It can be hard to motivate yourself after falling down 2-0 early. Plenty of teams haven’t had the emotional juice to come back and fight for the remaining 40 minutes of hockey. Tonight the Calgary Flames stuck to their game plan for 65 minutes and were able to take 2 points in a shootout. It was more impressive than you think when you realize the Flames didn’t surrender a 5v5 goal to the skilled Winnipeg Jets forwards and crawled back in an absolute dominating stretch of play in the third period.
(Legend: CF% = CorsiFenwick percentage // SCF% Scoring Chance For % // HDCF% High Danger Chance For % // xGF% = Expected Goals For %)
It’s a Team Game – A 60 minute CF% of 56.98%, SCF% of 65.66%, a HDCF% of 81.82%, and an xGF% of 76.04%. This was the Flames best effort of the whole season, hands down. Markstrom didn’t allow a goal at 5v5 though he only faced a HDCA (High Danger Chance against) of 3.87. Flames defensive unit stifled all 5v5 offence and the forwards took advantage of the Jets questionable back end.
Corsi King – Nordstrom (90.42 CF%) seemed to gain new life after the lines were switched up. Derek Ryan (85.88%) put forth his second straight good game. I’ve specifically noticed Ryan in the last two games as a player whose been possessing the puck more. Taking a few strides before making a decision with the puck. Chris Tanev (68.64%) has continued to do nothing but make me eat my words after I criticized the signing this summer. I absolutely love being wrong about “negative” opinions because it means the actual on-ice product is succeeding and helping the Flames get W’s.
Corsi Clown – Rasmus Andersson (37.71 CF%) and Mark Giordano (39.81%) again were playing the majority of the game defending. The great play of the other two pairings is masking this very serious issue. There was some major miscommunication between Gio and Razz on the breakout a few times tonight. I’m hoping more time can get them into this system because when everyone has bought in, it actually works very well. (Yes that was a Geoff Ward compliment)
Taken By Chance – 7 Players had a HDCF% of 100%. A couple only created a ratio of 1/0 (Andersson, Dillon Dube) while the best of the best had 7.1/0 (Sam Bennett). The other 4 were Joakim Nordstrom, Derek Ryan, Milan Lucic, and Juuso Valimaki. No player on the entire team allowed more high danger chances than they created with the whole squad finishing above 50%. They did exactly what they couldn’t do against Montreal – get to the crease.
xGF% - Nordstrom (94.13%) led another category with Sam Bennett (93.73%) right behind him creating a bunch of stuff. Now is the time to mention Bennett’s two major open ice hits. I know he requested a trade (and I’m on to agree with the possibility of letting him go based on consistency) but tonight he was as impactful as he was in the bubble playoffs. Dillon Dube (43.92%) has still not looked like he did in the first two games coming back from his wrist injury. I’m not too worried about him getting back to form.
Game Flow –
The Jets did push back a bit in the third, which is surprising to see because the Flames spent a massive 2-3 mins in the Jets zone before the Mangiapane goal. Really well deserved win, even if it had to go to a shootout. It’s nice to see the Flames get the 2 points in a game where they deserved the 2 points. A lot of backwards point giving happened in the first segment, hopefully the second one sees consistent play from Calgary leading to some bump in the standings.
Game Score – The top 12 spots tonight belong to the visiting Flames and I’m pleased to give the him his first game score crown to go with his first goal as a Flame. Chris Tanev (4.66) sits atop the slough of names followed closely by Noah Hanifin (4.58). Juuso Valimaki (2.09) also played his best game of the season game score wise.
Shot Heatmap –
The Calgary Flames didn’t get to the area in front of the net at all against the Habs. Tonight they did that in spades making Hellebuyck’s night a pain. This is the same gameplan the Flames executed on the Jets in the bubble playoffs. Why change what already worked right? This is the moment i’m gonna mention Valimaki’s slick pass to Johnny for his goal. It was just finesse and beautiful to see, right into the high danger area.
In The Crease – He’s not going to get much love elsewhere tonight but here at AA we love to give goalies credit when it’s due. ZERO 5v5 goals against is always worth celebrating. Kyle Connor’s two goals were absolute cross crease bombs and a 6 on 5 tip were all that beat him. Add in some strong saves in OT and Markstrom more than did his job tonight.
Today’s Specials – BOTH powerplay goals drove me nuts. Not because of the kindergarten calls the refs were giving out (to both sides), but because of how stationary the Flames 4-man PK unit was tonight. Credit to Kyle Connor for two really good goals but those cross-seam passes were too easily given up by the Flames defenders who had their feet planted which allowed the Jets to slap the puck around with ease. Markstrom does so much for this team it would be nice to help him out.
Player Spotlight – Sean Monahan – I’m going to sound like an absolute dolt for saying this after that beautiful shootout snipe, but Monahan please shoot somewhere other than the goalies chest! Johnny set him up 3 times tonight in high danger areas and it went right into the Jets logo all three times. I know it’s easier said than done, and Monahan was a good contributor to tonight’s strong team game, but I just thought I’d mention those three shots.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Joakim Nordstrom
2) Sam Bennett
3) Johnny Gaudreau
The Flames continue the road trip going against the Winnipeg Jets again on Feb 2nd.
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com)