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Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames defeat Devils with an advantage in the crease

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Photo credit:John Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
4 months ago
The Calgary Flames weren’t as polished as the game against the Bruins, but still managed to keep their offensive momentum up. Despite the return of Jack Hughes the Devils weren’t able to overwhelm the Flames whose new additions to the lineup continue to make a difference. Both of those realities combined to send the Flames into the win column on Thursday night.
CF% – 51.35%, SCF% – 49.76%, HDCF% – 48.29%, xGF% – 52.8%
It’s a Team Game – The Devils should have left the first period with at least three goals but ran into the wall of Markstrom. The second period was where Calgary found their pushback being able to find 7 high danger looks at 5v5. The Devils are consistent though and found a large pushback in the third frame. The main difference largely came down to the quality of each teams goaltending which was a clear advantage for the Flames. The Devils certainly had more players with some flashy plays, but when your goaltender lets in soft goals it’s hard to get anywhere.
Corsi King – Walker Duehr (68.90%), Kevin Rooney (62.90%), and Jakob Pelletier (55.85%) have given the Flames the most reliable fourth line stretch of play they have seen since before Christmas. Yes, I know it’s been two games, but that’s how long it’s been since the coach had enough trust to send that group out on a consistent basis. Yegor Sharangovich (65.52%) had another game where he didn’t look out of place as a centre – a trend that everyone will be keeping a close eye on.
Corsi Clown – A rare game where the Backlund (31.8%) line got hemmed in their own zone. There’s only one man left to shoulder the defensive responsibility. The proof is in the zone starts where the Backlund line started 9 times in their own end compared to just once in the offensive zone and once in the neutral zone. They still managed to score too! They had a very minimal amount of raw expected goals against for the amount of shot attempts they faced – all of this with the amount of defensive zone responsibility is crazy stuff.
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – The 123 line needs to take a bow. Huberdeau (82.19 SCF% // 100 HDCF%), Kuzmenko (73.29% // 100%), and Sharangovich (82.19% // 100%) all were involved in 6 high danger chances for and zero against. They were completely sheltered from any defensive zone starts but the offensive gusto Kuzmenko adds to the other two has made for a thrill ride in the offensive zone at least once a period. Dynamite game that should ensure an extended run together – if Coach Huska keeps the offensive focus on them up they could find some fire results. Don’t need to worry about their defensive effort if they are attacking every shift.
xG Breakdown –
xGF% – Enough about the forwards, who I really have no formal complaints over. Even the guys with nights below their averages – like Kadri (36.61%) – managed to contribute to some offence. On defence we had the Flames top 4 D all look sharp and then had Pachal (35.15%) and Kylington (44.64%) subject to over a full expected goal of chances against. Since we are talking zone starts it’s worth noting Pachal had none – at all. 14:09 of 5v5 ice all coming from on-the-fly shifts. Noah Hanifin (59.76%) continues to shine with creativity in the offensive zone. He’s really increased his offensive approach in the attacking zone as the years gone on.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – Markstrom did everything you want your starting goaltender to do, and then some, but he does that seemingly every night for the Flames. Without Markstrom there’s no playoff talk after trading your number 1 centre away, he showed that tonight in a duel he won quite handily against the opposition. 2.87 expected goals against at 5v5 with just 2 getting past him. A .941 save percentage against an offensively charged, youthful team with consistent scoring veterans. One heck of a job.
The Goals –
*The Empty-Net Goal was not found within 30 seconds of searching so I’ll just describe it to you: It went in an empty-net, the end.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
 1) Andrei Kuzmenko
2) Jacob Markstrom
3) Kevin Rooney
(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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