Welcome back one and all to Beyond the Boxscore: Season 2 –  a place to find out which Flames players had statistically great nights combined with some insight into what was working or not by myself (Shane Stevenson – @Flash_33 on Twitter). We’ll have charts, video breakdowns, colour commentary, and plenty of in-depth analysis.
A game that probably should have featured a few Flames goals thwarted by a strong performance from former Flames backup David Rittich. It wasn’t low event, it wasn’t without a little bit of grit, but it was without a single goal for Calgary. In an almost complete NHL lineup – every player on the ice could play or has played in the NHL – the offence went stagnant. While the chances were there for Calgary, they were also there in abundance for Winnipeg. Shoring up play in the defensive zone should be a priority heading into the final pre-season tilt on Friday.
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CF% – 56.73%, SCF% – 54.67%, HDCF% – 47.03%, xGF% – 45.05% (5v5 SVA)
It’s a Team Game – It was actually a really strong start from the Flames spearheaded by Nazem Kadri and his line. How they didn’t score on that flurry of shots in the first 5 minutes is a bit of a mystery. I’m fine with it – if you’re going to have some bad shooting percentage luck get it out of the way before the games count. The inherent positive is that the chances were there – they were there early – and that line was persistent till the final horn sounded. Part of last years success was Calgary’s ability to get the first goal so often. I don’t remember exactly if they were first in that category (they were in a battle with Washington all year) but they were close to being tops. It would be great for that trend to continue.
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Corsi King – Rasmus Andersson (69.46 CF%) was one of 7 Flames players to finish over 60% on the evening. It just means that he was on the ice for a lot of 5v5 attempts for and very few against. This was another game broken up with frequent powerplays so the 5v5 evaluation can be a bit… tricky. Ends of power plays/penalty kills can always skew the numbers in favour of a team – especially if they don’t score on them. Calgary going 0/6 on the power play corresponded with every Flame used on the PP to finish over 48%. Can’t just get away with reading the numbers – context matters. Andrew Mangiapane (69.27%) and Dillon Dubé (68.20%) finished second and third. That line looked as dangerous as I’ve seen a line play yet this fall.
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Corsi Clown – Kevin Rooney (32.40%) straddling a line with Milan Lucic (36.97%) and Brett Ritchie (40.32%) were at the bottom of the list. Rooney and Lucic saw 2 5v5 goals against them – Not as bad as Noah Hanifin (48.08%) and his 3 goals against, but still not what you want. Fourth line rules – don’t get scored on and protect the middle of the ice. That’s it – don’t try and do to much give the top end guys a break, rough some guys up, and get off. Sometimes a team with too much speed can give them a rough time – to me that’s what transpired in Winnipeg.
Under Pressure –
Calgary had pressure and chances all throughout the game – nothing went in. Frustrating to watch for sure, probably even more frustrating to play. The Jets scored a lot of those goals at the start of the pressure spike – translating into after they scored they applied more pressure. Great follow up shifts from the road team helped keep Calgary in the grind.
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Taken By Chance – I don’t want to call them the bash brothers because they aren’t really bruisers out there, but Radim Zohorna (56.34 SCF% // 100 HDCF%) and Adam Ruzicka (65.51% // 100%) on the same line together certainly brings some, er, size. Tonight they each got 3 high danger looks, gave up none, while also seeing no goals go against them. For Zohorna to have success with a new team two days after being plucked off waivers – a good sign. No defensive breakdowns – no bad passes – and always where he needed to be. A great first showing for him. As for Ruzicka, that’s the game you need to have consistently to show you can be in this team’s top 9 regularly. Sonny Milano has yet to have a game like this and Ruzicka has certainly stood out more than him in better ways to date – he just needs to find a way to work his way into a daily lineup.
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Now for the not so fun stuff – Jonathan Huberdeau (65.50% // 0%), Elias Lindholm (48.60% // 0%) and Tyler Toffoli (65.04% // 0%) have yet to click in a substantial way. Huberdeau I give a lot of wiggle room to. Everyone expects him to come in here and fit like a glove immediately – that’s a pipe dream. Players need time to get familiar with players typically – and when you aren’t the center dictating or driving play it gets even harder. The skill is there in abundance – the man’s passing and offensive positioning is unreal – I just am ready this late in preseason to see some consistently positive chemistry between at least two players on that line, especially if they aren’t going to try anything else.
xG Breakdown –
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One thing I really like about these HockeyViz.com charts is they count all the missed shots too (in grey). Kadri has been a beast every single shift since he put the flaming C over his head – he’s got me extra hyped to see what happens with the Flames this season. Bring the red lot back to life Naz!
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xGF% – By the time I get here the top players are typically mentioned, this is no exception. Ruzicka (71.89 xGF%), Zohorna (71.02%), and Andersson (68.23%) were the top 3. I typically refer to expected goals as a ‘quality of chance’ type ratio even though a bunch of small chances can technically outweigh one big chance – it’s typically not that way. In terms of who finished low on quality should be no surprise. Giving the puck away directly in front of your net will do that to a guy. Noah Hanifin (20.55%) was that guy in this one. Not a mistake the defenceman usually makes so I’m more than inclined to brush it off. His partner on the night was Michael Stone (14.73%) who did no favours himself. He’s got a lot of goals this preseason with that booming shot of his. Pike and I talked about Stone on this week’s edition of the FlamesNation Radio podcast if anyone’s inclined to hear a more detailed take on what might transpire as training camp winds down.
Game Flow –
One of the weirdest game flow charts i can remember – possession favours Calgary and quality favours the Jets. A rare occurrence for everyone that wasn’t the Carolina Hurricanes from 2017-2020.
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Shot Heatmap –
Like i said earlier Calgary got their chances – Rittich just got in front of all of them. That’ll happen some times – the way she goes. On defence they gave up the crease a metric crapload – that needs cleaned up before the season starts in a big way. With Darryl Sutter at the helm I’m sure it will too.
In The Crease – If you are familiar here you should know I usually don’t blame any high danger chances on the goalies – the team in front of the goalie should have done a better job defending in the first place. Poor Dan Vladar ended up getting left alone to start the second period. I don’t know if this was a planned split game (I just assume so) but seeing 8 high danger chances in 30 minutes of playing time – not good. Wolf actually had a lighter load but fell victim to some awful turnovers by his defence. The good news is that Dan Vladar unequivocally looks ready for a heavier workload this season – he’s been the best player in training camp regardless of position.
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Today’s Specials – For the love of all fans sanity please use the time between the end of the preseason and the start of the regular season to work on the power play. I know they will – but I still have to say it. 0/6 on any night – with the skill the Flames employ – just isn’t a good look. May I suggest Noah Hanifin and Andrew Mangiapane – especially Hanifin who is the best defenceman on the team at creating xG chances? No? Okay, understood.
Player Spotlight – Nikita Zadorov – Apparently, we can’t call him Big Z anymore because Zohorna is stealing it – so I’m going call him Zad Dog. In the articles we’ll refer to him by his given name pretty much always, but just know I’m putting Zad Dog into the universe for everyone to use. He was gritty and physical and all-around really strong tonight. Only time he stood out was when he gave Scheifele a sharp cross check that ran upwards into his face – classic Zadorov stuff. Never lose your edge man, it makes the fans love you more.
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The Goals – Pretty easy section, for the second time this pre-season too, as the Flames were shut out.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Adam Ruzicka
2) Rasmus Andersson
3) Radim Zohorna
The Flames wrap up the pre-season in Calgary Friday at 7pm against these Jets.
(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)