Brodie and Engelland Is Not a Good Pairing

For whatever reason, the narrative that Deryk Engelland was “really good” after Mark Giordano got injured last year has taken root in various areas of the Flames fanbase and mainstream media. I don’t know if it’s because the expectations were really low for Engelland and therefore anything not resembling total, team-wide disaster in Giordano’s absence would be considered a success, but the reality is, it’s just not true. 

My guess is the correlation of the Flames winning down the stretch with Engelland in a top 4 role is what has given rise to this perception. Unfortunately, the Flames won in spite of Engelland’s promotion up the depth chart, not because of it. 

Let’s be clear: the Brodie and Engelland pairing got annihilated last year.

I bring this up not only because it’s a popular myth in the media worth debunking, but because Brodie is skating with Engelland in early training camp line rushes (which may mean nothing at this juncture, but it’s distressing enough to warrant a take down). It should go without saying that playing Brodie on a third pairing with a replacement level partner is a criminal waste of one of the best young defenders in the league, but maybe it’s not that obvious.

Here is TJ Brodie’s WOWY (With or Without You) stats with Derek Engelland last year. The effect of playing with Deryk is immediate and obvious:

BrodieEngelland

Away from Engelland, Brodie sported a corsi rate of 47.6% and a goal ratio (GF/GA) of 54.5%. Together? They drop to a corsi of 36.4% (!!) and a goal ratio of 31.6%. Those aren’t merely bad numbers; they are bottom of the league awful. In fact, they are the worst stats of any stretch of TJ Brodie’s career to date. 

To put those numbers in context, the Buffalo Sabres were the worst possession team last year – in fact, the worst possession team of the modern era – and they finished the year with a corsi rate of 37.5%. So Brodie and Engelland together put up a marginally worst possession number than the worst NHL team we’ve seen by this metric since we started keeping these stats. That’s bad.

We can drill a bit deeper into these numbers to drive home the point. Without Engelland, the Flames managed about 52 shots at the oppsotion’s net per hour with Brodie on the ice. With Engelland, that number dropped to 39, a difference 13 shots per hour (that’s an insane drop). In addition, Brodie’s corsi against (all shots at the Flames net) per hour went from 57.13 away from Engelland to 68.13 with him (an addition of 9 shots/60). Put together, that means Brodie’s corsi differential sank by more than 22 shots per hour (!!!) when paired with Engelland last year. Yuck.

Caveats

There are a few mitigating factors that suggest these outcomes exaggerate things something. For example, it was rumoured that Brodie was playing on an injured ankle to end the season, limiting his effectiveness to a non-trivial degree. He also switched from the right side to the left side in order to play with Engelland, perhaps further hampering his efficacy. And, naturally, not getting to play with Giordano anymore was going to have some negative effect on Brodie’s outcomes no matter who else he was paired with. 

On top of all that, Bob Hartley absolutely buried the Brodie and Engelland paring in order to give the Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell pairing the high ground. As a result, not only did Brodie have to play top-4 competition on one ankle with Engelland as a partner, he also saw a brutal zone start percentage of 31.8% when they were paired. That means, the pairing started about 32% of their shifts in the offensive zone vs the defensive zone. 

Even granting that all of those circumstances helped sink the pairing’s results, the things is Brodie+Engelland would have to vastly improve just to be bad, let alone mediocre or good. It’s therefore doubtful that even a healthy Brodie and more moderate usage can redeem things.

Let’s be explicit: the culprit of this sudden dive into the bottom of the barrel for Brodie – beyond usage and injury – is obvious. If you glance at the table above, you can see Engelland’s results away from TJ – they aren’t meaningfully better. The Flames possession rate with Engelland on the ice was just 42.5% (still awful) and their GF% rate was 34.5% (yikes). 

To put that in clearer terms, the Flames gave up more than 180 shots than they generated during Engelland’s 664 even strength minutes (away from Brodie) and they gave up 32 goals against while only scoring 17 (-15 goal differential). Again, these aren’t even poor results. They are worse than that.

Conclusion

This seems like a cruel sideswipe of poor Deryk Engelland, who by all accounts is a really good guy and was no doubt thrown in way over his head when Gio went down last year. But the idea that he’s anything more than a replacement level NHL defender or that he’s a good partner for Brodie is fiction. Period.

  • prendrefeu

    Chill, Winston.

    It is only training camp right now. Pairings, lines, and everything else is just a toss-around for seeing aspects of individual players. Hartley will determine the lines, Dr. Tre (and his team) know the stats.

    R E L A X

    The fans and media aren’t idiots. We know Engelland isnt’ great.
    Chill.

  • And once again those who hated the signing from the start, salary cap floor considerations included, are vindicated.

    I said several times last season that it was Brodie carrying Engelland and that some of the huge errors Brodie was making were the result of his trying to do too much in order to cover over Engelland’s deficiencies.

    Engelland has failed the stat test and the eye test. Burke once again talking him up in the media the other week just further cements my assertion that Engelland and Bollig were his moves, not Treliving’s.

    Thankfully (mercifully), Burke’s ego was not so big that he had to hire a clone for GM.

    • prendrefeu

      Bollig and Engelland were the worst moves under Treliving’s name to date. The sooner they’re off the team the sooner us Flames fans can legitimately talk about Cup aspirations. We don’t have the stacked top 6F / Top 4D to afford having holes in our bottom 3D / Bottom 6F

  • prendrefeu

    Engelland is a reasonable 7th defenseman, who can play physical against 4th line competition. I really hope he isn’t used more than that. Besides experience, you would have to guess that one of Wotherspoon or Morrison would be a better option.

  • prendrefeu

    Seriously? This warranted an entire article? Its f*cking training camp… If you seriously think that Brodie will be playing with Engelland come regular season then I honestly don’t even know what to tell you.

      • Derzie

        No they didn’t. They played them together BECAUSE of the situation that Giordano put them in by getting injured. Engelland got elevated to the top 4 – something that would never happen now that Hamilton was acquired.

        So barring major injuries to Wideman, Russell, Giordano, or Hamilton, Brodie will not be playing with Engelland.

        • RedMan

          I am not sure what part you are arguing about – I said they played them together, and you said no they didnt, they played them together.

          yes, of course we are talking after Gio’s injury – get with the program. 🙂

          You think there is zero chance they will play them together?

          good for you. Others look at the man-crush the management have on Engelland, and the fact that they are putting them together at the beginning of camp, and saying they hope they don’t consider the unthinkable.

          they had other options when Gio went down, including younger guys or vet combos, but the team not only chose to play Engelland together with Brodie, but buried them (as noted above).

          not sure what part of that makes you so positive that they wouldn’t put them together. I mean, sure, it doesn’t make sense for them to, and logic would say not, but there they are… so here we are commenting on it. including you.

          SO you have a different opinion. cool. Still just an opinion, like everyone else’s.

          • supra steve

            No you didn’t. You said they played them together “no matter what the situation”. Which is false, as I pointed out.

            And yes I do think there is 0 chance they will play together (barring at least two significant injuries). Lets pretend Gio goes down again, Hartley seems to love Russell-Wideman so that leaves the CLEAR other pairing to be Brodie-Hamilton. Not a chance Engelland gets elevated to the top 4 and relegates one of Brodie/Hamilton/Russell/Wideman to the bottom pairing.

            The plain cold facts are that the circumstances have changed since last year. Hamilton entering the fold changes everything.

            I mean you (and this article) point out that despite of this, “there they are”. And yes your right. There they are, on a same line, on the FIRST day of CAMP. There hasn’t even been a PRE-SEASON game and people are getting their panties in a bunch over nothing.

            Hell, lets even look at the other defenders Brodie could be paired with in his group:

            Brodie-Stevenson
            Brodie-Johnson
            Brodie-Kanzig
            Brodie-Wotherspoon

            Are any of those options significantly better then Brodie-Engelland? A case could be made for Wotherspoon, but he is still a prospect and has not proven or established himself. And maybe Johnson, but he has been injured so much the past couple seasons that even thats a toss up.

      • MattyFranchise

        The choices were pretty slim. The timing of Gio’s injury changed what BT did at the TDL, opting to picking up a waiver player in Schlemko for free rather than spending assets on a 2nd pairing defender. Would you have given up your 1st for Sekera or Franson right after you lost you Norris top defender for the rest of the year? If Smid was healthy, I m sure we would have seen more juggling by Hartley. Engellend was the most experienced, highest paid defender we had. Comparing how freakishly the stars aligned to get Engellend into the 2nd pairing playing with Brodie to the start of this upcoming year is , I’m sorry, over reacting a bit.

  • supra steve

    I was not a fan of this signing last summer either, and still am not.

    But, I expect Engelland to play more often then not this season. He has a big contract, signed by the current GM (or BB, who knows), he may not be a full time NHLer next season but this season I expect he will be.

    That being the case, what other Flame D-man do you partner him with. Wideman?…Let’s hope not.

    Best case, they are able to play him for a while with a good partner, pump up his value a bit, then move him (for a modest return) to another team that is desperate for a D-man. Probably not what’s going to happen, but possible.

  • prendrefeu

    Sometimes this site is just chock full of hand-wringing it gets ludicrous.
    I know that we’re (writers + fans) are passionate about this team – kinda obvious since you’re here, no? I know that, especially during the offseason, writers are grasping at articles to write to get more clicks/views/advertising numbers to support more money… and yeah, anger/negativity traditionally sells more than positivity…

    But come on with the vitriol, eh?

    How about something positive? How about some great articles about how well the Flames did this summer? About how there is room for improvement with some players? About how Dr. Tre is kicking ass as a first time GM and maybe where he learned this mastery? How about “what did your Favorite Flames do during the off season?” I’d like to see an article about Poirier’s off season training, Gaudreau going back and finishing school, Hudler’s vacations, Monahan thinking up things to Tweet about, Brodie and Gio being bros…

    How about creating an atmosphere where people LOVE this team instead of constantly thinking of it with anxiety? Isn’t there enough anxiety in your own life already?

    Come on!

    • Nick24

      This isn’t Keeping up With the Kardashians or something. I’m sure more mainstream sources have plenty of romantic articles about how everyone’s doing, and I’m pretty sure the Flames website even posts videos about that.

      There are plenty of articles that have gone over the positivities of the franchise and team (hence the Flames All Time Greatest team series that’s been running, or even the top 20 prospects). Not every article should be about how great the team is.

  • Derzie

    BB gave a radio interview on 960 and here is one of the things he said:
    1. Eyeballs
    “The number 1 criteria we have is experienced scouts watching them play, and the things you see in a game that don’t show up on computer. A guy makes a mistake, comes off. You see a captain lean over and say something to him. See a coach bark at a guy. Does he slump? What’s his body language? How does he warm up? Is he intense? All the stuff a computer is never going to show you. A computer just registers a blocked shot; it doesn’t show you that this guy dove headfirst to get it.”

    I don’t hang off every word that anyone says let alone BB, but you’ve got to understand that these guys live breathe eat sleep hockey. It’s not something gross oversimplified mathematical models can fully explain. The best quants guys in pro sports will tell you the same. Yet it’s always what is fed here in the destruction of Engelland which has been ongoing since he was offered a contract which he accepted to play on the Calgary Flames. Frankly, it’s terrible journalism.

    • Truculence

      I don’t care if said player dives in head-first to block a shot (which is a moronic example of heart to begin with). All I care about is that he contributes to the team outplaying the bad guys whenever that player is on the ice. By “outplaying” I mean that the team as a group consistently generates more quality shots or scoring chances for than against -which leads to goals.

      This is what the “oversimplified mathematical models” capture. They point out the blatant fact that he pretty much sucks as an NHL defender. Other than the odd scrap, he is useless. Kent is only stating the obvious and banging the drums loudly to make sure that a Brodie-Engelland tandem does not ensue. More power to him, quite frankly.

      • MontanaMan

        If you think Kent’s “drum-banging” is going to prevent coaches and management from doing something most of us agree to be ludicrous, you’re delusional.Every night I say a little prayer, hoping against hope that Engelland, Bolland, Hiller, maybe even Wideman and Raymond get shipped out for picks and/or prospects before Game One, and some of our young kids push for a spot… But I’m not holding my breath thinking my little prayers are going to influence those decision makers.They’ll do what the think they have to and I have more confidence in them than any regime since Cliff Fletcher and Al Coates were around.
        GFG,FF’sS!

    • RexLibris

      I hadn’t heard this interview, but if you have a link I’d love to see it.

      Burke recently came out saying the Flames have the best analytics guys in the league, then he says they have scouts who make those analytics redundant or marginal?

  • Derzie

    I kinda agree that this may be a bit over reactionary right now. If the season opener with Vancouver has Brodie paired with Engellend, then we may want to scrutinize this a little bit. We had no freaking choice but to play Brodie with Engellend last year in that 2nd pairing. Our alternatives were a waiver pickup & another player signed on a PTO for 1 year.

    Let’s take this to the extreme assuming Hartley would be insane enough to pair Brodie voluntarily with Engellend in order to keep Russell & Wideman together. Gio & Hamilton would get the heavy lifting, Russell & Wideman would do what they did last year before Gio went down & Brodie/Engellend would have pretty sheltered minutes & better stats & Brodie would be the best under-utilized defender in the NHL. Hartley would lose his job, Brodie would request a trade & we would be talking what kind of prospect is Matthews.

    So yes, why get worked up on something that is never going to happen unless injuries dictate it works out that way. If Smid was healthy last year, I’m sure Brodie & Smid would have been in that 2nd pairing.
    The only true thing we may want to debate is who gets paired in the #4 spot, Russell or Wideman. To me, that is a legit debate.

    • Truculence

      That waiver pickup was and has been a better player than Engelland, so we did have another choice.

      Ultimately they chose “truculence” over “Strong defense that gets the puck, then gets it up the ice to the forwards”.

      • Derzie

        If the waiver guy was so good, why was he waived by so many teams & then not signed until just recently. The way the Flames played in that playoff race & playoffs is contagious & we saw some pretty good performances from players that were not known for raising their level of play like that. It seems pretty obvious to me that we are going into this year with our key 5 defenders in Gio, Hamilton, Brodie, Wideman & Russell. That 6th spot & 7th press box position is really up fro grabs with Engellend, Smid (assuming he is ready & sounds like he will be on the ice by Tuesday as per the Herald) Wilson, & Nakaladl, Morrison & Wotherspoon. So really, where do we fit Schlemko on a 1 way deal?

  • MontanaMan

    He is what we thought he was. End of story. Hope FN isn’t looking for an interview with Engelland any time soon. Unbiased reports are great but this is a little over the top.

  • Truculence

    We’ve heard this over and over and over…if Engelland brings everyone down so much, why haven’t they all beaten on him with the soapbar in the sock trick ala Full Metal Jacket???

    I’d like an article on that when it happens

  • piscera.infada

    I honestly can’t believe this is even a thing. Rob Kerr was on the fan yesterday afternoon talking about the “merits” of a Brodie-Engelland third pairing. I almost vomited in my mouth. If, somehow Brodie ends up on a third pairing, because of “depth”, I will lose my mind. The fact that this Brodie-Engelland idea seems to have gained traction in the mainstream media scares the absolute sh– out of me.

    To clarify my point above a bit: I agree it’s presumptuous to get bent out of shape about Brodie-Engelland, and I honestly don’t believe any professional hockey coach would think that’s a great idea–I “understood” it last year out of injury necessity. It’s the fact that someone who watches as much Flames hockey as Kerr does, can speak in the affirmative of such a regular season pairing (not mention having Brodie on the third pairing). It’s just ludicrous. It’s an affront to hockey–nay, an affront to logic.

  • Derzie

    Here’s the deal, Burke was saying how he feels he has the best stats guy around (hyperbole of course) and that stats is #3 on what matters. He ranked #1 as eyeballs. This pairing fails measure number one. #2 is character. We’ll give this one to Eng based on the general press that he is ‘good in the room’ and is big on the ice. #3 is stats. Surely the ‘best guy in the league’ has the same info that Kent does. League worst pairing. The worst. By a long shot. That said, why would they EVER be paired together again? Pre-season, training camp, team dinner, there is no support for them being near each other. What don’t they already know about the pairing? It is a royal slap in the face to Brodie. Try him with Dougie or Wideman. Leave brodie to play on a pairing he deserves.

  • RedMan

    Does the team treat Engelland like a loser? Shunning him in the locker room and on road trips? Like he was the last guy picked, with no skills? Constantly mad at him, and belittling him in front of whoever is around?

    They probably all tell him he sucks and has no skills and other than that don’t speak to him as he drags the whole team down. He must be viewed as a cancer or a Jonah than hey? I mean if he is such a horrible hockey player… poor guy

  • RedMan

    As much as I don’t think Eng’s is good enough until someone takes his job then he is what we have. Has anyone seen enough at camp to say that Spoon or Nakladal is ahead of him?

  • BurningSensation

    Good topic.

    I’m hoping that by the “all earned, nothing given” rhetoric one or three of Wotherspoon, Nakladal, And Wilson end up making a great impression and Engelland ends up as the #7.

    The problem is that with Burke’s “eyeballs, character, then stats” approach, they may see him as a lock in the top 4. Because he had eyeballs on him proving his character when he grabbed two Canucks simultaneously and traded some punches.

    Which, don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed.

    But it doesn’t mean he should get big regular minutes. Keep him in reserve for situations that require more punching than not.

  • Some are forgetting the point of the article. Many have suggested that Engelland somehow turned better after paired with Brodie because he somehow got better at playing hockey. Kent is merely saying that Brodie put him on his shoulders and made him way better then he appeared.

    Nothing against Engelland personally but he is not very good. Eyeball test, heart-and-soul guy in the locker room, whatever. He shouldn’t be paired with a really good defender like Brodie unless it is an emergency. 3rd pairing type guy that gives the top 4 a rest should be the extent of his responsibilities. READ: It doesn’t mean he is a bad guy.

    He is one of those guys who is a bit of a victim of too good an agent. He is paid way too much for what he is capable of.

    • Derzie

      Thing is, I don’t think anyone is proclaiming Engellend is now a 2nd pairing defender. I think most have said he got thrown into bigger minutes, bigger role & not only played rough tough playoff hockey but played better than what he had been playing before the Gio injury. That’s it. I haven’t read 1 post of anyone saying Engellend should be in that 2nd pairing with Brodie going forward. If Smid is healthy, Engellend will be lucky to get a roster spot. I haven’t heard any comment from any Flames coaches or Management even remotely mentioning that Engellend might be pencilled in that 2nd pairing with Brodie. Right now we are seeing scrimmages, that’s all.