The first ten minutes had me thinking an even game may be possible, but by the time the second period was underway Calgary was back to dictating how the game script would be wrote. The Islanders hardly found any decent room in tight on Markstrom at 5v5 and were only able to score at 5v5 because the defender/center miscommunicated and left Pageau open. Flames look to be playing at an elevated physical level ever since coming out of the all-star break – a huge part of why they’ve stretched the current winning streak to six games.
CF% – 64.28%, SCF% – 60.79%, HDCF% – 59.34%, xGF% – 56.72%
It’s a Team Game – This game went the way it should have gone based on the current numbers the teams have put up. The Eastern playoff picture already has it’s eight participants barring a massive collapse by one of the top eight. Problem is that collapse needs to be coupled with one of the teams on the outside raising their game. The Islanders probably don’t have enough runway to make up the points, but with the way they’ve played this year it’s doubtful they do that anyway. Calgary is earning the title of a player in the Pacific division – which might not be much considering Vegas is the only other one, but it is still significant.
Corsi King – Adam Ružička (77.13 CF%) was having a pretty darn good game and it did not go unnoticed by the coach. Ružička ended up with more 5v5 minutes than the line of Sean Monahan (62.22%), Brett Ritchie (73.15%), and Dillon Dubé (69.28%). All around the Flames had lines 2 through 4 win their possession battles – the only one to lose theirs was the top line.
Corsi Clown – It feels blasphemous to type any of the top lines name here, but I don’t make the numbers I just share em. Johnny Gaudreau (41.86 CF%) was the low man – but still found ways to break through the coverage and grab a pair of helpers. When we get to later – more important sections – we’ll see just why I’m not worried about Johnny. Nor am I worried about Oliver Kylington (44.80%) who had a fairly rough game all around. Remember – everybody is human and expecting non-stop perfection all the time is crazy. Hockey is a team game and the team got it done.
Taken By Chance – Only player to not be involved in any high danger chances for the Flames was Oliver Kylington (40.02 SCF% // 0 HDCF%). Again, nobody is running 70%+ ratios on a nightly basis, not even Makar. If there’s a problem over a stretch of games I’ll mention it, but as of right now it’s a one-off. Trevor Lewis (79.93% // 100%) and Milan Lucic (77.69% // 100%) also had strong bounce back games. No high-danger chances surrendered from that “fourth” line.
xGF% – Adam Ružička at a 97.24 xGF% – he’s had 90+ ratios before but never with this much time on ice. Noah Hanifin (75.56%) has been tremendous through this winning streak with partner Rasmus Andersson (75.23%). Consistently finding the success those two have been finding is a great way to help them keep growing as players and professionals. It has been amazing to watch them slowly get better and better under Darryl Sutter. Goal scorer Andrew Mangiapane (54.37%) and his line also finished a decent rate in terms of expected goal share.
Game Flow –
Like i said earlier, the first ten minutes saw the Islanders press pretty good. The first goal took the wind out of the Islanders sails for a bit and allowed Calgary to settle into their game plan. After the power play to start the second the took over with long stretches of time in the New York zone. Calgary continued to get better as the game went on – Islanders ran out of gas on their third game in four nights.
Game Score – Another night with 5 scores above 2.00 but with 3 new entrants that don’t normally get here. Ružička (4.23 game // 0.60 average), Hanifin (3.09 // 0.95), Andersson (3.05 // 0.94), Lucic (2.57 // 0.36), and Lewis (2.43 // 0.13) were the top guns for Calgary. Johnny Gaudreau (1.13 // 1.77) still finishes with a tremendous score even on an “off” night – guy produces offence almost every single game.
Shot Heatmap –
Islanders very clearly were not interested in shooting the puck from the sidewall, but that was all Calgary would give them from the middle of the zone and below. Credit to the Islanders defenceman for doing the one thing they could do and that was get to the middle of the ice and fire it. If that is all a team can muster they better hope they get deflections or bounces. Very difficult for a team to score 3 or more goals when defended as well as they got defended. Calgary – 5 goals fired from the middle of the ice – 4 at the hashmarks or below – and all at 5v5. They just showed the Islanders what they’re made of.
In The Crease – Markstrom has had busier games – the Islanders didn’t find too much success in regularly directing pucks towards him. He did give up a high-danger goal by absolutely no fault of his own. If high danger goals go in it’s more than likely because of a defensive breakdown and not because of the goaltender themselves. Its those low danger opportunities you want to flush out and Markstrom hardly allows any of those chances. 1.87 expected goals against – 1 high danger goal beat him 5v5 – 0.944 5v5 SV%.
Today’s Specials – Calgary got a singular power play in this game. I didn’t see to many Islanders players intentionally causing havoc. If a team really isn’t taking penalties – combine that with a clear lack of possession – it really paints the picture of just how little the Islanders tried to get the puck back. The Islanders only out hitting Calgary by 3 (21 to 18) when Calgary had the puck 60% of the game? Not a good look for them.
Player Spotlight – Rasmus Andersson – I want to discuss the lap – the beautiful lap he took before dishing the puck to Ružička for the first goal of the game. He didn’t do the entire thing while maintain possession – he made some smart passes to teammates to keep possession alive. He used some great poise with the puck and tremendous vision to open up passing lanes and being a massive reason for the early lead. Well done good sir, extremely skilled/impressive.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Adam Ružička
2) Rasmus Andersson
3) Erik Gudbranson
The Flames’ season continues Tuesday as they take on Columbus at 7 p.m. MT from Calgary. All covered right here at FlamesNation.
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com)
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