192
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

Comparing 14 games of Darryl Sutter and Geoff Ward

The Calgary Flames made a coaching change in early March, moving out incumbent coach Geoff Ward in favour of Darryl Sutter. The Flames have now played 14 games under Sutter, which seems like enough games to be able to draw conclusions from about deployments and performance.

Let’s dive in and compare Sutter’s first 14 games to Ward’s final 14 games.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The Flames went 5-9-0 in their first 14 games under Sutter, from March 11 to April 5. The 14 games were split Toronto [4], Edmonton [3], Winnipeg [3], Montreal [2] and Ottawa [2], with zero games against Vancouver.

The Flames went 7-6-1 in their final 14 games under Ward, from February 6 to March 4. The 14 games were split Ottawa [4], Vancouver [4], Edmonton [3], Toronto [2] and Winnipeg [1], with zero games against Montreal.

Team-level statistics

(Via our pals at Natural Stat Trick.)

Ward Sutter Change
Expected Goals For (%) 49.0 50.6 +1.6
Expected Goals For / 60 2.11 2.03 -0.08
Expected Goals Against / 60 2.20 1.98 -0.22
Shooting Percentage 9.0 7.3 -1.7
Save Percentage 91.9 88.7 -3.2
High-Danger Chances For / 60 10.21 8.26 -1.95
High-Danger Chances Against / 60 10.39 8.96 -1.43
High-Danger Shooting Percentage 16.9 10.8 -6.1
High-Danger Save Percentage 80.9 76.0 -4.9

There’s good news and bad news here.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The good news is that the Flames are better defensively and are generally playing a lower event style. And from an expected goals perspective, they’re now narrowly ahead of the game in terms of the quantity and quality of chances they give up overall.

The bad news is that the gap between the high-danger chances they’re generating and allowing is a bit wider, and they’re still giving up more than they’re getting. Oh, and their percentages have cratered across the board in terms of their ability to bury (and save) regular shots as well as high-danger scoring chances. Some of that might just be puck luck, but when you’re playing a low event style, PDO (percentage-driven outcomes) can have a big impact because a run of bad luck can eat up a bigger swath of your games.

Goaltenders

(Unless otherwise noted, all individual stats from here on out are 5v5. We’ve sorted all players by average 5v5 ice time under Sutter.)

Jacob Markstrom

  • Sutter: .889 save percentage, .741 high-danger, .852 medium-danger, 1.000 low-danger, +0.61 goals saved above average [11 games]
  • Ward: .913 SV%, .775 HD%, .907 MD%, .896 LD%, -0.88 GSAA [7 games]
  • Change: -.024 SV%, -.034 HD%, .-.055 MD, +.104 LD, +1.49 GSAA

David Rittich

  • Sutter: .878 SV%, .824 HD%, .800 MD%, .963 LD%, -0.61 GSAA [4 games]
  • Ward: .929 SV%, .844 HD%, .911 MD%, .988 LD%, +1.99 GSAA [9 games]
  • Change: -.051 SV%, -.020 HD%, -.111 MD%, -.025 LD%, -2.61 GSAA

Both goalies are worse across the board in all situations, with the exception of Markstrom excelling in low-danger situations.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Defensemen

(For the expected goals rates: a positive change in expected goals for and a negative change in expected goals against would be “good” changes.)

Noah Hanifin

  • Sutter: 18:48 average time on ice, 2.09 expected goals for per 60, 1.96 expected goals against per 60, 1 goal, 4 assists
  • Ward: 18:35 ATOI, 1.89 xGF/60, 2.16 xGA/60, 0 goals, 0 assists
  • Change: +0.13 ATOI, +0.20 xGF/60, -0.20 xGA/60

Chris Tanev

  • Sutter: 17:48 ATOI, 1.88 xGF/60, 1.57 xGA/60, 1 goal, 1 assist
  • Ward: 17:44 ATOI, 2.04 xGF/60, 1.85 xGA/60, 0 goals, 2 assists
  • Change: +0.04 ATOI, -0.16 xGF/60, -0.28 xGA/60

Rasmus Andersson

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
  • Sutter: 16:50 ATOI, 1.94 xGF/60, 2.5 xGA/60, 0 goal, 1 assist
  • Ward: 16:37 ATOI, 2.25 xGF/60, 2.35 xGA/60, 1 goal, 6 assist
  • Change: +0.13 ATOI, -0.31 xGF/60, +0.15 xGA/60

Mark Giordano

  • Sutter: 16:39 ATOI, 1.72 xGF/60, 2.00 xGA/60, 1 goal, 1 assist
  • Ward: 15:31 ATOI, 2.62 xGF/60, 2.26 xGA/60, 1 goal, 6 assist
  • Change: +1:08 ATOI, -0.90 xGF/60, -0.26 xGA/60

Nikita Nesterov

  • Sutter (10 games): 13:39 ATOI, 2.49 xGF/60, 1.96 xGA/60, 0 goals, 2 assists
  • Ward (8 games): 14:19 ATOI, 1.64 xGF/60, 2.09 xGA/60, 0 goals, 0 assists
  • Change: -0:40 ATOI, +0.85 xGF/60, -0.13 xGA/60

Juuso Valimaki

  • Sutter (10 games): 13:33 ATOI, 2.08 xGF/60, 1.85 xGA/60, 0 goals, 0 assists
  • Ward: 13:32 ATOI, 2.21 xGF/60, 2.32 xGA/60, 1 goal, 3 assists
  • Change: +0:01 ATOI, -0.13 xGF/60, -0.47 xGA/60

Michael Stone

  • Sutter (5 games): 14:33 ATOI, 2.51 xGF/60, 2.19 xGA/60, 1 goal, 0 assists
  • Did not play under Ward

The biggest thing here is that Sutter is playing the oldest player on the team an additional 68 seconds per game at 5v5. He’s also generating a lot less offensively and giving up slightly less defensively. For the most part, everyone’s giving up less defensively per 60.

Forwards

Mikael Backlund

  • Sutter (13 games): 13:40 ATOI, 2.07 xGF/60, 2.08 xGA/60, 3 goals, 7 assists
  • Ward (13 games): 13:21 ATOI, 2.60 xGF/60, 1.76 xGA/60, 2 goals, 3 assists
  • Change: -0:19 ATOI, -0.53 xGF/60, +0.32 xGA/60

Johnny Gaudreau

  • Sutter: 13:39 ATOI, 1.74 xGF/60, 2.25 xGA/60, 1 goal, 0 assist
  • Ward: 14:43 ATOI, 2.43 xGF/60, 2.14 xGA/60, 2 goal, 5 assists
  • Change: -1:04 ATOI, -0.69 xGF/60, +0.11 xGA/60

Sean Monahan

  • Sutter: 13:13 ATOI, 1.68 xGF/60, 2.11 xGA/60, 1 goal, 3 assists
  • Ward (12 games): 14:35 ATOI, 2.25 xGF/60, 2.09 xGA/60, 1 goal, 5 assists
  • Change: -1:22 ATOI, -0.57 xGF/60, +0.02 xGA/60

Brett Ritchie

  • Sutter (11 games): 13:06 ATOI, 1.51 xGF/60, 2.20 xGA/60, 0 goal, 1 assist
  • Ward (3 games): 8:08 ATOI, 2.16 xGF/60, 2.23 xGA/60, 1 goal, 1 assist
  • Change: +4:58 ATOI, -0.65 xGF/60, -0.03 xGA/60

Milan Lucic

  • Sutter: 12:51 ATOI, 1.82 xGF/60, 1.91 xGA/60, 0 goal, 6 assists
  • Ward: 12:13 ATOI, 2.36 xGF/60, 2.34 xGA/60, 3 goals, 2 assists
  • Change: +0:38 ATOI, -0.54 xGF/60, -0.43 xGA/60

Andrew Mangiapane

  • Sutter: 12:43 ATOI, 2.03 xGF/60, 1.75 xGA/60, 4 goals, 4 assists
  • Ward: 14:30 ATOI, 2.41 xGF/60, 2.18 xGA/60, 4 goals, 3 assists
  • Change: -1:47 ATOI, -0.38 xGF/60, -0.43 xGA/60

Elias Lindholm

  • Sutter: 12:29 ATOI, 2.18 xGF/60, 1.97 xGA/60, 2 goals, 3 assists
  • Ward: 14:05 ATOI, 1.99 xGF/60, 2.18 xGA/60, 3 goals, 3 assists
  • Change: -1:36 ATOI, +0.19 xGF/60, -0.21 xGA/60

Dillon Dube

  • Sutter (12 games): 12:08 ATOI, 2.26 xGF/60, 2.05 xGA/60, 1 goals, 3 assists
  • Ward: 12:16 ATOI, 1.88 xGF/60, 2.27 xGA/60, 4 goals, 2 assists
  • Change: -0.08 ATOI, +0.38 xGF/60, -0.22 xGA/60

Matthew Tkachuk

  • Sutter: 12:04 ATOI, 2.41 xGF/60, 1.84 xGA/60, 2 goals, 1 assists
  • Ward: 15:11 ATOI, 1.97 xGF/60, 2.25 xGA/60, 1 goal, 6 assists
  • Change: -3:07 ATOI, +0.44 xGF/60, -0.41 xGA/60

Sam Bennett

  • Sutter: 11:52 ATOI, 2.03 xGF/60, 2.10 xGA/60, 1 goal, 5 assists
  • Ward (13 games): 12:24 ATOI, 2.10 xGF/60, 2.52 xGA/60, 3 goals, 0 assists
  • Change: -0:32 ATOI, -0.07 xGF/60, -0.42 xGA/60

Derek Ryan

  • Sutter: 9:57 ATOI, 2.30 xGF/60, 1.79 xGA/60, 1 goal, 2 assists
  • Ward (1 game): 8:13 ATOI, 1.46 xGF/60, 0.91 xGA/60, 1 goal, 1 assists
  • Change: +1:44 ATOI, +0.84 xGF/60, +0.88 xGA/60

Josh Leivo

  • Sutter (12 games): 9:40 ATOI, 2.26 xGF/60, 1.37 xGA/60, 3 goals, 0 assists
  • Ward (9 games): 8:22 ATOI, 1.96 xGF/60, 2.28 xGA/60, 1 goal, 1 assist
  • Change: +1:18 ATOI, +0.30 xGF/60, -0.91 xGA/60

Joakim Nordstrom

  • Sutter (6 games): 9:59 ATOI, 2.66 xGF/60, 2.64 xGA/60, 1 goal, 1 assist
  • Ward: 6:16 ATOI, 1.35 xGF/60, 2.10 xGA/60, 0 goals, 0 assists
  • Change: +3:43 ATOI, +1.31 xGF/60, +0.54 xGA/60

If you had said “Man, they need more Brett Ritchie, Josh Leivo, Derek Ryan and Joakim Nordstrom and less Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau,” you would’ve been scoffed at. Well, that’s what they’ve been doing. In fact, Ritchie went from the taxi squad to playing the fourth-most forward minutes per game at 5v5. That’s weird, especially when you compare his underlying numbers (and the change in underlyings for Monahan and Gaudreau during the time he’s played with them) to the rest of the team.

Sutter’s style is to roll four lines at 5v5 as much as possible, but it’s arguably meant over-playing a lot of the depth guys that probably shouldn’t play that much. There’s also a general diminishing of 5v5 offensive production, though that does seem to coincide – as noted in the team section – with the club’s general inability to bury chances and/or prevent the other team from burying theirs.

What’s the most surprising difference between the Flames under Sutter and under Ward to you? Sound off in the comments!