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Photo Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Senators 6, Flames 1: We expect nothing and are still let down

There’s really not much to break down or analyze at this point. That was bad. Can it get worse? If pop culture has taught me anything it’s to not ask that question.

Since the Feb. 13 loss to the Vancouver Canucks the Flames have been rough, to say the least. Over the last seven outings the Flames have been outscored, out-shot, out-chanced, and flat out out-played in most areas every single night.

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Team GF% SF% FF% CF% xGF%
 CGY

38.1

45.86

46.32

47.56

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45.41

(5v5 Data from Evolving Hockey)

While there were some positives to take out of the two game Toronto set one thing was certain: Calgary needed to clean things up. Getting bailed out by your goalie isn’t a sustainable way to win hockey games. Apparently, they didn’t clean things up.

Last night was a sloppy, mistake filled, horribly executed, jumbled affair. And this time you didn’t have Rittich or Markstrom bailing you out.

Game flow

The Flames fourth unit got burned off the rush. Big rebound, poor coverage, 1-0 and once Erik Gudbranson scored to make it 2-0 it felt like it might be one of those nights. I mean if Erik Gudbranson is scoring it’s not your night.

A nice shift with solid pressure lead to a Milan Lucic goal to start period two and it looked the Flames would, as they often do, battle back after a sleepy start. But hold it, another bad giveaway and sloppy breakout and it’s 3-1. That really was the game, despite the goal from outside the blue line being the crappy exclamation point. By then, it was time to sit back and try not to cry.

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We can give Dave a break. Certainly wasn’t up to the task tonight but you really only have points against the Leafs because of him. Give the poor man some run support, could you?

 

(From MoneyPuck)

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Way too much perimeter play from the Flames and they hardly generated anything dangerous. I can count on one hand the amount of cross slot passes and chances generated off of multi pass plays. It was mostly rebounds, blasts from distance, and hoping for tips. The Flames are not penetrating the slot with any regularity and it’s no wonder they can’t produce any offence 5v5.

Flames

5v5

Sens

30

Shots

31

60

Shot Attempts

55

18

Scoring Chances

25

5

High Danger Chances

11

(Data From Natural Stat Trick)

Rough night but hey, we got to see Zagidulin… and he has a pretty dope mask.

Rasmus and Gio certainly struggled again. There was some really poor defensive coverage by most everyone tonight but it’s hard to not question them as a pairing moving forward. They have had some good stretches yes, but they sure have been getting cratered as of late.

(Even Strength Data adjusted for Score and Venue from Evolving Hockey)

I’ll keep banging this drum (especially considering the fourth line is a well below replacement unit in the NHL): it’s ridiculous Josh Leivo is sitting out. This team is dying for 5v5 offence. He brings you that and has been an impactful skater in most of his minutes this year. He needs to play and he probably needs to play in the top nine.

Josh Leivo 5v5

Team Rank

Shots/60

7.95

4th

ixG/60

0.71

8th

iCF/60

13.82

4th

iSCF/60

8.64

5th

iHDCF/60

3.45

6th

(5v5 Data from Natural Stat Trick)

I hope the Gaudreau-Monahan-Lindholm unit is something we see more of moving forward as well.

What next?

I’m not going to dive into the ‘coaches vs. players’ argument here. There’s plenty of blame to go around. However, the Flames cannot continue to play this way and expect to win hockey games. As poorly as the personal are executing right now there are some serious systemic issues.

This looks like the Dallas series all over: collapsing to protect the house, trying to prevent goals, playing passive, relying on goaltending and special teams to squeak out victories.

They need to figure out how to break out and break through the neutral zone. How many breakouts led to controlled zone entries? A measly few. How many breakouts lead to sustained zone time? Hardly any. For a team that has the horses to own the middle of the ice (Gaudreau, Hanifin, Dube, Valimaki, Mangiapane, Backlund) why they seem hell bent on chip and chase and moving as a five man unit with no speed, no lateral movement, and only using a single lane through the NZ is head scratching. Especially when it’s failing so often.

The lack of active D on the breakout is killing this team as well.

They either turn the puck over or are forced to dump it in.

And I’d honestly be okay with this ‘defence first and prevent chances’ hockey if it was working…but it clearly isn’t. Sure, the guys on the ice haven’t figured it out but something needs to change with how they play night in and night out.

Everyone looks lost.

MOST IMPRESSIVE FLAME: Juuso Valimaki was ok. He had four shots and a 51.61 xGF%

LEAST IMPRESSIVE FLAME:  Take your pick. Gio, Andersson, Backlund, Lucic; plenty of skaters to choose from. I’ll go Joakim Nordstrom though as is not helping you win games. A team worst 20.44 xGF%.

Let’s leave on a ‘positive’. The Flames are getting next to no puck luck in terms of offence right now. I don’t think they are this bad 5v5 at creating offence.

(from JFresh Hockey)

The team’s shooting percentage has been pretty low all season. Guys like Monahan, Tkachuk, Leivo, Backlund, and Hanifin could certainly benefit from some shooting luck.

They need to reel this in real fast. The hole is getting deeper and will be insurmountable pretty quickly if things don’t get back on track. Everyone has work to do.