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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the Boxscore: Johnny Gaudreau stays hot in Calgary Flames win over Chicago

Calgary came out of the gates with the accuracy of a stormtrooper squadron. Good thing they rebounded in the second to connect on some goals and walk away with a much-deserved win in Chicago. The Blackhawks employed no sense of a particularly structured defence at any point in the match and a well-coached team like Calgary made them pay.

CF% – 55.22%, SCF% – 68.42%, HDCF% – 72.63%, xGF% – 63.18%

It’s a Team Game – After Calgary got their stuff together in the second Chicago never stood a chance. The goaltending tonight was shaky from distance shots, but solid in tight. The supporting cast around the Flames net was fortunate enough to get every single bounce their way. Chicago didn’t do much to press outside the Debrincat-Kane line, and ultimately Calgary took advantage of it.

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Corsi King – Tops of the chart is who you would expect – Erik Gudbranson (71.68 CF%). I have compliments to him and partner Nikita Zadorov (64.53%). Last game against the Blackhawks Zad was all over the ice at times and occasionally looked like he wanted to score a goal himself instead of using everybody. Tonight, they were composed and did what they had to in order to move the puck up the ice the other way.

Corsi Clown – Brad Richardson (32.72 CF%) has still yet to string enough positive games together to really justify his spot in the lineup. Based on how he was playing before the shutdown Ružička deserves a shot, but with Brett Ritchie coming off IR I would expect to see him back in the lineup. Rasmus Andersson (45.69%), Sean Monahan (44.53%), and Trevor Lewis (41.20%) weren’t the only ones to lose their overall attempt matchu-ps, but they were the ones that all lost by a notable margin.

Taken By Chance – Every single Flame finished with a positive high-danger chance ratio, except Brad Richardson (28.90 SCF% // NA) who didn’t quantify a chance of that magnitude either for or against. He was also the only player to lose the overall scoring chance ratio battle. So the entire team – minus Richardson – completely outplayed the Hawks. Rough game for the veteran player. It was an even balanced attack as the first (Gaudreau) and second (Backlund) lines generated 3 high danger chances a piece while the third line (Mangiapane) outplayed their competition 2 to 1.

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xGF% – Johnny Gaudreau (72.84%) – Matthew Tkachuk (68.86%) – Elias Lindholm (62.79%). No other line that has played over 200 5v5 mins has a better xG% than them. Some would say that classifies them as the best in the league currently. Say what you want about the rest of the roster, but the Flames have found a first line that can dominate and they should do everything in their power to keep them together for as long as they possibly can. Gaudreau’s potential paycheque climbs every single game he plays as dynamite as he has in the last 2.

Game Flow –

Calgary fought some puck bounces – and as Sportsnet’s Jason York mentioned – couldn’t hit the net at all in the first. Mangialubé couldn’t seem to buy a goal. Multiple shifts where they were buzzing around the net. Dillon Dubé and his speed has looked more effective in this return to center… so far.

Game Score – Johnny Gaudreau (3.92 game // 1.72 average) be doing johnny hockey things lately. Nobody is slowing down this guy and he’s been impressive defensively as well. He’s evolved as a player lately and it’s fun to watch. Oliver Kylington (2.34 // 0.88) had the empty net goal put him above a 2 for the first time in a little while. Here’s hoping the reset helps him get back to that dominate stretch he had the first 20 games. It’s not that he’s been bad the last 10, just not as a force as he was the first 20 out of the gate.

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Shot Heatmap –

I said it in some live tweets right off the hop – Chicago’s zone entry defence appeared “optional”. Whoever is coaching their defence right now is doing those 6 men absolutely no favours in setting them up with good hockey habits. As such – even at 1-0 – I was less than worried about Calgary coming back. It could have been 3-2 with 10 minutes left and i would have faith Calgary could come back – that’s how bad Chicago’s defence plays.

In The Crease – One goal against is always considered a good night, even in those rare ones that end up as L’s. Against the Hawks this was not the case – 1.51 expected goals against with only one high danger opportunity beating him. 0.960 5v5 save percentage is also nice. Markström himself seemed to struggle tonight directing rebounds from shots out wide, but that’s a minor struggle for a goaltender to have compared to the other things that have gone on around the league since the restart.

Today’s Specials – A power play goal to kick things off. Lindholm has one of (if not the) best shots on the team – seeing him releasing any shot from within the circles brings hope. Monahan with a nifty little backhand dish right on the tape so Lindholm can let er buck. After that the power play was meh – need to keep getting the puck on Johnny Gaudreau’s stick, make sure that they find a way to do so as well.

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Player Spotlight – Tyler Pitlick – He’s getting picked on by me for one singular play alone. It was a 3-on-2 rush with Backlund breaking up the middle and another winger on his left. Pitlick was out to the right side with nobody on him at all, Backlund goes to shovel him a pass and he’s not ready for it. They had already crossed the blueline, Backlund was fast losing places to go, and that pass should have been expected… and it just wasn’t. He’s not providing the same defensive impact Coleman regularly brings, so his lack of production is also becoming a real problem. He’s not posting chances like Leivo last year either, hard to see the offensive slump ending anytime soon.

Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –  

1) Johnny Gaudreau

2) Matthew Tkachuk

3) Oliver Kylington

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The Flames will play again on Tuesday in Florida as part of a southeastern road swing After this trip the only road game left against an Eastern Conference opponent will be against the Blue Jackets, which will happen before ½ the season is played as well. Plenty of consecutive home games are on the Flames horizon.

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

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