Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames have better game than some may think, lose to Oilers’ top-end talent

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
1 year ago
It’s rough to see because that game was well within the Calgary Flames’ grasp in terms of finding a win – but they made some bad moves on the back end late. Not to completely discredit the Oilers but if Calgary had a bit more finish they could have taken game 2 themselves. The parade to the penalty box wasn’t enjoyed by either fanbase and became a bigger story than it needed to be, but bottom line is Edmonton has the special teams advantage. Period. If the Flames want to advance they have to be completely disciplined – not even 4v4 benefits them.
CF% – 60.01%, SCF% – 50.86%, HDCF% – 64.87%, xGF% – 56.3%
It’s a Team Game – The start was just what Calgary wanted, but you can only contain a motivated McDavid for so long. I’m willing to admit we saw his skill on full display and the only things Flames fans can really do when they watch it happen is curse a little bit. He’s appeared to become even more physically stronger on the puck than he used to be and is just dangerous all around. A series changing difference would have been a healthy Chris Tanev – but even having him McDavid would still be making things extremely difficult. In the series preview I mentioned he’d take over some games for them to win some – so far he’s been the best player in 2 games.
Corsi King – Brett Ritchie (75.88 CF%) led the Flames in terms of ratio, but in limited 5v5 time. Andrew Mangiapane (73.73%) has been on fire since playing the least amount of time in a game in the first round – but all the skill needs to turn into goals on nights the opposition is capitalizing on whatever chance they get. Calgary overall led the way in shot attempts at 5v5, but when the pesky Oilers power play takes over there’s not much anyone can do. It’s been two games of the Flames staying the course and I don’t see it changing going to Edmonton for games 3 and 4.
Corsi Clown – Only one guy was on the clear side of negative shot attempt differential and that was Tyler Toffoli (47.75%). He scored the Flames power play goal but was fine all night. The Flames problems didn’t really lie with their forwards the goals that came late were on errors by the defence. Keep things simple and make sure the puck is in front of you and taking the Oilers down is more than just feasible – pinching for chances because you blew 2-0 and 3-1 leads is not going to win you many games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Taken By Chance – Flames player Dillon Dubé (50.23 SCF% // 100 HDCF%) was the only Calgary skater to get multiple high danger chances for and none against. Interesting tidbit in tonight’s statistical script – Noah Hanifin (29.84% // 100%) and Rasmus Andersson (22.09% // 100%) saw way more overall quality of chances against them, but not one was a high danger look. Oilers really didn’t get that many chances that were crazy dangerous – but every one they did get went in the back of the net. Flames could have used a big save.
xGF% – The Flames top line was out creating offence but did struggle to exit the zone at times. Matthew Tkachuk (66.03 xGF%), Elias Lindholm (64.24%), and Johnny Gaudreau (59.69%) got their looks – Johnny had a great point-blank chance late – but couldn’t match the Oilers top end production. The Oilers themselves need to be careful – they basically played the game with just 7 forwards and if they keep tiring their team out like that it could backfire. Calgary has still looked consistent in their checking effort every shift – and also rolls their lines without giving preferential treatment to anyone too often. If they stick with it they could easily find at least a split in Edmonton.
Game Flow –
You can clearly see on these charts when the power plays are in effect the line stays at whatever level it was at until the power play expires. If you take a gander at how much momentum in terms of chances Edmonton were able to gain on the power play it changes this to actually favour them. That’s how deadly their special teams are – and they’ve been playing with more speed. Calgary still finds time for extended possessions, but they do need to figure out their discipline before it gets to be too late.
Game Score – The top Flame ended up being Brett Ritchie (1.70 game // 0.28 average). Johnny Gaudreau (1.63 // 1.86) followed him – he did look dangerous tonight. Evander Kane noticeably went out of his way to hit Gaudreau a few times in this one – something he said he was going to do beforehand. It hardly phased Johnny who was still attacking the Oilers D when he felt he had space. It didn’t work out in this game, but I would say there is a high chance it re-occurs.
Shot Heatmap –
Volume in the crease was still to Calgary’s advantage but it wasn’t at the level it was in Game 1. Oilers kept things concentrated and made sure to get to the middle of the ice. Everyone thinks they have Markstrom’s number, but if the Flames defence plays at their top level Markstrom tends to be able to go on a stretch. One helps the other – another reason Flames fans are really missing Chris Tanev. He played last year with broken ribs so whatever is ailing him must be real bad if he’s not suiting up.
In The Crease – There’s a lot of public blame getting steered towards the Flames netminder, but if any goaltender is left to dry on consistent breakaways against NHL talent he’ll crack at some point. Andersson gets out muscled low on the power play in the Oilers slot and that leads to the 4-3 goal. Zadorov is a bit indecisive on what he wants to do on a neutral zone puck and allows Draisaitl to get a step on him. Power play goals, 4v4 goals and the team themselves aren’t doing a good job of helping out their goaltender. Shore up the high danger stuff and limit the penalties, Markstrom should be able to bounce back. 1.52 expected goals against with one high danger and one medium danger goal against.
Today’s Specials – How does one stay out of the box? By staying out of the box. It’s more complicated on some nights – tonight the refs felt like pulling one guy from scrums instead of sending it to 4v4 play, but then picks the Flames player multiple times in a row. You have to deal with the ref hand your dealt – complaining about it might make you feel good but the score isn’t going to get changed. Acknowledge it was the Oilers got through that game and if the refs going forward limit the penalties that leans into Calgary’s favour. Only time will tell.
Player Spotlight – Nikita Zadorov – His overall body of work has been good – he’s just occasionally been making some big glaring puck handling mistakes. Other teams seem to be targeting his side for zone entries as he’s struggled with the Edmonton speed a bit. He’s still done more things better than bad things, but if the odd big mistake could be eliminated instead for just a simple possessive play that would be awesome. Of course, all this is way easier said than done – especially trying to slow down McDavid.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Johnny Gaudreau
2) Andrew Mangiapane
3) Brett Ritchie
The series is tied 1-1. Game 3 is in Edmonton on Sunday night.
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com)


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