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Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames end up in a Rocky Mountain goal drought

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Photo credit:Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
8 months ago
Two games into Calgary/Colorado and I want to just watch these teams play each other for the rest of the season. Back and forth action – no team really ever taking complete control of the game despite having multi-goal wins in both match ups. On Sunday the Flames started and ended hot, but the Avs were able to snag momentum in the middle frame through until MacKinnon took his hooking penalty. After that Calgary poured on the attack in waves only to be thwarted by Darcy Kuemper at every turn. It would be a gift to see more of this in a back-to-back setting.
CF% – 47.34%, SCF% – 54.63%, HDCF% – 71.05%, xGF% – 54.89%
It’s a Team Game – Although the high danger chance difference was heavily in favour of Calgary (12 to 5) it sure did not seem like that for a large portion of this match. Calgary sticks to their gameplan of maintaining possession in an almost robotic fashion at this point of the season – it’s more than enough to wear out fresh opponents as the game goes on. Tonight, the main problem was the goaltender stopping everything – no shame in the fact that this Colorado team was able to come away with a win. These are the two best teams in the western conference right now – playoffs could tell a different story but as of this moment it’s these two in the west.
Corsi King – Brett Ritchie (61.77 CF%) led the Flames in terms of ratios and actually had an effective game in every aspect other than scoring. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to score at all this year and if he wants to stay in the lineup he’s going to need to convert all these attempts and high-danger chances into actual goals. If you don’t produce in at least some aspect eventually your chances are going to run out – even if you do the little things like getting puck in deep right. Nikita Zadorov (59.37%) seems to be getting better as the games go on – finally getting a coach that knows how to use him is doing wonders to help him develop his mobility. It has come a long way from where he was in October. Now if only we could get him to stop taking penalties…
Corsi Clown – Trevor Lewis (30.80 CF%) goes from topping the charts against Detroit to trying to tread water against the Avalanche. Blake Coleman (31.94%) and Mikael Backlund (50.09%) were his linemates – the penalty killing situations made the spread of competition a bit odd at times. A real fun fact is that the Flames top line actually saw more Corsi events go the opposite way BUT they were able to create so many more dangerous chances despite that lack of possession. Like I said – interesting. Flames did win the overall quality of shots battle – fell a little shy in the goals department though.
Taken By Chance – Matthew Tkachuk (46.81 SCF% // 100 HDCF%) made some fantastic defensive plays late too to keep the puck transitioning the other direction. A couple posts ago I said what Lindholm (46.97% // 83.41%) does allows Tkachuk to play so effectively. That wasn’t a slight on Tkachuk in any way, more just a massive compliment to Lindholm. The offensive driver of them both is Johnny Gaudreau (52.45% // 85.78%). Together all three players make up the best line in hockey and it’s not because of any one individual in particular.
xGF% – I wanted to take the time to touch on the fact that Dillon Dubé (63.15%) had a decent game against a very good Avalanche club whilst playing third line center. Less turnovers and a more efficient use of his speed – if he slows down just a tad while checking to get the puck back he can cover more passing lanes and create more natural turnovers. Adam Ružička may have gone down to Stockton but he’ll be back for the stretch drive of the playoffs (and more than likely beyond that) – Mangiapane (63.45%) and Toffoli (77.28%) complemented Dubé well.
Game Flow –
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I do like these charts because they capture total momentum between the two teams. Every individual chance moves the line either towards Calgary’s side or to the opposition’s side – the more dangerous the chance the more the line moves in the direction of that teams logo. Now that you know that look how dangerous the final chances in the first period were. Darcy Kuemper lets a 1-1 goal in after the first and Calgary could possibly have found a way to take control. He didn’t and that was a major – if not the key – difference in the game.
Game Score – It should be mentioned top score from either team was Darcy Kuemper (3.01 game // 0.32 average) – who faced over 3 expected goals of shots (in all situations) and allowed none. Nikita Zadorov (1.05 // 0.62) was the top ranked Flame and the fourth most impactful by game score overall. Chris Tanev (0.80 // 0.83) gets the 5v5 goal scored against him and still finishes top 5 overall. Tanev got there by having the most individual xGF of any player in the whole game. The man was very much in on helping create the offensive attempts Sunday.
Shot Heatmap –
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Calgary once again swarms the opposition’s crease with chances, using the defencemen if stymied from charging the slot from the corners. They really do have it fine-tuned, but some nights the pucks just don’t go in. You can sit and dwell on it or you can enjoy the next two days off and get rested and ready for the Devils. I have a suspicion i know which one this team will choose.
In The Crease – He may not have got the win but that wasn’t for a lack of trying. The goal at 5v5 was classified as a medium danger goal – MacKinnon was above the hashmarks. Good players have good shots, they also know how to find space and utilize it in a matter of milliseconds. To myself this loss can’t be pinned on Vladar he had a 0.966 5v5 SV% while facing 1.92 expected goals. Expected by whom? Well expected by the Avs of course! Okay, no more nonsensical math jokes.
Today’s Specials – I’m not entirely sure more power plays would have helped when Kuemper was on such a mission for revenge. He was not happy he got pulled 8 days ago and he bounces back by not letting the Calgary Flames see that little red light above the glass go off. The PK finally let one leak through – it was from fairly far out and you hope your goalie can kind of get that one a bit. I know I just praised Vladar, and I stick by that, but still maybe you want that first one back.
Player Spotlight – Michael Stone – I hardly have any complaints about Stone filling in while Kylington is out with injury, but one play stands out as to why the Flames need Kylington to come back. Stone tried to pinch at the opposing goal line for a big hit and the result was an immediate odd-man rush the other way. Kylington steps up and has the skating ability to get back on the backcheck, Stone just couldn’t quite do it. He hasn’t had much game action so we’ll emphasize that – it was just his fourth game this year – but that is a stark difference between the two. Also, the fact that it’s easier to maintain possession with a left shot on the left boards, but the speed is more important.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Johnny Gaudreau
2) Chris Tanev
3) Nikita Zadorov
The Flames host the New Jersey Devils next Wednesday night at 8 p.m. MT.
 (Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com)

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