A great start was key in the Calgary Flames victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night. Calgary weathered a pretty sizeable number of shots from the Pens the entire second period but only a power play goal by Evgeni Malkin got behind Jacob Markstrom. Pittsburgh is a very good team and Calgary caught them sleeping after a track meet in Edmonton the night before. Solid effort at puck possession and emphasizing high danger chances after struggling with that the previous two outings.
CF% – 54.17%, SCF% – 47.12%, HDCF% – 54.49%, xGF% – 46.81%
It’s a Team Game – This new look Flames team has been strong at closing out third periods – a very big reason for their exemplary record of 5-1-0. 76.34% of the high danger chances in the third period (5v5) when the Penguins needed three goals is exactly what you want to see from a team that hopes to make the playoffs. Doing it against the all-world Penguins trio of legends – who’ve been lighting up their opposition so far this year – I’ll take that 12 times out of 10.
Corsi King – Brett Ritchie (72.89 CF%) leads the way here. Solid forecheck on the Flames fourth goal and he ended up with a secondary assist for his efforts. Some nights the energy line has pretty bad possession numbers, some nights it’s really dominant for them, but no matter what you have to agree they are always hustling out there. Lucic (66.82%) specifically has stood out in the neutral zone – employing a strictly north/south game that’s working for him. Michael Stone (68.99%) led the way for defenders.
Corsi Clown – If the lowest is Andrew Mangiapane (39.57%) and its not 30% or lower you had a great night as a team. The entire first goal comes from Mange and Dillon Dubé’s (40.45%) work down low getting it out to Nazem Kadri (46.63%). Those guys did end up getting hemmed in their own zone a few times, but never seeing a goal get scored on them. Rasmus Andersson (43.10%) and Noah Hanifin (42.78%) were the only defenceman below 50% – playing against either Crosby or Malkin all night isn’t easy – they did a fine job.
Under Pressure –
Great starts help because you never know when your opponent is going to turn their own tap all the way on. Calgary was really solid defensively for all the pressure the Penguins were able to generate.
Taken By Chance – Michael Stone (60.87 SCF% // 100 HDCF%) finishes as the only Flame to not surrender a high danger chance 5v5. He really has carried on from a great preseason right into the regular season – after all the one-year deals too, good for him. MacKenzie Weegar (58.88% // 78.41%) was involved in a team leading 7 high danger chances. Andersson (31.34% // 31.62%) and Hanifin (28.68% // 27.81%) saw over 8 high danger chances against them – the victim of playing the tough minutes against high quality centers.
xG Breakdown –
Really love Mikael Backlund having 5 different attempts and all 5 hitting the net. It sucks all 5 were saves but they didn’t need those goals to win this one.
xGF% – Trevor Lewis (71.97 xGF%) and Blake Coleman (67.47%) led the way in this category. That makes three different forward lines all leading in three different categories. Jonathan Huberdeau (57.06%) said he wanted to start shooting – and if he’s going to shoot like that I say keep going man. That was a wicked wrister labelled for the top corner. The only line that struggled in quality was the one that got 2 of the goals.
Game Flow –
A great first for Calgary – a great second for the Pens – and a solid third for Calgary. Two points Flames.
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
Funny Pittsburgh got all of their dangerous attempts from exactly where the heatmap from the Betway article said they would. Like they are useful tools to use to help pre-scout and predict what the opponent is going to try and do. Hard to pre-scout against the Flames just swarming your goaltender but teams can sure try.
In The Crease – If anybody tells you Jacob Markstrom doesn’t still have it please laugh back at them. He was great against Carolina, and he was superb against the Penguins. 2.61 expected goals against at 5v5 with NO goals against. Only Malkin beating him on the power play, it was Markstrom coming up over and over again when the pressure started to rise. 5 high danger chances at 5v5 too.
Today’s Specials – Really great puck movement up top on the power play – a little too much though without getting the puck to the net. Huberdeau, Andersson, and Kadri were tossing the puck around to each other with ease, but they couldn’t get close to the net because of the Penguins defence. It ended up working out with Huberdeau’s first as a Flame, but the puck movement up top was a really welcome sign.
Player Spotlight – Nazem Kadri – Soak it all in Naz, the roars of that Saddledome crowd were for you on Tuesday night. Nobody on Calgary is allowed to have an off night because Nazem Kadri is going to make you look lazy if you do. Always in the right spot defensively and a master at making sure his team keeps possession of the puck. It’s a point in every game so far, and it’s up to 9 points in 6 games to start.
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Nazem Kadri
2) Jacob Markstrom
3) Michael Stone
The Flames next game is Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers, 8 p.m. MT start on Hockey Night in Canada!
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com // xG and Under Pressure charts from HockeyViz.com // Game Flow and Shot Heatmap from NaturalStatTrick.com)