An entertaining start slowly shifted into a relaxed second half for the Flames. We had creative bright spots and some really hard questions coming from the blueline – and not in a positive way either. Some welcome backs to the ice for Noah Hanifin and Sean Monahan: one played really well, the other played in a pre-season game, we’ll call his performance a warm-up.
CF% – 56.2%, SCF% – 60.86%, HDCF% – 54.8%, xGF% 60.60%
It’s a Team Game – The high numbers despite getting outplayed in the second period translate into: when they were good, they were really good – they just didn’t maintain that pace throughout the whole contest. The Oilers led significantly in the second frame for all four statistics we have listed above. The Flames did good in the first, and alright in the third – the middle was where they lost their early momentum.
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Corsi King – Johnny Gaudreau (84.30 CF%) in his two periods was a force at 5v5. The Flames top line was all excellent with Matthew Tkachuk (81.77%) and Elias Lindholm (73.22%) maintaining high numbers in the third without Gaudreau. It’s a good sign to see that, if in a pinch, the Flames can go to that trio knowing full well they’re going to get some high-end play.
Corsi Clown – Walker Duehr (37.22% CF%) was a little too outmatched against the Oilers NHL talent tonight. Edmonton started what was basically their opening night roster (minus Mike Smith) and Duehr was just a step behind. Andrew Mangiapane (42.85%) and Trevor Lewis (49.16%) didn’t mesh well. I want to just preface that it’s pre-season, but the free experimental room is running out. They’re going to have to start playing their opening night lines and do it quickly.
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Taken By Chance – All the scoring chances for the second full game in a row Johnny Gaudreau (100% SCF% // 100% HDCF%) was flying out there. Flames fans are nervously holding their breath as they wait to hear why Johnny Gaudreau missed the third period – the team said it was for precautionary reasons. Interesting case for Dillon Dube tonight. When dubs was on the ice 76.98% of the 5v5 scoring chances were towards the Oilers net, that’s a fantastic number, but… none of the chances he created were classified as “high danger.” So he clearly was creating chances, but failed to create something significant.
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xGF% – Gaudreau (94.81 xGF%), Lindholm (77.22%), and Tkachuk (84.19%) all go their praise earlier – this one goes out to one of my favourite Flames D-pairings: Hanirazz. Noah Hanifin (69.99%) is back! I’m excited to see what he can do this year – his point totals weren’t high last year but Giordano got the prime offensive spots. This year nobody’s in the way to stop him from really producing the way everyone thought he was capable of when Carolina took him fifth overall. Rasmus Andersson (75.08%) in one game away from Nikita Zadorov soared with his best game of the preseason. Hanifin and Andersson read off each other well, having them play against top competition frees up Chris Tanev (53.86%) to possibly carry another partner to give the Flames a formidable top four.
Game Flow –
Flames got after it early and then after it became 3-2 really quit pressing their foot on the gas and let it ride. As much as i hate to say this – you can’t ever do that against the Oilers – their top nine forward group is pretty slick. The Oilers defence is another story but you can’t sit back and expect a talented forward corp not to take advantage.
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Game Score – No surprise to see the man with three points on top here. Matthew Tkachuk (4.79) with a goal, two assists, and attempt number one this year of trying to shoot the puck through his feet. Trevor Lewis (-1.22) didn’t mesh well on that line tonight – he’s a good bottom-6 guy, but may have been a little outmatched tonight. Lewis does compete and to be quite frank I’m not worried about this performance at all. He excels at limiting opposing bottom-6 lineups from getting scoring chances – he’ll be fine.
Shot Heatmap –
The Flames attacked the slot aggressively and won the battles getting plenty of shots from good quality scoring areas tonight – the problem was the Oilers offence did that too. This one isn’t going in any Hall of Defence for either side, but it was entertaining at least.
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In The Crease – Jacob Markstrom would probably like that Perlini goal back, but I can’t criticize the man to much – he was dynamite on the breakaways tonight. Someone call EA Sports and tell them to up Markstrom’s breakaway number, because he was on top of them tonight. He face 1.86 expected goals against at 5v5 allowing one medium danger and one high danger chance get past him. His 5v5 SV%? .931. He really had to stand on his head as the majority of the Oilers chance were from in tight in the slot.
Today’s Specials – The Flames had one power play and Johnny didn’t even touch the ice. Flames were clearly having a battle for who was going to be on the second unit PK. My ideal first unit sees Gaudreau – Lindholm – Tkachuk – Mangiapane – Hanifin. Noah Hanifin has been the best Flames D at producing xG% the last two years – it’s really time he gets his chance.
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Player Spotlight – Nikita Zadorov – I’d say you’re running out of time to find chemistry with a partner but you and I both know you’re locked onto the starting day roster. I’m hoping Zadorov finds someone who can play off him well so the Flames could use him on a shutdown third pairing. It’s a bit unfair for Zadorov as he may feel he’s trying to replace Giordano. That would be unfair of him to think – he’s not replacing anybody, they’re trying to plug the best version of Zadorov into the lineup and do what he does well – defend the middle of the defensive zone. Not trying, nor expecting in any way, a Giordano like impact.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Johnny Gaudreau
2) Matthew Tkachuk
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3) Elias Lindholm
The Flames continue their pre-season content with a game against the Winnipeg Jets on Wed., Oct. 6 at 6 p.m. MT. It’ll be broadcast on TSN3 – with post-game coverage right here, at FlamesNation.
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com)
Bonus: I didn’t mention Gudbranson tonight – here is my observation of his play in a tweet: