How Ryan Huska has been using the Calgary Flames’ lineup post-All-Star break

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
4 months ago
The Calgary Flames are a different team than they were prior to the All-Star break. The departure of Elias Lindholm and arrival of a few new faces have been followed by two victories on the road.
We’ve decided to delve into the Flames’ four forward lines and three defensive pairings, how head coach Ryan Huska has used them, and how they’ve performed thus far.
(All ice times and stats cited are five-on-five and via our pals at Natural Stat Trick.)


In terms of usage and deployments, there’s a pretty clear role-set developing for the three pairings.
MacKenzie Weegar & Rasmus Andersson have a very slight ice time edge at 28:56. 61.9% of their face-offs have been in the offensive zone. That makes sense: they’re the offensive duo so they get the high ground. They have 46.4% expected goals, so their results are fine so far.
Noah Hanifin & Chris Tanev are the ostensible 1B pairing, with 28:51 time on ice. 37.9% of their face-offs have been in the offensive zone, which shows they’re a more defensive duo than Weegar and Andersson.  They have 62.3% expected goals, which is quite a nice result especially given their face-off locales.
Oliver Kylington & Brayden Pachal are the definitive third pairing with 22:21 time on ice. They’ve had 30.0% of their draws in the offensive zone. They don’t get a ton of offensive zone high ground, but it feels like the coaching staff is evaluating how effective they are at getting out of their own end. Their 35.4% expected goals is likely a product of both their lack of familiarity as a pairing and their face-off locales.


The most-used line is Andrew Mangiapane, Mikael Backlund & Blake Coleman at 23:33 time on ice. They have 13.0% of their draws in the offensive zone. They’re the shutdown pairing, and so on the road they’re chasing match-ups. They have 46.6% expected goals.
The “all gas, no brakes” line of Jonathan Huberdeau, Yegor Sharangovich and Andrei Kuzmenko have played 19:49 together, with a staggering 84.6% of their draws in the offensive zone. So far, it’s worked: they have 77.3% expected goals.
The third line is Connor Zary, Nazem Kadri & Martin Pospisil, with the caveat that Pospisil was chucked from the Boston game in the first period so they only played 15:28 together. They have 70.0% of their draws in the offensive zone, which is good, but their expected goals is just 36.5%. Small sample size, though.
And the fourth line is Jakob Pelletier, Kevin Rooney & Walker Duehr, who’ve played 14:01. They have 44.4% offensive zone draws – so basically middle of the road – and 61.4% expected goals.


So far, Huska has been pairing specific defenders with specific lines quite a bit.
The Sharangovich trio, an offensive-minded line, has been placed quite often with a defensive-minded defensive pairing in Hanifin & Tanev to balance them out.
The Backlund and Kadri lines, both more two-way groupings than Sharangovich’s, play with the offensive-minded Weegar & Andersson pair more often than the other pairings.
The Rooney line gets a mix of defensive pairings, but skewed slightly towards Kylington & Pachal.
What do you think of how Huska is managing his lines and pairings so far? Do any of the deployments or results surprise you? Let us know in the comments!

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