Ducks 1, Flames 0 post-game embers: Garbage

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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports

The Anaheim Ducks are having a bad season. They’re at the bottom in one of the worst divisions in the NHL, they can’t score goals, and their goal differential (-20) is almost as bad as the Flames’ (-21). They’re a far, far cry away from the team they were last season.

Except when they play the Flames, apparently, when they turn into world beaters. Well, not really, but that game wasn’t as close as the 1-0 score made it seem, and the Ducks very much deserved the win. Shoutout to Karri Ramo for doing his best.

Some insanely low percentages

The Flames’ corsi in the second period, when Anaheim scored their goal, was 18.18%. At even strength it was 20.69%. That’s a special kind of abhorrent.

Really, the only time their possession was respectable was in the third period, when Calgary turned it on (because all Anaheim had to do was sit back and suppress, and it worked). They had six corsi events for in the second period. Not shots – they had three of those. Over the course of an entire 20 minutes, the Flames only put the puck in the direction of Anaheim’s net six times.

There are no words for just how truly bad that is.

It gets worse, though. In all situations, five Flames – all of who played at least 10 minutes – had CFs below 10%. When Markus Granlund, Matt Stajan, Lance Bouma, and Deryk Engelland were on the ice, the Flames had one single corsi event for. One.

With David Jones, they had zero. Over the course of an entire hockey game, Jones’ CF was 0.00%.

I don’t even know how that happens, and at least it probably won’t again, because Jones is definitely not that bad a player. He primarily skated on a line with Granlund and Sam Bennett, but at least Bennett was on the ice for five corsi events for. And he very, very clearly had a better game.

Play Sam Bennett

This one is just baffling to me. It’s been baffling as of late, but it was extra baffling last night.

Everyone was in agreement: Bennett had an awesome game against the Oilers. It might have been his best game ever. He didn’t score, but he did everything else: he created dangerous chances, he had some hard hits, he drew a penalty. He did really, really well.

What else does he have to do to get in the top six? He played 12:52 last night, seventh out of all forwards. He played just 21 seconds on the power play, which is an ever-continuing disgrace: he is one of the Flames’ most dynamic forwards, possibly the most dynamic after Johnny Gaudreau, and he’s getting skipped over for guys like Jiri Hudler and Joe Colborne who do not appear to have done a single thing to earn time with the extra man.

Bennett is hauling ass night in and night out and he’s not getting rewarded for it, and his team is probably suffering for lack of having him out there as much as he could be.

According to War on Ice, three Flames had high danger scoring chances. Gaudreau had four, and Ferland and Bennett had one apiece. Gaudreau had six scoring chances, Bennett was second with two. Gaudreau had seven individual corsi events, Bennett was second with three.

He creates. Bob Hartley seems to just move ice time around. It’s outrageous.

Play the kid. He’ll probably make you proud.

The Ryan Getzlaf matchup

Ryan Getzlaf is a good player. He may only have two goals this season – an empty netter and a five-on-three – but he’s still a good player. There are years and years of history we can draw on to prove this. He has to be taken seriously, and with Hartley controlling the matchups, it had to be Mikael Backlund against him all night.

Backlund needs to be the shutdown guy (and Michael Frolik’s absence hurts here, because he’s a great shutdown guy along with him). And Backlund was the centre Getzlaf saw the most. Over the course of 6:21 (even strength) minutes the two shared, Getzlaf posted a 33.33% CF. 

But somehow, Getzlaf also ended up facing Markus Granlund, a sophomoric kid who has yet to establish himself as a surefire NHLer (though he seems to be trending that way), let alone shutdown option, for 5:02. He saw Granlund almost as much as he saw Backlund – and he posted a CF of 100.00% against him.

That can’t happen. You can’t let the opposing team’s top line centre see your green guy that often, and especially not when he’s dominating him that much. 

The Joe Colborne experiment needs to end

It should have ended a while ago, but it’s been ongoing, and it seemingly won’t stop.

Colborne is a frustrating player. In one instance, he’ll do something amazing; in the very next, he’ll mess it up. All of the potential he has in that huge frame is so, so clear. If only he could just put it together…

… And then you remember he is going to turn 26 years old in a month. What we see is almost certainly what we are going to get. And what we see is bad.

It’s just bad. He’s just bad. There’s such a lack of awareness – letting Shawn Horcoff skate right on by him on his goal last night, for instance, or just kind of casually hanging out on the power play – the boneheaded turnovers, the knowledge that one amazing deke will be followed up by a rush to the Flames’ end of the ice for the other team. 

He’s great in the shootout, the one element of the game where you don’t really need to be aware of your surroundings at all. Otherwise, it’s mistake after mistake after mistake, and as we saw last night, it cost his team. You can’t shoot in the shootout if you can’t even help your team get there to begin with.

He played 15:54 last night, fourth out of all forwards. In 10 of his past 12 games, he has played at least 15 minutes. In those 10 games, he has scored one goal (he also scored another in one of his two recent sub-15 minute games) and registered four assists. That’s .5 points per game, which isn’t bad, but everything he’s done outside of those six points has been brutal.

And yet, he continues to get top six minutes. He had 11 shifts after his lackadaisical effort on Horcoff’s goal where other players likely would have been benched.

He even played 1:01 on the power play. This season, Colborne has played 55:47 on the power play, the most on the Flames without registering a single point. It’s clearly not going to happen, and even if it does – how long will it take to get there? And will it have been worth it? 

He is going to be 26 years old in a month. We know what he is by now. And at absolute best, he is not a top six forward.

Brandon Bollig was a non-factor

I come not to praise, nor do I come to bury. 

Brandon Bollig played 9:20, the only Flame to not hit double digits. He had poor possession, but wasn’t the worst on the Flames. He didn’t take any penalties, so he didn’t have a negative impact, either. He was kind of just… there.

Which is both good and bad. It’s good because he didn’t cost his team; it’s bad because he didn’t do a thing to help his team win.

The lineup was disrupted to inject more size into it. The Anaheim Ducks are a bigger team, so Hartley wanted a bigger player available to him. The logic is sound enough.

Except… nothing was really done with it? As was oft pointed out throughout the broadcast, Gaudreau was taking a lot of abuse. He was probably the Flames’ most productive forward, again (or at least as productive as one can be in a shutout), despite the size differences. But two and two were never put together: if Gaudreau is getting roughed around regardless, then what good did it do to add Bollig to the lineup? He didn’t stop any of that from happening.

Nor should he have, because that would have meant playing him with Gaudreau, which would have been insane

On surface level, Bollig in the lineup against Anaheim makes sense. Just one scratch below the surface, though, and it doesn’t. He was just there.

Being just there would have been fine if the rest of his team could have gotten anything going. Maybe Mason Raymond or Josh Jooris would have gotten something going.

Ending this on a decent note

I like Dougie Hamilton.

As the top defence pairing, of course T.J. Brodie and Mark Giordano played more than anybody else. After them, Kris Russell played 19:37; after him, Hamilton played 19:29. He played top four minutes, and there wasn’t a big gap in their ice time as there has been in the past.

He was, quite possibly, the most productive player on the Flames’ power play, at least leading the way with three individual corsi events for. He played 1:49 on the man advantage, but maybe that should go up, because Hamilton simply looks much more threatening on the power play than Dennis Wideman does. A top pairing unit of Brodie and Hamilton could not only be fortuitous now, but in the long run, considering the players’ ages. 

He was also out there for that end of the game push with a 1:12 shift, and once again, he looked threatening back there. And that hit against Horcoff was a beautiful statement. I look forward to seeing his use continue to grow, and remain ever curious what it’ll look like after the trade deadline, when it’s possible some of the Flames’ other regular defencemen will no longer be around.

In a game in which nothing happened, he at least made it interesting.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Icing should be waived off, if the defending team has 4 or more players in the neutral zone. The trap Anaheim played to perfection last night is a pock on the beauty of hockey.

    That said, the Flames failed to adapt there game plan, and as Ryan succinctly put it “live by the stretch pass, die by the stretch pass”.

  • Captain Ron

    It’s a misuse of Corsi to apply it to individual players as you’re doing here. It’s supposed to be a proxy for active dangerous possession, which is not accurately measured by whether a player took the shot him or herself. Ratios and measures of all on-ice events are all fair game but to measure a player’s utility by Corsi events directly coming off their stick is to dilute the true purpose of the values which is to increase sample size for evaluation of utility. Taking out on-ice events down to those specifically originating from a player’s stick reduces sample size and the useful information to be derived from the observation.

  • Kevin R

    Ari, I will totally admit Colborne was completely useless last night. Problem was, many other players had awfully rough nights as well. I think we take this game & file it under CS in the trash bin. If we play like that all the time, we are in deep doodoo. I think the players all know they dropped a turd in the sheets & there is no one else to point to. The LA game is probably going to be an incredible game. Too bad the Kings are playing so well, we may play great & still lose. Oh well.

  • KACaribou

    The Ducks are such a terrible match-up for the Flames. Sometimes teams just have your number and the Ducks have the Flames’ number.

    I do agree with some of the things you suggest in the article, but what is common here is the writer makes a mountain out of a mole-hill. This was one bad game after 11 wins in a row at home. Relax, I suggest.

    Coach Bob tends not to make a lot of changes when his team is winning. The Bollig move was because of adding size to the line-up. But really, what would Mason Raymond done against this big Anaheim team anyway?

    Nobody could figure out why Ferland was only getting 7-9 minutes a game and now he’s getting 14. Bennett is increasing too. Coach Bob doesn’t usually knee-jerk but I am sure Bennett will be getting 17 minutes very soon. It will happen. It doesn’t have to happen immediately because of 1 loss though.

    Your Getzlaf shutdown analogy is helpful. I like where you were going with this and I agree that Granlund can’t handle Getzlaf. But that wouldn’t make him unique in the league. We do have to find these things out mind you for future reference.

    I thought you were brutally hard on Joe Colborne, but no he isn’t working out in a top two line role unfortunately.

    Your Hamilton view is bang on with mine. He is becoming reliable and a threat at the same time. His choices are so much better than the beginning of the year that it is hard to believe it’s the same guy.

    The Hudler Decline: I think it is apparent to everyone but Jiri that his singular problem since meeting the Ducks last year in the playoffs has been his unwillingness to hold onto the puck and produce opportunities. Last year he was Johnny Light, this year as soon as he has the puck he is looking to distribute it immediately.

    • Cfan in Vic

      Re: Hudler

      The guy can barely skate this season. I’m not sure if it’s a lingering injury, or a lack of conditioning in the off-season, or what. He literally can’t skate the puck out of trouble, and has to basically off-load to someone else as soon as he coasts to a stop. Watching some of the highlights from last year, he was flying in comparison.

      Kind of feel sorry for the guy, but that’s going to hurt his trade value. He’s highly ineffective if he isn’t mobile.

      • KACaribou

        You’re right. But when he catches up to the play and gets the puck, use the hands. Use the moves. Create open ice for others by holding on to the puck!

        On the other hand, your feeling that he seems just done could be right too. They say the hands go before the legs.

        Nobody is going to want this version of Jiri Hudler. But he needs a perminent demotion from that top line if this continues.

  • Captain Ron

    If Anaheim as a team has to play like that to win games then either their talent is over rated or under utilized. Maybe that’s why when they face a team like Chicago in the playoffs who will not bow to that trap nonsense they get destroyed.

    Either way I agree with Chinook that the NHL should consider rule changes to discourage that type of play. I get it that it can be effective at times but from an entertainment point of view for the fans who pay to watch the game it is dreadful. I just can’t get behind anyone who supports this style of play. Win or lose it has to be better than that.

    If that’s what a coach like Boudreau brings to the table I never want to see the likes of him behind the home team bench at the Dome.

    Sure hope for the love of the game next time we play them at home we can get past that garbage.

    • KACaribou

      I get what you are saying Captain, but I think we should let teams dictate their own styles depending on their talent. Flames play a certain way because of their talent, Ducks do the same.

      We have the skill now so we want to be able to use it and see it. The Flames in the 1980s would do literally anything to suppress the Oilers’ superior talent. It was hugely frustrating for Edmonton, because they had this super sports car team, but no gas because of the way the Flames smothered them and roughed them up.

      I can only hope the Ducks don’t win the Cup playing this way, because it could induce copycat teams. Like you say this is garbage to watch, especially after being treated to the wide-open Flames/Oilers from Sunday.

      Until then, it might be fun trying to figure out ways to prevent other teams from doing this to Calgary. Right now we are accumulating the super sports car team.

  • CofRed4Life

    Remember a couple months ago when we were super excited when more than 1 player had a good game? This season really has changed a lot, and it makes me feel good. This game was reminiscent of October, but with good goaltending. Don’t worry guys, there’s still hope.

  • KACaribou

    Last night was the first game I’ve ever seen where Gaudreau looked intimidated. I hesitate to use that word because I’m not trying to imply that he was running scared, only that the goon tactics were having an effect. While this was partly due to the refs refusing to call things like crosschecks from behind when he didn’t even have the puck, Gaudreau also had no room or protection out there.

    I agree with Ari entirely. What’s the point of Bollig if he can’t play with Gaudreau or he won’t go after the other team’s stars? There isn’t one, obviously. Which is why I repeat my my plea to have Ferland put on the RW with Gaudreau and Monahan. He’s the only player on the entire team that has the size, strength, mean streak, hockey IQ, skating ability and hands to play up there.

    Had Ferland been running Gibson and slamming the Ducks’ D-men into the boards and chipping at and chirping at Getzlaf every time he skated by him, Getzlaf wouldn’t have been able to focus on running around giving cheap-shots to Johnny all game. Plus, the kid has skill. Gaudreau will, without doubt, put the puck on Ferland’s stick and Ferland has the talent to bury them. I don’t get the reluctance to try it for a few games, it seems so obvious to me. Much better than a fellow smurf who’s in the midst of having a terrible season continually being put back on the top line.

    As well, with last change, it should’ve been Backlund going up against the Ducks’ top line most of the night. Time to reunite Bennett with Backlund and to give them both some real minutes. Jones would fit well on the RW until Frolik comes back.

    • piscera.infada

      As well, with last change, it should’ve been Backlund going up against the Ducks’ top line most of the night. Time to reunite Bennett with Backlund and to give them both some real minutes. Jones would fit well on the RW until Frolik comes back.

      I totally agree. The only real reason to play Bennett with anyone other than Backlund, is to play him at centre. If he’s not being used at his natural position, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to make him baby-sit Granlund, or carry someone else around. It doesn’t really matter whether offense dies on Backlund’s stick or not, at least he can get Bennett moving in the correct direction more often than he already does.

      Also big yes, regarding Ferland on the top unit. At this point, they’ve tried Jones, Colborne, Hudler (thrice, or more), Raymond. I’m not really sure what they’re waiting for.

    • KACaribou

      Bingo! The four shift experiment with Ferly on the top line was not enough. The only thing I can think of is Coach Bob just trying anything to get Hudler going. Not sure if that is even possible at this point but I hope so. Yes Johnny needs a Ferly. It’s about the most natural thing in the world. It will happen. Ferly is looking dangerous on the second line and will look better yet when Colborne goes down to number 4. But you’re right he belongs on the RW with Johnny/Mony?Ferly.

    • flames2015

      It is the responsibility of Hartley to protect and create space for the teams greatest asset. Last night was embarrassing to watch skilled players go after another skilled player. I have never liked or respected Kesler, so I was not surprised by his antics but I expected more from Getzlaf.

      Putting Ferland on Johnny’s line creates space and will have those clowns hearing footsteps. I know it has not worked yet but Hartley needs to make it work. The perfect line mate for Johnny is a young Iggy or young Lucic but Ferland has all the tools to compliment the line.

      There has been an obvious shift in paradigm especially concerning the role of the enforcer in the last couple of years but one thing has always remained constant, small skilled players play bigger when they feel protected.
      We know there are players out there that will take liberties with our star players any chance they get.

  • flames2015

    ^Agreed, Ferlund or even Jones should have been on the top line with Johnny and Monahan. So many cheap shots taken on Gaudreau last night and no one did anything about it. We need a bigger body to create some space for the other two. Not sure what the point of reuniting Hudler on that line is, as clearly the top line was shut down by the Ducks a lot during the regular season and pretty much all of the playoffs. Pretty disappointing that only 3 forwards last night had a shot on net, JH, Bennett and Ferlund.

    I agree with the Bennett comments. No idea why Hartley is refusing to give him more minutes. It’s obvious that Bennett doesn’t need to be sheltered anymore. He’s doing everything he can to try and help the team, even if its not on the score sheet.

    As much as we want to criticize and disagree agree with how the ducks played the game, and their methods to close out the game. I think it’s more on the flames inability to adapt. The stretch pass last night worked once. After the first period, different plays should have been drawn up.

    • KACaribou

      Without Johnny Hockey we’re screwed! We need to protect our Gretzky. I like Jones, but he wouldn’t kick a sewer rat. We only have 1 forward with any mean in him and that’s Ferly. I don’t complain about Coach Bob the Builder very often, but for the love of gawd “put Ferly on the top line, leave instructions for him to do what Mony should already be doing, and leave him there.”

      Love Mony but dude, Johnny Hockey is going to make sure you get a big raise coming up. The least you can do is put some of that 6’2″ frame into anyone trying to hurt your meal ticket.

  • ville de champignons

    Time to give our most valuable asset Johnny some much needed protection as he was absolutely beat up last night…..as suggested on FN several times Flames need to play Ferland on the 1st line. He is skilled, has the speed to play on that line and of course he is big, physical and intimidating to pass on some instant messages/resolve to opposition players taking liberty on Johnny….

  • Toofun

    Whoever it is that Trashed the last several posts can you kindly explain what you disagree with. Or it may just be that you are an Oilers Troll who disagrees with Calgary winning hockey games like the one against you guys earlier this week…

  • KACaribou

    The last word in this blog “garbage” absolutely epitomizes everything about last night’s game. Horcoff scoring the winning and only goal, I mean, it’s Horcoff. Inserting Bollig in for a purpose, in which he did nothing to either protect or send a message and where there was absolutely no retribution to any of the ducks crap that was going on all game. I don’t know what was more frustrating, the fact that anaheim was playing the trap, or that Hartley didn’t make any adjustments to counteract. The biggest piece and display of garbage was Kesler after the game was done, the only display of emotion coming from Wideman, again, after the game was done.

  • flames2015

    I agree that Bollig did not make a difference but I am not surprised. Bollig has been guilty of wanting to do to much when he finally gets to play. He only has one style and you can bet he has a shorter leash with the refs. In a 1-0 game and against a PP that has owned us, Bollig could have killed our chances of coming back… You can bet he knew that.

    If he would have taken a penalty playing limited minutes in a tight game…. He would of assured himself to be a healthy scratch for another 10 games. My only concern with Hartley’s decision to sit Raymond is that maybe he gives you a spark that leads to a goal… That Bollig likely won’t. After all, Raymond was a key contributor in our recent winning streak…so don’t just make a change for the sake of making change.

  • piscera.infada

    Ari,

    Colbourne is an asset. An asset they clearly would like to trade if the right deal came up. At times you need to play these players with your better players to try and boost their numbers. If this is Bennett’s sophomore year and not cracking the top six I’d be a little more concerned but even then maybe not you your level of alarm. He’s just starting to come into his own now. It won’t be long.

    Bollig injected for additional size. Simple. Leave it at that.

    Granlund is being groomed as a shut down centerman because we already have our top two of the future and Backlund ahead of him. If he can fall into the mould of Backlund then we have real depth at center and in a great position to hold onto that depth or shore up other areas with a trade. We are rebuilding and giving kids top flight experience. It’s what good coaches do. Build the kids confidence.

    Chill dude.