Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames play tight checking game, continue march towards playoffs

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
1 year ago
If I had to describe the Calgary/Minnesota game I would use the word methodical. The Flames defence was doing a very good job at controlling the neutral zone and limiting dangerous chances. For the Wild to generate anything it really needed to come off Kaprizov’s stick, or it was next to nothing. The Freddie Gaudreau goal came off a blunder too, so it was not a clean sheet for everyone, but no playoff game will be either. Minnesota is one of the better teams in the West and if that game goes to 5v5 overtime that too would benefit Calgary. One more left before the games start counting big time.
CF% – 55.32%, SCF% – 44.86%, HDCF% – 48.16%, xGF% – 48.24%
It’s a Team Game – Overall attempts had advantage Calgary, but the rest of the 5v5 stats were almost even with a slight edge to the Wild. High danger chances were within one of each other and were at 6 or fewer for both. There has been games this year where the Flames alone were able to get 12 high danger looks in one game but the match against the Jets might be the last match we see like that this year. Both Nashville and Dallas have coaches that preach defence – players are going to need to capitalize on their chances when they come.
Corsi King – Nikita Zadorov (68.72 CF%) has both great and blundering moments at times. He was crucial in keeping the play that led to the second goal alive but also had a few passing blunders on some breakouts that shouldn’t happen if he sticks to the simple system and rules in place for the defence. Johnny Gaudreau (63.98%) had the game winner fall off the toe of his stick in the last minute of regulation – but was still very noticeable in this game. One of the best in the league (if not the best) at getting the puck from his defensive zone to the attacking zone with possession. (Johnny for Hart.)
Corsi Clown – Dillon Dubé (34.47%) got hemmed in quite a bit, the real reason for the lacklustre ratio wasn’t his defence – that was fine – he struggled to create chances while out. Oliver Kylington (43.68%) was on the other foot as he saw the most chances attempted against him – by about 6 as well. That definitely needs taken care of before Game 1.
Taken By Chance – Now Oliver Kylington (39.60 SCF% // 53.26 HDCF%) did end up on the better half of his high danger chances – but that means nothing if they don’t turn into goals. The top line also ended up even on their high danger battle, but they turned it into two goals. Elias Lindholm (56.52% // 43.17%) and Matthew Tkachuk (56.52% // 43.17%) are consistently fantastic. Matthew Tkachuk was hurt for the series against Dallas in the bubble and was off his usual game last year – I’m anticipating big time things from him this post-season, like a hidden Flames X-Factor.
xGF% – Rasmus Andersson (55.23 xGF%) had a rough end of game penalty – which I’ll be honest it was the right call – but he took it quite hard being very emotional before leaving the ice. I personally love that from him. In a game that may not have appeared to matter in public eye would have been a good test for the Flames. Andersson wanted to win that and was mad his mistake led to that outcome.
Game Flow –
I mean the overall score was as close to net zero for momentum as I’ve seen this year. Calgary may have not got a lot of chances in the first, but they did keep battling until the final horn sounded. This team won’t stop competing no matter what the situation or who the opponent is.
Game Score – Johnny Gaudreau (3.22 game // 1.90 average) hit 40 goals on the year, Elias Lindholm (2.45 // 1.53) now has 42 goals on the year AND has ensured he will finish with at least 82 games making it a point-per-game season for every member of the Flames top line. The depth players in the middle six were quiet offensively but most ended up playing strong defence. It was a well-played defensive playoff type game.
Shot Heatmap –
It was a true defensive fight. Both teams had their D corps playing well. That goal in tight was Gaudreau’s 40th and he actually made a nice play on Brodin who was trying to intercept the pass from Tkachuk – basically picked his pocket and left Talbot grasping for straws.
In The Crease – Jacob Markstrom back in the crease and back making highlight reel saves. That nifty pass from Kaprizov to Hartman should have resulted in a Wild goal (first period) but instead Markstrom gets back and stonewalls him. 1.37 expected goals against with just one medium danger chance getting by him – a 5v5 SV% of 0.952%. Odds are it’s Vladar tomorrow but if we get a Wolf appearance I would not complain. I’m more concerned with Wolf leading Stockton on a long Calder Cup run than playing in Game 82 against the non-playoff bound Jets.
Today’s Specials – You know what would help Calgary win tight checking games – a power play goal. This current version of the power play is miles better than what they put out the previous years but it still feels largely too stationary. The puck needs to move yes – but so do the players. Standing still waiting and hoping for a pass won’t help you win races to loose pucks or find open seams. More movement = more goals.
Player Spotlight – Brett Ritchie – I’m going to toot my own horn here because I said Ritchie was doing the little things right earlier in the season. It really is no surprise he’s still playing fourth line games this late into the year. The fourth line has a different role than the other three – it is NOT to score goals. Some may look at that and dislike it, but it’s just true. Ritchie hardly turns the puck over in the NZ and is a big body presence on the forecheck. Lately I have been using the Thanos saying about him – he is inevitable, and reliably going to give you exactly what you expect.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Johnny Gaudreau
2) Elias Lindholm
3) Chris Tanev
The Flames wrap their season up against the Winnipeg Jets – tonight at 6 p.m. MT.
 (Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com)


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