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Photo Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames get pushed around by Golden Knights

Vegas is a team I would consider to be in the upper class of the league. The slow start means nothing to me long term – Vegas is a perennial playoff threat and have been since they existed. They defended Calgary at an amazing level, giving them nothing significant for the first 40 minutes. It was not until Calgary pulled their goaltender for the man advantage that they truly dominated play for any consistent stretch. They’ll win in Vegas… one day.

CF% – 43.05%, SCF% – 40.18%, HDCF% – 13.53%, xGF% – 29.84%

It’s a Team Game – The worst high danger ratio of the year for the Flames as an overall unit. High Danger chances through two were 7-0 in favour of Vegas. They really did defend well, the defence for Vegas in particular were able to stifle all of the Flames 5v5 offence. They have big names over there, but guys like Zach Whitecloud and Nicholas Hague are very solid defenders in support – if they’re on their game getting anything against Vegas is going to be difficult.

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Corsi King – The new third line was the only line on the positive side here – Sean Monahan (53.15 CF%), Blake Coleman (51.60%), and Trevor Lewis (50%) all over. Johnny Gaudreau (51.33%) rounds out the above 50 gang, with Elias Lindholm (49.78%) and Rasmus Andersson (49.91%) just barely missing the cut.

Corsi Clown – The Flames shutdown line did not do a particularly good job at the shutting down part. Milan Lucic (33.77 CF%), Mikael Backlund (28.53%), and Andrew Mangiapane (32.36%) spent a lot of this game watching the puck get pushed towards their own net. Two other significant players with lower ratios – which is uncommon for them – were Oliver Kylington (34.58%) and Chris Tanev (35.54%).

Taken By Chance – There was not a ton of 5v5 scoring chances for Calgary tonight. Only 5 players were able to register 2 chances – and they all allowed 4+ each. Elias Lindholm (49.89 SCF% // 33.65 HDCF%), Johnny Gaudreau (49.89% // 28.83%), Rasmus Andersson (41.67% // 28.51%), Noah Hanifin (36.15% // 28.51%), and Matthew Tkachuk (39.98% // 25.21%) get credit for finally solving the Golden Knights at 5v5 and getting chances. It just was a little too late. Every other player on the Flames roster failed to be on the ice for a high danger chance for, but also had at least one high danger chance against. Not good, at all.

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xGF% – The section where everything comes to a head and it shows just how little in quality chances any Flame created. Elias Lindholm (46.95 xGF%) and Johnny Gaudreau (46.84%) were the top of the chart tonight – and still both below 50% at a level that would be classified as “outplayed”. Unusual for the top line to experience this – but as we led the whole review with: Vegas is a quality team. 7 skaters under 20% – listed without percentages – Brad Richardson, Dillon Dubé, Adam Ružička, Chris Tanev, Oliver Kylington, Trevor Lewis, and Blake Coleman.

Game Flow –

Vegas just played Calgary’s game against them. It was their third game in 4 nights on the road and it visibly showed at times. The Calgary Flames have had to travel more than even the Islanders so far – and their season started with 13 on the road. They also go their longest stretch of rest before the season even started. The Flames could use some rest at home, but they have to worry about San Jose before they can worry about that.

Game Score – The top two players here are naturally the goal scorers. Elias Lindholm (0.55 game // 1.53 average) and Andrew Mangiapane (0.83 // 1.07) have the lowest top scores in a game so far. Some would say that makes this Calgary’s worst game of the season, those some would be right. I do give a tremendous amount of credit to the Vegas defence because there were no blatant turnovers that lead to the Vegas dominance. It was just solid play from Vegas players stopping everything Calgary attempted. Concerning in a different way, but not one I’m too concerned about yet.

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Shot Heatmap –

The Flames worst overall heatmap this season by a landslide. Normally their offensive map looks like Vegas’, with a large number of chances in and around the oppositions goal mouth. Vegas was excellent in defending, moreso than Calgary was at attacking. The fact that it was only a 1-goal game is the surprise, Vegas could have won by more.

In The Crease – Markström actually faced 3.01 expected goals against at 5v5 and allowed 3. It was spot on offence for Vegas, which so happened to be enough for them. 2 high danger and one medium danger goal get by him for a SV% of 0.970% at 5v5. To be frank, without him the score is probably worse. Vegas was in his face a lot and had the puck a lot. There were times I was going to wonder if Lehner would fall asleep.

Today’s Specials – There was a clip on the broadcast tonight where the ref was looking at a Vegas player hold a Flames players stick and was shouting “let it go” at him. Clearly the referee can see the infraction – I mean he spoke the words himself he saw the holding of the stick – but no penalty to be called. I let a lot go but when it becomes blatantly obvious via microphones that stuff is intentionally not getting called then it needs to be discussed. Call the rulebook – both ways give CGY more penalties too if they commit them – but call the rulebook.

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Player Spotlight – Adam Ružička – Not the best game for the young man, him and his linemates did not mesh well in any capacity. The young man had to play center because he’s never played wing before and I believe that could be a problem for his chances to play a lot this season if the Flames C’s are healthy. Had a couple noticeable positive plays via my eyes tonight, but ultimately, he had a rough go spending most of the time trying to defend in his own zone.

Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –

1) Elias Lindholm

2) Jacob Markström

3) Rasmus Andersson

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The Flames wrap up their current road trip (2-1-0 so far) against the San Jose Sharks Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. MT. If you have to sleep through it that’s okay, we’ll have it all summarized the next morning for you here at FlamesNation.

I agree Pike, I agree. 

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