Honest confession – I fully expected more of a push-back from the Sabres. They had about as much fight as the Belleville Senators did the other night. I watched some Sabres games earlier in the year and never once did they look like… that. The Flames executed their neutral zone game to almost perfection tonight (especially the top 6) so it’s not completely on Buffalo. If you’re a fan of high % ratios this will be the review for you.
CF% – 65.89%, SCF% – 68.99%, HDCF% – 63.43%, xGF% – 61.06%
It’s a Team Game – I mean it’s pretty easy to say the word domination here. From the start every single aspect of the game was in Calgary’s control. There was a minor push-back in the third from the Sabres – they got the puck in tight for a couple shots – and Markstrom had the answer. The simple switch of Backlund and Monahan fixed all the chemistry issues that had been seen the last few games. In terms of transition this was maybe one of the cleanest games through the middle of the ice I’ve seen Calgary play.
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Corsi King – Mikael Backlund (84.49 CF%) with partners Blake Coleman (83.12%) and Andrew Mangiapane (82.42%) paced everybody. (ABC line? Anyone?) When the worst number by a defenceman is Oliver Kylington (50.49%) and that number is still over 50% it shows you how dominant the team was. A much needed game in offensive control for Noah Hanifin (73.70%) and Rasmus Andersson (65.40%) who had been struggling lately.
Corsi Clown – Not every line won their match-ups though. Tyler Pitlick (33.05 CF%), Dillon Dubé (37.74%), and Sean Monahan (39.58%) allowed more attempts towards them then they created. Before the game I sent out a tweet that this line combo would need to be buried with offensive zone starts because outside Pitlick the other two guys aren’t exactly competing for the Selke trophy. Seems that take was correct in this one, I feel the bottom 6 might experience a few more tweaks as the season progresses – dare I say, please return soon Mr. Ritchie.
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Taken By Chance – If I told you Johnny Gaudreau (47.44 SCF% // 46.94 HDCF%) lost the scoring chance battles you’d call me crazy, but here I am looking at the numbers and that happened. Some notes about it – both are so close to 50% shows that he created just about as much as he gave up. So, while 3 high danger chances went against him he also created 2 for himself. Bottom line: zero worry for anyone on the top line. The fourth line was the only line not to generate any high danger chances while Backlund (88.69% // 80.29%), Coleman (86.78%), and Mangiapane (78.63% // 73.32%) skated around everyone like it was a fun practice.
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xGF% – Now I harshed on the third line’s mellow a little bit earlier, but that’s why you need to summarize everything to get a better picture of what had happened. Sean Monahan (62.14 xGF%) and Dillon Dubé (62.15%) may have seen more attempts go against them, but they at least hit the net. They created more tangible scoring opportunities themselves which was never a concern. I truly think Dubé-Monahan-Ritchie will be the third line when Ritchie gets healthy and the simpleness of his game will aid these two.
Game Flow –
It’s like a fun waterslide. Quick, hop on! We’re scoring goals! Doesn’t need too much of an explanation, other than at the tail end you can see where some Buffalo players decided to fight back – talk about too little, too late.
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Game Score – Andrew Mangiapane (3.58 game // 1.23 average) leads all Canadian players in goals scored so far this season. He constantly wins his match-ups, has a motor that never quits, and plays great defensive hockey. Put him on the Olympic team, Hockey Canada – you would not regret it. Six other Flames all finished with scores over 2, let’s list them: Matthew Tkachuk (3.52 // 1.53), Johnny Gaudreau (3.28 // 1.66), Chris Tanev (2.94 // 0.82), Mikael Backlund (2.65 // 0.54), Nikita Zadorov (2.11 // 0.62), and Oliver Kylington (2.09 // 1.38). Peep that 0.62 average from Zadorov, maybe he’s not so badorov after all.
Shot Heatmap –
The really heavy left point shots always remind me of Mark Giordano – who is still killing it by the way. Him and Jamie Oleksiak are one of the top defensive pairings in hockey. I should probably use this section to talk about how Calgary dominates in tight around the net offensively and give them nothing in that area defensively – almost nightly – but no i decided to give Mark Giordano some love. If his goaltender could remember how to save pucks Seattle could be dangerous.
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In The Crease – Sutter said it himself in his post-game press conference Markstrom was not very busy in this game. Made some good saves in the third period – and it does not matter whether the game was easy or not the shutouts all count the same. That’s five shutouts in six wins for Markstrom. Fellow FlamesNation writer Pat Steinberg pointed out he’s already halfway to Kipper’s record of 10 and we haven’t hit the ¼ mark of the season. 1.48 expected goals against, 1.00 5v5 SV%, and real crisp high-five for a job well done.
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Today’s Specials – Does Rasmus Andersson know how to execute the powerplay breakout? I’m not convinced he understands the bump back completely, but he does well for them if they get extended zone time. Hanifin lost his PP2 spot to Kylington later in this one – I’m more convinced that it was a “we’re up by a lot let’s try it out” situation more than anything else. Anyways abolish the bump back – nobody likes it and it doesn’t work. Getting in once every 5 tries when you have a literal advantage makes no sense, scrap it.
Player Spotlight – Chris Tanev – Not often I get to highlight Chris Tanev for his passing ability so I’m going to absolutely take advantage of it. The little mini feed to Mangiapane on his goal was an awesome read from Tanev. His first assist came doing what he does best – winning puck battles in the corner. He got it up to Tkachuk who made a rocket of a pass up the middle which Johnny buried top cheddar.
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(Note: Shoutout to Taranjot for always having the Flames goals clipped and shared to Twitter. I appreciate it a lot and I’m sure other Flames fans do as well – keep up the great work man.)
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Mangiapane
2) Gaudreau
3) Markstrom
The Flames continue their road trip with game six of seven Saturday as they help the New York Islanders open their new building – it’s Saturday at 5 p.m. MT all covered here at FlamesNation.
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com)