Through four games the Flames have yet to get off to a weak start 5v5, but against the Capitals Saturday afternoon the Flames struggled in the second period. Second time in as many games such an occurrence has happened, except this time the team that put the pressure to them was one that knew how to competently score goals. (Shoutout to Ovi – go get that record, King.) Ultimately the play of the Flames very elite first line carried them to two points, despite their depth and defence doing everything they could to try and help Washington win.
CF% – 53.01%, SCF% – 51.86%, HDCF% – 35.73%, xGF% – 41.1%
It’s a Team Game – The number one stat I want to draw attention to is high danger chances (HDCF%). The Flames were the better team in the first period (55.79%) and third period (53.26%) but were absolutely dominated in the second to the point the final ratio was under 40%. There were a lot of issues in getting to the net at 5v5 tonight, I’ll touch on that more in the shot heatmap section.
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Corsi King – Matthew Tkachuk (72.15%) does so many smart things with the puck. He always makes sure it gets out of his own zone, helps carry it into the attacking zone with possession and if it’s dumped forechecks hard. Having him play with an amazing playmaker in Johnny Gaudreau (66.55%) and a tremendous shooter in Elias Lindholm (70.05%) and you’ve got a creative balance to your top line. Every time they go over the boards, they know they’ll have a chance to score – it’s beautiful chemistry.
Corsi Clown – We have a tie between Andrew Mangiapane (0.00 CF%) and Dillon Dubé (0.00%) followed by linemate Brett Ritchie (15.76%). At 5v5 Mangiapane and Dubé generated no shot attempts towards the Capitals net in about 7:30 at 5v5. They were deployed as the 4th line this afternoon and it was deserved. Many won’t want to hear that but clearly the coach recognized these struggles himself and the players ice time reflected that. The “balance” of the lines outside 13-28-19 has players being put into roles outside their element – it’s going to hurt their depth scoring long term.
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Taken By Chance – This games third line (based on TOI) of Milan Lucic (65.38 SCF% // 100 HDCF%), Trevor Lewis (55.31% // 71.32%) and Sean Monahan (37.89% // 71.32%) were the high line for high danger in this contest. Tyler Pitlick (75.57% // 0.00%), Mikael Backlund (71.48% // 0.00%) and Blake Coleman (66.62% // 0.00%) generated more all situations scoring opportunities but none from a high danger area. Compliments to Blake Coleman late though – when the puck hit his stick in the defensive zone, he carried it out and dumped it deep every single time. Solid defensive play late from him.
xGF% – The top guys here are exactly who you would expect – Tkachuk (70.56 xGF%), Gaudreau (68.92%), Lindholm (68.40%). One defenceman was on the positive side of the quality ratio in Oliver Kylington (53.69%) and one was close in Rasmus Andersson (49.84%). In fact, Kylington played the most 5v5 tonight, of any player.
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Game Flow –
The Flames were competent in the first and competed well with a team that’s very experienced in knowing how to win. When Washington grabbed momentum they really never let Calgary snag it back – and it felt like we watched Calgary tread water for 30 minutes of gameplay.
Game Score – Mr. Hat Trick Elias Lindholm (2.87 for game // 1.76 season average) from Gaudreau (1.92 // 1.81) is becoming a trend that looks to be something that could continue all year. Gudbranson (-1.12 // 1.37) was the most polar opposite to his season average, and he didn’t get much help tonight from Juuso Välimäki (-0.97 // 0.92). Välimäki may have just played himself out of the lineup for a game or two with his performance this afternoon. (I think he should stay based on his strong play to start, but this one was filled with bad penalties and glaring turnovers)
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Shot Heatmap –
Flames weren’t able to get in tight for scoring chances tonight – and that’s partially on them and partially due to the Capitals playing good defence. Flames had their worst effort at stopping shot slots in this one, but it was the two goals from out wide that beat the goalie.
In The Crease – Sound the Imperial March! Darth Vladar gets his first win as a Calgary Flame. A win in a relief appearance from a starter – something the Flames are going to need to happen 10+ times this year. Vladar was great at covering the angles in his crease when the puck was down low – he used his large frame to cover the upper half of the net with his shoulders effectively. The knock here is that both 5v5 goals were from distance – with asterisks. The Flames back checkers were back in the defensive zone on the Fehervary goal, but nobody chose to go to him and then the Ovechkin goal was an absolute snipe from the best pure goal scorer to ever play in the history of the NHL. Vladar did what he needed to during crunch time and got his team the 2 points. 1.85 expected goals against, 0.882 5v5 SV%, 2 medium danger goals allowed.
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Today’s Specials – We actually have goals to talk about here for once. Mangiapane does so many good things he should easily be on PP1, I think he keeps working hard and gets there eventually but for right now he’s a nice play driver on PP2. Also, Elias Lindholm, that’s all I have to say. Just watch this goal – you’ll see it on top goal lists all year long.
Player Spotlight – Johnny Gaudreau – I don’t normally talk about a player twice in a row but 500 points for Johnny Gaudreau in 524 games. This team is better with his vision, playmaking, ability to stickhandle in traffic, and ability to transition the puck into the attacking zone. I’m not discussing any other situations involving him yet, I’m just going to enjoy watching him play hockey at such a high level while he’s a Flame.
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Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Elias Lindholm
2) Johnny Gaudreau
3) Matthew Tkachuk
The Flames go to New York to play the Rangers on Mon. Oct. 25 for a 5 p.m. MT start. All will be covered right here at FlamesNation.
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com)