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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames end up with the breadwinner in Game 5

Based on how the Calgary Flames started off Game 5 one would not think that the Flames would have achieved victory, but the Backlund-Mangiapane-Coleman line became the heroes the C of Red were looking for. Years of watching Calgary lose those games had fans sitting through the second intermission with a bated breath – fear not Flames fans the gut check was taken and overcome. Remember though, while this win may feel big nothing significant has yet to be accomplished. The focus now is trying to close out Game 6 in Dallas this coming Friday night. (Red Mile – please be on standby, you may be needed.)

CF% – 59.54%, SCF% – 54.2%, HDCF% – 45.61%, xGF% – 50.8%

It’s a Team Game – The Flames did ultimately end up with the W, but they did not get off to the start they would have ideally wanted. The Stars scored first on a defensive mix-around between an oncoming winger and Chris Tanev, winger read the play wrong and covered the wrong man leading to a 2 on 1 for the Stars. The first period saw the Stars put up 4 high-danger chances to the Flames none – not really a tone one would aim to set in a huge Game 5. The Flames mixed up their lines and found some goals though, which was enough in this one.

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Corsi King – Calgary actually started their momentum swing back in the mid-to-late second period. They were starting to get lots of chances but couldn’t hit the net to have them counted as scoring chances. Those attempts all get tracked in Corsi though and Dillon Dubé (74.65 CF%) led the team. He’s only had one game out of 5 where he’s been out attempted which is impressive from the young Flames winger. Calle Jarnkrok (73.47%) and Matthew Tkachuk (73.39%) also finished above 70% – personally I feel bad for Jarnkrok who has been stonewalled on great shots more than anyone I’ve seen since coming to Calgary. Well Toffoli (65.95%) is up there with him.

Corsi Clown – Milan Lucic (44.61%) was hardly on the south side of the attempts. It wasn’t his most notable game of the serious but he didn’t make any mistakes out there – only 7:46 of 5v5 time for him so low raw totals can make for more skewed ratios. Trevor Lewis (48.29%) was the only other Flame below 50% – when compared to the scoring chance ratios the stark difference can be found in missed shots. Calgary had a rough time hitting the net in the first period, but they also only took shots from a distance too. Easier to miss the net the farther away you shoot from it.

Taken By Chance – Three Flames players surrendered no High Danger chances at 5v5 – Nikita Zadorov (80.20 SCF% // 100 HDCF%), Erik Gudbranson (86.09% // 100%) and Calle Jarnkrok (85.02% // 100%). On the flip side Oliver Kylington (44.24% // 0%) saw over 4 high danger chances against while not finding a way to be involved in any tangible ones for the Flames. Overall, the Flames defence in the first two periods were struggling to transition through the Stars neutral zone defence – sometimes trying stretch passes that led to icings. The whole system works better when Calgary uses short passes to exit the zone and moves as a five man unit through coverage.

xGF% – Andrew Mangiapane (56.82 xGF%) came through when the Flames were desperate for someone to come through. Blake Coleman (54.13%) did the work down low to get possession, but Mange made a beautiful heads up pass to Backlund for the tying goal. They follow that up with another quick shift – the coach always knows what’s up – and Mange… well here I’ll just let you listen to the ping.

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Game Flow –  

The wake up point is quite clearly defined on this chart – when the Stars took the lead the Flames woke up. Imagine if that goal didn’t come until some point in the third, would Calgary have had to rally? Could they have gotten it done? Does not matter – they can and did find a way to win, that’s set in stone.

Game Score – Finally a game that saw a handful of Flames reach the 2.00 plateau. Zadorov (2.95 game // 0.64 average), Mangiapane (2.78 // 1.00), Gudbranson (2.67 // 0.57), Backlund (2.58 // 0.74), and Coleman (2.19 // 0.71). As friend of the program Mike Gould pointed out – please leave the 88-11-20 trio together. They have been so dominant as a second line when together it can mitigate a lack of offence from the bottom 6 – as long as the bottom 6 are not giving up bad goals against. Give and take sometimes when loading up lines, but I do think that one should stick together.

Shot Heatmap –

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I may be a downer in this section – I want more from the crease. They all have the ability to get there once they’ve established possession – the heavy amounts of low danger shots from the point need to slow down. Some of those attempts were wrist shots with no traffic, about half of all the shots that actually made it to the net at the 30 minutes played mark were not even remotely dangerous. Good thing they play at least 60.

In The Crease – There are not enough fantastic things to say in both the English and Swedish languages to describe what Jacob Markstrom has played like in the first round this year. He’s got a rookie 190 feet away from him for 5 games playing at a superstar level and he’s matched/beat him 3 out of 5 games. Neither goaltender in this series has had a bad game – which is beyond tight when considering the stakes. 1.73 expected goals against at 5v5 with just the one medium danger goal getting by him… after bouncing off another player. Very hard to beat Markstrom directly more than once on any given night.

Today’s Specials – No matter what is happening 5v5 the Flames penalty kill is still playing the same way every single time. They don’t even let the Stars enter the zone sometimes – it is beyond impressive. Now some of those penalties taken to put Calgary down were stupid and avoidable, but you deal with it and move on.

Player Spotlight – Mikael Backlund – The longest tenured Flame was the man who scored the goal to re-ignite the C of Red and blow the roof off the Saddledome. Oh Mickis, what a pity you don’t understand. You take us by the heart then you take us, by the hand. Add in that nice little fake to avoid a stick check before making a tape-to-tape backhand pass to Mangiapane before he sniped the leading goal home. A fantastic night on the boxscore right when the fans needed it.

Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –

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1) Andrew Mangiapane

2) Mikael Backlund

3) Jacob Markstrom

The Flames will play Game 6 in Dallas on Friday night with a chance to advance The series is 3-2 with the Flames leading.

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

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