Beyond the Boxscore: Plenty of issues arise for the Calgary Flames in loss to Matthews and the Maple Leafs

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
5 months ago
It would be easy to look at this game and simply say Auston Matthews took over in the second period because the Calgary Flames kept handing him opportunities on a silver platter. You probably thought this would go another direction, but that was exactly what happened. Nobody on the Flames had the juice to go toe-to-toe with the man on pace for over 70 goals and as the game wore on it got less and less likely. A late called back goal on a marginal hand pass was the final straw that ended the Flames night. Afterwards a very frustrated Ryan Huska took to the podium to talk about his teams stupid mistakes – with next game up being against the Oilers and their 12-game win streak he preached that selfish play needs to stop because the star power is still about to walk through those doors.
CF% – 46.17%, SCF% – 43.22%, HDCF% – 41.45%, xGF% – 40.49%
It’s a Team Game – When the Flames needed to press most – in the third down a goal – the game turned pretty much entirely in the Leafs favour. The previous three games had seen them blow multi-goal leads (which debatably they did again) so it’s understandable they maybe played a little tighter at the end. Sheldon Keefe double shifting Matthews will always lead to more advantages, especially if a man of his talents goes up against a third pair defence that may be more suited for AHL duty than NHL duty. When it comes down to it the Flames still don’t have that one guy that can drag them back into a game almost every time – they still try to do it by committee and that’s going to leave them on the bad end of some close games.
Corsi King – I mean Dillon Dubé (63.25%) in his 5:34 led the way but it’s also worth noting he didn’t take a single shift after the 34-minute mark of the game. That came after Pospisil was knocked out too. Throw in the post-game presser where Huska was asked about Dubé and Ruzicka (50.70%) only for him to respond and say he thought Adam played well. Just ignored the Dubé part – now he maybe didn’t hear it, so don’t snowball that. I just thought it was worth mentioning. Dubé needs to be on the list of players wearing new sweaters after the trade deadline, that lineup spot has got to be filled by somebody else. Enough is enough. The real King here was Kadri (62.03%) who continued to excel against his old team even after losing one of his wingers early.
Corsi Clown – The same two guys that got roasted over the fire by the Coyotes on Tuesday decided to show up against Toronto with a repeat performance. Jordan Oesterle (34.56%) and Nick DeSimone (31.47%) have proven beyond any shred of a doubt that they are a non-functional defence pairing in the National Hockey League. I personally do not understand how you can see Oesterle get so far out of position to defend and keep putting him in the lineup. You have Solovyov who could continue to grow with some NHL time, same with Kuznetsov (although Solovyov deserves it more right now). Kylington has one game left on his conditioning stint Friday, but with him we cannot assume any timelines, that situation has to play out however it needs to play out for Kylington. Something needs done between now and the next game though because Oesterle-DeSimone should never play another game as a pair.
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – I’ll break up the wave of harsh negativity for a second here by pointing out the massive problems in the Flames roster were limited to their fourth line and their third defence pairing, it could be so much worse. Their normal level of problems continues with Elias Lindholm (39.33 SCF% // 37.95 HDCF%) who was the target of multiple great Huberdeau (39.01% // 34.32%) passes only for him to never be ready for any of them. Sharangovich (40.06% // 34.87%) is ready for them so at least there’s some production, but it is very clearly in spite of Lindholm not because he’s genuinely helping. With 9 high danger chances against them I can’t even compliment Lindholm’s usually decent defensive play. The offence has been third line C production at best. The positive leader was Mangiapane (53.55% // 62.16%) who has been excelling since reuniting with his old line.
xG Breakdown –
xGF% – It isn’t like all the Leafs took advantage of the Flames, but the stars took it to whoever was on the ice (except Kadri (52.31%)). It cannot be stated properly just how much the Lindholm (37%) line gave up in terms of quality. If a bubble player had the defensive game they had they’d be back on their way to the minors the same week. They may have an extremely unfortunate opportunity to mix up some lines going forward if Pospisil is going to miss any time – the aftermath of his injury did not look great. No update was provided on him after the post-game press conference.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – On one hand Dan Vladar was exceptional in the third period making quite a few exceptional saves to keep the game close. On the other hand he flubbed up a routine glove save from the point that led directly to the Matthews hat trick goal. It’s okay – the final result of that just screams backup goaltender. Now if Markstrom is good enough to be back he will start the next game no question, but calling up Wolf to sit for a week is a terrible decision as well. The Flames are constantly calling these young kids up only for them to sit or play marginal ice time. The youth movement didn’t need to stop after Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil – keep it going and you may find more success than you dreamed of.
Player Spotlight – The NHL Rulebook – What a ridiculous goal to get called back. I’m not talking about the “hand pass” because by definition of the rule book that was the correct call. My issue is the other team was allowed to call a timeout to make sure they could review it. Let’s slow the game down some more if we can, why not? In my opinion you should have to still be in possession of your timeout to call a challenge – as well as keeping the penalty if you’re wrong. It would keep things going faster and add even more risk to the other side for trying to challenge. The reviews were added to try and avoid the blatant offside goals off the rush, what it’s been used for is an embarrassment to the game. 
The Goals –
This next one was waived off for a hand pass after the Leafs called a timeout to review it
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Nazem Kadri
2) Andrew Mangiapane
3) Noah Hanifin
(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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