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Playoffmetrics: Game 3, Round 3

This was a poor game by Anaheim.

I want to start with the obvious: I think the disallowed goal was a good goal. It was unfortunate there wasn't any conclusive video or imaging of it - and no, the view from the angle is very inconclusive, all told. But the physics of the play and the video/imaging we did see suggest it was probably in. The league can't rule a good goal on physics probabilities though. Hopefully the NHL adopts better technology to help in this area

The Calgary Flames finally handed the Anaheim Ducks its first loss in the postseason. I had predicted the series could be closer than it might appear on paper, and thus far I'm not seeing anything to suggest otherwise. While the Flames have played better at even strength overall in these playoffs, the Ducks were primed to fall off after the Jets series because its worst even strength player was healthy again - and Boudreau wrongly trusts him too much.

I will caveat it with this: the Flames needed a lot of fortuitous calls (and non-calls) to draw even with the Ducks. Matt Stajan running Frederik Andersen but still drawing coincidental minors with Simon Despres was some grade-A garbage refereeing. "We really don't want to put the trailing home team a man down despite the blatantly illegal attempt to injure a previously concussed goalie, after we disallowed a goal that was probably in, so thankfully that away team player gave him a shove!"

That being said: the Flames capitalized, so the victory cannot be taken from that team.

Here is the events chart from Hockey Stats:

Calgary began to control the game late, and it paid off for them. Anaheim stopped pressuring as much as it should - a problem with this team all year - and it came back to bite them.

What really puzzles me the most, however, is not the return of the horrible hard shell that occurs when Boudreau gives Nate Thompson substantial late-game (when leading) ice time at the detriment to other players. We know about that. It is that this Ducks team should be able to pummel the Flames into dust by sheer size and physicality alone. And you know what? Anaheim hasn't done it.

That has to change. Part of what made the Ducks so good in round one against a superior Winnipeg Jets team was that Anaheim took and gave out quality physical, "playoff" style hockey and still scored. Game one in this second round series went the same way. Games two and three have been far more tame, and honestly, it has given the Flames life. The Ducks need to engage with its opponents with far more intensity - hopefully losing this game will be a wake up call.

Here is the excellent head-to-head datarink chart:

That fourth line of Thompson, Emerson Etem, and Tim Jackman was awful in fewer than 10 minutes of even strength ice time. The entire Flames roster except the probably-injured Sean Monahan was able to take advantage of their ice time by peppering shot attempts at Andersen. While non-stats oriented people might counter with a "but is it possible they still defended well?" I will say that allowing an entire team a free pass to shoot as much as possible when this trio is on the ice defeats the point of good defense.

It isn't just that trio either. Thompson being constantly stuck in the zone - especially since Boudreau worsens his cause by starting him so frequently in the defensive end! - means the next line has to start in the defensive end where he left off. There's a trickle-down effect happening that just means less and less offense. Once more: Thompson is a good Penalty Killer and a perfectly fine fourth line player. He was used that way for most of the game, so it is hard to be too critical.

But he was not used that way when the game matter most. Look:

With around six minutes left in the third - well before Calgary tied the game - Boudreau benched Rickard Rakell, Etem, and Kyle Palmieri. He began playing Thompson far too often in that circumstance, and the resulting rise in Flames shot attempts on the team level resulted. On Thompson's best shifts, no events happened for either team. But again, that means he offers zero credible threat to opposing teams moving forward in a sport that requires scoring to win.

And notice the other thing? Game three (round one) overtime hero Rakell never even saw the ice in the extra frame. That is dumb bench management by Boudreau. It is a reminder that for all he seemingly does well with this squad, he's prone to some idiotic decision making that actively hurts his team.

Here's the TOI charts, both even strength and all situations:

Jackman played roughly six minutes in a full game plus overtime - where he shockingly saw a shift over Rakell. He's added virtually nothing in the way of physical play in this series and has taken ice time from the potential that Boudreau has in the press box right now. As much as I love Jackman for his simple game, it is time to take him out of the lineup. Six minutes through a full game alongside the team's worst centerman is garbage.

Likewise, Palmieri has given the team nothing through seven games of postseason action. He's been decent at generating shots and attempts, but ultimately, his lack of meaningful contribution should make way for one of the other players sitting. Tomas Fleischmann hasn't played since Winnipeg and Jiri Sekac has yet to see any playoff action, and Jackman and Palmieri are two forwards who have offered no reason to continue playing against Calgary.

Obviously, this is an ideal time to insert James Wisniewski into the lineup. While all of us want this to be for Clayton Stoner, and deservedly so, I wonder if the extremely low even strength ice time might signify a sitting spell for Sami Vatanen instead. His dumb, late game delay of game penalty does not help his case.

This is Boudreau we're dealing with, however, so expect something awful like Cam Fowler being sat. He's earned very little trust among us with his roster decisions this year, and rightfully so. He's been a terrible judge of on ice product with his depth players. His bench management at the close of this game didn't help his team's cause, and the Flames came away the victors for it.