The Calgary Flames powerplay was one of the worst in the NHL last season, 29th overall at 16%, and it got off to a pretty lousy start in 2018-19. The Flames went 0 for 7 on the man advantage in their opening night 5-2 loss to the Canucks. So, what went wrong? Just about everything.
Let’s break it down in chronological order, starting with face-offs. Flames head coach Bill Peters values face-offs as much as any coach in the league and he wasn’t happy with his teams effort last night. “At one point, I think we were one-for-seven on face-offs during the powerplay.” Peters said. “It’s an important part of the game.”
The Flames powerplay face-off percentage finished at 37.5%, down considerably from their 56.5% success rate last season. When you lose a draw to start a powerplay, chances are the other team clears and you have to re-group and enter the zone – Calgary did not fare well here, either.
This was a big problem for Calgary, especially early in the game. The Flames struggled to gain the zone with possession, only doing so on 57.9% of their entries, down about 7% from their success rate last season which was right around league average at 64.7%
“Our entries were pretty sloppy,” said Derek Ryan. “Credit to them, they were standing up well at the line but we were too stubborn to chip it in or whatever.”
Credit to the Canucks, for sure, who did a good job of getting in skating and passing lanes but the execution from the Flames was sub par.
James Neal added, “They did a good job on our entries — we were getting stuck on their line because we weren’t coming with enough speed.”
When they did get set up in the attacking end, the Flames did a poor job getting pucks to the middle and getting traffic in front of the net.
In 14 minutes of powerplay time, Calgary managed just 1 shot on net from the most high-danger area on the ice, the inner slot. For added context, the league average for inner slot shots last season in equal powerplay time was 3.4.
While most successful powerplay’s focus on getting pucks in-tight to create offense, it’s not the only way to score goals on the man advantage. If you’re going to shoot from farther out, that’s fine so long as you get traffic in front of the goalie and win puck battles – the Flames were lacklustre in both areas.
Calgary screened the goalie on just 14% of it’s shots and didn’t have a single rebound scoring chance in the game.
End result, 0 for 7 on the powerplay.
Hats off to the Canucks penalty kill which did a terrific job breaking up plays but the Flames need to be better in every facet on the powerplay going forward.
It’s the first game of the year, there’s new personnel out there so it’s not panic time yet but associate coach Geoff Ward, who runs the Flames powerplay, will have plenty to go dig into before Calgary and Vancouver square off again Saturday night.
“Not enough pace, not enough execution and not enough desperation,” Peters said.
That pretty much sums it up.
(Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)