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Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames use opportunistic scoring to fend off Minnesota Wild

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Photo credit:Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
11 months ago
Calgary was opportunistic on their man advantage early giving them a lead to play with right off the hop. Minnesota came into this game with a bit more step in their game than the first matchup – rightfully so they ended up getting their butts smacked. Physical play from both sides was present throughout the entire contest and it was Calgary with a few power play goals getting the win.
CF% – 51.89%, SCF% – 45.8%, HDCF% – 21.26%, xGF% – 39.22%
It’s a Team Game – The Wild were able to get more dangerous chances, more chances overall, and a better quality of chances at 5v5. The two 5v5 goals the Flames were able to get were – as I led off with – opportunistic. Mangiapane has a great nose for the net so it’s no surprise he found the loose puck in a scrum. Turns out that one Mange shot would be the most dangerous attempt they could muster 5v5. The Lindholm goal was impressive, but Minnesota played better than the score dictates – as evidenced by the low amount of high danger shots Calgary generated. So just let that sink in for you – the 5-1 win was an off-night for the Calgary Flames.
Corsi King – Milan Lucic (75.51 CF%) and the Flames third line had more jump in their step tonight. Tyler Toffoli (57.60%) and Sean Monahan (71.56%) were able to find extended attack zone time at multiple different points. They may not have had a goal 5v5, but they were certainly outmatching their competition. Same problems are persisting though – there’s trouble setting up the scorer on that line for prime chances. Oliver Kylington (60.62%) didn’t miss a beat after that scary incident on Saturday – good thing too because he would be very hard to replace in the Flames lineup on a daily basis.
Corsi Clown – Erik Gudbranson (31.39%) saw the most attempts of any Flames player while he was on the ice. He got caught out there post power play ending and when that happens and the PKers get buried for a bit it can show up with their numbers taking a hit at 5v5. Gudbranson was great on the penalty kill tonight. The fourth line lost their luster a bit after a great showing on HNIC. Brett Ritchie (35.51%) may do the simple things right consistently but he’s not going to help you get an abundance of good scoring chances while doing so. Those two guys in the press box can certainly help provide some more offence, we’ll see how they respond when they get back into the lineup.
Taken By Chance – 10 players failed to register a quantified high danger chance at 5v5. Elias Lindholm (30.20 SCF% // 0 HDCF%) got that great one-time goal but it was from far enough away it was classified as medium danger. Medium danger can obviously still be dangerous, but its nobodies first preference to shoot from farther away consistently. The Wild’s best player Kirill Kaprizov (69.71% // 100%) had the Flames top line hemmed in at times. The puck seemed glued to his stick as he weaved through traffic – similar to how we’ve seen Johnny Gaudreau (28.08% // 0%) do oh so often.
xGF% – Brett Ritchie (8.84 xGF%) with a notoriously low score extremely uncommon in any game the Flames have played this year. Chris Tanev (53.56%) can always seem to find himself making a defensive impact. The man has a lack of teeth but makes up for it with tremendous knowledge of where to positionally be in the defensive end. He doesn’t (and might not ever) get enough credit for just how effective he is at limiting quality scoring chances.
Game Flow –
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It isn’t like the Wild absolutely ran away with this one in terms of who controlled play at 5v5. No that’s wrong to say – the Wild did control play at 5v5 however the total amount of dangerous chances they were able to get was still low. Pretty much all of their highly dangerous chances were just from Kaprizov and company – they had 6 of the 9 high danger chances all Wild players were able to generate. Calgary used their PP and some very timely 5v5 goals *cough* Lindholm *cough*.
Game Score – Mikael Backlund (2.46 // 0.75) finishes as the only player in the whole game above the 2.00 line. Jacob Markstrom (1.53 // 0.31) has a massive score for a statistic that is historically unflattering to goaltenders. The positive news here is only 2 skaters managed to have an overall negative impact by game score, but without the offence a few other guys could have dipped into the negatives.
Shot Heatmap –
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That little G closest to the net – Mangiapane’s goal. I told you it was the most dangerous chance they got all night at 5v5. The Wild really did shore up defensively, but the retaliatory penalties they took hurt them on the scoreboard. The Wild tried to match Calgary’s level of physical play (to our tremendously entertaining benefit) but fell short at times. I wouldn’t complain if the Flames had to play a 7 game series against the Wild – there seems to be some bad blood present and both teams are tremendously skilled.
In The Crease – Some games I want to skip straight to this section to praise another fantastic effort by Vezina runner-up candidate Jacob Markstrom (Sorry folks, Shesterkin isn’t only going to win the Vezina, but he might win the Hart). Markstrom is having a Kipperesque season and hardly lets any bad goals in. Every goaltender lets in a stinker occasionally but Markstrom is as consistent game-to-game as they come. 1.98 expected goals against and just one high danger chance getting by him – great job Mr. Markstrom.
Today’s Specials – Quick execution by the Flames top players in the first and 3rd periods was huge in terms of impact on the score. Calgary can play more comfortably with a lead, emphasize playing defence even more than if it were tied. the Flames players have started to show more mobility with the puck on the power play – but the Wild weren’t too aggressive on their kill either. Passive penalty kills are the Flames best friend because it just gives Gaudreau more space to operate.
Player Spotlight – Tyler Toffoli – Remember when we wrote that Toffoli fit into the Flames almost seamlessly? Well Sutter gave him a few games of rest after coming over from Montreal – put him on the first PP unit after he felt he got up to speed – and now he has 7 points in 7 games as a Calgary Flame. He’s the best right-shot right wing the Flames have had since the 2012-13 season – the last guys name was Iginla. It was a crucial get for Calgary that is not just a short term thing either – he’s here till the end of the 2023-24 season (under his current contract anyway)
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Mikael Backlund
2) Jacob Markstrom
3) Andrew Mangiapane
The Flames next game is Thursday at the Saddledome against the Montreal Canadiens, 7 p.m. MT puck drop.
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com)

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