Cam Talbot made his ninth start of the season for the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Talbot gave up two goals in the game, which is usually enough to give his team a fighting chance.
The Flames lost for the sixth time with him in net. The reason? Not a lot of run support.
Flames interim coach Geoff Ward made a comment about run support when addressing the media on Tuesday night.
Here are the number of goals scored by the Flames, per game, with Talbot starting:
- 0 goals: Nov. 17
- 1 goal: Oct. 13, Nov. 13, Dec. 17
- 2 goals: Oct 20, Nov. 3
- 3 goals: Oct. 22
- 4 goals: Dec. 7
- 5 goals: Dec. 10
The Flames are 2-1-0 with Talbot in net when they score three goals or more. They’re 1-5-0 with Talbot when they score two goals or fewer. In all situations, the Flames score roughly half a goal less per 60 minutes with Talbot in net than with David Rittich. Their team shooting percentage is 1.6% lower with Talbot. While Rittich is a superior goaltender to Talbot at this point, the gap is pretty stark in terms of the Flames’ ability to bury chances in front of each goalie.
Ultimately, the Flames are being out-scored 69-74 with Rittich in net (a -5 differential) and 19-27 with Talbot (a -8 differential). Considering Talbot plays a third of the games that Rittich does, that’s a pretty big gap. Some of the differences may be that five of Talbot’s nine starts have been on the back half of back-to-backs where a fatigued Flames club has tended to play looser, high event hockey than in more rested situations with Rittich in net.
If the Flames got Talbot more starts in rested situations, maybe this effect would reverse a bit. Either way, the Flames have to figure out how to give their backup more run support – especially if the plan is to ease off using Rittich as often as they head into the back half of their schedule.