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Beyond the Boxscore: Flames show more bite against Leafs, get torched by their power play

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Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
1 month ago
The Flames were coming off a disappointing effort on Friday night and had to go against a red hot Maple Leafs team as a reset – the score was closer than the game flow would indicate. The Leafs had more jump and more extended possession pretty much all game. Calgary played strong in the middle of their defensive zone and was able to get some counter strike offence from that. They played with the recognition the Leafs were dangerous and got to an overtime point because of that.
CF% – 46.4%, SCF% – 38.51%, HDCF% – 46.61%, xGF% – 43.74%
It’s a Team Game – I could talk more about the 5v5 play but this game was decided by the Leafs PP and Flames PK. Three power play goals should be enough to win every single night in the National Hockey League. Calgary did get better as the game went on – it became less likely to find the Leafs doing laps looking for holes in the coverage. I wouldn’t say this was a bad effort from Calgary – they played a top tier team and got a point, no shame in that.
Corsi King – Adam Ružička (57.11%) and his linemates Matthew Phillips (53.02%) and Mikael Backlund (56.47%) were the only regular line to all finish over 50%. I do hope in a game when the Flames don’t spend so much time in the penalty box Ružička gets more ice time. He’s constantly in the bottom 3 despite being a major driver of the Flames offence with his zone transitions and ability to use his size to drive the centre of the ice. Maybe more minutes would take him out of his groove – maybe it would produce even more goals. Don’t know until you try it.
Corsi Clown – Michael Stone (16.67%) played just 5:33 in all situations. I never heard of him being hurt so he is the latest veteran to be sat by the Flames head coach. Milan Lucic was scratched for this first time since 2013 in his career tonight – coach is sending a message to his veterans? Maybe? After the game he said he simply put the little guy in and took the big guy out. I’m not going to pretend I can read crystal balls and tell you what that all means but I can tell you Matthew Phillips didn’t look out of place after a few wobbly break-in shifts.
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – There was really only one D pair that failed to stay within one high danger chance of being even – a shot for shot type thing. They saw 4 come against them and just one of them was out there for a single high danger look. MacKenzie Weegar (14.94 SCF% // 0 HDCF%) and Chris Tanev (29.96% // 22.66%) were that pair – but I want to stress just because their numbers were low doesn’t mean I think they played bad. On the contrary in the guts of the game when Toronto had Calgary on the ropes in the defensive zone Chris Tanev would always bail them out. Tanev and Andersson (47.17% // 59.09%) showed good patience to wait for their chance and taking it skating the puck out multiple occasions. Phillips and Huberdeau both were involved in one high danger chance while seeing none come their way.
xG Breakdown –
xGF% – Phillips (85.66%) had a great showing in limited minutes. More on him at the end, Ružička (74.94%) was the guy behind him. Number 63 for the Flames has visibly appeared to throw more confidence in his game lately. It’s like he believes he belongs here now after this stretch of success and he’s not trying to earn a spot he’s playing like he has one. There’s no rhyme or reason or logic to pull him from the lineup anytime soon so playing like that is warranted by my estimations.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – At 5v5 the Leafs still had an advantage, but Vladar wasn’t making their life overly easy. He’s going to dislike the 5-hole goal, but nobody is going to give him more grief about that then himself. It was always going to be an uphill challenge posting great numbers against a Leafs team firing on all cylinders as a group. They’ve got years of top end chemistry the group in front of Vladar had 25 games. 1.71 expected goals against with one high danger and one low danger goal getting behind Vladar.
Today’s Specials – Instead of spouting off in an extreme fountain of negativity I’m going to take a deep breathe, touch some grass, realize the Leafs have elite scoring talent, remember McDavid does this too us all the time, cry for 1913 minutes, and spiral into perpetual nothingness – the void as some would say. Where was I again – oh yeah loved the Zohorna, Phillips, Ružička trio on the PP2 unit that was fun. The penalty kill getting torched for three goals less fun.
Player Spotlight – Matthew Phillips – You may have noticed his name in a very positive tone earlier in the write up, a couple places at least. He certainly didn’t do anything to get himself immediately removed from the lineup. To start he did get bumped off some easy passes but those were his first couple shifts. From the second period on whenever he was over the boards he made an effort to always be in the right spot defensively and showed a good amount of fight and effectiveness in his stick checking. He didn’t steal the show by any means but he wasn’t invisible.
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –  
1) Nikita Zadorov
2) Nazem Kadri
3) Noah Hanifin
The Flames play in Montreal on Monday 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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