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Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames lose in shootout after grinding against L.A. Kings

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
8 months ago
The Calgary Flames crawled out of an early hole they dug to earn at least a point against the team chasing them in the standings. It was quite the lacklustre start for the Flames as the Los Angeles Kings – who played in Edmonton the night before – went immediately into a shutdown trap game. With two high-end defensive centers in Anze Kopitar and Philip Danault the Flames top forwards were constantly fighting for offence. Eventually the game ended in the shootout – which won’t be a factor for anyone when the playoffs start.
CF% – 52.74%, SCF% – 54.29%, HDCF% – 34.98%, xGF% – 41.51%
It’s a Team Game – The past versions of the Calgary Flames would have failed to find the back of the net going into a third period 1-0 and the other team would have cruised to victory. At least the modern version of the Flames worked their tails off to get the game back to within reach. They had to work hard because the Kings didn’t really break in their defensive coverage – it was their modus operandi. A proper way to describe it was late stage playoff hockey – only because early round playoff hockey is a lot more physical.
Corsi King – Nikita Zadorov (76.20 CF%) was the clear front runner in terms of overall chances, but those corsi events against aren’t all made equal. Big Z had some really bad turnovers in this game cutting around in front of his own net instead of keeping the puck along the boards. It’s accepted to go in front of your net as long as no danger is present, that wasn’t the case tonight on a few occasions. I only mention it because they stood out so glaringly – for the most part he was solid and really played more responsibly after Kylington (40.36%) was hurt.
Corsi Clown – The coach had a comment about how Johnny Gaudreau (35.50%) carried his line – I tend to agree with him. Matthew Tkachuk (49.32%) had trouble getting the puck to settle down for him all night long while Elias Lindholm (35.50%) was getting constantly defended one of the Kings elite centres. That isn’t an excuse just more to say that you aren’t going to find more space in the playoffs – need to find success in games like this to win big games. Glad they are playing more tight games as the playoffs creep closer.
Taken By Chance – Dillon Dubé (56.66 SCF% // 45.85 HDCF%) was easily the most noticeable Flame in the offensive zone and that holds true as he led all forward in high danger chances for. Other side of the coin is he also was guilty of giving up as many quality looks as he generated. That was everybody though as only 2 players finished with more high danger looks than they gave up – Nikita Zadorov (80.92%//55.75%) and Erik Gudbranson (72.07%//55.20%). Just so happens that when they messed up it was either a) big or b) missed the net.
xGF% – The Flames fourth line had a pretty low event game but that’s more than okay. Milan Lucic (68.54 xGF%) and Sean Monahan (63.80%) finish with impressive looking ratios but with less than 0.25 xGF total for each. 4 scoring chances in total for Lucic – but again they didn’t give up anything significantly either. Allows the top 9 to get some rest and it didn’t hurt you either way – just what you want from your fourth line. Would more goals be nice? Of course, but I would be just happy if more nights like against LA happen for them in the future.
Game Flow –
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There were definitive momentum swings at times for either team. Scoring chances actually did favour the Flames but because the quality of the Kings attempts was better they finish with the momentum. Markstrom did have to come in big at certain times to keep the score tied but that’s why he’s paid the big bucks. Feisty to be able to fight back – I’m not convinced Calgary wouldn’t have pushed back in momentum again if this had went to a 5v5 overtime.
Game Score – Far and away the Flames leader was Mr. Erik Gudbranson (2.09 // 0.50%) – the even strength goal helps. Sean Monahan (1.74 // 0.30) with an assist – goes to show that low event games with production grade out very well. Johnny Gaudreau (1.10 // 1.76) once again played very well too.
Shot Heatmap –
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It’s been enough games of late for me to raise concern about the lack of attempts the Flames have been getting from in close to the net. Take the Oilers shellacking out of the last run of games and Calgary’s offence has really struggled to even get chances at 5v5 let alone significant ones. It’s worth raising the awareness flag as something that needs to correct itself to compete in the postseason. Mind you I would rather this slump come now instead of after game one gets underway.
In The Crease – There are no criticisms of Jacob Markstrom from me – both goals came from blown assignments by someone else and were right in his house. Everything through traffic or from distance was turned away. A significance in the quality of saves made too as the Kings tallied 2.67 expected goals against, just the 2 high danger chances against. A 5v5 SV% of 0.917%
Today’s Specials – Johnny Gaudreau willed that power play goal into existence. The play all starts as he gets his pass blocked by a defender and the puck goes the other way. Gaudreau hustles back and steals the puck from the player before regrouping in his own zone and charging back on the attack. He is key in the zone entry and goes right to where he needs to be in front of the net – the rebound bounces out to him and he doesn’t hesitate for a second before firing it in. A special goal in my opinion and a massive one to get the score tied in the third period.
Player Spotlight – Blake Coleman – He was noticeable in my eyes tonight, battling down low and creating some turnovers that allowed Dubé to swoop in for some chances. He’s one of the players stuck in a long scoring slump but even when he isn’t scoring goals, he is still doing the right thing defensively. No matter the zone when Coleman’s on the ice he’s got his man covered. He has the skill to net 20 at the NHL level too, the defence is just never ending. Again, he stood out to me as someone who was constantly grinding when the game seemed stuck in the mud.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Erik Gudbranson
2) Johnny Gaudreau
3) Jacob Markstrom
The Flames play the St. Louis Blues next on Hockey Night in Canada Saturday at 8 p.m. MT.
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com)

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