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Analytical Analysis - G7 - Markstrom’s Swedish Meatballs

I’m being dead serious when I tell you the Flames did not play well tonight and we should all vehemently thank Markstrom for his performance.

Calgary Flames v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

That game had 0 5v5 goals so the two goalies can stand up and bow. Jake Allen had to be sharp, but Markstrom had to be to a point all night as the Habs put the pressure on heavy. There was certainly more emotion from the Flames, but not enough actual pushback from the team in terms of quality play. Many pucks failed to clear the zone tonight as Montreal was able to maintain sustained pressure on Calgary multiple times, especially in the third period.

It’s a Team Game – The Habs out possessed and out chanced the Flames all night long. They had a significantly higher number of High Danger chances than Calgary who put up a second period xGF% of just 5.24%. It felt about time for the team as they outplayed Toronto for 5/6 periods and failed to take a single point from those games. Taking a win when the team (mostly) doesn’t deserve it happens sometimes, and the Flames will gladly accept the gift that Markstrom so graciously gave them tonight.

Corsi King – I don’t think the world is ready to hear that Milan Lucic (71.15 CF%) is your possession champion from the road team tonight. I was visually impressed by Derek Ryan (65.93%) too as he carried the puck through the neutral zone multiple times without losing possession of the puck. Noah Hanifin (53.67%) and Chris Tanev (58.76%) were once again impeccable.

Corsi Clown – The Montreal Canadiens finally did it. Through 7 games this is the first time Elias Lindholm (17.19%) and Matthew Tkachuk (21.05%) got buried in their own zone. The entire top 6 forwards were actually pushed back by the Habs matchup game. Honestly playing against Phillip Danault (61.50%) is harder than most people think.

Taken By Chance – The entire team as a collective whole gets a big fat F here tonight. They just haven’t been getting enough High Danger chances against this Montreal team through 2 games. I give Montreal a lot of credit, there’s a reason they’re tops in the division this early. The highest HDCF% on the team tonight was 45.76% from Lucic, Ryan, and Nordstrom. That was the BEST, everyone else was much worse. When we get to the Shot Heatmap it will once again show the Flames lack of success in getting to the slot for chances.

xGF% - 3 guys above 50% tonight, just 3. Derek Ryan (52.41%), Andrew Mangiapane (50.23%), and Mikael Backlund (50.07%). Hard to say that the worst two on the team tonight were Tkachuk (15.59%) and Lindholm (15.90%) but it’s what happened. Most certainly not their best game, but I can say with confidence that this happening is a blue moon level occurance. As for the rest of the team… the Habs out played them plain and simple. The Habs outplayed almost every player tonight, except for Jacob Markstrom.

Game Flow –

Habs fans have a right to be upset. They really did push the pace against this Flames team. This game really resembled (to me at least) what the start of the Flames - Stars playoff series looked like. This team has shown they can play against the Senators and Canucks of the world, but they’ve yet to show they can hang with the big dogs.

Game Score – 3.50 for the big Swede as he clearly was the Flames best player. Mikael Backlund (0.70) after a couple lacklustre games was better tonight. On the bad side of things Mark Giordano (-1.80) and Rasmus Andersson (-1.75) were on the bottom of the pile. Lots of players were negative for Calgary, but Mark Giordano’s season average of -0.24 is starting to get concerning.

Usually after this many games the Flames would just be ending their pre-season. I’m reserving personal long term judgement until the 3rd segment of 8 is over, after that there will be no excuses with a large enough sample size to see what’s really the norm for the Flames players.

Shot Heatmap –

Flames actually did better than they did in the last game at getting to the net. Jake Allen had to be sharp on a few instances. The one thing that stands out between these two teams after two games is how each teams defenceman play. The Canadiens D don’t really tend to shoot the puck, instead they’ll pass it low or to a bumper who tries to get a better pass off through the slot. The Flames however funnel the puck along the wall to the point and then try and shoot it through traffic for rebounds. More strength behind the net and maybe someone to drive the slot could help in some offence creation. Easier said than done when facing this Habs defence.

In The Crease – C’est Magnifique. 2.76 xGA and he allowed ZERO. 12 high danger shots against and he allowed ZERO. FUN FACT: with his second shutout of the season Jacob Markstrom has tied his career high for a season. Seriously one more in the remaining 49 games and he sets a career high. Markstrom must love that flaming C (that looks extra sharp in this new jersey set) on his chest.

Today’s Specials – 1 PP goal by mister Jonathan Hockey Gaudreau. Lots of PP’s where Flames players were in the box tonight saw a myriad of different units grace the ice. Lucic had a good game numbers wise, but my god the powerplay had to die on his stick about 5 times tonight. He’d get possession and the Habs relentless PK attack would swarm him and steal it. There was nothing the man could do with the skillset he currently employs.

Player Spotlight – Milan Lucic – The numbers don’t lie, and the big guy had a solid game tonight. I, however, would like to talk about one specific shift. Lucic was out with Tkachuk in the offensive zone and the Flames were fighting like hell to keep possession of the puck in that end. The Habs unit in their own zone is very hard to play against so it’s really quite a challenge. This particular shift saw the puck get cycled to Lucic 3 times, and all three times he blindly cycled the puck to the Habs defenceman after the puck had been on his stick for less than a second. It killed what was probably the only sustained pressure the Flames could muster that shift. I know he doesn’t have the best speed, but he’s not lacking in strength and I would have liked to see him protect the puck along the boards better and keep possession of the puck. That was just one shift though and like I said the numbers were on his side tonight. Yes Lucic had a positive impact on this game.

Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –

1) Jacob Markstrom

2) Derek Ryan

3) Mikael Backlund

Next up for Calgary is three straight games against the Laine-less Jets. It starts with two back-to-back games Feb 1st and 2nd.

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