Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames waste a solid first two periods in collapse against Penguins

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
6 months ago
It is heartbreaking to see a strong first 40 minutes be reduced to chasing offence in a matter of 40 seconds, but the Pittsburgh Penguins came out to start the third period in veteran fashion. Sidney Crosby made some play driving moves and got his team out front which led to more forced plays trying to stretch the ice from the Calgary Flames defenceman. It led to some questionable turnovers and some bad odd man rushes against. They’ll need to sort that out before heading into Washington.
CF% – 65.76%, SCF% – 65.62%, HDCF% – 59.45%, xGF% – 51.22%
It’s a Team Game – If I were to believe in made up stuff like karma I would swear this is a perfect example of it – the Flames barely hang on and win against the Jets and then find a way to correct that and lose against the Penguins. 5v5 scoring chances were 13-7 in favour of Calgary after 2 periods, the were 27-4 against them in the Winnipeg game – so a massive improvement. Eventually though all the sloppy play in the middle of the ice will bite you and the turnovers led to many skilled Penguins players getting quality scoring looks in the third. Markstrom did what he could but was left to dry as the Flames gave the shooters too much space to operate in.
Corsi King – Walker Duehr (83.94 CF%) led a very strong effort from the new look fourth line in Calgary. Sharangovich (79.95%) showed he can play a strong game at the NHL level at the C position and newcomer A.J. Greer (75.72%) brought the safe statistical profile he came with from Boston. They gave up very little – under 5 total chances – while gaining over 15 themselves. The D was led by long-time Flames Noah Hanifin (74.65%) and Rasmus Andersson (73.99%), although the entire D corps had a rough time with passes out of their own end in the third.
Corsi Clown – Only one guy was below 50% and that was Matt Coronato (47.34%). I am super happy for him getting his first goal on the power play, but he still showed some miscommunication in where to be on the receiving ends of passes in this one. That will most certainly vanish with more time meaning he’s only going to get more dangerous. The Flames really do have something special with this man. Dennis Gilbert (51.87%) and Chris Tanev (51.98%) were right behind him keeping things fairly even in their time on ice.
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – The Flames new look top line did in fact create the most in terms of high danger chances. Elias Lindholm (60.53 SCF% // 61.28 HDCF%) and Andrew Mangiapane (68.83% // 68.06%) both were involved in 6 while Huberdeau (65.70% // 63.78%) was registered in 5. They have been nothing if not impressive since being put together and looks like something the Flames should stick with for an extended period of time. Need to work on spending less time in their own zone but – if i can sound like a broken record – their defence didn’t really help them much in transition. Shout-out to Dennis Gilbert (50.70% // NA) who played a no high danger event game. Solid defence with no mess ups from him – the kind of thing needed when on the lineup bubble. He’ll cycle with Oesterle (DNP) during the season but keeping his own end clean is a great start – helps a lot playing with Tanev, but I’m still not taking a good game away from him.
xG Breakdown –
xGF% – MacKenzie Weegar (34.13%) had a rough go in his own zone. There were some missed breakout passes to go with seeing the most amount of expected quality against anyone on the Flames defence. Andersson (55.17%) was there with him in the quality given up but managed to be more involved in the offensive game. It was – to put it simply – not his best outing. Walker Duehr (83.92%) led the team as he continues to impress and show he belongs in the NHL.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – Everything was going well through 5 periods this season and then poor Markstrom had the dam break in the third period. Natural Stat Trick qualified all the goals against as medium danger, but I’ll say Malkin with that much space open is as dangerous as it gets. The odd man rushes were played pretty poorly by everyone involved – diving across the ice to the benefit of nobody in a red jersey. Play the pass and trust your goaltender – Markstrom is more than capable of staring down a shooter with more success than sliding across and trying to re-set himself.
Today’s Specials – The Flames did manage to generate a power play goal on a great deceptive drop back by Matt Coronato – but they spent way too much time trying to get back into their own zone on the powerplay. Pittsburgh employed an aggressive forecheck taking away the Flames drop-back pass (why it’s still Andersson’s primary move is shocking to me with how little it works) and as a result Calgary lost a lot of power play zone time. Johnny Gaudreau used to just skate the puck in – they’ve struggled in that manner ever since he left.
Player Spotlight – Nazem Kadri – It was a much better game for Kadri than the first one. He and his new linemates did get some possession time amongst the boards – that’s where Kadri thrives. Ružička is a great partner for him as a shooting option player or someone Kadri can dig the puck out to. If the Flames want 91 to have success, he needs guys that can be strong perimeter players that know when to find holes in the middle of the ice. Kind of the opposite of Huberdeau who is much better at finding seams off the rush and getting quick-strike dangerous chances. If Calgary can find a co-habitation between the two styles, they can suffocate teams with different looks.
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Walker Duehr
2) Nazem Kadri
3) Jonathan Huberdeau
 (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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