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Photo Credit: Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports

How did line matching look in Game 1?

As the higher-seeded team in the Pacific Division, the Anaheim Ducks have home ice advantage in their first round series with the Calgary Flames. Home ice is important because it gives the Ducks last change, which allows them to control line matchups – which are expected to be pretty important when the teams are as evenly matched as Calgary and Anaheim are.

The Ducks did a few interesting things with line matching in Game 1.

Most common matchups

In terms of even strength time on ice, here’s a descending glance at the general matchups that Randy Carlyle was able to execute:

  • Getzlaf-Eaves-Rakell against Backlund-Frolik-Tkachuk (9:31)
  • Kesler -Cogliano-Silfverberg against Monahan-Gaudreau-Ferland (8:37)
  • Vermette-Perry-Kase against Bennett-Chiasson-Versteeg (8:18)
  • Thompson-Shaw-Wagner against Stajan-Bouma-Brouwer (4:43)

This seems to have all the makings of a three-line series, as I’d expect both teams to seriously lean on their top nine a lot as the series wears on.

If we look back at the two regular season games these teams played in Anaheim these are the exact same general matchups we saw in both games: Kesler against Monahan, Vermette against Bennett, fourth line against fourth line and whoever was on Rakell’s line against the 3M Line.

Goals and penalties

The even strength goals in this game were scored by the Bennett line against Kesler’s line and the Getzlaf line against the 3M line – though in the latter situation the Flames were scrambling to get a tired Bennett line switched off, so it’s a bit unfair to put that goal entire on the Backlund grouping.

In terms of penalties, the matchups themselves turned out to be pretty interesting:

  • The Bennett line took three penalties against the Vermette line
  • The Stajan line (immediately after Hamilton’s penalty expired in the second) took a penalty against the Vermette line
  • The Backlund line took two penalties against the Getzlaf line
  • The Kesler line took two penalties against the Monahan line
  • The Vermette line took one penalty against the Backlund line

One of the Flames penalties drawn and their only even strength goal was generated by Glen Gulutzan getting his players away from the matchups the Ducks seemed to want. Five Flames penalties were taken against the matchups the Ducks wanted.

At a glance

Here’s a quick comparison of Flames performance versus different Ducks line at even strength. Included are head-to-head time on ice, Corsi For percentage and offensive zone start percentage.

Ryan
Getzlaf
Ryan
Kesler
Antoine
Vermette
Nate
Thompson
Sean
Monahan
1:21
67% CF
100% OZS
8:37
78% CF
100% OZS
0:58
100% CF
50% OZS
1:46
50% CF
100% OZS
Mikael
Backlund
9:31
52% CF
33% OZS
1:06
80% CF
50% OZS
0:30
100% CF
n/a OZS
1:36
33% CF
33% OZS
Sam
Bennett
1:48
75% CF
100% OZS
1:42
70% CF
n/a OZS
8:18
27% CF
40% OZS
0:22
n/a CF
n/a OZS
Matt
Stajan
1:12
40% CF
0% OZS
0:55
0% CF
n/a OZS
1:06
100% CF
0% OZS
4:43
25% CF
0% OZS

As the penalties also reflected, the Bennett line needs to get the heck away from Vermette’s group. They got their heads kicked in. They seemed to perform better, albeit in more limited use, against literally every other Ducks line. Penalties taken aside, the Monahan line performed quite well overall regardless of matchups.

For Game 2, perhaps we see Gulutzan try to get an effective “swap” between the top six and bottom six matchups: Backlund against Kesler, Monahan against Getzlaf, Stajan against Vermette and Bennett against Thompson. It’ll be tough with the Ducks having last change, and so the Flames will need to be a lot better at not getting caught on bad line changes like they did last night. Aside from that one mistake (and all the penalties they took), their underlying performance against the Ducks was actually quite good and worlds apart from how they looked two seasons ago against the same team.

We’ll see if they can keep it up, and stay the heck out of the box, in Game 2.