31
Photo Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the boxscore: Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames take care of business against the Los Angeles Kings

An unusual game that saw the Calgary Flames take control in the middle frame before spending the last 5 minutes hanging on. All four lines got outmatched as the Kings desperately attacked to try and tie the game. Now that was just at the end of regulation, the top line was magnificent like they normally are throughout much of the contest. It was one of the most impressive pushbacks from an opposing team against the Flames to date this season.

CF% – 45.52%, SCF% – 52.1%, HDCF% – 59.03%, xGF% – 48.83%

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

It’s a Team Game – Overall it wasn’t a terrible effort from the Flames. They clearly won the high danger battle by virtue of some strong 5v5 play through 40 minutes. Same with the overall chance ratio – it highly favoured the Flames after 2 periods. The third they did struggle mightily, the Kings were able to get the puck deep against the Flames defence and pin them with a strong forecheck. It didn’t help that the Flames wingers struggled to break the puck out. I will give the Kings D credit for quick transitions in the third – they pushed the pace and controlled the last 7 minutes.

Corsi King – Who else in this mini rivalry should finish on top – None other than Matthew Tkachuk (72.49 CF%) that’s who. Linemates Johnny Gaudreau (63.71%) and Elias Lindholm (61.67%) showed Los Angeles why they are one of the best lines in the league… and It largely ended there. Only 4 players were over 50% here as the majority of the game was the Kings directing pucks toward Markström from wherever they could get a shot off.

Corsi Clown – I’m not calling them the Pension line – I believe it to be cringeworthy myself. I personally like the Kings Men movies so I will be going with that here at beyond the boxscore. Anyways, The Kings Men got buried by the current Kings. Brad Richardson (25.57%), Milan Lucic (33.10%) and Trevor Lewis (18.22%) were all in the bottom 5. I’m going to spread out the line criticism throughout this, but the Kings Men had trouble in transition tonight.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Taken By Chance – This is where the story takes an interesting turn. While corsi measures overall attempts – whether blocked, missed, saved, or scored – but you need more to tell the story. While only 4 Flames finished above 50% in Corsi, they did a great job at playing in front of their goalies. Only 4 Flames finished below 50% in terms of high danger chances. The King’s Men and Blake Coleman (47.41 SCF% // 44.83 HDCF%) although Coleman was only outmatched in raw numbers 2 to 3. Top of the night was Sean Monahan (46.34% // 78.71%) in ratio terms, but with 9 raw high danger chances created Johnny Gaudreau (71.96% // 76.26%) and Matthew Tkachuk (81.84% // 76.26%) asserted their dominance.

xGF% – Sean Monahan (45.38 xGF%), Dillon Dubé (38.76%), and Tyler Pitlick (35.67%) may have helped defend the slot well, but they were a severe victim of way too many chances against. The struggled to have any real chemistry in the defensive zone, struggle going through the neutral zone unless someone carried it themselves, it didn’t lead to much offensive possession for them. They are kind of in purgatory right now – the top line isn’t changing, the second line is perfectly constructed in my eyes, and the Kings Men have found their own identity. I’m not sure if they find a solid identity together, but they are certainly getting the chance to try.

Game Flow –

A true bounce back affair when it comes to momentum. Shared in the first, taken by Calgary in the second, and grabbed back by the Kings in the third (really snagged it late). The sheer volume of chances LA got would naturally have them swarm their xG total so this is a bit misleading. When you get to the heatmap we’ll show just why Calgary was never in as much danger as it appeared.

Game Score – Matthew Tkachuk (2.42 game // 0.91 average), Johnny Gaudreau (2.16 // 1.74), Andrew Mangiapane (1.75 // 1.17), Jacob Markström (1.25 // 0.52), were all the Flames to significantly outperform their averages. Trevor Lewis (-2.21 // 0.11) and Brad Richardson (-1.82 // 0.12) significantly outpaced theirs too, just in a negative manner.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Shot Heatmap –

As you can see the Kings did a good job of getting the overall number of chances, but really failed to get many quality chances. Even on nights when sometimes the transition isn’t going your way you want your team to defend like this. Not as bad a performance as some will have you believe, but not the Flames at their ultimate best either.

In The Crease – Markström may have been peppered with 36 shots at 5v5, but just 5 came from a high danger spot. The Kings went with a plan to try and smother the goaltender, but he thrives under consistent puck touches even more than a regular goaltender. 2.83 expected goals against, one high danger and one medium danger goal against – final 5v5 SV% was 0.944%. A solid performance by the Flames netminder doing what he needed to do to win.

Today’s Specials – The zone entry on the first goal was created on a beautiful pass by Noah Hanifin (seen at around the 0:20 second mark in the video above). Right on Backlund’s tape so he never had to lose stride – letting him walk by the defender standing at the blue line. Eventually the puck found its way to Bread City and when that happens it goes on the scoreboard. Road warrior – fun fact: all the Olympic games will technically be played on the road. Listen up Hockey Canada he’s perfect for you.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Player Spotlight – Matthew Tkachuk/Drew Doughty – Hockey can be a game where it is hard to find interesting storylines. The dynamic these two have naturally brought to these matches over the last few years has been awesome. After going a full season without it I really found myself appreciating it’s return. The pre-game hype around a rivalry makes any game better, and when it’s capped off with a game winning snipe around the very rival that makes this match so compelling, well that’s icing on the cake.

Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –

1) Matthew Tkachuk

2) Andrew Mangiapane

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

3) Jacob Markström

The Flames are right back in action against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night – yes in everyone’s favorite place, the Honda Center. This one goes at 8 p.m. MT covered right here at FlamesNation.

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