Calgary Flames: T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic finally finding chemistry

CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 30 2017: (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 30 2017: (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images) /

After weeks of struggling, it seems like the Calgary Flames second defence pairing consisting of T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic have finally found chemistry.

There are some good news and some bad news concerning the Calgary Flames. The bad news is that they haven’t been winning as many games lately as they deserve. The good news is that they’ve actually been outperforming their opponents in basically their last seven games. They’ve outshot their opponents in that stretch but only have three wins to show for it. In that span, they’ve also managed to put up 44+ shots in three of those games.

A big reason for this improvement? The defence. Specifically, the T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic pairing. It’s no secret that these two were struggling to start the season. Especially Brodie. Brodie was struggling in almost every aspect of his game that he was successful in: Puck management, puck control, making weird mistakes, and confidence.

But lately, he and Hamonic have been great together. And give credit where credit’s due, head coach Glen Gulutzan spent the last few weeks focusing heavily on defence. It seems to have worked.

Related Story: What's going on with T.J. Brodie?

About two weeks ago, I wrote a piece asking what’s wrong with T.J. Brodie. At that point, he had the worst CA on the team by a long shot, at 437 (5v5). The next highest is Dougie Hamilton with 363, but Dougie beat him at CF and had the best differential on the team. Brodie’s Rel.CF% was -4.81, a career worst. Last season, it was -1.36. So clearly, he’s been struggling.

But things are looking up.

Let’s look at Brodie and Hamonic in the first 24 games of the season at 5 on 5 play (all stats taken from Natural Stat Trick).

CFCACF%CF avg/gameCA avg/game
T.J. Brodie 416 437 48.77%17.3318.21
Travis Hamonic   332 341 49.33%13.8314.21

Now let’s look at the last seven games.

CFCACF%CF avg/gameCA avg/game
T.J. Brodie 136 115 54.18%19.4216.43
Travis Hamonic   128 113 53.11%18.2916.14

I’m just looking at the last seven games as a reference since the Calgary Flames as a whole have been outperforming their opponents, but like that Tweet above, Hamonic did start improving slightly before that and so did Brodie. In the first 24 games of the season, the Flames were averaging 33 shots against/game and 31.46 shots/game. In the last seven, they’re averaging 27.71 SA/game and 38.57 SF/game. They’ve each improved in their shot attempts and at puck posession.

Something worth noting as well in the last seven games is that when Brodie and Hamonic do well, they do really well. And when they don’t do well, they’re slightly average. Hamonic’s CF avg. per game went up drastically, which is great to hear because when the Flames first acquired Hamonic, he was never supposed to be an extremely offensive player.

Related Story: Get to know new Flame Travis Hamonic

After the Flames traded for Hamonic, I asked Michel from Eyes on Isles for some insight on Hamonic. Here’s what he said about the type of player he is:

"Travis isn’t fast and he isn’t offensively gifted. But what he’ll do for you is win puck battles. That sounds like a lame skill to have, but that’s exactly what you want from a 3-4 defenseman. During the Islanders playoff run in 2015-16, Sportsnet’s Dimitri Filipovic put out a stat about defenseman and their ability to break up play on at the blue line on dump ins and carry ins. Travis ranked amongst the best in the playoffs, with an 11.36% break-up percentage versus 50% dump ins and 39.77% carry ins.Hamonic won’t score a ton of points, but under the right system he might surprise you; his best season with the Isles was a 33 point campaign in 2014-15. He blocks shots. He battles hard. And doesn’t mind getting into a dust up. He’s a heart and soul player."

In the Calgary Flames’ last game vs. the Minnesota Wild, Brodie and Hamonic were incredible.

If they can play like that every night, we wouldn’t have a problem.

Next: Sean Monahan is the definition of clutch

Of course, there are still some consistency issues. But these two seem to be headed in the right direction. And if they keep this up, the Flames will definitely increase their current season-high four-game point streak.