I’m going to be sad when the Flames inevitably trail in a game again, but it’s been since they played the Oilers opening night. (They didn’t trail against Anaheim, just lost it at the end.) Now I expected the Flames to put pressure on the Rangers, but I never expected the Rangers defence to crumble so easily. The forecheck caused the Rangers to directly pass the puck to a Flames forward upwards of 6 times in the first period alone. Let’s just say Igor Shesterkin isn’t buying any teammates dinner after this one.
CF% – 57.95%, SCF% – 58.21%, HDCF% – 36.69%, xGF% – 48.21%
It’s a Team Game – The sub high danger numbers and xGF numbers come from another dismal 2nd period by Calgary – all kick-started for the third game in a row by a penalty. They struggle after PK’s to re-find their quick transition and solid rush defence. There’s a player I’m going to single out for some of the struggles later, but this sections about the whole team. They found ways to work and tilt the ice enough and got the goaltending they needed to secure the W.
Corsi King – Scored a goal, on the rush no doubt, last year’s defensive defenceman of the year (my own award, no cash prize – sorry Chris) Tanev (76.67 CF%) led the way with young Oliver Kylington (72.12%) right there with him. Every game he plays Kylington is earning himself slightly more rope, but he’s playing big 5v5 minutes and succeeding. Sutter said that in pre-season: you don’t find success just by playing lots of minutes, you find success by playing minutes well.
Corsi Clown – Johnny Gaudreau (41.34 CF%) is here, but it wasn’t a complete game that got him here. The second period saw two things happen: 1) Artemi Panarin took control of shifts the way a top-15 player in the league can and B) the top line was getting very bad breakout passes. Three examples Johnny got the pass – but he wasn’t open there was a man covering him from the point. The defenceman needs to recognize that coverage and reverse it the other way or go glass and out – sometimes keeping it simple when nothings there is the answer. All-in-All this one was 45 minutes Flames and 15 minutes Rangers with Markstrom being a wall.
Taken By Chance – It’s worth noting that Noah Hanifin (50.01 SCF% // 22.79 HDCF%) and Rasmus Andersson (47.46% // 22.79%) gave up the most raw high danger chances at 8 while only helping generate 2. They were buried, but not as bad as Sean Monahan (43.14% // 16.91%) who had the worst high danger ratio on the squad. His one high danger chance he was ALL ALONE and promptly made no head fakes, stick handles, or anything before promptly shooting it right into Shesterkin’s logo. He’s down bad right now and really shouldn’t be put in a defence first line. The top forward in terms of high danger chances saw the line of Andrew Mangiapane (63.53% // 56.69%), Dillon Dubé (62.44% // 49.34%) and Brett Ritchie (66.80% // 56.69%) bounce back after a rough one against Washington.
xGF% – Here we are going to give some love to a new line that was crucial in putting the pedal down after the Rangers scored. Blake Coleman (62.02 xGF%) never gave up on a rebound and roofed it on a backhand to make it 3-1, all caused by great work down low from Tyler Pitlick 962,89%) and Mikael Backlund (58.89%). Backlund followed it up by pushing the defenders back into the slot on the rush then letting a rocket wrister off to make it 4-1. Depth scoring when the Flames needed it most, a theme that was missing in spades last year.
Game Flow –
The number one thing i notice that the Flames need to work on is recovering the great 5v5 play they’ve shown after killing a penalty. It seems to take them 3-4 minutes to get back into the flow of things and that’s too long by NHL standards. The lines are jumbled up due to the PKers being a part of all four lines and the mojo just doesn’t come back as fast as i would like to see.
Game Score – Let’s give the goal scorers some love here – they were dynamite tonight, all of them. Blake Coleman (3.21 game // 1.42 average), Chris Tanev (3.10 // 0.12), Mikael Backlund (2.71 // 0.35), and Andrew Mangiapane (2.28 // 1.08). Says a lot that the guy with two goals finished below those other guys – that’s how dominantly the “third” (maybe they’re the second – depends on the night really) line drove play tonight. Bottom Flames tonight were Juuso Välimäki (-1.65 // 0.76) who I really didn’t think played badly himself and Erik Gudbranson (-1.65 // 0.38) who we’ll touch on later.
Shot Heatmap –
This is the first instance of a Flames goaltender being bombarded from in close at 5v5. The Flames overall had more attempts, but from the area that matters the Rangers held a clear advantage – despite the first and third being equal in opportunities. That statement adds onto what was another bad second on the road for the Flames.
In The Crease – This game could have been tied after two or the Flames could have been down – should have been down. Jacob Markström is the sole reason that did not happen. The Flames defence was not strong in limiting high danger chances tonight and he arrived ready to play under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. 2.49 expected goals against, a 5v5 SV% of 0.957% and beat by just on HD goal at “even strength” (the penalty had JUST expired). I unknowingly left him off my 3 stars last time but he gets Star 1 tonight.
Today’s Specials – Normally I go in depth here about what was working and what wasn’t, but I need to make it simple and blunt. Sub Mangiapane on the power play for Sean Monahan. Monahan just isn’t feeling it anywhere on the ice right now and is not helping. Not worried about any other substitutions but right now that needs to happen. The guy has 5 goals in 5 games including 2 PP goals – just do it.
Player Spotlight – Erik Gudbranson – The guy started hot, with two games of near perfection and only some slight major giveaways (slight major, hmmm). The last 3 games in the second periods he has been one of the most glaring reasons the Flames have not been able to push the puck up ice. He’s making bad passes, missing assignments, getting flown by trying to defend on the rush. It’s not good. Dryden Hunt made him looks silly about 3 times in one shift in the defensive zone tonight. Also, even when he was playing well when he makes a mistake it’s glaringly bad – I call it the Cody Ceci paradox. Ceci has good defensive numbers, but when he messes up it’s so bad it ends up in the back of your net. He got some runway with his first two games, but he’s used that up with myself already. Hopefully it doesn’t burn them too bad.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Jacob Markstrom
2) Blake Coleman
3) Andrew Mangiapane
HM: Chris Tanev
The Flames get right back to it in New Jersey at 5 p.m. MT on Tues., Oct. 26 – all covered right here at Beyond the Boxscore on FlamesNation.
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com)