Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames continue to be comeback kids in hard-fought victory over Dallas Stars

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
6 months ago
The comeback kids did it again as the Calgary Flames overcame early deficits, goal callbacks, whistles being put away and more to defeat the Dallas Stars 4-3 in overtime. A night where many could have used a teammate being traded as a distraction the no excuses attitude continued – business as usual. Ryan Huska deserves heaps of credit for keeping his guys focused and always pushing late into games. The Flames may just be the hardest working third period team in the league this season – they are truly never out of a game. If their goaltenders can keep it close they’ll fight tooth and nail till the final horn blares.
CF% – 50.26%, SCF% – 48.01%, HDCF% – 43.58%, xGF% – 50.76%
It’s a Team Game – While the final metrics may look like Calgary played an even game – or maybe one where they were slightly outmatched – that doesn’t tell the entire story. The first period was largely controlled by the Stars in terms of dangerous chances as well as overall attempts. Calgary had the lead but it slipping away didn’t look that unlikely. The second and third periods saw them get drastically better, so much so that the third period felt completely in their control. It ended up being more about whether the Stars could actually hang on in the end. (Breaking news: they did not).
Corsi King – Limited minutes again, but in his later shifts you could really see Adam Ruzicka (71.95%) pushing pressure towards the attacking zone. Connor Zary (67.62%) was the most noticeable Flame on the ice every time he hopped over the boards. Paired next to the speed Pospisil (67.55%) has when going north/south it’s created a lot of havoc for other teams. Amazing that two November call-ups are doing this level of damage on a consistent basis.
Corsi Clown – Elias Lindholm (25.60%) had flashes with his line, but most of the positivity was driven by Mangiapane (33.41%). Honestly outside of the power play I barely noticed linemate Sharangovich (34.84%). A rough 5v5 night for that trio, but I will say I thought Mangiapane played a better game than that dictates. He was cooking while his linemates weren’t – at least he was rewarded when his great end-to-end rush resulted in Tanev’s (44.66%) goal.
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – I do not think Jordan Oesterle (45.76 SCF% // 0 HDCF%) is the answer on the blueline, and I don’t think the GM thinks that either. Ryan Huska did comment on his game and say he noticed some improvements in the parts of his game they want him to work on, but that roster spot will be for a younger player in the near future. My personal guess would be Ilya Solovyov as Jeremie Poirier is currently injured and he’s ahead of Yan Kuznetsov in his development. Oesterle may be able to get chances but too quickly he fires them off in a low percentage play. He needs to use his teammates more and keep up possession – the defenceman should not be the usual trigger-man at 5v5. The 5v5 leader in raw HDCF was Noah Hanifin (51.99% // 55.07%) on defence and Jonathan Huberdeau (41.48% // 52.16%) with his line on offence.
xG Breakdown –
xGF% – The two standouts were Ružička (81.67%) and Connor Zary (73.59%). I’ll double down on the thought that Ružička played a solid game. He was able to push play to the attacking zone in his limited minutes – exactly what he needs to do if he ever wants to earn more. The other guy on the fourth line with some more skill is there because he lost his job in the top 9. Dillon Dubé (22.78%) continues to operate like the shell of his former self. The top 9 has clearly been set and the ticker for how long he could be in the lineup is on so long as Pelletier progresses towards being healthy. A fresh start could be on the horizon for Dillon if he can’t piece things back together.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – Markstrom had time to have a nap as he only faced a limited number of actual shots, not because the Stars weren’t shooting it because the Flames kept blocking them. Made two things true 1) Markstrom had an easier night than he was expecting 2) his numbers look terrible because of the lack of shots that actually got through. He wasn’t that far off though with 1.97 expected goals faced and just the 2 getting by him at 5v5, both of the high danger variety. No weak goals is a major difference from last year to this one.
Today’s Specials – Stop. Hold your horses the Flames power play actually looked, dare I say it, dangerous? Noah Hanifin the new quarterback had the puck slinging and zipping around the zone with the man advantage – everyone found success in their new power play roles too. They didn’t score on it with only the 2 opportunities, albeit the referees were missing calls on purpose. (Not confirmed, just was very clear they had the whistles In their pocket until a slash broke a stick forcing their hand.) It was an extra positive amongst the victory.
Player Spotlight – Nikita Zadorov – Now that he’s been traded and me talking about the downsides in his game wont effect his trade value (if it ever did in the first place, doubtful) I feel free to say a few things. For starters, Zadorov found more success in Calgary than every other stop because the coaches severely managed his minutes and deployment. A defensive minded defenceman they avoided for years from starting in his own end – quite useful. He also managed under 20 minutes a night and when had to play more than that would end up on the wrong side of the shot/quality share frequently. If the team acquiring him (the Canucks) do not manage his game in a similar manner it may end up looking like the Flames got an overpay. He was great for a quote, great for a hit, and great for a penalty a game but he was not – and continues to not be – worth much more than what he was acquired for. Now the Flames can be free to try Solovyov, Poirier, or even Kuznetsov if they so please as well as adding a significant chunk of cap space for daily operations.
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1. Connor Zary
2. Jonathan Huberdeau
3. Nazem Kadri
(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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