Leafs 3, Flames 2: The Calgary Flames and a series of unfortunate events

Photo credit:Candice Ward/USA Today Sports
Mike W
By Mike W
1 year ago
The last time Jacob Markstrom was beaten by a clean shot it was off the stick of Patrik Laine and he was still a Jet. Following a 32 save shutout Markstrom has found himself as unfortunate as Lemony Snicket. The last five goals against have all been results of ridiculous bounces most of which off his own teammates.
Perhaps the most cliche of all cliches, but it certainly rang true in the first meeting against the Leafs: the Flames just didn’t get the bounces. Peter Loubardias was probably pulling out the onomatopoeia for this one as there were plenty of “doinks” off skates and bodies in this match-up.
The last five goals the Flames have allowed for your viewing pain:
Maybe it was the jerseys, maybe it was the afternoon start, but this game felt sluggish, sloppy, and kinda ugly (let’s be honest, it was the jerseys).
The Flames came out a bit flat but a strong shift from the Gaudreau unit leading up the Monahan tying tally got good guys in red back into the game. The Flames were starting to cook until the Leafs’ countered on the man advantage as ANOTHER weird bounce ended up behind Markstrom and the Leafs snagged the lead with 30 seconds on the clock in period two.
alt(Data from Evolving Hockey)

Not generating enough quality at even strength

The Flames are still playing a muddy, somewhat sloppy, low event type of game. They need to generate more 5v5. Natural Stat Trick had them generating only three high danger chances in the first period and only two in the final frame. Sure, they got it rolling in the second, but they need to start on time and push with more urgency in period three. The power play is firing, and that’s great, but Calgary needs to start being more dangerous 5v5.
alt(Even strength chances courtesy Evolving Hockey)

Sloppy hockey

Too many giveaways and poor puck management were also an issue. The Flames not only need to turn their zone time into more scoring chances, they need to stop shooting themselves in the foot by turning the puck over.
TeamExpected GoalsShotsShot AttemptsPenaltiesGive Aways
(Data from Evolving Hockey)

We need to talk about Line 4

If your biggest issue is your fourth line, things are pretty good right? What about if your fourth line has been a turnover machine that continues to get cratered when they are on the ice? It was Joakim Nordstrom’s turn to get smoked last night alongside Lucic and Derek Ryan and he played the part well. According to MoneyPuck, the trio got demolished in terms of quality shot share yesterday posting an xGF% of 16.62 at 5v5. Lucic was, yet again, making poor decisions with the puck, Nordstrom was on the ice for three high danger chances against and Derek Ryan looks out of sorts. Something needs to be done with the bottom trio. Lucic needs to be better, plain and simple, and perhaps it’s time we see Brett Ritchie (if Dube is still out).

Top lines

The absence of Dillon Dube was felt more so as a result of Andrew Mangiapane having to vacate his flank alongside Mikael Backlund. The Lindholm and Tkachuk duo continued to dominant at even strength with 88 on their wing. The top trio ‘quietly’ controlled the quality shot share and opened up some space for the Gaudreau unit to do some work in the offensive zone. The second-period flurry was highlighted by a classic Gaudreau and Monahan shift that resulting in the game tying goal. The top six is rolling pretty well.

Gio and Ras

While I’m not worried about Andersson and Gio, they have stumbled at even strength out of the gate. At 5v5 the two got worked pretty significantly by the Leafs. Natural Stat Trick had the pair on the ice for eight high danger chances against at 5v5. I’m sure they’ll round into form but not a great night from the captain and his partner.

The other pairings

Travis Hamonic, we hardly knew ye. Chris Tanev seems to be what Travis Hamonic never was: a solid and reliable defensive specialist who allows Noah Hanifin to play an offensive brand of hockey. The new look second pairing was near textbook against the Leafs while paring three continued to impress. Valimaki being on the ice with the extra attacker out had me giddy. He looked confident and poised as he nearly set up Tkachuk for the equalizer.

Goalie breakdown

I know it was a loss and rough night for the man between the pipes but I am seriously loving Jacob Markstrom. I don’t think I realized the Flames had a goaltending issue until seeing an actual, legit, top tier goalie mind the net. His technical game is so sound it’s just a pleasure to watch.
This save on William Nylander highlights Markstrom’s technical soundness. While he misses the poke check there was a not snowball’s chance in hell that puck was getting through his five hole.
Campbell was solid for the Leafs as well.
Jack Campbell23393.93.874895.891.93.91.87
Jacob Markstrom33290.62.974292.992.9-0.07-0.03
(Data from Evolving Hockey)

Bad luck

Most nights you win that game. The Flames need to be less sloppy, more focused, and more urgent on Tuesday. A frustrating loss but there were some things build off.

The three best and worst Flames

The top three:
  1. Matthew Tkachuk. 19 is dominating at 5v5 every game. 81.00 xGF%, 62.86 CF% and five hits to boot. Apparently Twitter is ablaze regarding Tkachuk falling on Campbell. I didn’t see anything blatant. He was in the crease causing havoc, being a pain, as he is known to do, but the Toronto fan detective unit’s claims of pile driving seem unfounded. The friendship tour continues.
  2. Sean Monahan. A goal, 11 scoring chances and eight shots. A strong offensive showing from Mr. Monahan.
  3. Noah Hanifin. 55 looked very strong. He was flying zone to zone and active in the offensive end all game. 68.61 xGF%, 63.89 CF%
The bottom three:
  1. Milan Lucic. I’m not sure what is going on with Looch. Coming off a great playoff performance his struggles are a bit surprising. Perhaps it’s rust but he looks painfully slow and is making poor choices with the puck every game.
  2. Joakim Nordstrom. Again, on the ice for a plethora of scoring chances against. In two games with his new team he has been underwater. 8.52 xGF%
  3. Derek Ryan. The fourth line trifecta. I  feel for Ryan; he’s playing less than 10 minutes a night with anchors for linemates but he hasn’t been very sharp himself.
Statistics from Natural Stat Trick, Evolving Hockey, and MoneyPuck.

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