How did the Calgary Flames’ lines and pairings perform in October?

Photo credit:Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
The month of October is in the rear-view mirror for the Calgary Flames, and they went 5-2-0 during the month. Moreover, they essentially kept the same lines and pairings for the entire month, aside from one game where Noah Hanifin was absent and the pairings had to be shuffled.
How did the lines and pairings do in October? They were solid, but largely unspectacular.

Forward lines

Jonathan Huberdeau, Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli [55:19]
The top line clocked in with 51% Scoring Chances For and 50% High-Danger Chances For. They faced a lot of first line opposition – you don’t waste Elias Lindholm’s two-way play on anything but that – but weren’t able to do a ton. On a per-60 minutes basis, they were about average on the team in terms of high-danger chances generated and allowed. Their PDO was 0.952, which indicated they didn’t get a ton of bounces.
Dillon Dube, Nazem Kadri & Andrew Mangiapane [56:45]
By eye test, this trio was probably the best and the numbers backed that up. They clocked in with 51.6% Scoring Chances For and 64% High-Danger Chances For. They received the most offensive zone high ground with 72% of their face-offs being taken in that zone, albeit playing against a lot of top six opposition. That being said, they generated a ton of chances and were the best regular trio at preventing high-danger chances.
Blake Coleman, Mikael Backlund & Trevor Lewis [62:46]
The ostensible shutdown line featured three good two-way players and clocked in with the most five-on-five ice time as a unit. They were absolutely snake-bit with a super-low 0.932 PPDO, and their High-Danger Chances For percentage was 41%; they didn’t generate a ton offensively and they had rough luck, in addition to having the lowest proportion of offensive zone face-offs on the team. Their goals for and against were hampered by puck luck, but they also didn’t generate a ton.
Milan Lucic, Kevin Rooney & Brett Ritchie [50:04]
Percentage-wise, these guys were underwater in terms of both Scoring Chances (45% for) and High-Danger Chances (48% for). But they rode an incredible wave of puck luck, with the highest shooting percentage on the team by far. Sometimes, it helps to be lucky. That said, the chances they scored on were all high-percentage chances, so there’s something to be said for picking your spots and being opportunistic.

Defensive pairings

MacKenzie Weegar & Chris Tanev [94:24]
Weegar and Tanev saw a lot of top six deployments, and generally did pretty well: 53% Scoring Chances For and 55% High-Danger Chances For. They didn’t score a ton, but they generated a decent amount and did a good job and suppressing the opposition.
Noah Hanifin & Rasmus Andersson [81:43]
Hanifin and Andersson also saw a lot of top six deployments, and they faced less well: 44% Scoring Chances For and High-Danger Chances For. They allowed the highest proportion of scoring chances against of the three pairings, but that’s probably due to a combination of the quality of their opponents and the forward lines they played with on their own club. Chemistry with some of the new units isn’t quite there yet.
Nikita Zadorov & Michael Stone [72:55]
Remember know the fourth line was fairly bad possession-wise, but was opportunistic? Well, the third pairing was legitimately good possession-wise – 55% Scoring Chances For and 67% High-Danger Chances For – and opportunistic, too. They faced bottom six opposition and got the highest proportion of offensive zone face-offs, so they had the easiest job, but they performed that job super-well and were the best unit – forward or defensive – at suppressing opposition high-danger chances.
Which Flames line or pairing did you like the most in October? Do you agree with the decision to shuffle the forward lines but keep the defensive pairings together? Let us know in the comments!

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