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Flames salvage point against Devils after benching veterans: Beyond the Boxscore

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
1 month ago
Another game where the Calgary Flames couldn’t compete in terms of speed. The New Jersey Devils came out and skated circles around the Flames who struggled and fell behind as a result of it. There were cancelled fights, questionable calls, and some significant benchings on Saturday night giving everyone in the media plenty to discuss. The Flames fall to 0-3-1 in their last 4 games, officially hitting an extended losing skid.
CF% – 47.86%, SCF% – 35.66%, HDCF% – 37.25%, xGF% – 41.04%
It’s a Team Game – It would be one thing if the Flames were losing these games while getting the majority of chances, but that’s two games in a row now they were out possessed, out chanced, and outscored in their own building. It may be early in the year but Calgary already is trailing Vegas by a significant margin in the Pacific and making up ground is the NHL is very, very difficult. Never impossible, but Calgary as a whole team is in a rut right now and it looks harder to dig out of then one may think.
Corsi King – Mikael Backlund (73.77%) lead and then was benched in the third period – very controversial for some. His numbers across the board were good and the teams were not, but after the benching of Backlund, Lucic (36.63%), and Rooney (29.56%) the overall metrics as a team improved. The Flames had 36.4 CF% in the first period, 45.54% in the second period, and 60.8% in the third. The trend continues positively for scoring chances, marginally for high danger chances, and a decent bit in the xGF margin. Visibly they were much more controlled in the offensive zone, keeping plays alive along the boards, and winning a lot more puck battles. Cuss the head coach all you want – but his plan worked, and the Flames got a point.
Corsi Clown – Kevin Rooney did finish lowest on the Flames with Mangiapane (33.36%) and Dubé (35.15%) right behind him. These two wingers were a difference make early on and they’ve vanished from looking impactful. They hardly establish possession as a line anymore – Kadri (41.49%) as their centre. They were the reason for the early 5-1-0 record – now that they’re struggling the team can’t win a game. One line can’t wear an entire record – the whole roster appears to have fallen asleep on the ice.
Under Pressure –
The most significant part of this is the lull of shot pressure from Calgary to end the 2nd period. That lull right there is what got peoples butts parked to the bench.
Taken By Chance – One line and one D pair got victimized more than any other one – all of them giving up 7 high danger chances or more. Noah Hanifin (37.37 SCF% // 26.19 HDCF%), Nazem Kadri (41.09% // 34.29%), Andrew Mangiapane (28.64% // 23.81%), Dillon Dubé (28.64% // 23.81%), and MacKenzie Weegar (23.77% // 26.28%). Kadri salvages his a little bit by getting involved in 5 high danger chances himself, but that’s just way too many good looks to give up defensively – in an entire week let alone one game. If you’re looking for positives check the xG section.
xG Breakdown –
Naturally New Jersey created more – they’ve reached earl wagon status from many other more prominent writers and I can’t disagree with their performance so far. Nazem Kadri – once again everywhere, he and Lindholm significantly upping their PP shot volume and quality. A 5 on 3 powerplay will always help in that sense.
xGF% – Blake Coleman (73.63%) and Nikita Zadorov (57.99%) were real bright spots in the darkness for the Flames. It was fitting they connected on the goal that tied the game as they were the most consistent skaters in Flames uniforms. Having your top guys finish well below acceptable it stands out even more just how impactful they were able to be every shift. Zadorov himself has been way more consistent and is starting to really thrive for the Flames.
Game Flow –
New Jersey never got significantly outplayed at any point and time. Calgary was able to slow things down for the third period with the shorter bench, but it was never in their complete control.
Game Score –
 
Shot Heatmap –
Better than it was last time for the Flames, but still very weak in terms of quality and quantity of chances. Their defensive coverage the last two weeks screams more lottery team than it has contender. Whenever Tanev is out of this lineup it’s more than noticeable.
In The Crease – The number one reason – well above both Coleman and Zadorov – was Jacob Markstrom who has strung together fantastic games despite the team in front of him playing so poorly. 2.33 expected goals against at 5v5 but all three to get by him were of the high danger variety. No weak goals and a completely shut door the last 40 minutes. The Devils were relentless and got 9 grade A chances 5v5 – Markstrom was not the reason for the loss in any way.
Today’s Specials – The power play did look better, specifically the top unit. They stopped the bump back pass and opted for a four-player surge into the zone which worked very effectively to establish initial possession. Every time the puck was cleared a man battle was clearly lost – something they can work on. The passes were fast and crisp and they got some really great looks. Only change I would make is putting Hanifin on the first PP unit. He’s way more creative with the puck on the power play and dishes it really well – just because he doesn’t shoot right is not a good enough reason not to at least give him some looks. He controls everything when the second unit is on the ice.
Player Spotlight – Dillon Dubé – Take a step then disappear, the story of Dubé’s time in the NHL so far. When he’s on he looks like a legitimate top 6 player without a shred of doubt, but then he goes on long stretches where he disappears and becomes unnoticeable. The positive there is he’s not committing blatant turnovers, but he’s also contributing very little to a counterattack or transitional play. He’s probably the fastest skater on the forwards they need him to find his mojo back while the top line figures their stuff out.
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Jacob Markstrom
2) Nikita Zadorov
3) Blake Coleman
The Flames next game comes Monday on the road against the New York Islanders. Early puck drop for the west coast fans: a 5 p.m. MT start.
Do not forget to check out the latest episode of FlamesNation Radio with Ryan Pike (@RyanNPike) and myself (@Flash_33). New episodes every Thursday wherever you get your podcasts!
(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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