Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames get touchdown on bad Sabres defensive play

Photo credit:Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
1 year ago
After a couple of losses its nice to play a game where the bounces start going your way. The Calgary Flames took advantage of Buffalo’s bad rush defence and inability to defend in front of their net. The Sabres spent the first half of the game without the puck on their stick taking their high flying offence out of it. Most encouraging was the heavy push in the third to pile on the lead instead of playing it safe. The Sabres provided little resistance but you always hope a game like this can spark a bit of a run.
CF% – 66.8%, SCF% – 63.91%, HDCF% – 61.45%, xGF% – 71.05%
It’s a team game – There wasn’t a Flames player that took this game off and everyone was rolling. Early goaltending woes went away as fast as they arrived and Calgary stuck to their gameplan well. Only one player actually ended up finishing on the lower half of ratios I cover. Buffalo did not bring their best, but you can only play the game in front of you. The two points were needed to keep hope alive for the playoffs which is still this team’s goal.
Corsi King – MacKenzie Weegar (85.51%) and Nikita Zadorov (78.71%) had themselves a really dominant game. Much needed with Rasmus Andersson out. If the Flames D ever gets truly to full strength I like to keep this pair together and see the other guy (ideally Kylington) with Tanev. It would make 3 extremely formidable pairings you could play anywhere with very few worries. Brett Ritchie (75.35%) got back in the lineup and immediately brought the fourth line into positive shot attempts instead of turmoiling below 50%. 8 players finished above 70%
Corsi Clown – Dennis Gilbert (45.74%) and Michael Stone (48.05%) were the only guys under 50% and it was marginal. I could care less because the story surrounding Gilbert and his goal outweighs everything. Back in his hometown with family – including his grandmother – in the building? Core memories made. These two defencemen provide exactly what we expect in terms of play – also maybe the Flames should do something with Mackey if they aren’t going to use him.
Under Pressure – 
Taken By Chance – I’ll get the one negative out of the way – Michael Stone (36.40 SCF% // 19.86 HDCF%) saw 4 high danger chances against and only helped create 1. He’s not been a steady a presence as the Flames need him to be – hasn’t been for awhile now. The positive to follow is every single forward won their match-ups – Weegar (85.98% // 87.77%) and Kadri (67.73% // 70.91%) with over 6 high danger chances involved each. That whole line including Huberdeau (68.85% // 66.63%) was fantastic for the Flames this afternoon.
xG Breakdown – 
xGF% – Pelletier (94.08%) is not going anywhere anytime soon – more on him below. 5 players over 80% and tonight wasn’t spurred by heavy shot volume from low scoring areas. The Flames took their time – made dangerous passes on the rush – and created chaos around the crease frequently. When you have everybody except one player on your roster above 50% you controlled pretty much everything. The Sabres really played quite bad – but the Flames needed that badly.
Game Flow – 
Game Score – 
Shot Heatmap –
(That’s what I like to see – good job, boys, getting to the net.)
In the Crease – It was a pretty shaky start with 2 goal on 3 shots. Luck for Markstrom the Sabres only managed to get 4 total in the first half of the game. Calgary really never gave Markstrom a chance to redeem himself because they decided to just keep the puck on their stick. 1.48 expected goals against at 5v5 with one medium danger chance getting behind him. It was enough for the win and that’s what you need.
Player Spotlight – Jakob Pelletier – The first of many I’m sure congratulations Jakob on your first NHL goal. It’s been coming ever since he played his first game and as he gets more familiar with his linemates more will come. The kicker on that goal was Pelletier gaining three stride lengths on the Sabres player as he raced to get into scoring position. Not many players have his level of speed on Calgary – if he can use it effectively there is no reason he should be sent back. He hardly saw any significant chances against while he was on the ice – constantly playing really good hockey.
The Goals – 
Flashalytics 3 Stars
  1. Dube
  2. Pelletier
  3. Toffoli

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