Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames bring their same old issues in loss to Detroit

Photo credit:Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
1 year ago
I’ve been talking with FlamesNation managing editor Ryan Pike ever since the game ended and we agree that the Calgary Flames keep losing games in the exact same manner. How many times have I come here to tell everyone that the fundamentals are strong, but they just need to get more dangerous chances – it happened exactly that way against the Detroit Red Wings. The Flames employ players that are tremendous on the perimeter and can keep puck possession for a long time, but everything typically ends with a long distance shot through minimal traffic with a rebound that goes nowhere dangerous. The players need to start driving the net from down low more often – or at least get their forwards to take shots closer to the goaltender.
CF% – 70.26%, SCF% – 63.37%, HDCF% – 48.65%, xGF% – 52.82%
It’s a Team Game – Lets start by saying the Flames didn’t play bad, quite the contrary they played an excellent defensive game. Anytime you only give up 6 high danger chances as a team is a solid team performance defensively. The problem is their complete lack of offence. They don’t drive the net from down low – pass up chances on the rush for possession – and have very little room to be creative in space unless the players can make it for themselves. It’s why there is usually a preference for bigger bodied players but if you went the other direction and overwhelmed the competition with speed this can work too. Colorado didn’t win because they were big, they won because they were faster than everyone else. Playing the same heavy forecheck style of hockey Calgary does.
Corsi King – Elias Lindholm (92.35%) and his line had massive possessive numbers and got the most offensive chances out of any line. Dillon Dubé (91.68%) specifically stood out as a player who caused a lot of havoc on the forecheck. Got the puck in the hands of Tyler Toffoli (88.37%) frequently but he just couldn’t bury one. You can give another passing grade to the Backlund (60.84%) line but that’s about it as the other 2 forward groupings had players on them that really under-performed.
Corsi Clown – Trevor Lewis (39.92%) missed some wide open passes and spent more time trying to get out of his own zone than in the attacking one. Dennis Gilbert (36.92%) and Michael Stone (43.18%) also got taken advantage of in this match. The Flames aren’t in a position where their roster has justified getting another defenceman but without Oliver Kylington they don’t even have the proper depth to withstand a single injury. Here’s hoping for good luck sake Rasmus Andersson recovers quickly.
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – Nobody point fingers at the Flames own version of the perfection line – they gave up 0 5v5 high danger chances against: Backlund (41.72 SCF% // 100 HDCF%), Coleman (59.19% // 100%), and Mangiapane (59.19% // 100%). They also scored the only tangible goal on a good chip shot from Hanifin (70.51% // 77.37%). Hanifin looked like a man unlocked next to Tanev (68.46% // 77.37%). I have never really thought Calgary has viewed the ceiling on what Hanifin’s offensive potential could be. I’m glad he’s back getting PP time because he makes some of the most creative passes for PP goals the Flames have been missing.
xG Breakdown –
xGF% – I’m sure everyone wants to pile on Huberdeau (59.17%) who very clearly struggled in all aspects of his game against the Red Wings. Got caught with his feet standing still, constantly turned the puck over (including a direct pass on the tape of the Detroit defenceman in the middle of the ice) and couldn’t make a single positive impact anywhere on the ice. Lucky for him his linemates in Kadri (55.84%) and Pelletier (59.17%) picked up the slack defensively because that was atrocious. He’s normally not that bad but I couldn’t bring myself to lie about what I saw tonight – nowhere near good enough.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – It wasn’t a busy night for Dan Vladar but whenever Detroit got a chance it was a dangerous look. 1.25 expected goals against on just 7 5v5 shots is a lot – he only let in one high danger goal too. The other goal on the power play – well the goaltender can’t stop his skaters from taking the penalties. Vladar’s point streak has come to an end despite him playing more than well enough to extend it. Without Dan the score isn’t a one goal game.
Today’s Specials – I still much prefer the new power play units – and losing Andersson forced some new appearances. Big fan of Noah Hanifin being out there on the point, also loved the urgency from Huberdeau and Kadri on the last PP Calgary got in the game. You could tell the really wanted to score and they kept passing the puck into better shooting positions than taking a point shot blast. Almost worked – now they just need to get a net-front presence guy who can QB the whole thing from below the goal line.
Player Spotlight – Michael Stone – He got quite exposed in this game having to try and carry Gilbert as the veteran on his pair. I’ve been looking up a bunch of metrics on trade targets lately and comparing them to current Flames and the one consistent thing I find is Michael Stone still comes up short defensively. I give him a ton of praise because he went from almost bottom in the entire league in xGA impact to being hidden in the blur of replacement level players. Having a big shot should not outweigh the process of messing up a basic 2 on 1 by over-committing to the shooter. Odd-man rushes are his kryptonite as he struggles to pick up which guy to cover – the real problem is there is nobody in the Flames system that is ready to play above him. I like him as a fill in guy because he knows the system and can be plugged into the lineup in a pinch and you know what you’ll get, but they need to make sure they improve on the effectiveness of that roster spot going forward.
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –  
1) Blake Coleman
2) Dan Vladar
3) Noah Hanifin
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com // xG and Under Pressure charts from HockeyViz.com // Game Flow and Shot Heatmap from NaturalStatTrick.com)

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