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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche have power play settle the score

If you enjoy watching hockey that has quality back-checking from both teams from start to finish, then Calgary’s tight 2-1 loss to Colorado was the game for you. Both teams showed each other at 5v5 why they were leading their conferences with neither letting any holes in their coverage pop up. The only time either team was able to score was on the man-advantage to which Colorado’s high-efficiency unit was able to outgun Calgary.

CF% – 51.02%, SCF% – 44.72%, HDCF% – 60.37%, xGF% – 54.44%

It’s a Team Game – The numbers here read out in a very interesting way. Calgary ended up getting more shots off from the middle of the ice, but Colorado was able to get chances from in closer than the Flames did. Interesting what each team did to try and get scoring chances of significance. Both teams defended fairly evenly – some shifts seemed to extend in both attacking zones at different times of the game. All ends up adding to a balance in momentum and a quality hockey match.

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Corsi King – It was a good night all around for the third pairing for Calgary – Nikita Zadorov (68.25 CF%) and Erik Gudbranson (66.02%) stuck to their stay-at-home games tonight and it served them well. Zadorov was playing a team he had spent quite a few years playing for, extra motivation to try and play better than normal in these games.

Corsi Clown – Noah Hanifin (38.96%) was down on the night in overall attempts, but he graded out even in terms of high danger chances against. Nobody was really terribly outmatched, even when the Flames top guys don’t dominate possession, they still amass dangerous chances and looks. Matthew Tkachuk (42.56%) went up against one of the top defensive pairings in the league (Makar-Toews) and was still able to find more than a few decent looks.

Taken By Chance – Johnny Gaudreau (31.02 SCF% // 100 HDCF%) and company didn’t allow the competition to get a quality look on them. The Avs are a team just as skilled – if not more – as Calgary is at keeping possession of the puck. They know how to track down rebounds, dig the puck out of board battles, and when to pass backwards to get out of a jam. Two teams that play those games well means not a whole lot of space to find good opportunities. Nobody on the team had more than 2 high danger looks go against them.

xGF% – Someone who stood out as really effective in this stalemate of offence was Calle Jarnkrok (53.49 xGF%). The ability to use his stick in multiple different methods was on full display and was extremely effective. His speed and defensive prowess mixed with Blake Coleman’s (54.74%) smart positioning and Dillon Dubé’s (54.66%) own wheels makes for a darn scary third line. All the forwards know how to work with the defence on this squad – every single player knows their assignment and which skater their responsible for at all times. Flames just needed someone to score the big goal (they’ll need that come playoffs).

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Game Flow –

As you can see the total attempts just kind of muddled each other for 2 straight periods. The Avs found some significant jump in the third and ended up drawing a penalty because of all their possession – it just so happens that also earned them the win. Calgary doesn’t miss some zone clears and they probably don’t take that penalty. Oh what could have been – but that’s how lessons are learned.

Game Score – Top spot went to Nikita Zadorov (1.04 game // 0.56 average) and partner Erik Gudbranson (0.79 // 0.48). Next were the point-getters in Tkachuk (0.69 // 1.72), Toffoli (0.45 // 0.60), and Andersson (0.43 // 1.06). 7 Flames skaters ended up with a negative game score, but none as low as -1.00. Very much a middle of the pack result – meaning neither great nor terrible.

Shot Heatmap –

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This is what i like to describe as “muddled”. Nothing particularly dangerous came in high doses from anywhere on the ice. Both teams continually were held to the perimeter for initial chances and rebounds were cleaned up either by the goaltenders or their defenders. Quite the muddled game – if i do say so myself.

In The Crease – That pass to the second Nichushkin goal Markstrom had absolutely no chance on – that passing lane has to be covered by a defender, or at least Nichushkin himself. Markstrom allowed no 5v5 goals against for a “shutout”. 1.59 expected goals against with nothing at 5v5 getting by him. Apparently, it was just Nichushkin that had the key to solving Markstrom. No complaints for the Flames goaler from myself anyways.

Today’s Specials – Darryl Sutter touched on it post-game – the two goals he felt were preventable. It’s bad enough you’re a man down but he’s right in that can’t be an excuse. You only get 4 losses in a 7-game series – they can’t be tossed away because you left a slot pass open to cover down low. Flames PK has been rattled the last couple of games – here’s hoping they can rebound as strong as they were before that.

Player Spotlight – Dillon Dubé – The man has come off the bench with an extra oomph in his step. He had 6 points in 6 games coming into this match but was held off the scoresheet. If he can consistently bring what he’s shown the last 2 weeks to the playoffs it makes Calgary that much deeper in depth. Blake Coleman and Calle Jarnkrok as a pair can allow him to be a little more creative coming off the boards because they’ll always have the NZ covered in support. The same effect happens if he’s deployed with Tkachuk and Backlund. The Flames have the full lineup now and it can be easier to put Dubé in spots where he can find success.

Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –

1) Nikita Zadorov

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2) Tyler Toffoli

3) Jacob Markstrom

The Flames will play a divisional match against the second-place in the Pacific Division Los Angeles Kings on Thursday at 7 p.m. MT.

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

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