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Analytical Analysis - G16 - From a Flame to a Flicker

Geoff Ward said his players need to prepare better, but it’s hard to prepare when you don’t know who your next shift is going to be with.

NHL: FEB 17 Canucks at Flames Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After crawling back in it to make it 2-1 the Canucks came back with a strong pushback and scored two late 2nd period goals. That led to a third period where the Flames already looked defeated and just not willing to try and grind back. It’s starting to look like a bunch of guys that don’t want to play for each other. When they quit moving their feet and don’t get in on the forecheck the opposition can quickly transition the puck out giving Calgary nothing for shifts at a time.

Legend: (CF% = CorsiFenwick Ratio // SCF% = All Situations Scoring Chance Ratio // HDCF% = High Danger Chance Ratio // xGF% = Expected Goals for Ratio)

It’s a Team Game – CF% - 51.82%, SCF% - 45.39%, HDCF% - 39.16%, xGF% - 44.66%. The Flames weren’t necessarily out possessed but they didn’t get any real quality chances in the first or third. They had a real strong pushback in the second which gave all fans hope when Mangiapane muscled his way to the net for an All-Star level goal, but the immediate collapse after just crushed everyone involved, from players to fans abroad.

Corsi King – Mark Giordano (70.30 CF%) has really picked it up of late, which is unfortunate as the rest of the D-pairs have started to be inconsistent. His partner Juuso Valimaki (68.76) also was on the better side of the ratio. Despite fan grievances Brett Ritchie (64.02%) really did earn that promotion with the way he was playing. He was giving it all from the second he hit the ice, almost like he was fighting for a roster spot, so he went all out every shift. While I appreciate the effort, Ritchie has been around for a while and we know what he is, and putting him with our offence first line may not be a good long term solution.

Corsi Clown – Dominik Simon (33.91%) followed up his best game of the season (last game) with a blatant giveaway in the neutral zone that led to the Jordie Benn goal almost immediately. Simon isn’t a hard-nosed forechecker, he doesn’t drive play, and he’s not a gifted finisher. Johnny Gaudreau (44.57%) and Sean Monahan (44.58%) have found success on a line with players that fit one of those moulds, such as with Bennett/Leivo/Mangiapane, but when the going gets tough Ward tends to go with something new instead. The line combinations change more than Carrie Underwood changes outfits in her Christmas variety shows. It’s getting old and it’s time for some consistency.

Taken By Chance – Do I highlight the good or bad in this section? Let’s go negative as that’s the current atmosphere building around this team lately. Noah Hanifin (36.65 SCF% / 16.33 HDCF%) and Chris Tanev (43.53% / 20.65%) had a real struggle. After such strong play to start the season it was inevitable regression would draw them back towards the league average. When you don’t get any forwards forechecking hard and the pucks constantly transitioning back towards your end there’s not much you can do as a D pair but try and stay afloat.

xGF% - The 3rd line for Calgary maintained their fight all game. I will give Milan Lucic (50.87%) credit for always going hard whether it’s a 5-1 lead or a 5-1 deficit. His linemates Dillon Dube (58.30%) and Mikael Backlund (68.10%) had a good all-around game as well, but one line can’t solve all your problems. It’s worth noting Joakim Nordstrom (73.02%) was the best of the bunch in a sheltered 5v5 role.

Game Flow –

You can see the visible push-back from Calgary in the 2nd. You can also see how those 2 quick end of period goals shifted the entire narrative of the game. Took the wind out of the sails would be a perfect analogy to describe it. Made the third the most unwatchable Flames hockey so far this year in the most lopsided loss of the year... so far.

Game Score – No breakout classifications for Flames players. Just pain. 4 Skaters that played the whole game finished with a positive score: Mark Giordano (1.31), Juuso Valimaki (1.15), Joakim Nordstrom (0.54), Mikael Backlund (0.54). Rasmus Andersson (-2.65) had an extremely unusual bad game with Nikita Nesterov (-2.38).

Shot Heatmap –

It’s kind of interesting to see that Markstrom was beaten from distance and remained strong in tight. Calgary eventually started shooting from everywhere and had a real strong push for an extended time in the second before JT Miller crushed their souls.

In The Crease – It was the first bad game from Markstrom and yet I don’t put the blame on him one bit. Geoff Ward was trying to ride his goalie like he was in a playoff series and he was clearly tired. This short season sees a lot of games played in a short time and riding one specific goaltender won’t get you to where you want to be at the finish line. Everyone but the coaching staff seemed to know Rittich should have started, but it’s too late for hindsight. Positive here is that Ritter didn’t let a goal in while he was in the net, although he was hardly tested facing just one high danger chance.

Today’s Specials – I mean Travis Green gameplanned for the Flames Powerplay and won. Antoine Roussell was a constant pest pressuring the Flames D in his own zone and causing missed passes or turnovers. The Canucks had the blueprint on how to hinder Calgary’s powerplay break-in and executed it well. Fun little tid bit – The Toronto Maple Leafs run the EXACT same powerplay as the Flames. From the breakout to the setup in the offensive zone it’s identical, with the exception that they have an elite finisher in Matthews.

Player Spotlight – Dillon Dube – One of the Flames youngest and most promising future players has strung together a few strong impact games. He seems to thrive with Lucic and playing the hard forechecking style employed by this team. He had found success early in the year when Lindholm and Tkachuk were going hard into the corners, but as they veered away from that in recent weeks the success went with them. The “system” we talk about involves all Forwards going hard on the forecheck to keep the puck deep in the zone and draw the defenders low. The minute one player doesn’t want to go in deep and grind the forecheck dies. Dube thrives when his linemates all buy in to the night’s game plan, but too many others are checking out of late.

Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –

1) Mark Giordano

2) Juuso Valimaki

3) Mikael Backlund

The Flames continue their quest with back-to-back games against the Edmonton Oilers in what fans hope can be a couple of games that help the players re-find their will to play every shift.

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