Beyond the Boxscore: Flames fall at the mighty hands of Matthew Phillips and the Washington Capitals

Photo credit:Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
6 months ago
A scorching hot start end up cooling into a burnt-out ember as the Calgary Flames dropped a game in Washington. At one point they held a 14-2 shot advantage and had complete control over the other team – dictating everything that happened on the ice. Alas, this is the NHL and the Capitals found pushback from an old friend of Calgary’s in Matthew Phillips who had his first real standout game of his NHL career. Despite the collapse this was the Flames most put together game of the season as the group continues to make strides under new bench boss Ryan Huska.
CF% – 60.84%, SCF% – 57.43%, HDCF% -75.27%, xGF% – 68.57%
It’s a Team Game – Honestly it was pretty tilted in Calgary’s favour the entire night, this had to be a tough one to lose. The Flames were great at constantly getting not just chances, but quality ones, on Kuemper all evening. They won every single major statistical battle in every single period and found a way to lose. I try not to focus too much on the results too early – bad years make that hard (2023 anyone?) – and focus on the process of getting good results. Three games in every aspect of Calgary’s team play has shown improvement – if that continues more wins/points will come with it.
Corsi King – Dennis Gilbert (72.11%) while offensively may be limited can sure play a decent level of defence – Tanev (65.76%) being present helps but he hasn’t sunk anyone with his play in his two games. AJ Greer (71.60%) continues to be a quality waiver add. The Flames and the Bruins made a swap of two fourth line left wingers without ever making a trade and it really is looking like that’s to Calgary’s benefit. Captain Mikael Backlund finished third on the team at 70.23%.
Corsi Clown – Just because you got out chanced does not mean you played bad. Elias Lindholm (44.70%) was slightly off the overall shot battle – but he never surrendered a high danger chance. Huberdeau (47.62%), Mangiapane (51.46%), and Lindholm will get a lot of flak when they don’t produce, but they did generate offence at a proper level. Even McDavid gets left off the scoresheet and none of these guys are on that level. There were positives in their game – points will come for all if that keeps up.
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – Five guys, no high danger chances against, all forwards. Backlund (69.13 SCF% // 100 HDCF%) and Coleman (64.73% // 100%) accumulated the most high danger chances for with Lindholm (40.81% // 100%) just behind them. Greer (74.95% // 100%) and Walker Duehr (74.95% // 100%) helped out as the Flames may have already found a fourth line winger combination of dreams. Duehr and Greer have been top-notch together – not just another pair of bodies to free up ice time for other players, quality contributors to the process for three straight games.
xG Breakdown –
xGF% – I can praise them all day but they had their blurb: Greer (84.21%) and Duehr (84.22%). No I would much rather talk about the guy that finished third on the team amongst forwards in overall TOI in Matt Coronato (74.43%). Seeing as him and Huberdeau (70.32%) both spent over 5 minutes with a man up I wouldn’t say it was over inflated. He played over 20 minutes in just his fourth game – all he does is show up and work his butt off. 3 games in and fans have a real exciting reason to make sure you tune in and watch the Flames – when Pelletier (DNP) gets back look the heck out.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – Markstrom was not busy at all facing just 18 shots. 1.34 expected goals against with 1 high danger and 1 medium danger goal against. The second goal appeared to take an odd bounce which could have messed with his tracking so I won’t be too overly critical. He kept the team in it to get a point and only got fooled in the shootout by Kuznetsov going 10 km/h below the posted speed limit. It was legal though so you have got to let that one slide – even if it annoyed you.
Today’s Specials – The Savard-Play strikes again – except this time it comes with a suggestion from myself. Please put Hanifin as the PP1 QB – especially if your internal plan is to keep him. He makes more high percentage plays from the blue line up a man than Andersson and that’s really the only reason I want him there. Long gone are the days of the booming shot trying to be blasted 110 miles past the goaltender – use your better short game passer to set up more dangerous scoring opportunities. It’s statistically likely to end up in even more goals.
Player Spotlight – Dillon Dubé – The production was a positive, the defensive play was not. This isn’t all on him as Ružička and Kadri also gave up a ton of quality with him, but this defensive trend is only familiar for one of those three. It didn’t hurt the Flames too bad in the end – and they had a rocket of a start to the game – but the consistency with that line is all off. Mixing and matching isn’t a bad thing right now in a season this long – and with the other lines all clicking there’s no reason to switch them up. Hopefully Dubé can help find more chemistry with his line to give up less quality opportunities in their own zone when on the ice.
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Mikael Backlund
2) Matt Coronato
3) Nikita Zadorov
(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 // All stats if not specified come from NaturalStat

Check out these posts...