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Beyond the Boxscore: Flames struggle to score against the Canadiens

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
1 month ago
Players dropping like flies and Calgary sees their offensive woes continue. Playing great defence may win championships but you need some offence to get to the dance in the first place. Not being able to get more than 2 goals behind Jake Allen in over 125 minutes of action… that’s either high praise for him or an indictment on the Flames. The goals have got to start coming because the lead the teams have on Calgary in the division isn’t shrinking as fast as it should be.
CF% – 53.35%, SCF% – 53.4%, HDCF% – 51.16%, xGF% – 46.79%
It’s a Team Game – The overall summary is a joke because the Flames only really won one period of play. From ½ way into the third period it seemed Calgary’s strategy was clog up the slot, pray Markstrom stops everything, and that was it. They had one 2-on-0 in the third which executed like it was given to some atom defencemen that had never been on a breakaway. It all adds up – the posts, the missed looks – all of it. Nothing sticks out more than the bad passing though. Pucks too hot to handle, fumbled when they shouldn’t be, mis-stickhandled, cycled to nobody, or thrown in a direction someone should be but there’s nobody there. 5v5 still shows massive chemistry issues all over the place and while the team will still get wins despite the struggles they aren’t anywhere near where they should be based on their individual talent.
Corsi King – Adam Ružička (63.87%) always up here! When I do a 41-game rundown of who ranks where I’m banking Ružička is in the top 5, despite clearly playing third line or less minutes. With the metrics he puts up on a per game basis he needs to be playing in the top 6. Dubé (62.67%) has gone cold on the points front now they went back to their original jersey’s, would not mind seeing 63 and 91 team up for a few games. In fact tonight was a great chance to try and see if Toffoli (44.10%)
Corsi Clown – Rasmus Andersson (46.96%) logged over 30 minutes in this one after Tanev (34.70%) went down after taking a puck to the head. I’m still unsure if it knocked him out or if he just dropped in pain – you. Would too – but post-game they said the tests at the hospital were negative so that’s a positive sign. Calgary had the puck at times but really everyone kind of sheltered up at the end of the game.
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – I don’t think going down to 5 defencemen when one of them hadn’t played in a month is ideal for strong defensive play. Extra minutes, extra tired, extra chances against. Andersson (49.88 SCF% // 48.85 HDCF%), Zadorov (56.14% // 48.82%), and Hanifin (33.76% // 47.18%) did the best they could after having to go out virtually every second shift. The coaching staff had to throw Connor Mackey (74.36% // 38.07%) into a more precarious situation than they would have liked. He had not played in a month and then pre-game Weegar needs to sit (they lost Lindholm too) so he gets the call. After Tanev went down it was an uphill climb for the D corps.
xG Breakdown –
Every single one of those blue boxes under MTL with the diagonal lines was a PP save made by Markstrom. 14 of them there as MTL peppered him with enough chances to feasibly score 7 goals.
xGF% – I’m torn between “they can’t score” and “they were so banged up” because I understand what they went through, but the top guys still didn’t score. They got their chances though – Ružička led everybody at 77.11% which is normal for him over the last 3 weeks, followed by above average ratios from Kadri (62.56%), Huberdeau (56.26%), Backlund (56.26%), Mangiapane (53.45%), and Dubé (50.01%). Bottom line: One of those veteran guys has to start scoring – consistently. Anyone that tries to tell me Lindholm is going to get shown the door because scoring needs to go beyond one line. Last year one line was Calgary’s strength – this year they’ve got 1 struggling on any given night and 2 going well that can’t find the net. The only player showing offensive consistency in point production is Ružička and he’s not playing enough minutes to carry the weight of that.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – What else can you say but bravo. I feel bad for Markstrom because the Flames sure let the Habs get all sorts of quality looks uncontested in front of the net. The only one that got by him was from a pass that should have been covered out of the corner from Slavkovsky. Can’t let 10 chances from within the crease and expect Markstrom to stop all of them, even though he almost did. The shootout is never his forte but he almost had Suzuki’s floater. 2.18 expected goals against with only the highest of dangerous chances getting behind him. 11/10 performance.
Today’s Specials – Down Lindholm so you lost a top PK guy and a top PP guy. Backlund eventually got the PP assist, but he caused more problems being out of sync with the first unit. Mangiapane is right there but you won’t start the power play without two centermen in case one gets tossed. I just disagree with that – nobody on the first power play unit has any inclination to get the puck to the net. Mangiapane beside the goalie – where Tkachuk used to play – is perfect. He can crash the crease, get Kadri in the bumper position instead of the halfwall he’s one of the best guys to ever execute there in the league. And get some one-time options on the ½ walls Andersson isn’t scaring anybody from the point and there are no options on the either side to blast it from closer. They only way the can score goals lately is the power play one would think they’d try and improve it rather than just letting it be constantly terrible. Even a bad power play is going to score eventually in the NHL, can’t take one goal here or there as a definitive sign of success.
Player Spotlight – Elias Lindholm – Funny he finally doesn’t play and now I’m highlighting him. He’s scored just consistently enough to avoid criticism but not enough to receive a hefty amount of praise. He and Toffoli have kind of operated in the quiet zone of the Flames fandom, not a lot of noise asking for more from him. He’s essential for Calgary to beat these “lesser” teams lower in the standings because that “just enough” offence could have found that extra goal. I will say though if you are going to suck or fail to win close games this is the year (and draft class) to do it in.
 The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Jacob Markstrom
2) Adam Ruzicka
3) Jonathan Huberdeau
The Flames are back in action on Wednesday at home against Vancouver.
(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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