From the drop of the puck the Nashville Predators were all over the Calgary Flames, a redemption game after being blown out in Edmonton. The Flames eventually were able to gain a bit of momentum in the third period, but it wasn’t enough. Jacob Markstrom stood out as a major reason this game stayed close. Not a game we’ve seen from the Flames very often this past year.
CF% – 45.46%, SCF% – 36.1%, HDCF% – 42.72%, xGF% – 32.56%
It’s a Team Game – Calgary did control the flow of play in the third period despite some of their best efforts in giving the Predators good looks. Only getting momentum back after the late second period power play and it wasn’t much they were able to get. The Predators played aggressive all night long and got the result they deserved.
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Corsi King – Mikael Backlund (69.06 CF%) has easily been the most consistent forward game in and out right now. On the positive side of the matchup every single night, one of the best defensive players on this team. MacKenzie Weegar (62.09%) and Partner Nikita Zadorov (61.64%) got more attempts for than against, but they were the only D pair to do that. The real tough part was the Flames top line struggling to generate offence, they got shut down at 5v5.
Corsi Clown – Jonathan Huberdeau (27.83 CF%), Andrew Mangiapane (31.56%) and Nazem Kadri (33.65%) failed to gain traction offensively and got outscored 1 to nothing. Not the finest night from those gentlemen. Noah Hanifin (33.79%) and Rasmus Andersson (36.42%) fell victim to over 25 Corsi events against them – 10 more than the next defenceman Stone (42.04%).
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Under Pressure –
That first period was the worst overall start to a game we’ve seen from the Flames this year – hands down. They’ve also got to get a bounce off the post and in soon – they’re getting over 2 or 3 posts a game and none of them are ending up bouncing in. One will eventually – they always go in eventually.
Taken By Chance – A bright spot again sees the line of Ritchie (36.14 SCF% // 100 HDCF%), Rooney (43.01% // 100%), and Lewis (47.28% // 100%) not surrender a high danger chance against. The most offensive of everyone though was a quadrant of players in Zadorov (52.36% // 78.36%), Weegar (53.58% // 78.36%), Toffoli (54.55% // 76.37%), and Lucic (54.55% // 76.37%) all being involved in over 4 high danger chances. These typically all come when they are out together as a unit – meaning we can give some credit to Elias Lindholm (40.93% // 42.94%).
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xG Breakdown –
One thing that stands out on the Calgary side – a whole lot of missed attempts. The best looks the Flames generated failed to hit the net. When you’re on the wrong side of possession you have to make your attempts count – Calgary couldn’t come through there against Nashville.
xGF% – 12 players finished below 40% in what I like to call cumulative quality. Only Mikael Backlund (54.56%) stands out because of his low number of xGA. He gave the Predators very little in terms of quality all night long. It did not extend to his wingers like it usually does. An extremely rough night pretty much across the roster as no skater really stood out as playing above and beyond – the best guy was in the net.
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Game Flow –
Took a long time to start sending that line in the other direction, but at least it did start to go that way. They found some fight in the third, never giving up.
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
I’m not going to sugarcoat this – it’s a mess. The fact Markstrom weathered that storm as capably as he did is the single best thing to happen in this game.
In The Crease – Regardless of what happened in front of him Markstrom remained sharp from start to finish. On some of those power plays Nashville got some fantastic chances turned aside by the Flames netminder. He kept this game within reach all the way up until they had to pull him for the extra attacker. 2.62 expected goals against at 5v5 with 2 high danger chances getting by Markstrom.
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Today’s Specials – Three power plays and just two high danger chances. Not really what you want at all. The team needs to start by playing a stronger game at 5v5, but the power play clicking can give the squad some momentum. Score effects are real people, its why we calculate for them. At least there was no shorthanded goal against in this one.
Player Spotlight – Blake Coleman – It was great to see Coleman finally get one – he’s been riding with Backlund on a streak of great games. He’s scored 20 in this league before and 15 at least 4 different times. If the top line guys are struggling, you want that depth scoring to come through. The team as a whole didn’t do enough, but Coleman did have a decent showing. 
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The Goal –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Mikael Backlund
2) Blake Coleman
3) Jacob Markstrom
The Flames next game is Saturday against the surging New Jersey Devils (8-3-0).
(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)