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Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames hold off talented young Buffalo Sabres squad to collect gutsy win

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Photo credit:Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
5 months ago
Blake Coleman used a great word to describe this game for the Calgary Flames – resilient. Defined as the ability to recover quickly from difficult conditions that is exactly what occurred with the Flames. Three times the Buffalo Sabres responded to a Flames lead with an answering goal, and 3 times the Flames scored next to keep in control. The scoring didn’t just come from one output either, all four lines were able to get on the board. A big win on the road against a super-skilled, young, energetic Sabres squad.
CF% – 61.19%, SCF% – 59.48%, HDCF% – 66.47%, xGF% – 64.09%
It’s a Team Game – Period by period the metrics for the Flames actually fell off to the point the Sabres controlled the quality share battle in the third. Overall, the best period was the first with the team showing an early season trend of starting hot. Recent editions of the Flames have had problems showing up for games on time but so far head coach Ryan Huska has this team ready to go from the open… not counting the Winnipeg game. They still won the overall shot attempt battle, the high danger battle, and most importantly the we-actually-scored-more-goals battle.
Corsi King – Matt Coronato (74.88%) showed well in limited ice time. He didn’t get any defensive zone starts, and also lost a few shifts to some vets in the middle of the game, but he showed up well and still had his patented never-ending hustle on full display. The fake shot before the Coleman goal to hold Levi honest was another nice touch – I really enjoy what I see from him. Speaking of nice Jukes – Yegor Sharangovich (70.07%) had Levi out of his pants on a great move in the third. He’s not scored yet, but his amazing shot (with on-net accuracy) has been on display. Since he started centring Duehr (68.37%) and Greer (70.27%) that line has not “lost” a match-up in three straight games – very much overpowering the competition they have faced.
Corsi Clown – The line of Kadri (50.18%), Dubé (43.72%), and Ružička (39.76%) continue to struggle to create opportunities shift in and shift out. All the other lines seem to be clicking quite well so I can see why this trio is still together. Throw in that they are producing still despite the limited amount of offence they’ve generated and why change what’s working? Because it really doesn’t appear to be sustainable long term. The saving grace here is that the season is still so young with a lot of runway left – and the eventual return of Jakob Pelletier – they have time to figure out how to possibly work together.
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – I love to call out the perfect high danger performances – the players who helped generate at least 1 high danger chance or more themselves while surrendering nothing. In this game 5 players qualified: Matt Coronato (63.01% // 100 HDCF%), Blake Coleman (69.65% // 100%), Mikael Backlund (69.65% // 100%), Chris Tanev (88.52% // 100%), and the guy playing in his home state Dennis Gilbert (77.46% // 100%). Ruzicka’s (27.26% // 0%) goal was medium danger at best from the angle he released it from so that line finished without generate a high danger 5v5 chance, and MacKenzie Weegar (36.22% // 0%) saw multiple high danger chances against while helping to create none.
xG Breakdown –
xGF% – Hanifin (68.38%) and Andersson (65.56%) had a real quality game in Buffalo. I have no quarrels with the play of Weegar (47.29%) and Zadorov (47.26%), in fact I think Big Z’s physicality played an important role late. If Zadorov wants to win a battle of physicality he will – I’m really not certain of many others in the NHL that can stand up to him (yes, I’ve considered Gudas) in the corners and down low in the defensive zone. Didn’t really get to touch on Huberdeau (63.16%) who has been receiving a lot of negative attention lately. Sometimes the missed passes are on him, but sometimes you have to point the finger elsewhere. I loved that he shot the puck on his 2-on-1 as well forcing Levi to make a talented save. The entire sequence I was certain he was going to find a pass to Mangiapane (59.62%), but I wouldn’t be shocked if the defenders were thinking that too.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – While all the skaters really had something positive to take from this game it was only that close because of a rough night from Dan Vladar. 1.25 goals against at 5v5 with 1 medium-danger and 1 low-danger goal getting by him. He hasn’t been this rock steady presence social media paints him out to be – he really struggles to maintain leads. Credit where it’s due – he gets the W beside his name in the boxscore, but when you go beyond there’s a whole lot to be concerned about in terms of Dan Vladar.
Today’s Specials – Some tweaks on the powerplay with Ružička getting 1st unit looks because of his size. In certain instances I would complain about a player being promoted for size over skill, but Ružička comes with a silky set of hands and a top-6 offensive instinct. The Flames were not successful a man up but did manage to gather 4 high danger chances. The other thing that needs mentioned is the Flames went 0/2 on clear-cut shorthanded breakaways – there’s nothing to be critical on those about they just sting.
Player Spotlight – Dennis Gilbert – In his home state Gilbert has played some of his best NHL hockey. Blake Coleman may have put that goal in, but the only reason that play started was because Gilbert decided to step up and make a physical play on the teenager Zach Benson. That is not an insult rather a compliment for him recognizing there may be an opening to make something happen against this fresh new NHL face. I’m sure there were some family in the crowd as well so I’m really happy to see him play not just a good game, but a great one.
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Blake Coleman
2) Dennis Gilbert
3) Rasmus Andersson
(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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