Calgary Flames

Breaking down Mark Giordano’s struggles in the 2020 Playoffs

After a back and forth affair on Sunday afternoon, the Flames now find themselves tied at two games a piece in their Round 1 series against the Dallas Stars. It’s been quite the roller coaster ride for the team in the four games played, and it’s safe to say that there are still many areas the team needs to improve upon if they intend on making it to the next round.

A point of criticism for the team the last few games was the play, or lack thereof, from the team’s top players. Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan took the brunt of the vitreol from the fan base, and although they both netted two points on Sunday afternoon, they are bound to get more critiques in the coming days.

One of the Flames’ top players struggling the most that isn’t necessarily getting much notice would be the Captain; Mark Giordano. Now that may seem blasphemous to say, and believe me it doesn’t feel good at all, but since starting in the bubble, Giordano has really not looked like himself.

The 36-year-old defensive stalwart has been a key cog in the Flames roster for years now, and is usually the most dependable player. In the bubble, however, it’s been far from that. It’s almost as if some mysterious witchcraft took place with Dillon Dube and Sam Bennett stealing the energy from Mr. Young & Fresh himself. So I ask the question, who are you and what have you done with Mark Giordano?

The Numbers

Below are Giordano’s numbers at 5v5, as per Natural Stat Trick.

Regular Season (60GP)52.8%52.3%52.2%53.5%
Playoffs (8GP)43.9%37.6%44.7%45.6%
Mark Giordano’s 5v5 Statistics

Starting off, its very fair to acknowledge that we are dealing with a small sample size due to the fact that we have only played eight games in the postseason so far, but the numbers till paint a crazy picture. In terms of key categories at 5v5, the Captain is down significantly in all of them.

His possession is sitting 12th on the team at 43.9%, his SCF% is 15th on the team at 37.6%, and he sits 10th in both HDCF% and xGF%. Of course, doing the math you will notice that that puts him in the middle of the pack for a Flames team that has not done well statistically thus far, but Giordano is usually at the top of the pack on his team.

In the regular season he was 3rd in CF%, 5th in SCF%, 10th in HDCF%, and 4th in xGF%. The Flames’ number one defenseman has simply not been as consistent as he normally is.

In terms of his individual stats for the playoffs, here is where Giordano sits at all strengths:

TOIPointsiHDCFPIMGiveaways/TakewaysHits/Hits TakenShots Blocked
Mark Giordano184:103 (0G, 3A)11013/26/3028

Giordano has played the most of any Flames skater in this postseason by nearly 14 minutes over Rasmus Andersson, who’s second on the team. In terms of offensive production, he has accounted for three assists and only registered a single iHDCF. His offensive prowess is simply not there and has really not been a factor quarterbacking the second power-play unit.

The thing that has been most noticeable about Giordano is the number of penalties he has taken. He is tied for the team lead with five minor penalties, an honour he shares with Sam Bennett.

Although the Flames have scored twice shorthanded with Giordano in the box, he has continuously put his team in worse positions with careless penalties. One of them against Jamie Benn could be considered suspect, but the others are on him.

Giordano also now leads the team in giveaways at 13, and has only been able to generate two turnovers for his team. Through eight games, his 13 giveaways is a much higher pace than his 51 through 60 games during the regular season. He also was able to take the puck away 36 times during the regular season which pales in comparison to his two in the postseason.

Giordano is also known for his physicality he brings to his play, but he is getting out hit far more than he is hitting his opponent. Not really a metric to fuss over, but shows that for every hit he makes, he’s taking at least three in return. That takes a toll on any body, no matter how young and fresh.

Do you know what else takes a toll? Blocking shots, and Giordano has taken the most among his teammates at 28, a whopping 13 more than the next player. Although commendable that he’s getting in front of shots, this pretty much shows how much he’s been pinned in his own zone during the playoffs and having to block shots ends up being his only option.

Where does he go from here?

Obviously take this with a grain of salt, but even as Giordano struggles his fellow defenseman are struggling too. In the various categories listed, he’s normally sitting the middle of the pack with some defenseman struggling even more (we see you Noah Hanifin).

The shocking part of all of this is that Giordano simply is not normally the one to be struggling. He’s one season removed from a Norris Trophy, and was the Flames’ most reliable player during the regular season. It’s simply mind boggling to see him play the way he has.

Should the Flames reduce his playing time? Probably not, as he is still their number one option. The team would love to see him reduce his minor penalties and jump up into the rush a bit more, but the role he still plays on the team is extremely important.

If the Flames want to win this series, they need Mr. Young & Fresh back and at full strength. So please, to whoever took his mojo, I plead to you to give it back sooner rather than later.

Photo by Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

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