Impact players and coaches that outsmart themselves
In game 3, the first on home ice for the Flames, Keenan stuck with the game plan in spite of the terrible start for them on the scoreboard.
Keenan had loaded up his big guns and pointed them at Joe Thornton, and he matched them hard. And it worked.
Jarome Iginla at even strength ...
- was on the ice for more defensive zone draws than any other player on either team (actually tied with Tanguay, Sarich and Regehr) and drove possession forward.
- lead all players in Shots+/-, Fenwick+/- and Corsi+/-
- all the while playing a whack against Joe Thornton's line, as shown in the graphic below, and most of the rest of his ice time was spent against Marleau's line.
When you can make Thornton look bad, you're probably a bit good. And we all know that Iginla is all that, with no disrespect intended to the other four Flames with the gig on this night, all excellent 5v5 hockey players.
The only blemish on Iginla's record for the night, EV+/- -2 and no points. Not to worry, shit happens, that worm will turn soon enough, he's Jarome freaking Iginla after all.
But Keenan, for reasons known only to himself, decided to change up the game plan and get Iginla some softer icetime with Huselius in the next one. He promoted Nolan (who still looks to have a lot of game left in him, to my eye anyways) to Iginla's gig from the previous game. See vsJoe EV icetime chart below. Even when Wilson started playing Marleau with Thornton, Keenan barely flinched. Marleau ended up playing about 21 of his 24 EV shifts either with Joe, or the shift immediately after him.
And it didn't go so well. In fact it could easily have gone worse.
That's one of the real benefits of having home ice advantage in a playoff series I think, the coach can screw one up by getting too cute on home ice, and still have an extra chance. And the Flames don't have home ice advantage in this series, and they are in trouble now.