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Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames overcome multiple collapses to snag victory

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Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
1 year ago
Not the cleanest victory the Calgary Flames have ever achieved, but it was a victory nonetheless as Calgary bumps the slide on a last second breakaway goal from Tyler Toffoli. The Dallas Stars matched Calgary pretty evenly all night long and was able to battle back from two deficits both of two goals. Every other time that has seemingly happened to the Flames this year they found a way to let it collapse – until last night. The offence was spread out and the new lines looked alright at times and bonkers at others, lets dive in.
CF% – 54.57%, SCF% – 52.75%, HDCF% – 48.19%, xGF% – 48.09%
It’s a Team Game – A real tight matchup as an overall summary doesn’t paint the picture of how the game really went down. Calgary controlled the first 40 minutes pretty handily with high danger chances being 8-5 in their favour at 5v5. The third period alone saw Dallas outplay Calgary with a 7-1 high danger advantage. The Flames have played games this year with a full 60-minute effort that ended up as a loss and with the final 20 being an all Stars push this one ending up as it did was a surprise. With two third period collapses since January (Ottawa, Vegas) and this one coming close there is still lots to focus on when it comes to third period play with a lead.
Corsi King – Tyler Toffoli (81.10%) got redemption after the refs didn’t call a penalty shot for him earlier. On that penalty the Flames gave up the shorthanded goal to Hintz – just a complete reversal rooted in misfortune. Thankfully for fans that still root for wins got a treat with the end game heroics. Major bounce back game for the Kadri (71.69%) line on the surface, but that was the trio burned for both 5v5 goals the Flames let get by. How do you make up for that – be out there for 4 goals of your own. More on their give and take in the chances section. Zadorov (65.78%) and Stecher (62.92%) flashed some chemistry together as well – could lead to a more impactful defence every night simply by adding just one player. If you can rely on all six defencemen at 5v5 you can end up playing some really good hockey.
Corsi Clown – Milan Lucic (23.48%) and his season of struggles continues. I try to be nice to the guy but it really seems like he’s not amongst the 12 most effective Flames players on their roster. Duehr has won over not just the fans but the coach and GM – his emergence was cited by the GM as one of the reasons they could afford to move Brett Ritchie in their deadline deal. Ružička at his current age needs to be playing games to properly develop. Constantly sitting a 6’4” C/W combo at 23 years of age who has shown tremendous flashes of potential at times is a bad thing. Sitting him for players that aren’t bringing much to the table nightly makes it look worse. What’s wrong with a Dubé – Ružička – Duehr fourth line? He literally was not bringing a worse impact on any given night than the fourth line gave in this game. Youth is a good thing – the Flames really need to learn that embracing it can help. (See: Pelletier.)
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – Some lines did some cookin’ and others got completely cooked. Two games in a row Backlund (22.15 SCF% // 15.31%) got absolutely run over. I’m barely used to one down game from that trio, two in a row has me downright baffled. Honestly – makes me want to bet on a big game for them against Minnesota tonight because they are anything but consistently inconsistent. 6 high danger looks against to their 1. The fourth line saw 2 high danger looks against and got none for too. Andersson (55.09% // 29.28%) and Hanifin (47.70% // 29.28%) would have a lot better numbers if Hanifin would get his puck management down. That was an extremely rough outing for the man that wears number 55. Huberdeau (66.71% // 75.64%) and Kadri (70.49% // 75.64%) have a new linemate that compliments the offence but makes them need to play proper defence to cover up for his impact. Tonight they spent the most of their time attacking and still got scored on twice at 5v5. It reminds me of what Sam Bennett used to do – give up as many or more chances than he would create, but he would still create 2+ dangerous opportunities a night. Calgary doesn’t want to play like that – the first night of the new experiment was certainly something.
xG Breakdown –
xGF% – Jakob Pelletier (76.78%) has turned every line he plays on and every player he plays with into an impact player. Before the 2021 World Junior Championship many had their projected roster with Pelletier off of it – then when he made the team it was as the extra forward. He just continued to be an extremely defensive responsible, self-motivating, hard skating machine that forced himself by the medal round as a permanent fixture on the top line.  Same thing for the Heat/Wranglers and now for the Flames. Don’t try and put a ceiling on this man – he’ll only break through it as he climbs to the top.
They’ve really got something special in him.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – Compliments to Markstrom for his 5v5 play in this one. I’m not one to blame goaltenders for power play goals against and if your team gives a shorthanded breakaway… that ain’t on him either. Now the debatable question: should he have had that shorthanded goal. The answer tonight is different than normal and it’s “who cares?” The what ifs only matter when you lose and Calgary got that sweet Dub they were looking for. 2.59 expected goals against only getting beat by 2 high danger chances. Markstrom’s overall play has improved drastically since the Boston game – the dad boost is here hopefully to stay.
Player Spotlight – Nick Ritchie – You can read my piece on how I think Ritchie will fit in for a more technical explanation than this little paragraph. Getting a goal in your debut is certainly going to look good for where he’ll play going forward. Being on the ice for as many goals for as you were against seems okay, but then you factor in Kadri and Huberdeau helped get two 5v5 goals without his help and the outlook remains murky. Ritchie can be a boost to this teams offence but his linemates are going to have to make up for it with better coverage in their own end. Defenceman get no more nights off either because even that at this point is enough to put a bigger hole in an already sinking ship. It’s an adventure with him – I’m hoping Darryl can rope in that defensive lapse in his game.
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Tyler Toffoli
2) Jonathan Huberdeau
3) Nikita Zadorov
(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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