Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames roll through Anaheim Ducks as Kuzmenko shines

Photo credit:Brett Holmes-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
14 days ago
The Calgary Flames got a shorthanded goal early and never looked back as they rolled over the Anaheim Ducks in a 6-3 win. The Flames handily controlled the pace of play for all three periods, only having about 10 minutes at the start of the third where they were collapsing a bit defensively. Nazem Kadri then put his leadership on display with a beautiful rush that ended in an Andrei Kuzmenko insurance goal – it was needed to stop the bleeding. Throw in yet another offensive outburst from Kuzmenko and there were a lot of reasons for the Flames to smile a bit heading home for the final week of their season.
CF% – 61.25%, SCF% – 60.77%, HDCF% – 66.63%, xGF% – 62.35%
It’s a Team Game – Top to bottom fantastic metrics which is exactly how it should look when you play a team of this quality. Too many bad performances against San Jose and Chicago have taught us we can’t simply expect this as a natural outcome. The first and the third were filled with over 4 high danger chances at 5v5 respectively. The second period they kept momentum going on their powerplay – more on that for the first time in months below – putting together what was about a 55-minute team effort together. Not bad compared to what has been happening lately.
Corsi King – Martin Pospisil (74.50%) and Nazem Kadri (73.71%) weren’t about to string more than a couple subpar games together before a big bounce back. They are the best offensive driving combination on the team this year. Pospisil has certainly picked up his point pace as well with 10 points in his last 23 games. They really helped drive Zary’s (50.54%) high finishing numbers by generating so much offence early in the year with tremendous ability to keep plays alive along the boards low in the offensive zone. Now, with Kuzmenko (70.41%) in tow, they have a player with a naturally higher finishing ability benefitting from all these chances – it’s been a decent combination so far. By the way, Zary was the low guy on the sheet tonight and he still had over 50% in his shot attempt disparity.
Under Pressure – Integral error on the HockeyViz.com website has made it so I am unable to provide this chart at this time.
Taken By Chance – 8 high danger chances for the K-Pop line – oh yeah that’s certainly going to work – at 5v5 alone. Kuzmenko (69.59 SCF% // 90.50 HDCF%) had two power play goals on top of all that. It was absolute domination every time they rolled over the boards. Jonathan Huberdeau (63.65% // 100%) and Dryden Hunt (63.65% // 100%) went the game without seeing a high danger look against – Zary (56.79% // 72.53%) showed once again he can certainly play quality minutes at center against teams lower in the standings. I’m super intrigued to see how he is going to stack up against the boys in Vancouver next week. They need a third centre to push Sharangovich (62.38% // 0%) to the wing where his natural finishing ability clearly shines brighter and is more useful to the team. Pinder has been beating that drum for a while and I am inclined to agree with him.
xG Breakdown – Integral Error, same as above
xGF% – MacKenzie Weegar (66.45%) led a defence group that finally had all three pairings play above average hockey. I saw some more positive body language in the play of Nikita Okhotiuk (63.95%) as he was making better passes and using his legs to get dump-ins for line changes. The Flames have so many defenceman in their system now with Poirier, Solovyov, Kuznetsov, Brzustewicz, Morin and Grushnikov all pushing these guys on the roster – the current construction of the defence has the potential to flip over massively in the next 2 seasons. With Miromanov (57.88%) and Pachal (59.78%) earning what appears to be everyday roles, and Weegar, Andersson (64.93%), and Kylington (59.29%) being locks there’s only 1 spot open for all those young guys to fight for.
Let next year’s competition begin.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – Enough to get the win is what mattered in this one. The Flames were doing so well and then the Ducks started getting deflections and filthy behind the back drop passes that nobody saw coming. Kadri stopped the Ducks momentum in its tracks and Wolf settled back down to secure the win. He made some pretty athletic stops in this one despite not having the busiest workload. When the defence all plays in sync the goalies job becomes so much easier, but mentally the lack of chances can be draining. He fought through and got a well-earned W.
Today’s Specials – Andrei Kuzmenko has single-handily fixed the Calgary Flames powerplay. His aggressive attacking nature and ability to find soft spots in coverage has been impeccable. Nazem Kadri took on the role of the primary puck carrier a long time ago and now Kuzmenko complements everything he does as he moves up the ice. Throw in his willingness to be creative with his high-end skill and we get tangible production at an alarming rate.  I’m done complaining about his defensive woes – for this season at least – because the value he brings to a rejuvenated powerplay almost evens things out. Last year also showed if he can be on a capable line he can thrive – K-Pop line should see reps through the end of the season.
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –  
1) Andrei Kuzmenko
2) Nazem Kadri
3) Martin Pospisil
(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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