Beyond the Boxscore: Flames play the right way, still fall to Devils for 6th straight loss

Photo credit:Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
1 year ago
This one is rough to be as upset with as some of the previous losses. The process in this game was well done, Calgary hardly gave the Devils anything at 5v5. Remembering how the previous game against these two went that was a big step in the right direction, it just didn’t produce any points. There are a lot of people that don’t like to hear that the better team lost, because the better team should always win in their mind, that is not always the case in hockey. If Calgary is losing but controlling games, it’s a sign they’ll eventually work out of this slump.
CF% – 56.57%, SCF% – 50.24%, HDCF% – 58.22%, xGF% – 65.22%
It’s a Team Game – The Devils found a major pushback in the third but were nothing close to the dominant self they have been. They’re 10-1-0 in their last 11 so a loss or two is due up for them, they rode the percentage high to another win. The one chance early that Mangiapane had that got stuffed stands out in a big way in a one goal game – he hasn’t been able to finish anything off for weeks.
Corsi King – Tyler Toffoli (77.29 CF%) led the way for a Flames line who had some of their best hockey from him and Lindholm (71.46%). Adam Ružička (69.88%) with a sizable role and quality linemates stands out. It’s almost like playing a guy with a very noticeable offensive touch with defence first bottom-6 players won’t get the result you’re seeking from him. Nobody is on the safe side of the consistency argument in Calgary, all the regulars change how they’re playing on any given night. A night in Huberdeau’s spot showed well for number 63.
Corsi Clown – Kevin Rooney (42.79%) was below 45% with Blake Coleman (44.62%) and Milan Lucic (44.86%). I’m starting to have a bone to pick with Lucic on the breakouts – he’s only catching passes at a standstill. Against a team as mobile and quick as the Devils everytime a breakout pass went his way it ended with Calgary losing possession because of an aggressive pinch/forecheck. His legs aren’t in motion as he’s catching the pass – if that is a passable breakout and you can’t honestly look and tell me Matthew Phillips can’t transition that puck through the neutral zone more effectively. I love Lucic and want his physicality on this roster – but Calgary needs to find more speed to compete with these younger faster teams.
Under Pressure –
Calgary couldn’t find a way to come out against the Devils in the second period, it ended up costing them a goal. They also controlled a very long stretch of play in the third period – the split second there was a chance the other way, another Devils goal.
Taken By Chance – It was a polarizing night for Nikita Zadorov (47.52 SCF% // 49.13 HDCF%) who was the only Flame to be involved in over 4 high danger chances for but also the only Flame to see 4 or more high danger chances come against him. Nick DeSimone (53.98% // 65.14%) graded out well but made some very noticeable turnovers to lead to quick counter attacks by the Devils. It’s just the odd little thing for Calgary lately – not dumping it all the way in, making a fancy drop pass nobody picks up, making an oft timed line change – everytime they mess up it goes in the net. One would normally then blame the goaltender (who is not free from critique tonight) but for Calgary if they mess up 4 times three goals end up in their net. Law of averages should see things balance out eventually but as for right now the dial is firmly set to “damn.”
xG Breakdown –
Mangiapane was all over it tonight – much needed from him. Maybe a few of those could start bouncing in and raise his shooting percentage? and the teams win count? That would rock if both were to occur.
xGF% – 11 total Flames finished over 60% of xGF% and 4 under 45%. It truly was a game that saw Calgary out chance the Devils in terms of both quantity and quality. Vanecek deserves a lot of credit for making some 5 alarm saves to keep the Devils in the fight. Noah Hanifin (84.75 xGF%) and Rasmus Andersson (52.63%) on different ends of the spectrum. The defence has been questionable at defending rush chances so far this season. Outside of Zadorov (59.01%) and Weegar (63.02%) most of the defence has either been hit or miss every night. Compliment to Zadorov too – based on usage and time on ice he’s moved ahead of Hanifin on the coach’s depth chart. That chart has come into scrutiny these days, but he’s still there as of right now.
Game Flow –
The ball er puck was in Calgary’s court from the start. Marginal increase but outside of the very beginning to the 2nd and 3rd periods Calgary was in charge of how the game flowed.
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
They got to the crease and not one darned puck would bounce in. Countless sequences of the puck rolling around the low slot and nobody could pull the trigger or get one in the back of the net. A bounce – it’s all I’m asking for please.
In The Crease – Markstrom did not have model night like he has had previously. The Hischier goal – while tricky and deceptive – has to be stopped. No traffic with the inside lane covered – can’t go in. 1.38 expected goals against at 5v5 with a medium danger and a low danger goal getting behind him. Last couple games Calgary was giving up looks in their own zone that made his job more difficult – this was not one of those games. Markstrom had an easy workload tonight and did not deliver with a quality performance.
Today’s Specials – The only reason it was even close – Calgary generated more offence at 5v5 than the Devils yet would have been shut out if not for the power play. All you can ask for is one bonus man advantage goal a game – Calgary got two and it wasn’t enough. At least they got opportunities this game, I’m still a little upset about the officiating in the Islanders game but I need to build a bridge and get over it.
Player Spotlight – Andrew Mangiapane – Paging the 35 goal scoring winger, where are you? It’s been an abysmal start to Mangiapane’s season in terms of both production and overall game impact. The buzzsaw line was effective for about 3 games and then – while Kadri stayed relevant – Mangiapane and Dubé have been well below replacement level. He has so many chances on the rush that turn into nothing – the play just dies or he attempts a shot that gets deflected. The team needs more out of the beekeeper, needs to get his buzz back.
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Noah Hanifin
2) Elias Lindholm
3) Mikael Backlund
The Flames next game comes Thursday against the Bruins at 5 p.m. MT.
(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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