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Analytical Analysis

The Calgary Flames came home and brought the thunder against the Canucks

NHL: JAN 16 Canucks at Flames Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now that’s what we like to see. Take that first period effort from the Winnipeg game and have it go through the whole 60 minutes and come out on top. Flames didn’t go into shell mode at 5v5 after they had 1 or 2 goal leads like they had done in the playoffs and latter half of the previous regular season. Instead they stuck to their game, and played responsible all around to come away with a 3-0 win in their home opener.

It’s a Team Game – The Flames played 45:24 at 5v5 this game earning a CF% of 56.91%, SCF% of 62.04%, HDCF% of 71.95%, and an xGF% of 61.79%. They absolutely dominated this tilt from start to finish, but didn’t get a goal at 5v5. They wouldn’t need that though, because the man advantage was buzzing going 3/6 and Markstrom did his best brick wall impression.

Corsi King – Dillon Dube (78.29) has looked like the absolute perfect complement to Tkachuk (76.89%) and Lindholm (65.09%) on the Flames new look top line. Dube is poised to breakout this year after a tremendous showing in the bubble playoffs and through 2 games he is living up to the newly created hype. The best defenceman possession wise tonight? Well of course it’s Chris Tanev (63.73%) who played with an edge tonight and looked VERY good.

Corsi Clown – Hard really to call anyone out as the whole team played strong. The Flames 4th line was much improved tonight than over last night. Despite that Dominik Simon (40.70%) was the low point up front while Andersson (40.58%) trailed on the back. The only tweak I could see if this lineup falters in the future would be a Simon/Leivo swap in the lineup, but that should only come after a bad outing from the current set up. Really good though to see Simon give that line a roughly 13% boost in multiple situations.

Taken By Chance – This is the Johnny Gaudreau (SCF% of 82.67%) I love to see. When he was on the ice the Flames were absolutely pumping the chances towards Holtby. That 80% score doesn’t even count his PP contributions. Johnny was buzzing and when Johnny’s buzzing Flames fans are happy. Other standout performances came from Nikita Nesterov (72.59%) and Juuso Valimaki (70.54%). If the Flames can employ 3 solid defence pairs this season it will do plenty to help the transitions and zone exit/entry passes to the forward lines, specifically the top 9, contributing even more to this teams offence. To add on to that Valimaki had 5.05 HDCF, while Nesterov had 4.02 leading the team in High Danger chances while on the ice. Slight downside was they also gave up the most HD chances against with HDCA of 1.97 each.

xGF% - Matthew Tkachuk (86.25%) led the way, followed closely by Chris Tanev (85.58%) and Dillon Dube (82.52%) in creating quality scoring chances tonight. When the Flames acquired Tanev I was very pessimistic, and I still am to a degree, but credit where its due. Chris Tanev was tremendous at 5v5 tonight and really good at 4v5 as well. Excited to see if the trend can continue regularly. One disconcerting thing was Josh Leivo’s abysmal 36.87%. Leivo’s looked a little lost so far as he adjusts to his new team. He was a darling when he played for the Leafs a few years ago, hopefully he’s just going through a brief adjustment period.

Game Flow –

Almost as complete a game as one could see from a team. Sam Bennett killed momentum with a few unnecessary penalties in the second, but this team pushed through while sticking to their game plan. If they can do this consistently against the Canucks all season it would put Calgary in a very favourable spot.

Game Score – Any time your team can take the top 11 spots in this category you’ll take it. Matthew Tkachuk (2.63) had the highest score here and through two games his average score is 2.47. That’s elite king level stuff. Markstrom (1.95) followed Chucky with Dube (1.64) and Andrew Mangiapane (1.36) hot on his trails.

Shot Heatmap –

The Flames did a fantastic job defensively at 5v5 at limiting the Canucks chances. You can see the effect in the high xG% numbers from the whole team. There’s a very vacant gap in Canucks attempts from the slot, whereas Calgary was able to get to the middle of the ice and make Holtby’s night significantly more difficult. Props to him though, despite the difference the Flames couldn’t solve him at even strength.

In The Crease – After game 1 I talked about how good Markstrom played at 5v5 and how that could continue to translate into this game, and did it ever. Jacob Markstrom was absolutely lights out on that extended 5 on 3 powerplay the Canucks had shutting the door then as well as the rest of the way earning his first shutout in the flaming white C. Now I will put an emphasis on the fact the Canucks created just 2 high danger chances against in 46 mins of 5v5 play. Markstrom only faced 0.96 xGA but that didn’t matter because he did his job to perfection on this night. Brad Treliving has really gotta be feeling good about ALL of his acquisitions 2 games in, especially his big fish goaltender.

Today’s Specials – as for the PK, see Markstrom’s crease section. That says it all. The powerplay was able to gain the zone with their breakout and establish positioning. Vancouver didn’t do a good enough job of trying to hold their blue line and once the Flames set up they were creating tons of passing lanes and moving the puck with ease. Andersson’s quick puck moving ability and Elias Lindholm’s tremendous vision have been welcomed to see so far.

Player Spotlight – Andrew Mangiapane – The man getting all the love on social media tonight. After a slick no look pass on Dube’s powerplay goal he undressed Quinn Hughes on a break to get a quality scoring chance. I used to always say Nail Yakupov played like he was constantly being chased by bees. Tonight I figured out Andrew Mangiapane plays like those bees, chasing down the opponent until they slow up enough for him to sting them. Watch out, because this is his breakout year.

Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –

1) Chris Tanev

2) Dillon Dube

3) Matthew Tkachuk / Jacob Markstrom

If this team continues to play like this at a consistent rate, I’m gonna have to eat crow on all I said about Geoff Ward this summer. I hope i do have to because that would mean the Flames are being successful. On to the next one!

(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com)