Have yourself a night, Oliver Kylington.
The 24-year-old Swedish defenceman had a spectacular outing in Wednesday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Seattle Kraken, leading the Calgary Flames both in total ice-time (24:27) and 5-on-5 on-ice expected goals percentage (84.48).
That’s right: Kylington played more than veteran teammates Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, Michael Stone, and Rasmus Andersson. He played almost exclusively at even strength, receiving just 15 seconds of power-play time and 52 seconds while killing penalties. Among Flames defencemen, only Zadorov received less time on special teams.
Kylington was dominant at both ends of the ice for the Flames, effortlessly roaming the playing surface and perfectly complementing Tanev’s reserved style in the 18:34 the duo spent together at 5-on-5.
During those minutes, the Flames controlled 70.37% of all on-ice shot attempts, 88.89% of all on-ice scoring chances, and 84.48% of all on-ice expected goals. Perhaps the Kylington-Tanev pairing should stay united for a while.
Kylington particularly excelled in the offensive zone, appearing especially confident while carrying the puck and facing defenders at the Kraken blue line. He routinely evaded oncoming pressure with head-fakes and quick, accurate passes. Even during his time in Seattle’s zone at 5-on-5, Kylington managed the play in the offensive zone as if Calgary had an extra man.
(Click on any of the below tweets — or this link
— to be taken to a Twitter thread featuring 16 of Kylington’s individual highlights from Wednesday’s game).
Kylington led all Flames defencemen in the game with 0.12 individual expected goals at 5-on-5. He had a team-leading five shot attempts and drew two penalties.
After the game, Flames head coach Darryl Sutter quickly identified the key attribute that sets Kylington apart among the team’s defenders.
“[Kylington] and [Andersson], they were the only two defencemen that played in overtime,” said Sutter. “We need mobility back there. I mean, it’s obvious.”
Through 95 games in parts of four seasons, Kylington has yet to establish himself as a regular NHL defenceman for the Flames. The tools have been there — his smooth skating, especially — but it all hasn’t quite come together on a consistent basis.
Perhaps, with Tanev, he’s finally found the right partner for his game. The only way to prove it will be to try it again.
Prized unrestricted free agent signing Blake Coleman made his Flames pre-season debut Wednesday.
He nearly started things off with a bang.
Coleman, 29, spent most of the game playing alongside Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm in the Flames’ top six. Should it remain together, that line could consistently win the possession battles while — thanks to its wingers — annoying the hell out of its opponents.
On Wednesday night, the Tkachuk/Lindholm/Coleman line actually only controlled 45.48% of all on-ice expected goals at 5-on-5. In isolation, that’s not bad; compared to the Johnny Gaudreau/Mikael Backlund/Andrew Mangiapane line, which posted an 80.44 on-ice expected goals percentage at 5-on-5, it didn’t really hold up.
That being said, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about all three members of that line. After the unsuccessful Mason Raymond, Troy Brouwer, and James Neal signings, it’s understandable to be skeptical about Coleman… but he brings a track record of excellent two-way play, both as a first-liner in New Jersey and in Tampa’s middle six.
For the record, Coleman tied with Johnny Gaudreau for sixth on the Flames with 0.08 individual expected goals on Wednesday. He had two scoring chances and picked up a helper on Tkachuk’s goal in the first period.
With all six years remaining on his brand-new six-year deal, Coleman is currently Calgary’s only player signed through 2027. That’s a long, long way away.
After Neal, Brouwer, and Raymond signed in Calgary, they all immediately started experiencing declines. Coleman’s deal is the longest Treliving has ever given to a UFA forward. It’s imperative he meshes on one of the top two lines.
He certainly had his moments in Wednesday’s game and his style of play appears tailor-made for a Tkachuk linemate. In terms of how he skates, pursues the puck, and drives possession, Coleman is a little like 3M Line 2.0 veteran Andrew Mangiapane.
Now, imagine Coleman and Mangiapane on the same line. Who needs cloning tech when that’s possible?
Only five pre-season games left! The Flames will host Vancouver on Oct. 1 before jetting down to Washington state for a rematch against the Kraken at the 6,500-seat Accesso ShoWare Centre in Kent, WA (home of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds) the following day.
Friday’s game against the Canucks will be broadcast on Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.