The Calgary Flames are still breathing this morning after blitzing the Dallas Stars in the second period last night with a four goal uprising en route to a 5-4 victory. Most of the Flames scoring damage came on the powerplay. The penalty killing run the Stars were on couldn't last forever, and last night it came to an abrupt end seemingly out of nowhere. The Flames were good at even strength too though. For the game they outchanced the Stars 24-20 including 17-16 at even strength.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
The first and third periods were relatively close. The Stars outchanced the Flames by one in the combined frames, but their second period issues crept up once again. The Flames outchanced the Stars 11-6 in the period with the entire chance differential coming from the Flames powerplay. The Stars biggest issue against the Flames has been Jarome Iginla. On the road they have very little control over the match ups. The Flames have a pretty obvious plan of attack that revolves around how best to deploy their franchise anchor. After the jump we'll look at that plan and the player reports from the game.
The Mike Ribeiro line presents unique challenges to both opposition coaching staffs and the Stars staff. Since the All Star break the Stars have really made a strong effort to get the Ribeiro unit into the offensive zone. They take less faceoffs which allows the Stars to generate more possession. They aren't burdened with much defensive responsibility at even strength since the break either, and the phenomenal results are very well documented at this point. When the Stars are able to match the Ribeiro line the way they want to it creates a very difficult defensive situation for the opposition.
But, what happens when the Stars can't get the matchups they want? On the road the Stars have less control over the match ups. They have virtually no control over matchups off of faceoffs outside of the sporadic opposition icing faceoff. This allows the home team to match whomever they want against the Ribeiro line, usually a defensive line. A defensive line is usually going to play into the Stars' hands in this matchup. Sure, they make it more difficult for the Ribeiro line to score, but they also aren't a threat to score against the Ribeiro unit. The top opposition defensive unit then isn't available to check Jamie Benn. Bruce Sutter has decided to throw caution to the wind against the Stars by throwing line one versus line one. He matches Iginla up against Ribeiro when he gets the chance. The results aren't pretty.
TOI VS IGINLA: Time on ice vs. Iginla at Even Strength; Corsi: Ribeiro's Corsi Rating for the game;
OZ%: Offensive Zone Start Percentage
|Ribeiro vs Iginla 2012
|VENUE||TOI VS IGINLA||CORSI||OZ%|
What I've done is taken the four meetings and split them into home/road splits to show the impact of having the last change on this four game series. The Stars, with good reason, have tried to keep Ribeiro away from Iginla when given the opportunity. In Calgary they haven't been very successful at protecting Ribeiro. Ribeiro's Corsi in the two home games against Calgary this year is 6.5. In Calgary it drops to a way below acceptable -9. The Flames strategy forces the Ribeiro line into a defensive position similar to what they faced early in the year. The Stars have tried to keep him out of that position since the break, and if they want to make any noise from here on out they need to do a better job of putting his line in offensive situations to maximize their skills. The Stars need home ice advantage as much as any team that still has a chance to secure it if they are going to have this much trouble protecting Ribeiro's group on the road.
The aforementioned Ribeiro was -5 chances at even strength. Michael Ryder was -4. Loui Eriksson had easily his most negative game of the season. Loui ended the game -7 in 16 minutes of even strength play. He was excellent on the penalty kill though, allowing only one chance against in 2:38.
The Jamie Benn line was the Stars top group by a healthy margin. Benn led the Stars at +8 even strength chances. Linemates Adam Burish and Steve Ott were +5 and +4 chances. Ott also allowed only one chance against in 3:27 of penalty killing time. The trio were excellent, and at times seemed like they just might carry the Stars to a victory, but alas.
The Stars next two are on the road in Edmonton and Vancouver. The Edmonton game is crucial. The remaining opponents on the schedule are the Oilers, Canucks, Sharks, Sharks, Predators, and Blues. Which one of these is not like the others? The Stars desperately need to come out firing against the Oilers, and maintain the energy throughout the entire contest. They shouldn't have as many matchup issues against the Oilers so it will be interesting to see what they decide to do with the lineup, particularly if Reilly Smith is to make his debut.
We'll recap the scoring chance ledgers for the back to back set Friday. Enjoy.