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Photo Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames cool off Maple Leafs with opportunistic scoring

I’m going to be honest, Calgary escaped with a W. The first period was largely dominated with Leafs taking the majority of possession, chances, and shots. The second period the Leafs were peppering the Flames with some more opportunities before the floodgates opened up behind Jack Campbell and all the goals spilled out – or in. The Flames followed it up with a good shutdown third only surrendering one high-danger chance against. Calgary will take it playing on a back-to-back against a strong Maple Leafs roster.

CF% – 40.72%, SCF% – 40.29%, HDCF% – 44.18%, xGF% – 40.52%

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It’s a Team Game – Calgary had ample opportunities to take the first lead in the game as well, but they could not capitalize on their 4 power plays – some with 5-on-3 time. No instead it was just a nice wrist shot from Mangiapane seconds after Sandin opened the scoring. All the Flames goals were nice shots tonight, no real garbage goals. They all count the same anyway – this game nets the Flames two points in the standings and another confidence boost.

Corsi King – Nikita Zadorov (51.98 CF%) and Johnny Gaudreau (51.44%) are the top two with about 7 skaters following behind them into just below 50%. If a player finishes in the 46-49% range they were just shy of creating the same amount of shot attempts as they saw go against them. It’s by no means a good thing, but it could get so much worse. No real consistency problems of late, so we don’t worry about it right now.

Corsi Clown – The Flames fourth line were constantly back in the defensive zone in this one. Registering just 2 corsi events for the Leafs were able to take advantage of them. They’d been playing strong hockey of late so we mark this down as a blip until it continues. Interesting the disparity in Zadorov’s number and Gudbranson’s (31.39%). The aftereffects of a penalty kill could help in creating the disparity.

Taken By Chance – Oliver Kylington (49.75 SCF% // 37.57 HDCF%) and Chris Tanev (37.43% // 35.30%) struggled defending tonight – in terms of high danger chances faced they had the highest numbers. I say “struggled” lightly because when it mattered Tanev was blocking shots and amazing stick checks to help keep the Leafs at bay in the third. That Auston Matthews fella is pretty good at hockey – be a tough job for anyone to take on and that’s before you throw Marner in the mix. Chris Tanev continues to be a rock on Calgary’s blueline.

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xGF% – Brett Ritchie (74.12 xGF%) hardly played in this one. He doesn’t touch special teams and there was a fair amount which could contribute to this. Nikita Zadorov (60.10%) has the most consistently good numbers across the board tonight – amongst Flames players anyways. Add in that massive hit on Kase and this was quite the game for the big Russian defenceman. Sean Monahan (58.01%) was the third and final player over 50%.

Game Flow –

Calgary took the wind out of Toronto’s sails for a little bit with their back to back goals 35(ish) seconds apart. Took it all the way up until Bunting got the Leafs their second goal. Leafs took play back for a bit after that but once the power plays started the 5v5 shot creation stopped.

Game Score – Matthew Tkachuk (2.24 game // 1.70 average) finishes as the lone player in the whole game above the 2.00 mark. Johnny Gaudreau (1.92 // 1.79) continues to raise his season average score which is near the tops of the entire league. Might as well cap this section off with the centrepiece to those two star players in Elias Lindholm (1.60 // 1.41)

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Shot Heatmap –

This is one of my all-time favourite things i get to share with everyone after a game – heatmaps rock. When you’re adding this chart to every single review after every single game you really get a natural feel of whether or not shot attempts were truly heavy and dangerous or just heavy. Toronto had a lot of opportunities, but not as many significant ones as their normally are for any team in a game. This was lower event than the shots dictate (sure didn’t feel like it though!)

In The Crease – Markstrom certainly didn’t play like he had played the night before. Sharp and on top of everything from the onset of the puck drop. Sandin’s goal came after two great saves to begin with while Bunting’s goal was a bit on the weaker side. Didn’t matter because Jack Campbell was not his usual self and allowed plenty of goals from a good range out. 1.99 expected goals against, 2 medium danger goals against with a 0.944 5v5 SV%. Pretty darn good.

Today’s Specials – Penalty Killing was done quite well in this one. There was one chance on an earlier power play that Matthews got the step on everyone. Only reason it wasn’t a goal was because Matthews missed wide – if he had hit the mark that would have been a goal. The power play? A little stale – didn’t feel the real urgency to move the puck around when they had it up a man. It was a good thing Kylington was able to send a missile as soon as the Flames got possession.

Player Spotlight – Noah Hanifin – The man coming off a three-point night, Noah Hanifin coming in clutch. The fact that we got to see a play executed – by the Flames no less – where a defenceman passes from below the goal line out front to another defenceman in the slot was awesome. Hanifin and his consistent play this year has been essential for Calgary being in the position they are this year – truly an integral part needed for the playoffs.

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Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –

1) Noah Hanifin

2) Nikita Zadorov

3) Jacob Markstrom

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The Flames get a day off before being back in game action Saturday at 8 p.m. MT against the New York Islanders. Remember how Calgary did in all of the East teams’ buildings? Now is the friendly reminder they get to play almost all of them back in Calgary again.

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

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