I believe that image speaks for itself.
Zone entries, or: were you even trying
Want to watch something nice? Of course you do, you just watched the Flames lose in Anaheim for the eight billionth time in a row (this time in particularly aggravating fashion). Here is something nice:
— Puq (@ducksallday) November 25, 2015
That, friends, is an absolutely gorgeous zone entry by 19-year-old Sam Bennett. His line combined for all three Flames goals, as well as five points on the night, and were, often times, the only ones that looked even borderline competent.
From what I saw last night – and I don’t have numbers to back this up, so I freely admit this could be pure eye test or confirmation bias nonsense from me – it looked like Bennett’s line, along with occasionally T.J. Brodie and Dougie Hamilton, were the only Flames that didn’t have problems cleanly entering the Ducks’ zone.
To contrast that, it didn’t look like a single player on the Flames even so much as tried to challenge the Ducks when they came into the Flames’ end. Rather, they skated back with them, each and every single one of them, and as you can tell from the corsi graphic above, the Ducks ran roughshod all over them.
This includes the Ducks’ two even strength goals, both by Rickard Rakell. In the first one, Sami Vatanen cleanly skates the puck into the offensive zone, facing zero obstruction as Kris Russell gives him all the time and space in the world, and Bennett is too far behind to properly check him. Vatanen passes the puck to a wide open Rakell, Dougie Hamilton fails to separate him from the puck, and it’s in the back of the Flames’ net.
On the second goal, Corey Perry skates the puck into the zone, with Mark Giordano skating back against him; by the time Giordano even so much as attempts to challenge him, Perry has already back passed to Ryan Getzlaf, who enters the zone full at full speed. When Giordano goes to try to stop him, Perry has already slipped in behind everyone else, and it’s easy enough for Getzlaf to chip the puck forward to him. The Ducks have just gotten deep into the Flames end with no real obstruction, and it allows Perry, who everybody lost, to deftly slip the puck over to Rakell for another quick snipe, allowing the Ducks to tie the game.
The Flames barely even tried to stop the Ducks from entering their zone, apparently instead opting to attempt to deal with them once they were already there and cycling. On the same note, most of the Flames couldn’t exactly enter the Ducks’ zone themselves more often than not, despite that pretty nifty Bennett GIF up above.
It reflected in the Ducks having far more scoring chances, and ultimately, in their overall dominating play.
Dear special teams: what
The Flames took two penalties last night. They gave up two power play goals. At 72.1%, they officially have the worst penalty kill in the league.
So, that went well. Perry had both power play goals: the first, a quick snipe nine seconds into the kill that nobody, including Karri Ramo, was ready for; the second, Perry once again sneaking behind all Flames undetected after Josh Jooris wiped out (and remember earlier when noted he’s one of the Flames’ better penalty killers? I was thinking just that before he lost control) for a breakaway goal you just knew was going to go in the second you saw it forming.
The Flames couldn’t stop there, though; they also had to make the Ducks look even more dangerous during their own power plays. The Flames weren’t exactly threatening during their time with the man advantage (which, in part, goes right back to their struggles regarding zone entries).
Also, here’s a question: why did it take until the very end of the game to even consider putting Michael Frolik on the power play? Did Bob Hartley simply think he wasn’t going to score that night?
Frolik played the final 50 seconds of the Flames’ final power play. Players who had more time with the man advantage than he did:
- Dennis Wideman
- Johnny Gaudreau
- Sean Monahan
- Sam Bennett
- T.J. Brodie
- Mark Giordano
- Joe Colborne
- David Jones
- Mason Raymond
- Dougie Hamilton
Players who scored more than Frolik:
The last time Frolik had power play time was six seconds against the Washington Capitals on Nov. 13. The last time Frolik had actually meaningful power play time (i.e. more than a handful of seconds) was when he played 2:15 against the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 13. You know, the third game of the season. But it’s not like Frolik is the team’s highest paid forward or third on the Flames with 14 points, so you know… whatever.
Brandon “Why?” Bollig
Another day, another game where I am desperately struggling to determine the purpose of Brandon Bollig.
His biggest impact of the night were his seven penalty minutes. The first five were harmless enough, a totally inane fight against Chris Stewart that really only served to ensure Bollig wouldn’t be on the ice for five minutes.
The next two were pretty disastrous, though: a neutral zone hooking penalty on Ryan Kesler that resulted in Perry scoring nine seconds later on the power play, cutting the Flames’ 2-0 lead in half.
There was no reason for the Ducks to get going with the man advantage. Bollig ensured that they did.
Bollig played a grand total of 6:24. He had one 13 second shift in the third period. He spent the remaining 18:08 hanging out on the bench doing approximately nothing (although he didn’t take any penalties from there, so that was good).
Bollig was an active detriment to the Flames last night, as he has been throughout the season. And he wasn’t even gritty; he had no hits, no blocked shots, no shots of his own, and an 11.11% ES CF over his extremely limited ice time.
His entire impact boiled down to getting the opposing team back in it.
What is Mason Raymond?
Mason Raymond has played 11 games this season. He has also been a healthy scratch for 11 more. He has a goal and an assist over the 11 times he’s been in the lineup.
Here’s the thing: he looked friggin’ great alongside Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau against the Chicago Blackhawks. He filled in for Jiri Hudler on the Flames’ top line, and looked better there than Hudler had in ages. Then, last night, he started off again in the same spot, only the magic wasn’t working, so he was eventually demoted. (Although he still played 1:45 on the power play – and the Flames had zero power plays until the third period, well after his demotion.)
Only Bollig had worse possession stats than Raymond, who finished at 13.33% ES CF over 12:10 (10:25 ES). Gaudreau saw a 20% increase in even strength corsi values when separated from Raymond, while Monahan’s values more than doubled.
Raymond has seen a lot of ice time fluctuation over the 11 games he’s been in, but for the most part, he tends to hover around the 12-minute mark. So that, along with the frequent healthy scratches, would imply he is not a top six forward (even though he regularly gets power play time when in the lineup – moreso than actual top six forward Michael Frolik).
Does that mean Raymond’s role is to just be a healthy scratch? Well, no; considering how there are only 13 forwards on this team, and one of them is Bollig, he should be in the lineup by default. His play may be lacklustre, but at least he isn’t taking stupid penalties.
Top six forward Micheal Ferland?
Micheal Ferland replaced Raymond on the top line. He ended up playing about six and a half even strength minutes with Monahan and Gaudreau. With them, he was a 61.54% ES CF; without, 40.00%. So he had a very noticeable boost when separated from Jooris and Bollig, although starting 100% of his shifts in the offensive zone vs. 66.67% probably played a role in that.
What about Gaudreau and Monahan, though? They went up to 61.54% ES CF with Ferland, and were both below 30% without him.
This was only over the course of six and a half minutes, but the early returns were pretty good, and that’s in a game over which the Flames got completely destroyed. If Raymond is officially out of the top six and Jiri Hudler isn’t immediately gifted a spot back on the first line, it could be worth exploring further. Hell, if Hudler ends up back on the top line right away and falters, Hartley can always tap Ferland in for him and see how it goes.
There’s really nothing left to lose in trying new players out in the top six at this point. And how awesome would it be if 23-year-old big physical Micheal Ferland really did have top six talent? He does have a history of scoring talent from lower leagues.