I’m going to be honest: I had zero idea I’d be talking about a team that was 4-1-1 after 6 games, but here we are. I was always adamant this was a playoff team in the Pacific Division (and there’s lots of runway left), but the way the Flames have been playing gives me confidence that could hold up. This isn’t some random burst either – the Flames were rock solid to end last year after getting extended practice time – this team we’re watching might have “learned how to win games” as coach Sutter says.
CF% – 60.96%, SCF% – 60.43%, HDCF% – 65.09, xGF% – 59.93%
It’s a Team Game – As I’m typing this column I have yet to look at the individual contributions, but I doubt there’s going to be much negative there. This was two periods of complete domination for Calgary followed by a third period that was all Devils. The Flames very much looked like a team that was gassed after playing on back-to-back nights late in the third. These are the ones that are in danger of slipping away. While the Devils did press, their 5v5 opportunities at high danger were just 2 to 1 in the final frame.
Corsi King – All hail King Rasmus Andersson (71.35 CF%) and partner Noah Hanifin (66.45%) for topping the charts tonight. Did a real good job of helping to direct a massive number of raw attempts towards the Devils net. Andersson at 5v5 SVA was at 25.26 – insane that someone helped direct 25 pucks at the opposition net in 15:42 of 5v5 TOI. Only one forward had raw totals over 20 which was Mikael Backlund (63.14%) who is thriving in a shutdown role with new best friend Blake Coleman (57.57%).
Corsi Clown – Only one player was below 50% at 5v5 SVA – it was Gudbranson (49.87 CF%) who was so close to 50% I’m not even counting it. Nobody “wins” this category in this game, which truly is a massive win itself.
Taken By Chance – Noah Hanifin (74.07 SCF% // 100 HDCF%) and Rasmus Andersson (79.52% // 100%) cannot be praised enough for their play in this one. Were a dynamite pair. Only one line wasn’t present for any high danger chances for or against and that was Sean Monahan (84.10% // 0%), Milan Lucic (79.58% // 0%) and Trevor Lewis (84.10% // 0%). Note: I went back and checked Lucic’s goal – while it was certainly high-danger to the eye he released it from far enough back it was classified as medium danger. I do in fact double check these for you readers! The only D pair with no high danger chances for while seeing some come back against them was Kylington (39.76% // 0%) and Tanev (40.14% // 0%). Honestly any “negatives” or sub-50% you see here come directly from the third period where those two were tasked with defending the Devils onslaught on the second half of a back-to-back. No worries from my camp regarding those two. (And how about Dawson Mercer? Devils are going to be scary when Hughes, Mercer, and Holtz all develop.)
xGF% – Now nobody touched 80% but only 3 guys were sub 48%. You’d be surprised to see Lindholm’s ratio was 43.73%. Would probably make you scratch your head – until you see that his raw total against was one of the lowest on the team (0.29) while still generating 0.23 himself. The top line of Lindholm, Johnny Gaudreau (55.02%) and Matthew Tkachuk (51.32%) pushed play but really didn’t create anything super dangerous at 5v5 – their damage came on the PP tonight.
Game Flow –
Take momentum 15 seconds in: that’s exactly what the Coleman-Backlund-Pitlick line did. I wasn’t the only one to notice, it was all over Twitter – that first shift set the tone early for how this team was going to play on the 2nd half of a back-to-back and boy did the team feed off that immediate energy.
Game Score – The man with two goals finished second. That’s right Andrew Mangiapane (2.60 on night // 1.33 average) finished behind Rasmus Andersson (3.01 // 1.11). Rasmus resurgence? You bet! Dillon Dubé (1.73 // 0.35), Sean Monahan (1.41 // 0.31), and Milan Lucic (1.28 // 0.13) all vastly outperformed their season averages while finding their way onto the boxscore.
Shot Heatmap –
You should have seen how bare and isolated the Devils map looked after the first period. The Flames got to the slot again tonight and if they keep finding ways to do that they’ll keep finding ways to score.
In The Crease – Dan Vladar made a rookie mistake, and that’s okay because he’s a rookie. Made a couple tonight that would have prevented two of the goals against. The trapezoid prevented him on the first goal and remember young padawan if the strap comes loose or unhinged on your helmet shake it off. Don’t yell at the refs – nobody in the building knew that had happened but yourself! 1.27 expected goals against – 0.913 sv% – one high and one low danger goal against at 5v5
Oh, and he secured the W. 2-0-0
Today’s Specials – Below is a tweet from @EvolvingWild that shows just how ridiculous the Flames PK has been to start this year. Take out the game against human 5v4 cheat code Connor McDavid and I bet its sky high. The Flames employ an aggressive PK to the point of getting more chances on the opposition than they’ve allowed in the last few games? None of this is sustainable long term and eventually teams with good PK’s will burn them – but getting through Washington was a welcome surprise.
Player Spotlight – Andrew Mangiapane – How can I not talk about the one true Breadman? That second goal was a bad turnover by the Devils but an even better finish by him faking out the goaltender. That other goal was just him being the workhorse he is night in and night out. I wish Team Canada would consider him for the Olympics – he’s an excellent penalty killer and could be a tremendous 14th forward that wouldn’t care to see little ice time (raise your hand if you remember Brendan Morrow) – alas the Olympic list of 50 skaters (F/D) had to be in Oct. 15 and I question if he’s on that list.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Andrew Mangiapane
2) Rasmus Andersson
3) Matthew Tkachuk
The Flames wrap up their early season five-game road trip against the Penguins on Thu., Oct. 28 at 5 p.m. MT – all covered right here on Beyond the Boxscore at FlamesNation.
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com)