Some days you can do absolutely everything right and still get a bad result. That’s how game 4 went for the Calgary Flames on Sunday. Two more bounces off their own players end up in the back of their net, and an unfortunate random bounce after a bad 4th line shift resulted in a PP led to a missed 2 points. This is a loss that really doesn’t sting like the one against Winnipeg as the team stuck to their systems, never gave up, kept pushing and unfortunately just came away shorthanded.
It’s a Team Game – Possession? Advantage Calgary (52.47 CF%). Scoring chances? Advantage Calgary (52.03 SCF%). Expected goals (or quality of chances created)? Fairly even (49.27 xGF%). The real issue here was the Flames getting out chanced from the high-danger areas on the ice. Not enough penetration of the slot and too much perimeter play. We’ll get into who was allowing such chances below.
Corsi King – Crown these men with their 5th effective game in a row, Juuso Valimaki and Nikita Nesterov (65.14 CF%). The other D-pair of Chris Tanev (63.38%) and Noah Hanifin (58.29%) also rolled over the boards quite effectively Sunday. The top forward was recently promoted Andrew Mangiapane (61.91%) who when deployed on the Flames “3rd” line with Backstrom makes the Flames have a third extremely effective line at 5v5. The Injury to the hot starting Dillon Dube was felt tonight, more so on the numbers of the 3rd and 4th line.
Corsi Clown – He may have been last but trying to swim with two guys who’s historic 5v5 numbers have been bad is hard enough. Derek Ryan (34.11%) does not deserve the criticism of being here, but alas he is. Dealing with giveaways and blown assignments from one linemate is hard enough, but this afternoon he had to handle two of them. Good luck Derek Ryan, I believe in you. The pair of Rasmus Andersson (36.44%) and Mark Giordano (40.60%) were found caught in their own zone a significant amount more than the offensive one. Not the first time this season that has happened. Worth keeping an eye on.
Taken By Chance – Why is it always the most effective forwards in a game that get left off the scoresheet? Andrew Mangiapane led the Flames tonight getting 79.15% of scoring attempts when on the ice. Matthew Tkachuk had his worst showing yet at a measly 73.28%, Lindholm at 66.22%. Very much so the Flames best, and top, line. HDCF$ for the top line all over 70%
The interesting thing tonight was found in the Valimaki – Nesterov pairing. Both put up a SCF% 68.52%, but only a HDCF of 45.85%. They had the majority of the chances while they were on the ice, but allowed more high quality against than they could create. Again, too much perimeter play down low in the offensive zone. Leafs made it hard to get to the net in the 3rd when pressing.
While I usually just post the ratio percentage (HDCF/HDCA) but it’s worth noting that Giordano and Andersson allowed 8.78 HDCA while only creating less than 2 HDCF each. They were absolutely outplayed in their own zone, which is odd because there were very few leafs that created high quality opportunities tonight.
xGF% - *Copy* *Paste* Mangiapane (80.90%), Tkachuk (73.41%), Lindholm (68.88%). Just dominant. The Lindholm – Tkachuk duo is magic to watch. Big ups to Johnny Gaudreau (57.45%), and Sean Monahan (54.41%) for their improved play. They still allow a fairly high number of xGA numbers but are creating even higher xGF numbers at a very nice rate. If they keep producing at least 1 xGF per game we could very well see point per game seasons from those two.
Game Flow –
Welcome to the most chaotic chart i have posted yet. What it says is: Calgary’s getting the most of the chances, but Toronto’s getting better chances when they do eventually get one. These games weren’t as dominant as the ones against Vancouver, but they still did a tremendous job with maintaining possession in the offensive zone and quick transitions through the neutral zone. Leafs noted number 1 Dman, Justin Holl, was able to limit the top line to the outside today.
Game Score – Flames top Gamescore champion of the day, for the first time in a loing time, Noah Hanifin (2.07). His partner Chris Tanev (1.91) was right behind him with usual suspects Tkachuk (1.08), Lindholm (0.76), and Mangiapane (0.97) right behind. Posting the worst gamescore so far this season was Mark Giordano (-2.32) followed closely by Rasmus Andersson (-2.24)
Shot Heatmap –
The Leafs were able to keep Markstrom busy in his crease. Lots of chances in tight against the 4-5 pairing and a few against 6-89. For the 4th straight game the high slot has been vacated. Flames really buying into their system fairly well so far. Needed more penetration on their own side of things this time.
In The Crease – The last player to beat Jacob Markstrom at 5v5 with a clear shot was Mark Scheifele at 0:34 of the second period of game 1. That’s almost 11 full periods since someones directly shot a puck past the Flames netminder. ELITE is the only way to describe him right now. He must be living an absolute dream going from the tire fire of a Canucks defence to the strong structure that is the Calgary system. Marky posted a 5v5 SV% of 0.923% this afternoon allowing just 2 goals on 2.17 xGA.
Today’s Specials – While the top PP unit potted a beautiful powerplay goal from Elias Lindholm, the 2nd PP unit didn’t fair very well. They were given an on-the-fly shift and couldn’t gain the zone. As for the penalty kill, I give mad props for the first kill of the game. The Leafs didn’t have any sustained pressure for two minutes as the shorthanded unit broke up all attempts at a zone entry. A bad bounce of Simmonds skate goes in the back of the net after a terrible play by Lucic to lose Barabanov in the neutral zone. Nesterov took the penalty but that was only necessary because the big man was caught floating in the wrong direction.
Player Spotlight – Sean Monahan – I’m only highlighting Monahan here because for the first ½ of the game he seemed to be taking a little too long in his mental processing. Too long in the slot deciding whether to pass or shoot, forcing passes into coverage from the half wall missing the passing hole that originally was there but had gotten covered before he tried to sauce the puck. All that went away of course when his decision making started to click and he banked the puck off Campbell and in. After that his game went back to normal, but for the start he seemed to be….. what I would describe as looking rather than acting.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Andrew Mangiapane
2) Elias Lindholm
3) Chris Tanev
The Flames return on Tuesday Jan. 26th to try and get revenge on the Leafs. Expect some fireworks as the Matthew Tkachuk train took off tonight and the new big bad leafs might have something to say about his behaviour.
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com)