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Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames keep things close on back to back but fall to Blue Jackets

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Photo credit:Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
6 months ago
A rough outcome on the second half of a back-to-back saw the Calgary Flames fall 3-1 in Columbus. A low scoring affair dominated by quality goaltending there just wasn’t enough offence in the tank for the Flames to pull through. They continued to push and got stronger as the game progressed, but the offence shifted into a stall rather than a higher gear. Not a terrible game in terms of the process – sometimes you just can’t score enough.
CF% – 47.59%, SCF% – 52.32%, HDCF% – 68.24%, xGF% – 56.78%
It’s a Team Game – Columbus took advantage off the hop with a lot of attempts on Markstrom – no doubt a directive from the coach trying to take advantage of the situation. Calgary became a bit more structured and was able to control play as it wore on, but fatigue was a factor. There were times in this match that saw Calgary really on their heels for this first time since the opener. There’s not an unrealistic expectation to climb every game but you want to see limited drop offs – this one would qualify as limited to me. Very situational and they still were in it until the end.
Corsi King – Chris Tanev (61.41%) led the way for the squad on the back end with Jonathan Huberdeau (57.72%) taking charge for the forwards. Overall shot attempts ended in favour of Columbus so many Flames fell below the 50% ratio line. There’s a very clear sign of struggle when 4 of the defencemen are near the top and the 2 other were rock bottom. Gilbert (60.01%) was right there with Tanev while the other two in the positive sector were Zadorov (55.92%) and Weegar (55.35%). They both had instances where they got caught swiping at the puck as the Blue Jackets exited their defensive zone – one led to a Kuraly goal while the other led to a miraculous save by Markstrom off young Adam Fantilli.
Corsi Clown – Noah Hanifin (30.89%) and Rasmus Andersson (33.25%) got hemmed in their own zone in this match. There were more problems than that with Andersson ending the game with a 5-minute major and a game misconduct for elbowing. Frustrations boiling over after a very tough outing which was probably, in the situation it occurred in, unnecessary as well. Mikael Backlund (37.89%) surprisingly struggled in this one too – after two consecutive games of 5 shots on goal he didn’t even see double digit attempts. The hyped-up fourth line also struggled for the first time since being put together.
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – It was a real show up performance for the Flames top trio. Huberdeau (69.29 SCF% // 100 HDCF%), Mangiapane (67.48% // 100%), and Lindholm (65.23% // 100%) did not waver in the face of their competition. No high danger chances against were great – but the offence needs to start being a bit more… consistent. They’ve already been struggling to get Kadri (62.70% // 88.61%) going (heck of a redemption game from him), so them not producing 5v5 offence will only set this team back. You can love the energy of a Walker Duehr (29.68% // 0%) on a consistent basis, but he’s not the one the squad is going to rely on game in game out to get that big goal.
xG Breakdown –
xGF% – Back to Kadri (72.20%) because he really picked it up this game. Leading all players in total xG attempts via the HockeyViz model (see above chart) – it’s a performance I’ve been waiting for. Kadri is a very talented player and him at his best, shooting the puck and maintain possession, is best for the team. Adam Ružička (68.12%) continues to grow as well, finding better scoring opportunities and using his size and reach to his advantage. There is another gear in Ružička I can see it. Yegor Sharangovich (31.70%) was the Flame at the bottom of the barrel on the quality share in this one.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – Markstrom has been his old self to start the season. You most certainly want the Kuraly goal back, but his defenders need to not give up an odd man rush in the first place. It was rough for poor Zadorov as he just stepped on the ice as that particular rush came up, but the stand-up stick swipe took all the momentum out of being able to catch the attackers – Kuraly beat Markstrom from farther away than I’m sure he would like too. Outside of that I have no complaints and only praise for Markstrom who’s doing a good job at rebuilding his reputation after a very, very rough 2022-23 season.
Player Spotlight – Elias Lindholm – The man was on fire this match doing everything he could to try and get the two points. 6 shots that hit the net and many more other plays to create offence. Easily the best individual effort of the season from him – yes even over the 3-point output in the debut. As the number 1C the responsibilities can be tough – seeing him go up against anyone on the Blue Jackets and have success does show he belongs where he’s at. The wingers need to do a bit more on his line to generate some goals because he’s helping drive the play the right way every shift. Hell of a game from Elias Lindholm. 
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Elias Lindholm
2) Chris Tanev
3) Nazem Kadri
(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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