The Calgary Flames saw their 2021-22 season interrupted after 28 games played. They did pretty well in the standings with a 15-7-6 record, good for 36 points, and still third in the Pacific Division with games in hand against the Vegas Golden Knights and Anaheim Ducks, the two teams in front of them.
The Flames have had plenty of time to reflect as the team are among the most affected by COVID, and now, as they prepare to return to the game, they need to turn their attention to areas they can improve. . While their on-ice product is as comprehensive as it has been for quite some time – mixing a consistent force play, pretty decent power play, top-level penalties, and astronomical goalies – there’s still a glaring problem and this is reflected directly in the record: what happens in extra time?
The Flames have lost six times in overtime and won only once, and yet they’re perfect 2-0 in shootouts. Something is wrong with 3v3 hockey for Calgary. This is something they will want to tighten up because in several of their overtime losses they have always been dominant over their opponent – for some reason once overtime is successful the team loses their luck and ability. finishing.
The flames fade with overtime
The Flames have won just one overtime win this season, a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals. Drawing attention to the six overtime losses, the results are listed below. Game tables and recaps are linked for each game; statistics in the table are from NaturalStatTrick.com. Note that 5v5 stats are not adjusted for score and location to have a better comparison with 3v3 stats.
Note: The table does not take into account 3v3 play in the overtime game won by the Flames, but they were dominated by the Capitals in overtime. In both shootout wins, Calgary actually enjoyed a dominant overtime period against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was also outscored by the Anaheim Ducks.
As for the six losses, let’s see where things went wrong. In five of six games, the Flames were the best team in regulation. Their only bad performance was their loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. It was an ineffective game for the Flames and they were lucky to get away with a point.
However, in the other five games Calgary has been doing well, much better in regulation than its opponents. These matches should not even have been extended. Their closest game among their overtime losses was their most recent against the Carolina Hurricanes, where the regulation game was close enough to a 50/50 draw in terms of expected goals … but that ignores the three-goal line. which clearly indicates that the Hurricanes took advantage of it. from.
In all the other losses, the Flames were downright dominant. Of course, the results of hockey are as random as they can be in sport: any game is winnable (or lost) for any team, any night. But the results here have started to show a trend: The Flames consistently have a better product than their opponent in regulation, but when extra time comes it’s a reverse scenario.
Deployment of overtime
So far this season, the Flames have used 12 players in 3v3 overtime situations, ranging from Johnny Gaudreau with the most ice time at 12:25 to Sean Monahan with the least at 1:45. Only four players are seated 50% or more 3v3 CF%: Dillon Dube (100.0%, 1:51 TOI), Mikael Backlund (64.71%, 8:55), Andrew Mangiapane (50.00%, 6 : 58) and Noah Hanifin (50.00%, 4:28).
One in two skaters is underwater, including the three most frequently used players: Gaudreau (38.46%, 12:25 p.m.), Elias Lindholm (23.81%, 12:22 p.m.) and Rasmus Andersson (37, 50%, 11:34 a.m.).
The expected goals are darker, as only three players are above 50%: Backlund (54.29%), Dube (100.0%) and Monahan (52.07%). Neither Dube nor Monahan have played much 3v3 hockey and their stats are skewed by the limited time spent on the ice. They will need more ice time to get a better idea of ââwhat they bring to 3v3 hockey. That leaves only Backlund as the only truly effective 3v3 player this season.
Do housework during overtime
This whole situation is problematic for the Flames because whatever system and domination they have in 5v5 practically evaporates in 3v3. Now the caveat here is that no team can compare 5v5 to 3v3 results and get applicable tactics consistently – the Flames are no exception. While their overtime results are less than desirable, hockey is played mostly 5v5 and that’s where they cleaned up their game well.
Knowing that this doesn’t exactly remove the bitter taste, as the Flames have already left six points on the table, and most games shouldn’t have been extended to begin with. However, the reality is that no matter how good a squad in regulation, overtime fights are inevitable, and for the Flames, going from dominant regulation to less than stellar results in overtime is worrisome.
They need to figure out what they can do to put the games away. With the way the Flames have scored this season, they’ve been the heaviest with four forwards. Add Backlund for his possession metrics and the Flames are actually using their top five forwards for most of the overtime. In defense, they were left with Andersson, Chris Tanev, Hanifin and Oliver Kylington, all four of whom are the right choice for extra time.
So that eliminates the question of whether their player’s usage is optimal, because it probably already is. This then leads to a strategic issue. Whatever the Flames do in 3v3, they don’t keep score or limit their opponents. Considering the volatility of 3v3 with all the ice open, they need to be more tactful in their approach and have their three-man units better positioned to generate attack while defending effectively.
The Flames objectively need to clean up their play in overtime. In another world where they are able to close games they deserve to win, they might have remained first in the Pacific Division despite being away for so long. Thankfully, they’re still in a great position anyway as they prepare for their first comeback.
Let’s just hope the Flames will be able to win the games in regulation more often to avoid overtime altogether. But also let’s hope they get their act together in 3v3 so that they also stop giving points in these situations.
Photo by Juan Ocampo / NHLI via Getty Images