Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames continue to struggle for offence

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
1 year ago
It’s going to be hard to hear – and many of you are going to call me crazy – but I thought the Calgary Flames once again did all the little things right for most of the game. They dominated possession, dominated scoring chances, dominated the high danger and the high-quality chances as well and yet they find themselves short on actual goals more nights than not. I’m not going to sugar coat it the goaltending tonight wasn’t a positive factor either. Calgary can’t get past the two things in hockey you can never truly control – save percentage and shooting percentage.
CF% – 65.71%, SCF% – 55.21%, HDCF% – 55.36%, xGF% – 62.39%
It’s a Team Game – Now while I think they did most little things right I do have critiques too. The first period was played at a very slow pace. Hard to get any emotion into the game when 6 shots have been taken 15 minutes in. The team was able to dial up the attack late they just don’t have any way to sustain a consistent attack. When the defence settles and forces a point shot and loses the possession you spent 30 seconds to establish that hurts the entire team. The forwards are typically doing their jobs most nights – outside of scoring goals – but still playing strong two-way hockey. The Flames defence seemingly have blunders every night. Not everyone can keep the play alive and they’re letting in high numbers of possessive zone entries. Those trends don’t add up to long-term success.
Corsi King – Chris Tanev (88.84%) I think is still very under-appreciated on a national stage. This guy has a claim to being the best pure defensive defenceman in the league. He excels at transitioning the puck and has passing statistics that are off the charts. He constantly makes the right play to keep the cycle going – understanding that keeping the play on the forwards sticks is usually a better option than a slapshot through 12 legs. He does so much for the Flames offence and never gets credit for it because that work comes in his own zone. If you’ve got young kids playing defence tell them to watch how Chris Tanev picks up dump-ins to his defensive zone – they’ll learn a lot of good to great habits.
Corsi Clown – Freshly back from an accident that wasn’t his fault I’m not saying one bad word about Rasmus Andersson (46.89%). If he was banged up enough to miss 3 games after not missing 300+ then playing today was still a struggle – no doubt in my mind there. He gets a pass and I’m glad he’s back – Calgary needs him if they’re going to keep their offensive numbers semi-respectable.
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – 7 high danger chances for and none against for Chris Tanev (94.68 SCF% // 100 HDCF%). He spent pretty well the entire time of his in the offensive zone. Jakob Pelletier (85.52% // 100%) was a spark plug again. When Calgary needed speed three players kept the pace going for the Flames: Pelletier, Kadri (85.40% // 100%), and Dubé (41.75% // 31.03%). Dubé’s numbers may not have fared well but make no mistake he was one of the better looking pure skaters out there for Calgary that tilt.
xG Breakdown –
xGF% – Here’s the problem 8 players with over 70% of the expected goal share and none of them actually got a goal. Someone has got to keep scoring. The top 9 forward lines seemingly have great metrics every game but if it never translates to goals, it’s all for naught. The goaltending has rightfully been under fire this season, but it goes beyond that. Calgary has had more structurally good games than bad – but now even getting into the dangerous area and playing the kind of hockey you want them to play they are coming up short. Eventually either the strategy needs to change, the personnel need to change, or the general needs to change. Something.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – That was some not-so-great stuff from Dan Vladar. A guy whose been a rock all season has a hiccup so it’s not worth villainizing him for it but calling what happened for what it is I consider to be a fair evaluation too. The Suter goal was a backbreaker – sucking the hope out of the Saddledome crowd and the Flames couldn’t execute to get the energy back. 3 medium danger goals on 1.54 expected goals against (5v5).
Player Spotlight – Nobody – I really have nobody to highlight. Usually, you can talk about a guy on a streak, but we just talked about Dubé. Or a young kid making a positive impact, but Pelletier gets his fair share of love each week. Nobody on this team is standing above the crowd on a nightly basis and saying, “Lets march to the playoffs boys”. Everybody is playing good, but nobody is playing great. The Calgary Flames need a little dose of greatness right now. 
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Chris Tanev
2) Jakob Pelletier
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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