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Analytical Analysis - G5 - Sometimes What Looks Bad is Only Kind of Bad

Except for that first period. That was BAD bad. 2nd and 3rd? Better than you think.

NHL: JAN 26 Maple Leafs at Flames Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now I’m not going to sugar-coat the fact that that was a peewee level effort in the first period from the Calgary Flames. The care meter from almost everyone seemed non-existent. The fact that this game was tied at one point in the third is a testament to how well the Flames pushed back in the latter 2/3rds of the game. If this team can put together full 60-minute efforts on a consistent basis (Like the two games against Vancouver) than they can easily be on a roll.

It’s a Team Game – Even when adjusted for venue the Flames ended the period positive across all fronts. A CF% of 52.03%, a SCF% of 51.01%, a HDCF% of 51.24%, and an xGF% of 53.39%. All and all through 20 the Flames looked abysmal and then in the last 40 they played lights out. Unfortunately for Calgary the Leafs have some absolute star power that can score at almost any time. Matthews and Marner capitalized on their chances and Calgary get no points despite a strong pushback.

Corsi King – Derek Ryan (70.71 CF%) had a strong showing. The 4th line by Calgary actually had their first strong game as a unit. Lucic (56.08%) and Nordstrom (54.74%) actually outplayed their competition. Hanifin (63.54%) and Tanev (62.27%) continue to actually be outstanding. Watching this game had me very frustrated, but let it be known the majority of the team played well.

Corsi Clown – How about we start with the guy that played like he was waiting to get traded out of Columbus. Mikael Backlund (37.61%) was not the Micki’s we know and love in Calgary. He absolutely lost Simmonds on the Leafs first goal and looked disengaged all night. Weak passes in the neutral zone, botched zone entries creating odd man rushes against. Very odd night from the long-time Flames center.

Taken By Chance – This was a sink-or-swim category for the night. Seven Flames players finished below 40% (Leivo, Nesterov, Simon, Bennett, Backlund, Gaudreau, Monahan) while seven Flames players finished above 60% (Tkachuk, Mangiapane, Lindholm, Tanev, Hanifin, Lucic, Ryan). The fun part comes when we I let you know that Ryan-Lucic-Nordstrom didn’t allow a high danger chance against in this contest. Backlund and Bennett both had High Danger chance ratios of 29%. If you’re reading this and don’t quite understand it I’ll explain it differently. The Bennett-Backlund duo allowed about 4.4 High danger chances tonight and only created about 1.75 high danger chances themselves. Brutal defensive game.

xGF% - Derek Ryan actually had a fantastic game. 95% xGF% when you lose 4-3 is impressive. I’m convinced that Mangiapane (67.49%) could play on any line and the other two guys numbers would spike significantly. He may not have found the back of the net yet, but everything he’s done so far this year has been a net positive for his line mates and the team. Who was the worst? Backlund (26.73%) and Bennett (27.50%).

Game Flow –

The rapid decline of the Calgary Flames in the first is evidenced by both the lines going deep into the Leafs zone. The fact that the Flames were able to rally to such a point that their unadjusted numbers peaked at what they did... nobody is going to remember this game for their strong last 40. The entire focus will be on the complete lack of effort from period 1 (and rightfully so).

Game Score – Johnny Gaudreau and his two goals (both absolute beautiful all-star level goals too) leads the scorecard from both teams. 2.40 score was tied for tops with Leafs noted Number 1 defenceman Justin Holl. Markstrom (-2.02) ended up with the worst score despite this game not being his fault whatsoever. Nesterov (-2.02) and Leivo (-1.56) were also in the basement.

Shot Heatmap –

It was basically goalies for themselves tonight at 5v5. First time in 5 games the Flames have let a decent amount of shots get past them from the high slot. Leafs have some dangerous forwards, but honestly they were pretty ineffective outside Marner and Matthews in the latter 2 periods. Flames had some glorious in tight chances in the 2nd and 3rd, just not enough luck (maybe shooting skill? Though I doubt that) going their way.

In the Crease – While it wasn’t his best night, he didn’t face any real competition in the last 40 minutes. However, he did allow 2 medium danger chances at 5v5. Simmonds goal could have been prevented with an ounce of back checking effort from the Flames F1 in the situation (Backlund tonight). Marner’s goal was a bad giveaway by a rookie defenceman (It’s going to happen as they learn). Boyd’s goal was Nesterov losing his man for the first time in 5 games. It’s the way it goes sometimes when the unit in front of you isn’t clicking 100% and that happened tonight.

Today’s Specials – I found it very funny that the only powerplay goal the Flames were able to score was when the Leafs had their #1 Penalty killing forward in the box. People really sleep on Mitch Marner’s defensive impact. When they had possession in the zone the top PP unit was deadly creating chances, but the Leafs figured their PP break-in and stifled all neutral zone possessive entry attempts leaving the Flames to do the hair-pulling strategy of dumping the puck in on the powerplay.

Player Spotlight – Mark Giordano – It has been 5 games now and his numbers have been anything less than stellar. He’s struggling on his first passes out of the zone on the Flames new designed breakout. The flames have been going up the wall to the winger who will send it either to his breaking center or across the ice to the other breaking winger. Gio hasn’t been able to find the passing hole to the close winger, holds on a bit too long, then has failed at the stretch pass through the neutral zone causing a possession turnover. Hanifin-Tanev & Valimaki-Nesterov have not struggled like Giordano-Andersson have in this regard. Normally these two defencemen would like to join the rush with the forwards and act like an F4 off the rush, but with how well the other pairs have fared in Ward’s structured system it’s hard to argue that 4-5 are going to be allowed to utilize that. I hope for the Flames sake Giordano can figure it out soon.

Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –

1) Derek Ryan

2) Noah Hanifin

3) Johnny Gaudreau

Honourable Mention to Lucic and Tanev, the Flames head on the road to Montreal next to get a true test against the best the Scotia North Division has to offer so far.

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