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Beyond the Boxscore: Flames season comes to a disappointing conclusion after confusing match

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
10 months ago
A season of up and down play, lack of consistency, and subpar goaltending got it’s conclusive result as their loss to Nashville eliminates the Calgary Flames from post-season contention. In typical Flames fashion it was an overtime loss for their league leading 17th in the extra frame. Saros was amazing and certainly showed why he is a top goaltender in the world. His ability to move laterally while keeping his upper body controlled and upright is incredible. The Flames did work their tails off to try and keep things going but couldn’t best Saros in the shootout.
CF% – 65.51%, SCF% – 56.22%, HDCF% – 35.45%, xGF% – 41.1%
It’s a Team Game – It is fitting they go out in a game that looks the most like what happened in the middle of the year. High possession with very little from the high danger area. Tonight, was a bit of an exception because the Flames gave up over 15 high danger chances against, abnormally high for 5v5 play. Hard for anyone to get momentum with all the special teams. Calgary did ramp things up at the end after the refs let them play and dominated overtime with some grade A chances. In the end though it wasn’t this game that made them miss, but it does get added to the rather large pile.
Corsi King – Andrew Mangiapane (83.22%) and his line with Huberdeau (81.26%) and Backlund (77.56%) were the Flames best by a landslide. Partially because I think Tyler Toffoli (64%) and his 9:45 in a crucial game didn’t get enough ice time to be a difference maker. Toffoli’s unit did not get the majority of the power play time, he only killed a minute of all the penalties, and his line wasn’t always ready to go 5v5. As such the Flames leading scorer played nowhere near enough in the most important game of the season. The reason it got to extra time? The Backlund line playing lights out hockey.
Corsi Clown – Milan Lucic (37.04%) and Trevor Lewis (38.07%) had their minutes limited in this one. Lucic does not kill penalties, so he wasn’t out for any of that and his line at 5v5 wasn’t utilized often when they needed a goal. Nice that in the last few games the coaching showed a recognition of the reality the Flames faced, but they should have certainly been doing this earlier. Just the two players mentioned ended up on the wrong side of the shot attempt match-up – against a scrappy, young team that was too fast for them.
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – On a night when everyone on the team got absolutely torched in high danger chances Huberdeau (84.94 SCF% // 63.70 HDCF%) and Backlund (81.27% // 63.70%) stand out in a big way. Mangiapane (82.63% // 46.74%) is right there too despite missing one of their two high danger chances. Four players saw seven high danger chances against – Dubé (19.98% // 19.50%), Coleman (49.32% // 37.78%), Andersson (46.73% // 26.92%), and Weegar (43.88% // 26.92%). Kadri (63.93% // 46.39%) and Ritchie (64.20% // 46.39%) as a line with Coleman gave up as many high danger chances as they got. Volatile back and forth hockey the goalies ended up winning.
xG Breakdown –
xGF% – I will point out Zadorov (50.74%) led for defenceman and was on the positive side. Huberdeau (78.08%) and his trio led the way for the entire team, but outside of them Zadorov ranked 4th. Nashville got the significantly better quality of 5v5 chances. The amount Calgary were taking was significant but the Preds did a more effective job of limiting chances from both in tight and the middle of the ice. Not a quality game from the roster, but they sure did have some pop at the end while they were still in it.
Game Flow –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – I will not roast him for the goal that went off a referee who was somewhere he should never have been. Unfortunately, that is just the reality of the game we love. The first goal against though – if the goaler is going to play the puck you have got to beat out the forecheck. If not, you have got to stay in your net and trust your defenceman. That goal ended up being the difference maker tonight that allowed Nashville to play with a lead. If that goal doesn’t happen maybe Calgary can play some stronger defence and limit high danger, chances a bit more instead of needing to be desperate for offence. 2.74 expected goals against with 2 high danger goals getting behind Markstrom.
Player Spotlight – Troy Stecher – I hope the GM contract situation doesn’t impede the Flames efforts to sign Stecher to stay. He’s shown he’s got the die-hard compete level and the taste for winning. When the games get closer, he comes up big. He can probably be had for cheaper than anyone currently on the roster and with the defensive depth in the organization a player like him would be a big help going forward. Hopefully he enjoyed the playoff push and wants to keep it going as well.
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Jonathan Huberdeau
2) Andrew Mangiapane
3) Mikael Backlund
The Flames final game is Wednesday – and then the season is over.
(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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