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Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames hit major reflection point after scraping by a win against the Blackhawks

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
25 days ago
The All-Star break couldn’t come at a more important time for a Calgary Flames team that struggled to dominate an extremely subpar Chicago Blackhawks team. In one of their slowest starts to the season the Calgary Flames were letting constant dangerous looks in the first period, but found the strength to come together and improve as the game progressed to aid their goaltender. Markstrom more than earned his 20th career shutout with another performance that truly solidifies he is back to prime form. The Flames – while probably still heading in a selling direction – should be wary of team results with a goaltender carrying them this hard.
CF% – 55.88%, SCF% – 53.24%, HDCF% – 41.62%, xGF% – 50.75%
It’s a Team Game – Plenty of questions do arise from this game. Number one is why the coach fails to trust the fourth line – against the Chicago Blackhawks of all teams – under 5 minutes at 5v5. In fact, Adam Klapka played just 2:10 the entire game. Their overall results in their limited minutes were quite bad, but this shows this team is still not focused on development – instead trying to sneak into the playoffs for a waste of eight days. Two players largely considered to be on the block in Chris Tanev (24:18) and Elias Lindholm (21:46) are still being relied upon in massive roles – the bedrock of how this team functions Is going to be shook real soon. It will be worth monitoring how the Flames head coach adjusts his line deployments after the roster moves are made.
Corsi King – Andrew Mangiapane (89.45%) and the Backlund (86.05%) trio have been nothing short of fantastic since being reunited. They should never be separated as long as they are all under contract together. As a group they saw only 4 shot attempts – of any variety – against while registering over 25 for. 5 high danger chances to none against. They were the only line to really show up all night long. Mind you the rest of the combinations were seeing game action for the first time as intended trios.
Corsi Clown – I already touched on the fourth line, but truth be told they didn’t play enough to have a chance to correct any bad shifts they started with. Rasmus Andersson (33%) would be the lowest skater that held any true expectations of being good. Take away a partner that covers for the defensive deficiencies he’s shown this season and he did not swim. Jonathan Huberdeau (38.17%) also did not function well after the line swap – almost nullifying the Kadri (44.01%) and Zary (40.23%) chemistry that usually pops 3+ times a game.
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – To repeat – Backlund (86.68 SCF% // 82.21 HDCF%) line were the winners here at 5-0 in terms of chances. Well, Backlund faced one high danger chance the other two did not – that can happen if penalties end or a shift change occurs on the fly. Andersson (17.22% // 15.43%) saw over 10 high danger chances against. No, I didn’t mistype that he really let the 2023-24 Chicago Blackhawks without Connor Bedard put up 10 high danger chances at 5v5 against him. It wasn’t all him, the Kadri (33.37% // 16.96%) trio all got absolutely run over too. Most of it was a combination of the 5 players on the ice failing to work in harmony in the first period. If Markstrom wasn’t the guy this game has a high likelihood of being a Flames loss.
xG Breakdown –
xGF% – Oliver Kylington (61.72%) amazingly looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. His speed on the backend is something almost impossible to replicate and creates so many advantages for him – and the team – while he’s out there. To be able to sit and watch him fly around the rink again is special. Matt Coronato (51.05%) didn’t seem too bad with a line change three games after being called up. I still think having Sharangovich (49.61%) and him on the same line is a waste of two lethal shots and no real set-up man. Coronato’s been good since the recall – he’ll go back to the Wranglers presumably till the trade deadline passes, but with all the injuries the Flames are suffering from that opinion of mine may not come to fruition.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – How you let the Blackhawks put up 2.2 worth of expected goals at 5v5 is beyond me. Maybe some guys checked out early, maybe the 4-game losing streak has sucked some of the hope out of the supposedly strong veteran room, or maybe sometimes this team just doesn’t have that one guy that can take over every shift and dominate the lesser teams. I said it in the opening lead and I’ll say it again – the record of this team is massively inflated because of Markstrom. The roster playing in front of him has not been a .500 club and the decision going forward need to take that into account. This “playoff” push they keep dreaming about – and making nightly coaching decisions reflecting this mindset – need to adjust soon to better reflect the needs of the future of this franchise. By no means am I expecting the coach to not try and win, but you can certainly try while playing players more than 2:10 against a largely AHL roster.
Player Spotlight – Chris Tanev – I just want to take a moment and appreciate him while he still wears the Flaming C. All of the dirty work he put in to make sure the crowd got to see a competitive game every time he put his equipment is not lost on a hardworking city like Calgary. Sadly, this business marches forward as inevitably as time passes and it does look like his time in Calgary will come to an end. I am on record for saying his deal was going to be one of the worst the Flames signed at the time of the signing, his subsequent season where he was beyond elite defensively changed how I analyzed numbers and looked at the game of hockey. I always want to look for something that can help me learn or advance ways I can watch plays on the ice – Tanev brought that to me. I am ever so grateful he came here, and he will forever have a fan in myself. 
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Jacob Markstrom
2) Elias Lindholm
3) Andrew Mangiapane
(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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