The Flames dominated play. While it didn’t reflect on the scoreboard, they were easily the better team on the ice. Their superiority at even strength didn’t lead to goals, but it did lead to power plays, on which teams are, theoretically, supposed to score goals.
The Flames did not do that, and they lost.
Putrid power play
Six power plays. One goal.
The power play looked pretty awful to start. The Flames were unable to get control of the puck, so the Coyotes would send it right down the ice. That’s 30 seconds gone. The Flames try to move the puck back into the offensive zone, the Coyotes obstruct them, and that’s another 30 seconds gone.
This issue seemed to correct itself the more power plays the Flames got, but that doesn’t change that they only got the one goal – while trying the exact same personnel over, and over, and over.
Jiri Hudler played 8:08 on the power play; Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano, 7:34; Sean Monahan, 7:25. There were three power play points between them, with Gaudreau and Hudler assisting on Giordano’s goal. When the same players are spending more than seven minutes with an extra man and can’t capitalize, that’s a problem.
The Flames had a 16.7% success on the power play last night, which is a little better than their overall 13.8% success rate on the season. Only the Carolina Hurricanes are worse at 13.3%. It’s not working. When you add the Flames’ special teams percentages together, you get a disgraceful 85.9%.
And a quick note on the penalty kill: Mikael Backlund played the most down a man with 2:49; Michael Frolik second most with 2:28. They gave up an additional 11 corsi events against while on the kill. Over two minutes and change. What the hell happened there? Overhaul everything special teams.
Sean Monahan still should not be getting this much ice time
Monahan led all forwards with a total 25:16 in ice time. As noted above, a sizeable chunk of that came from the power play, which proved largely ineffective. For someone who got nearly as much ice time as T.J. Brodie, you’d expect a better performance; one did not materialize.
Monahan’s ES CF was the worst on the Flames at 30.43%. The next worst was Brodie’s 48.00%.
That is a giant, giant, giant gap. That’s a frightening gap. Kris Russell was 50.00%, and every other Flame at even strength was a positive possession player. For contrast, Monahan played 16:52 at even strength; Gaudreau played 16:47 and had an ES CF of 52.00%.
It’s scary to think that someone who had the play go against him so much – way more than any other player on the team – was out there for such a significant amount of time.
To Monahan’s credit, he was a positive possession player in all situations, at 54.29%. That’s a nearly 25% jump for him caused by those seven and a half minutes on the power play on which he failed to score.
And to discredit Monahan once again, despite receiving so much ice time, particularly with the man advantage, he had zero shots on net. None. Nada. Gaudreau had three in similar circumstances.
Josh Jooris had four despite receiving no special teams time and playing almost 20 minutes fewer.
There is something very, very wrong with that picture.
Functional fourth line? Why even bother?
As mentioned above, Jooris was actually a pretty impactful player. He played a mere 7:28; he had four shots on net with it, and even led the Flames in individual scoring chances with those four. He had a pretty impressive 73.33% ES CF, albeit his limited ice time probably skewed that number.
He probably should have played more: he was flying, and clearly capable. For that matter, perhaps his linemates – who both received under seven minutes in ice time – should have played more as well. They were a sheltered line, but they were an effective one, at minimum an upgrade from a line that has Brandon Bollig on it because they didn’t take any stupid penalties (Micheal Ferland’s should not have been called).
Besides, what’s the point of calling up one of your farm team’s best players if you’re just going to sit him most of the time? Welcome back to the show, Markus. You’re leading our AHL team in scoring, so we’re ready to give you another shot. Here’s six minutes. Have fun!
I have two takeaways from this I really want to emphasize:
- The Flames have decent enough forward personnel that there’s no reason to bench any of them.
- Monahan had as much power play time as Jooris had time, period. Monahan had zero shots. Jooris had four.
Dougie Hamilton was really rather good
He was the first player I noticed while watching the game, and he kind of just kept popping up steadily throughout. He led all skaters with six shots on net, and tied Jooris for four scoring chances. He was jumping up into the play seamlessly and smartly, and wasn’t a defensive liability.
At even strength, his CF was third out of Flames defencemen at 57.14% (only Deryk Engelland and Dennis Wideman had higher percentages, and they played less. Tangentially – did anyone else feel like Engelland bailed out Wideman a couple of times there?); in all situations, he led the way with 69.23%. Chalk that number up to some power play disparity, but that’s still more than Giordano, who had more time on the power play (and not enough time on the penalty kill to offset it).
Point being, Hamilton had a really good game. He’s a big part of the Flames’ future, and it’s nice to see him have good games. Hopefully by the end of this season we’ll be reflecting back on that time Hamilton was awful and laughing at how long ago those days were.
What the hell, refs
I make a general rule to not complain about officiating, simply because every single team in the history of sports has gotten screwed by calls one way or another.
I am, however, still a sports fan, so I’m going to complain about officiating every now and then. I try to reserve my calls for egregious, game-changing oversights (i.e. times when pucks cross the line but are inexplicably ruled not a goal), and when officials either let a game get out of control, or fail to make the proper calls on dangerous plays.
The latter happened last night. Ferland’s charging call was bogus, but whatever, the officials were erring on the side of caution. I don’t like it, but I can understand it. Last night was Officials Appreciation Night at the Saddledome, I am trying to be respectful here.
But why, in that case, were they totally cool with ignoring Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s dangerous hit on Giordano – at least until Brodie took a very obvious penalty in retaliation? They had to call Brodie’s cross check. But it didn’t happen in a vacuum, so of course only then can they call Ekman-Larsson’s hit. It just took a Flame fighting for his teammate’s honour to make them do it, rather than making the call themselves, as they were more than fine doing at the start of the game.
Hits like that can be scary. And it’s not like a two minute power play would have fixed anything had things been worse for Giordano. But seriously – be better. At minimum, regarding situations that are much more dangerous, just be better.