Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames can’t keep up with Maple Leafs star power

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
7 months ago
It was all fun and games until it ended, and Nikita Zadorov had his agent demand a trade out of Calgary – souring the positivity of the regression the Flames were so fortunate to have bestowed upon them. Make no mistake this was not a game the Flames should have won, nor was it a game they should have been able to steal a point from. Eventually though, the goals come, and Calgary was able to get in tight on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltender to capitalize on their chances. Overtime itself was electric and could have saw either team take it, but instead of more fun hockey it ended in the already-too-worn-out shootout, with a 5-4 final score.
CF% – 39.36%, SCF% – 36.06%, HDCF% – 37.46%, xGF% – 38.15%
It’s a Team Game – Fortunate as heck to have been able to even get to overtime the Flames leaked over 5 high danger chances in each of the second and third periods. Dan Vladar had to step up and make some amazing saves late in the second period to avoid a team deflation and kept it strong whenever Matthews, Marner, Nylander, or Tavares came after them. One thing the statistics don’t say is how entertaining it became to watch. Back and forth play with no regard for defence may give the coaches nightmares, but for the fans it was must-watch hockey. Overtime was bananas and extending it – while the NHLPA may say no – would come with a high recommendation from this interested party.
Corsi King – Nikita Zadorov (59.59%) wants out at his statistical peak. Never in his career has he ever been more impactful in a positive manner than what he has displayed this season. They are going to sell him at the peak of his value, just what does that return look like. The fans dreams of high first rounders and former top-10 picks should be thrown away, it just is not realistic. Is he worth more than the third rounder they paid to get him with? Absolutely. Think second rounder and a decent prospect… plus whatever contract it takes to make the money work.
Corsi Clown – Adam Ružička (22.83%) is making my opinions look bad. Two straight rough games in a row, but I do think he is better suited on a scoring line as a winger rather than as a fourth line pivot. Still, with everyone else struggling him being able to find production – as well as aiding in pushing the play north – would be welcomed. That was only his 84th career game though, and they’re still giving Dubé (39%) the benefit of the doubt even though he’s played over 200 games. Time is still on Ruzicka’s side. Rasmus Andersson (25.09%) and MacKenzie Weegar (24.61%) failed to contain the constant barrage from the Leafs elite. John Tavares and William Nylander walked around/through them all night long.
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – Shout-out to the chaos Martin Pospisil (38.48 SCF% // 50.35 HDCF%) brought to the game. He’s found two NHL goals within an arm’s length of the crease – more goals are going to come if he finds himself there. In a dark start to the season the guy whose career almost got derailed by injuries finding success right away? What a shining light. Let’s focus on that and not Zadorov’s foot already being inside a taxi ready to leave. I bash Ruzicka (12.26% // 100%) for being stuck in his own zone for his limited ice time, but he and his linemates did not surrender a 5v5 high danger chance. They spent the majority of their time in their own zone and scored the one time they got outside of it, not quality defence by any means but passable.
xG Breakdown –
xGF% – 11 total skaters finished below the 40% mark. The Leafs dominated the quality share and it wasn’t just because the Flames got perimeter shots. The Leafs defenders found holes in the Flames defence all night, Swiss cheese in terms of defending passes. Nylander didn’t even need to look at half of them and they were tape-to-tape. Defenders out of position, chasing guys, and forwards not giving much effort defending coming back into their own zone. Changing up the personnel with trades already may not be a bad thing. Thankful for Zary (35.51%) even though as the game went on he got more locked up.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – 2.83 expected goals against with only two 5v5 goals getting behind him. If it weren’t for him this could have been a blowout on home ice for Toronto. The only goals to beat him were of the high danger variety too – no major weak ones. He probably wants the second one back, but the defenders in front of the crease need to just be vastly improved. Vladar has had a lot of rough outings during his recent starts, this one was quality. That SOL point can be attributed largely to Vladar.
Player Spotlight – Elias Lindholm – Huberdeau has taken a lot of the heat on the bad play from the top line, I mean he is the one the coach chose to bench after all. Lindholm has escaped critical judgment for far too long though – he’s the number one centre that’s supposed to drive the line. He’s been on the losing side of most match-ups this season and hasn’t been that difference maker the Flames need him to be. He’s escaped a lot of critique because the winds were blowing towards number 10 and 91, but with Kadri finding his groove alongside Zary and Huberdeau already taking the first full blown shot from the coach it’s a matter of time before Lindholm’s number comes to rise. They simply need more out of him – but maybe he’s checked out too? Better find out pretty quick so you can properly steer the franchise in the direction it needs to go.
The Goals –
Hey Siri, play Sara McLaughlin and play what could be Zadorov’s last possible goal as a Flame
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Dan Vladar
2) Nikita Zadorov
3) Martin Pospisil
(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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