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Photo Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames emerge victorious in clash of former crease companions

A worst case Ontario game for the Edmonton Oilers as the Flames and Canucks both escape with points after a clash between net-minders. It’s more impressive than you think when you consider Jacob Markstrom only had seen 3 shots half way through the game, only 2 of which were 5v5, and one of those was from the blueline on a rush. The Canucks did find ways to get more chances in the second half, but their attack couldn’t penetrate Calgary’s superb, structured defence.

CF% – 62.78%, SCF% – 53.15%, HDCF% – 39.69%, xGF% – 55.04%

It’s a Team Game – Now don’t get me wrong, just because the Canucks attack was lacklustre to start the game does not mean their defence mailed it in. On the contrary – even down a man the Canucks were able to limit Calgary’s quality attempts on Thatcher Demko. The Flames never gave up though and saw their consistent good habits that help the players maintain possession work well. They dominated possession and kept the puck away from the Canucks top players which helped them get the victory.

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Corsi King – Trevor Lewis (83.80 CF%) leads the pack as the Flames fourth line didn’t get hemmed in too often against Vancouver. Adam Ružička (80.30%) bounces back after a rough game with a real solid fourth line effort. When Noah Hanifin (71.50%) and Rasmus Andersson (66.66%) get on a roll where they clearly are allowed to display their skill in the offensive zone it usually helps create goals. The Canucks (without Myers) put up a solid defensive effort, something they have been able to shore up quickly under Bruce Boudreau.

Corsi Clown – For the third time in 4 games we have no player under 50%. Therefore nobody gets to hang out here.

Taken By Chance – The fourth line played no event hockey to perfection. They did not generate a high danger chance, nor did they surrender one. I am slightly baffled that despite directing the most overall chances – in terms of raw CF events – towards the other team’s net, Nikita Zadorov (64.48 SCF% // 0 HDCF%) was the only player to surrender a high danger chance but not be a part of at least one for his team. On the other side of things Noah Hanifin (73.14% // 100%) and Andrew Mangiapane (47.58% // 100%) were able to get high danger chances while surrendering none against them. The ratios in this one were either really good or really bad because the total overall high danger chances were 4 to 3 for Vancouver – that’s the entirety of 5v5.

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xGF% – Blake Coleman (66.63 xGF%) is a player we’ve yet to mention that came out of a 0-0 regulation game with solid underlying numbers. Calgary’s sheer overall number of shots will be the reason for plenty of players finishing north of 50%. In games where one team barely registers any chances it is wise to be cautious of this one game sample when making any really severe judgments. Many statisticians are aware of this and use it as a piece of a larger sample size instead. Still anytime you finish a full game in the NHL over 60% in any of these statistics (and you get 2 points) it was an okay night.

Game Flow –

A lot of penalties to interrupt the natural flow of things. Calgary not scoring on the 5 minute major was disappointing a bit, but they can not complain about lack of opportunities given to them. They did see a minor pushback from Vancouver in the late second but Calgary was able to overcome that in the third period.

Game Score – No shock value that the two guys at the top are Thatcher Demko (1.60 game // 0.08 average) and Jacob Markstrom (1.28 // 0.17). Goal scorer Johnny Gaudreau (1.24 // 1.76) comes in tops of any skater with Elias Lindholm (1.11 // 1.34) and his assist as the second amongst skaters. There were no Flames under -0.5 as many players had a relatively middling night from what they are ever used too.

Shot Heatmap –

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A defence coach’s dream heatmap. Look how well Vancouver protected around Demko. Calgary has made a living in the other teams crease all season and the fact they could not get in close for a chance is impressive to say the least. Calgary themselves know how to execute their system at this point so being able to limit them at this level is good playing… and good coaching.

In The Crease – 1.13 expected goals against – that number was only 0.12 higher than Columbus got in their beatdown the Flames gave them. Not much from offence for Vancouver, but what little they did muster former Canuck Markstrom was up to the task. 7 Shutouts at the half mark, only 3 of legend Miikka Kiprusoff’s team record. Markstrom can certainly put himself into Flames record books for a long time should he accomplish that feat.

Today’s Specials – I’m going to continue shouting “hey, guy on the opposite flank of the power play, move into a passing lane don’t just stand there and wait for a forced pass.” Penalty Killing was fantastic again as it is most nights in Calgary. The Flames seem to have a few very cohesive units that really trust each other to be where they need to be when down a man.

Player Spotlight – Noah Hanifin – Lately it feels like Hanifin is getting into the mid-season groove. He was able to get points in bunches down the stretch of last season, here’s hoping the assists and goals start coming more naturally. Hanifin has tremendous offensive potential yet and could still see growth in his game the coming years. The coach trusts him and puts him in positions to be successful which will only help that growth in him.

Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –

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1) Jacob Markstrom

2) Johnny Gaudreau

3) Elias Lindholm

The Flames next game will be Tues., Feb. 1 in Dallas against the Stars. 6:30 p.m. MT.

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

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