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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the boxscore: Calgary Flames solve brick wall Penguins goalie in shootout, claim rightful victory

The Calgary Flames did not have a single player record a negative defensive impact in this game. The score will tell you it was a defensive battle but that is far from the actuality of what occurred. The Flames dominated the Penguins at 5v5 in a massive way, showing us truly one of their better defensive games of the season. The offence was there all night with 11 high danger chances, but Tristan Jarry almost stole it from them. Not the Penguins as a team – just their goaltender.

CF% – 67.39%, SCF% – 72.73%, HDCF% – 73.33%, xGF% – 75.29%

It’s a Team Game – It was all Flames from puck drop, especially the top line. The team finished the first with an xGF% of 72.07%. It went throughout the whole game, and especially in the third where they had all the high danger opportunities to themselves (4-0 in CGY favour). All being said the Penguins got lucky too, Johnny Gaudreau hit iron twice in game before finally beating Jarry in the shootout. Penguins were lucky they got a point, and they owe that all to their goaltender.

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Corsi King – Chris Tanev (75.20 CF%) barely edges out Sean Monahan (74.94%) and Dillon Dube (74.85%) for top spot here. Not that anyone was even close to finishing low here. The lowest mark on the team was Milan Lucic (53.83%) who had one of his better games I’ve seen him play this year. Straight up not a thing in the lineup I would touch for next game. Sorry, Juuso.

Corsi Clown – N/A as not a single player was particularly close to being on the underside of 50%.

Taken By Chance – Not a single player gave up more high danger chances than they created. Three players endued up neutral, meaning they allowed as many chances as they created: Milan Lucic, Trevor Lewis, Mikael Backlund. The Flames snakebitten third line played solid with Sean Monahan (88.04 SCF% // 100 HDCF%), Dillon Dubé (88.04% // 100%), and Tyler Pitlick (88.04% // 100%) all finished without allowing a high danger chance again while creating 3 themselves. Rasmus Andersson (70.54% // 73.28%) and Noah Hanifin (68.85% // 73.28%) were back on some strong play again themselves with 6 high danger chances coming while those two were on the ice.

xGF% – The Flames third line also finished with a collective 90.55 xGF%, a shame they couldn’t capitalize. This game wasn’t against the Penguins all the way to full strength – Malkin is still out – but they had been playing well of late. Calgary being able to dictate play to this extent against a team as competitive as Pittsburgh is a huge positive for this team. I haven’t given Johnny Gaudreau (75.48%) too many mentions in this write-up so we’ll add that in to round this section out.

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Game Flow –

In the 2nd intermission i thought to myself “this might be one of those games where the Pens score on a delay of game penalty after getting nothing all night”. Well it wasn’t a delay of game it was an interference, and it only took PIT 7 seconds. Overtime is a coin flip (and was really entertaining) and shootouts are a scam, but good for Backlund to snipe home the win.

Game Score – Like it was discussed in the intro – by game score metrics not a single player achieved a negative defensive impact. The lowest skater by Flames Game Score was the guy with the hardest matchup – Mikael Backlund (0.20 game // 0.59 average). He just went head-to-head with one of the top players in the league at 5v5 and matched him step for step. Top three were Oliver Kylington (2.41 // 1.16), Chris Tanev (2.20 // 0.75), and Noah Hanifin (1.92 // 1.07).

Shot Heatmap –

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The Penguins had a slight resemblances of a pulse for a small stretch in the 2nd period – as well as the occasional chance off the rush – but it was mostly nothing from in tight for them. Calgary has crease crashing phenoms in Tkachuk and Mangiapane so they never have issues getting chances, some bounces will go in again soon.

In The Crease – Markstrom wasn’t overworked at 5v5 in this game, facing only 2 high danger chances in 57:52 of 5v5 play. 0.94 expected goals against with a 1.00 SV%. The Penguins lone powerplay goal was off a deflection, Markstrom was just once again solid all-around. Had the penalty not get called it would have been highly probable he was cruising to another shutout.

Today’s Specials – Can’t talk about the power play since the refs never let it see the ice. That Kris Letang intentional interference on Coleman was blatant and in direct eyesight of the referee but play went on without a call. Which at the time I was fine with because I believed they were not going to call any penalties. So when they called the interference on Calgary, the missed call on Letang does become an issue. Consistency is all that’s being looked for.

Player Spotlight – Blake Coleman – He may not be scoring goals, but it’s time to mention the defensive juggernaut that Blake Coleman has been so far this year. His impact on keeping the puck out of the Flames net has been key in Calgary developing top 5 defensive numbers across the board this campaign. Coleman’s slot defence on the penalty kill might be one of the most impressive displays I’ve seen – it is no wonder this guy is a two-time Stanley Cup Champion. Be patient with his offence fans, because his defence is definitely worth the cap hit early.

Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –

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 1) Oliver Kylington

2) Rasmus Andersson

3) Milan Lucic

The Flames will go on the road next to play the Kings – games that always carry a little bit extra in the entertainment department. It’s Thu., Dec. 2 at 8:30 p.m. MT all covered here at FlamesNation!

(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com)

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