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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames successfully limit grasping Vancouver Canucks squad

Vancouver knew that the Dallas Stars had won their game midway through Saturday’s stop in Calgary, and that if they lost this one their season hopes would go from slim to none. Playing a team that was still giving it everything they had, and you still find a way to get the win and effectively eliminate them? Good job all around on that one for the Calgary Flames. Finding ways to constantly motivate themselves to bring their A game is not an easy task right now for Calgary, but they have been up to the challenge so far. 

CF% – 65.67%, SCF% – 64.4%, HDCF% – 64.47%, xGF% – 60.48%

It’s a Team Game – There was never a period where the Canucks really gained any control. The first Canucks goal comes from them winning a physical battle in the corner combined with the defencemen chasing a bit high in the slot. The second goal comes on some great vision and skill from Connor Garland, that possession happens on a missed passing lane left open at the top of the zone and nobody covering Garland as he ripped to the net. Still some mistakes that can be weeded out but all being said outside those two instances Calgary was effectively limiting the Canucks from getting any significant chances all night.

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Corsi King – Erik Gudbranson (77.23 CF%) and Nikita Zadorov (75.29%) were astute defensively tonight which helped them achieve such a high ratio. Blake Coleman (73.62%) continues to be a fantastic defensive presence – he’s helping unlock a new level in Dillon Dubé (69.39%) as well. All the Flames really won the overall matchup with the Canucks players – the first period especially was largely dictated by the Flames and Thatcher Demko.

Corsi Clown – I think we’re in double digits now for games the Flames had nobody below the 50% mark. These are just regular season numbers but it’s a great sign they’re doing it late in the season against decent teams.

Taken By Chance – Oliver Kylington (73.76 SCF% // 66.34 HDCF%) and Chris Tanev (73.76% // 66.34%) have recently got back into mid-season stride. Kylington had a couple of injuries back-to-back and missed some extended time so seeing their chemistry back is beyond welcomed. The other duo with the most high danger chances was the 40-goal guys – Matthew Tkachuk (71.93% // 71.17%) and Elias Lindholm (73.81% // 71.17%). Chances for those guys were basically 5-2 and they went up against the best shutdown the Canucks had to offer. Un-phased and determined.

xGF% – Johnny Gaudreau (77.21 xGF%) is just special to watch – he is a gifted and talented player that understands how to get/create goals at the game of hockey’s highest level. He’s won in every league he’s ever played at before he got to the NHL – I have no doubts in him being able to succeed at the NHL level either. Calgary played bad as a team the last two playoff runs – it wasn’t all on him. Now with the supporting cast on board let’s see what he can really do. Go Johnny Go.

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Game Flow –

As we can see the Canucks pushback was very limited in its success. From watching the game you could not doubt that the Canucks were very much trying their best, but that makes this even more of a testament to Calgary for what they were able to accomplish. They controlled their own zone for the majority of the game – that’s why they won.

Game Score – Chris Tanev (3.25 game // 0.96 average) with 3 assists against his former team. He’s engrained as an integral part of the Flames defence now – you’ll never get him back Vancouver. Elias Lindholm (3.04 // 1.52) with a goal and an assist and Dubé (2.96 // 0.54 average) follow up Tanev on the leaderboard. Others over the 2.00 level included Nikita Zadorov (2.57 // 0.63), Johnny Gaudreau (2.50 // 1.88), and Matthew Tkachuk (2.05 // 1.83),

Shot Heatmap –

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If the Flames are able to defend like this in the playoffs they may win a game or two. I’m not even looking at the offensive side when i say that – defence like that will limit any team to 3 goals or less nightly, usually less.

In The Crease – I felt bad for Dan Vladar when Elias Pettersson decided he wanted to score – that wrist shot was a beamer. It’ll be classified as one he should have back because of how far out it was from – but I challenge anyone who criticizes him for that to go out and try to stop that themselves. 1.64 expected goals against, a 0.920 5v5 SV% with two high danger 5v5 goals getting in. I wonder if we see Wolf, but I do expect (predict? guess? One of them?) two more appearances from Jacob Markstrom.

Today’s Specials – Powerplay goal for and only two shot attempts against on the PK – damn good special teams night then. Johnny Gaudreau can find any seam on the power play if it gets left open, but doesn’t need the power play to put in goals. He leads the league in 5v5 points and is over a 5v5 point per game this season. Translated: When the season ends Johnny will have contributed to over 1 5v5 goal per every game played.

Player Spotlight – Elias Lindholm – 40 goals in no light feet and Lindholm’s goals largely have come from distance. While Tkachuk gets the rebounds and Johnny the in tight dekes Lindholm’s goals have largely come from areas with a lesser chance of getting the puck in. He’s typically the high guy so he can be back defensively should the puck get turned over, but his lethal shot is amongst the best I’ve seen. I’m not shocked he got 40 one year and anticipate years more of 30+ goals.

Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –

1) Chris Tanev

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2) Dillon Dubé

3) Elias Lindholm

The Flames will end their regular season on a three game road trip starting in Nashville Tuesday at 6 p.m. MT.

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

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