It was another tough loss for the Calgary Flames who despite have a crazy ability to dominate possession have struggled to create high danger chances and most importantly – actual goals. Even us stat nerds know you can only expect them for so long. People are probably sick and tired of hearing the process is alright – and it still kind of is – but there are definite cracks in it that some aren’t sure Calgary will be able to fix this season. With the high scoring rate of today’s NHL three goals a game isn’t going to be enough as often as it used to – finding that fourth and fifth goal every single night needs to occur, but as it currently stands the Flames aren’t poised to keep buying. Their priority is still their defensive play, but maybe opening things up wouldn’t hurt. You’re already losing more than you’re winning. Some players that have their flaws protected by the Flames structure would falter opening it up, but others who are offensively minded could thrive.
CF% – 52.31%, SCF% – 48.9%, HDCF% – 41.4%, xGF% – 56.23%
It’s a Team Game – If the Flames are currently considering adding another forward to try and fix this in a patch – stop. The fans don’t want that they’d rather have long-term success which only comes from being able to draft good assets. To draft good assets, you have to miss the playoffs or trade fairly decent UFAs. Unfortunately for Calgary their UFAs are Milan Lucic, Michael Stone, Trevor Lewis, and Brett Ritchie. Those top 9 players are all here next year too so I don’t think they can collect too many top picks this season should they fade off. They do still have their first-round pick, but I’m sure the focus is still playoffs. They have a very favourable strength of schedule, but they are wasting it with losses to MTL and VAN.
Corsi King – The fourth line led Calgary in every single 5v5 category and outscored their opposition 1-0. That hasn’t happened since Ritchie’s (72.12%) scoring burst to start the season. Zohorna (70.17%) and the bank goal man Lewis (70.17%). Noah Hanifin (66.70%) and Rasmus Andersson (55.59%) dug themselves out of a few games in the 30%’s. I even give Nazem Kadri’s (49.27%) a pass tonight as they were able to get a goal too.
Corsi Clown – Jonathan Huberdeau (40.67%) was at the bottom. Two instances tonight I saw him make a very good pass into the slot off the rush, both times if the player with him had shot left would have been able to get a high danger chance off – but because they shot right both times the Canucks defence was able to break it up. Calgary has played Huberdeau just two games with left hand shots. In Florida he had an offensive minded Sam Bennett (L) who hardly tries to play proper defensive hockey – he’s always created as much as he’s given up – and speedy scoring threat Anthony Duclair (L). With those two he put up 115 points, and yet while the team struggles to find that one extra goal Calgary won’t try him with any left-hand shots – other than Backlund due to Lindholm’s injury the other night. Now they’ve had spot shifts together back when Calgary was blendering their lines but no real runway to let Kadri and Huberdeau work together.
It is well past time to try it. 10 – 91 – 88/29.
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – I’ve been fairly nice to Huberdeau but he’s also not going to get the brunt of the roasting here. Elias Lindholm (23.38 SCF% // 14.93 HDCF%) should take the criticism but being fresh of an absence he has an out. That line got shellacked to the tune of over 5 high danger chances going against them while mustering up just one themselves. The Canucks took that line out to dinner, gave them a nice conversation, bought desert, and then never called them again. That’s how outmatched they were against a Canucks team that’s in the middle of peak turmoil.
xG Breakdown –
xGF% – Guess who had great xG rates as well as scoring chance rates – Adam Ruzicka (67.76%). He’s the only guy on both power play units taking the initiative to shoot the puck, he’s been fantastic in transition, always compliments his center perfectly and yet his ice time does not increase. If you want goals put the guys that are actively giving you the best chance to get them instead of going off a veteran reputation. The Calgary Flames are terrible at rewarding young players with better looks when they earn it, Matthew Phillips is very lucky to even be in the press box making NHL money right now it’s a complete 180 from how they’ve ever operated in the past.
It is not 1990 anymore, someone should remind them of that. Also remind them of how the mid ’90s went for the Flames while you’re at it. The league is getting younger by the day – adapt or be left behind.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
The top line had a very not good night – good news is that’s uncharacteristic of them.
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – I’m actually baffled at the public support behind Jacob Markstrom when he very clearly struggled all game. In OT he was getting pieces of shots but not all of them. Just enough still counts, sure, but it just appeared shaky. Every time he leaves his crease to play the puck I’ve started to cringe – I’m used to that from the Mike Smith days though. 1.69 expected goals against, 3 actual goals against with one high danger and two medium danger getting by him. The two medium danger goals coming in THE FIRST TWO MINUTES OF THE GAME. Sorry, just doesn’t grade as a game worthy of crazy praise to me.
Today’s Specials – Muller I’m talking to you directly right here. Either fix PP1 or shuffle people around man it is getting ridiculous.
Player Spotlight – Jonathan Huberdeau – The public needs to remind themselves of who is coaching the Calgary Flames. Darryl Sutter does not care about Jonathan Huberdeau’s or anybody else on this roster’s point totals. He’s said it in press conferences before that points are just a result of how you play. Every person on this team is worth the same to him and Huberdeau is no exception. People are being really unfair to him online right now in my opinion – he has improved defensively too. When you isolate his individual impact – take away the stuff everyone else does – he grades out with the best defensive metrics of his career (you can find it on HockeyViz.com in the 5v5 career impact chart). It’s no Selke Trophy stuff, but he is just doing what has been asked of him by his coach the same as everyone else in the room. If you’ve got a finger to point, it should not be a shot at him. Nobody plays 82 great games, not even McDavid or Crosby. Huberdeau had a rough night, he’ll forget about it and move on.
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Trevor Lewis
2) Andrew Mangiapane
3) Adam Ruzicka
The Flames are back in action on Friday against St. Louis.
(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)