%
Russell 43.2% 44.0% -0.8%
Jones 48.6% 38.2% +10.4%
Wideman 46.0% 43.6% +2.8%
Smid 50.4% 37.4% +13.0%
Engelland 51.5% 34.8% +16.7%

LANCE BOUMA

Bouma is an odd case. He centers the fourth line…sometimes. Matt Stajan and Josh Jooris have also taken a turn as pivots for that unit. He’s played 185 even-strength minutes, mixed between the left wing and center.

His even-strength face-off percentage is 26.9%.

37.7% (overall) With Without Difference
Bollig 35.4% 32.8% +2.6%
Brodie 39.6% 48.3% -8.7%
Giordano 39.4% 49.1% -9.7%
Smid 30.8% 43.5% -12.7%
Russell 46.2% 43.3% +2.9%
Jooris 32.0% 48.5% -16.5%
Engelland 26.2% 44.2% -18.0%
Wideman 47.7% 44.0% +3.7%

JOSH JOORIS

Jooris is the team’s third-most senior center. Let that sink in. He’s played 156 even-strength minutes, almost entirely as a center.

His even-strength face-off percentage is 48.7%.

42.2% (overall) With Without Difference
Wideman 44.6% 44.5% +0.1%
Bouma 32.0% 40.1% -8.1%
Brodie 45.1% 46.8% -1.7%
Russell 50.0% 42.6% +7.4%
Giordano 44.6% 47.5% -2.9%
Bollig 33.0% 35.0% -2.0%

MIKAEL BACKLUND

Backlund is currently injured, and he amassed only 151 even-strength minutes before being shut down.

His face-off percentage is 51.1% at even-strength.

46.9% (overall) With Without Difference
Byron 48.7% 50.3% -1.6%
Brodie 50.5% 45.1% +5.4%
Giordano 52.2% 45.5% +6.7%
Glencross 46.6% 47.3% -0.7%
Russell 45.3% 43.5% +1.8%

JOE COLBORNE

Colborne has bounced around a bit, serving both as a centerman and as a right-winger depending on the team’s situational needs. Because of his injury, he’s played just 135 even-strength minutes.

His even-strength face-off percentage is 47.7%.

37.2% (overall) With Without Difference
Raymond 36.5% 44.0% -7.5%
Russell 36.7% 45.0% -8.3%

MARKUS GRANLUND

Granlund has played 125 even-strength minutes.

His even-strength face-off percentage is 35.2%.

40.4% (overall) With Without Difference
Hudler 41.6% 48.8% -7.2%
Gaudreau 46.8% 41.8% +5.0%
Wideman 42.9% 44.9% -2.0%

MATT STAJAN

Stajan has only played 113 minutes and he’s only played 50+ with Brandon Bollig.

His even-strength face-off percentage is 52.8.

45.2% (overall) With Without Difference
Bollig 39.6% 30.3% +9.3%

      • The Last Big Bear

        That’s a bit uncalled-for.

        I’m pretty skeptical about drawing specific conclusions from WOWY, but it is a useful analytic tool.

        However I think it’s best looked at over a season OR TWO. With a 50-minute sample size cutoff at this point, we could realistically be talking about two or three GAMES worth of data. Which is obviously silly.

        Im interested to see how this tracks over the season, and to see if it lines up with how the minutes are distributed by ‘artley.

        But there just aren’t any conclusions to be drawn from the WOWY data yet. The fact that Mr Pike didn’t try to draw any conclusions, or come up with any compelling but imaginary narratives, was actually a good thing in my opinion.

        • mk

          And I think you’ve really the hit the nail on the head when describing the Flames’ season so far (small sample size of WOWY): the team has been in such a state of flux the whole time. Injuries, call-ups, line swapping…

          While the winning has been a pleasant surprise, the fact that it continues with seemingly any combination of players is confusing to say the least.

        • mk

          Small sample size, many callups, constant line changes, a larger sample of road vs home games, lack of Pacific Divison competition until now all factors in how the Flames are doing now….conclusions can come at the conclusion of the season!

  • redricardo

    Monohan and Backlund are difference makers.

    Stajan is a solid centre in his limited time.

    Colborne as a centre experiment should be done. Please.

    Bouma as a centre makes bad players better, but brings down good players.

  • The Last Big Bear

    We hear so much about how the Flames are going to pull a Colorado, how about a column Ryan, comparing the stats for each team? After 20 games how do this years Flames compare to last years and this years Colorado? Wins/losses, GF/A, all the relevant advanced stats etc

  • beloch

    Last season, Monahan was heavily sheltered (less so towards the end of the season), didn’t have great possession numbers, and put up 34 points.

    This season, Monahan is playing the toughs, has team-leading possession numbers, and is on a 50 point pace.

    We all knew Monahan had great potential, but to see him leap forward this fast is still astonishing. If he hadn’t stepped up the Flames would likely be in a tailspin while waving to the Oilers.

  • everton fc

    I see a potential log-jam down the middle that could prove an asset-in-hand to grab that 3/4 d-man we need to solidify things on the back-end and keep this train rollin’!

  • MWflames

    Its like monahan is doing it all right now. If only he could score in the shootou… Oh wait, never mind, he’s doing it all.

    Way to be.

    Flames will sell a few young quality centres over the next few years. Good stuff.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Would be nice not to have to “sell centres”. Many wingers in this league once played centre. It is nice to be able to move a winger to center if injuries hit. See LA Kings, I think Ryan O’Reilly in Colorado has also played on the wing there as well.

    I could see Granlund on the wing. We are weak on the right side. He can step into centre if called upon.

  • Lordmork

    How do we account for some of the variation in this? Why does Josh Jooris make Kris Russel better but Lance Bouma worse? (assuming I’m reading this right?)

  • Lordmork

    feaster tried to trade our 3 first round picks for mackinnon,..Now that that monohan has proven he’s potentially a #1 centre and is still learning, how does he compare to mackinnon Advanced stats wise? Keeping in mind mackinnon had a better team last year and better linemates….

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    I would throw a pretty big WOW Jooris’ way too. His numbers are impressive for a rook.

    EDIT: Oops, I think I mixed Josh’s numbers up with Backlunds when making this comment. Nevermind.

  • Lordmork

    Monahan’s play from last year to this is staggering. Did not think he would make this much progress from a season ago. Really impressed and ironically for all the coverage he got last year for his play, his play this year deserves it way more. Him+Bennet+ (healthy) Backlund would be such a strong group of centres who all bring something different.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Any word on any of our injuries? Just checking TSN for dates they went down and Raymond was “week to week” on Oct 26th. Same status for Backlund on Oct 30th. Well it has been several weeks for both of those players. Also I thought Ferland was basically cleared to play not long ago, but haven’t heard anything since.

    • MattyFranchise

      Apparently there was an article somewhere where hartley said that ferland isn’t in game shape yet but of all the injured guys ferland is the closest.

      Maybe it was in a media scrum, I don’t know.

      • RedMan

        it was a media scrum where he said it… not knocking Ferland but just stating the obvious, that after the injury Ferbie needs to get his fitness level back to game ready for high tempo.

        Hartly seems to have some highly defined fitness expectations which is in my opinion awesome.

        in the same scrum he said that this is why Seto was watching and not playing- his fitness didnt pass muster in camp and early season.

    • mk

      When Ferly was cleared to play, Hartley stated that he is 6 or 7 games from playing in a game because he needs to get into game shape. Basically a player does nothing while trying to recover from a concussion.

      Ferly, Colborne are listed day-to-day now along with Russell and Jones; Raymnd and Backlund are week to week and Stajan is 6 weeks away. Update Nov 18 on Flames site.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    When I hear the advances stats guys talk about how unsustainable the Flames record currently I always come back to the question, how will these stats change when they get healthy and guys can play their natural or better position. When Backs and Stajan return will the center ice position look like this Backs/Stajan/Monahan and Granlund with both Jooris and Bouma back on the wings. Maybe Jooris stays at center and Granlund moves to wing. Will Hartley realize he can roll 4 effective NHL lines and play even more of a skating style; I could only wish.

  • RedMan

    Does anyone know is Bennett in Calgary learning how be a pro or is back home recovering from his surgery?

    It seems that the Flames injury brigade may all be back in say 3 more weeks what does the team look like?
    Assuming that no one else gets injured up front GlenX, Hudler, Bouma, Monahan, Backs, Stajan, Johnny, Raymond, Byron, Jooris, Granlund, Jones, and Colborne; thats 13 forwards how much room is there for McG, Bollig, Goochi, Sven,and Ferland. Something will have to give.

    Lines something like this:
    Colborne/Monahan/Hudler
    GlenX/Stajan/Jooris
    Johnny/Granlund/Bouma
    Raymong/Backs/Byron

    4 lines going all the time, now this could be fun and I think fancy stats would improve.

  • Rock

    The difference with the flames from Colorado and Toronto. Was Colorado was riding a Vezina winning performance from there goalie so was Toronto for half of the season until there famous crash at the end of the year. The other difference is that the flames are winning with mostly AHL players up front the flames have a lot of there forwards out of the line up in the injury bay. To me that is a big difference coaching is what is helping these flames perform. Even the baby flames 6 game winning streak and most there players have been called up. I guess the whole organization has been lucky

  • RKD

    Monahan should be the #1C, he’s really developing into that role and I think the points will come on their own. I think this guy has a lot of talent and will hopefully be an elite player. Love to see the same out of Bennett.

  • BurningSensation

    Watched the Canucks-Oilers game tonight.

    You can smell the despair in Edmonton all the way from Lethbridge.

    There but for the grace of Feaster go we.

    • prendrefeu

      The year that the Oilers got their first number 1 draft pick, Taylor Hall, they were heralded as the model for a rebuild….move 4 years ahead and they are the laughing stock of the league. Flames are retooling the proper way.

      In hindsight, it was probably best that the Flames delayed their rebuild before trading Iginla, Boumeester, Tanguay and Kipper retiring because now their prospect cupboard is very full with skill at all positions, just a little weak for now at Defence. Oilers, meanwhile are week at centre, defence, and goal..and they drafted 1st (in every round) for how many years?