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Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames slide further out of playoff picture with bad loss to Flyers

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
9 months ago
Another game planted in the loss column against a team lower than the Calgary Flames in the standings. On the supposed march to the post-season Calgary is swiftly moving the other direction – their hope remained because the Minnesota Wild were losing too but that is no longer the case. It was a similar story that has played out way too many times this year – control possession and control the chances but fail to turn them into a large disparity of high danger looks. Someone needs to either find a way to improve their shooting percentages or the GM is going to have to shuffle his roster options.
CF% – 65.33%, SCF% – 55.85%, HDCF% – 47.45%, xGF% – 59.66%
It’s a Team Game – Against a Tortorella coached team it doesn’t shock me that the Flames struggled to get decent looks. Torts’ modus operandi has been heavy defence-first everywhere he has coached, and Philly is no different. They don’t have the right people in place to make it work effectively and when that happens the team needs to get comfortable playing without the puck. As long as they make the chances they do get count – against Calgary they did but it was aided by terrible defensive coverage from every defenceman not named Chris Tanev. The Flames having the puck the most of the match shouldn’t intimidate the Flyers they are very used to that – as such they didn’t panic when Calgary tied it up and eventually found their game winner.
Corsi King – Andrew Mangiapane (83.05%) with Backlund (76.20%) as his centre comes out statistically as a perfect winger. A lot of the qualities that stand out for Mange in terms of play away from the puck I see replicated in Jakob Pelletier (66.36%). The edge work forechecking a defenceman stands out predominantly – they skate full tilt at the puck holder and if the puck is moved at all both of them cut on their edges and pursue the new target without losing much (if any) speed. It gives the opposing defence less time to think and can make a defensively smart centre (like Backlund) end up with the puck a lot. Having Coleman (83%) on the other side doing the same thing really helps the whole line constantly finish ahead of the competition.
Corsi Clown – Milan Lucic (44.62%) has brought very little to the table of late in terms of on-ice impact. The week long rest has done next to nothing to show an improvement in his numbers – and for those that don’t care about the numbers watching him fail to possess the puck can’t be that much fun either. Throw in the crazy amount of failed zone exits leading to turnovers and it just gets worse. At this point of the season its very easy to identify weaknesses in every single team’s game using advanced tools to help us map overall impact of player, team, and opposition combined. If Calgary is truly trying to contend for a playoff spot, they will ice their 12 best forwards or 8 best wingers they have in the organization – Lucic is no longer in that group. Brett Ritchie can provide you with all the invaluables/intangibles he brings, Walker Duehr’s speed would be more useful to the results of the game.
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – Mangiapane (86.95 SCF% // 100 HDCF%) and Coleman (86.91% // 100%) successfully went the entire game without seeing a high danger chance come their way. In fact, that is two games in a row with that feat for the both of them. 6 high danger chances created by them as well with Backlund (76.71% // 79.99%) getting his goal off a Mangiapane forecheck turnover and 88 getting his goal right in the blue paint where he thrives. That line is never a worry, if they ever have an “off-night” it just means their opposition found a way to match their chances. Nobody ever outworks them. The problem here is that they are the only ones you can count on to get quality high danger chances on a nightly basis. The rest of the roster fails to get there frequently. Dubé (45.10% // 17.21%) when running hot can be a real difference make in a positive sense, but when he goes cold the negative defensive impact kills the team and his lines ability to make an impact. Same can be said about Jonathan Huberdeau who reverted back to his play before that awesome performance against the Rangers. This is not Florida – when you take a shift/game off from giving it a full effort it will get noticed every single time. We got Iginla’s best every single night for 15 years, less than full tilt isn’t accepted by the fans in Calgary.
xG Breakdown –
xGF% – I’m putting an emphasis and an asterisk on this section. Expected goals translates to cumulative quality of opportunities meaning that if a team takes a massive amount of low danger shots, they can skew the ratings to look more positive than they actually are. For single game analysis looking at the combination of high danger chance ratios combined with expected goal ratios to get your best understanding of how a player performed. “I know what I saw because I watched” folks will be mortified when I point out there was no feasible way for you to watch every single decision made by every single player every second of the game. Now to actually discuss the game – Mangiapane (91.63%) and company’s numbers are as legitimate as they come. That line performed very well. The Lindholm (32.37%) faltering remains true as well, it’s the Kadri (66.83%) line is where the disparity is found. Looks fantastic but it’s a single game result built on a termite infested foundation of lies.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – It just is not good enough in the Flames crease on a daily basis right now. 4 goals against 5v5 with just 1.67 expected against. 2 were classified as high danger while the other two as medium danger. Same old story of falling one goal short – last time I said that some people suggested they were actually one goal short – honestly just pick your poison. At this point both are very clear issues and it’s not worth arguing with anybody about which is the more important problem. If the ship has two holes and you patch one while leaving the other you are still going to end up sunk.
Today’s Specials – I made a note of the fact the Flames were actually using the open ice in the offensive zone to skate with the puck on their stick. Pre-All Star break the Flames would all go to their spots and promptly stay there and just pass the puck around. More physical movement with the puck has been added and it’s also led to more passing lanes opening as well. They’ve made some very smart adjustments to their power play during the break, but it may be too late to benefit from them once it gets settled in. That’s on the coaching staff for waiting 50 games to do something.
Player Spotlight – Dennis Gilbert – Someone accused me of intentionally ignoring him in my last write up and I would just like to point out I typically only point out those at the top and at the bottom of the metrics. If you end up right in the middle not moving the needle in a positive or negative direction you tend to not get talked about. That’s what Gilbert is to me so far – a guy that can fill in but isn’t going to push anybody over the hump in a playoff race. He can do a reliable fill-in job but if Calgary wants to compete long-term they need to shore up their defensive depth. Mackey is permanently in purgatory it seems, and Gilbert has not played outright bad, but something that can make a real, noticeable positive impact would be better in that position.
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Andrew Mangiapane
2) Mikael Backlund
3) Blake Coleman
(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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