How do you put into words that a 3-0 victory wasn’t the Flames best effort of the season? It was nowhere even close as a team – the game Feb 9th against the Jets where they surrendered one (1) High danger chance against was the best. For the goaltender though it was a massive win, especially considering it had almost been a year since the last one for him. Also shutting out the Leafs felt extra nice after the fanbase was in complete panic mode the previous week. (Some still are)
It’s a Team Game – CF% - 45.95%, SCF% - 46.51%, HDCF% - 32.59%, xGF% - 36.27% in 39:01 of 5v5. The Leafs ratioed the crap out of Calgary at even strength. More than doubled them in High danger chances for. Some of the numbers are inflated – especially in the third period – as the Flames shifted in to as close to zero event hockey as the could. Pucks in Deep, North South skating, no pinching – late lead protection stuff. Still despite the impact from that the ratio numbers are still too one-sided to say the Flames actually played well as a unit.
Corsi King – Sean Monahan (61.55%) with the big return to the lineup took to the tops of the mountain. Sam Bennett (60.47%) contrary to everything we knew about him is hotter on that line than cold, which bodes well for his value. No matter how this year goes we can also be certain Bennett won’t be back for 2021-22 – whether lost by trade or to Seattle, but if his strong play continues, I’m almost certain he will play the whole season as a Flame.
Corsi Clown – Elias Lindholm (39.40%) was near the bottom, but how much of his 5v5 ice time was spent after a Flames player came out of the box and the Leafs already had extended possession? That’s why we need to be careful with quick assumptions and understand each players role mixed with their results. All the penalties left Glenn Gawdin (33.72%) on the bench for pretty much the whole game. I hope when the Ottawa games come around, they give him a real shot and not just what’s been happening.
Taken By Chance – Milan Lucic (72.17% SCF% // 56.16 HDCF%) has been a defensive rock this year for the Flames. Criticize that opinion all you want but he’s got the numbers to back it up. Dillon Dube (68.06 SCF% // 39.04 HDCF%) seems to play significantly better when with him so cycle whoever you want at C. So far Backlund (72.07 SCF% // 56.16 HDCF%) and Sam Bennett (65.61 SCF% // 56.44 HDCF%) have found great success between the two. The rest of the crew was largely responsible for being out after PK’s end and thus had their numbers suffer overall. Combine that with a play-style adjustment in the last 10 minutes and they’re better than the sum of their parts say they are.
xGF% - This one stings. While the Flames generated a few scoring chances not many of them were from a quality area of the ice. Perimeter shots can sometimes find ways to be effective, but on most nights, you need to get to the slot and rip that rubber. Only 2 Flames finished over 50% - Monahan (51.45%) and Lucic (50.78%). Despite all the PK talk and the style shift these numbers were too weak to herald the team as having a strong performance overall. All 3 D pairs were caved.
Game Flow –
When they actually got an extended stretch of 5v5 play the Maple Leafs took “control”. Didn’t do enough to take advantage of Rittich - who got a fair number of posts to help him get the SO. The Flames do play protect the lead if they have a 2-goal one late, but that’s not something we’ve really seen to this point of the year. So take a look, hopefully we see third periods that have 2 goal leads when starting more often.
Game Score – David Rittich (3.53) naturally led the way, and he was followed by Sean Monahan (1.97). Matthew Tkachuk (1.45) was more engaged than we’d seen him in a long time and got the Flames powerplay clicking with a goal and an assist. If he continues the intensity Tkachuk can really help this team take advantage of the Leafs depleted backend & crease.
Shot Heatmap –
as you can see the Flames did little to nothing in getting 5v5 chances near and around the net. The Bennett 5v5 goal is certainly one Andersen would have stopped should he have played. The Leafs could have attacked the middle of the ice more too, but with less than 40 at 5v5 it became a real special teams battle.
In The Crease – Shutout performance usually means nothing to critique. Big Save Dave has owned Toronto in his career, and he kept that going strong. Just at 5v5 he faced 1.71 expected goals against which included six high danger chances. His slate was kept clean and he more than earned himself another night between the pipes. Many forget that when not getting rode like a number 1 Rittich has been a very good quality goaltender and could have a very strong career coming as a decent tandem option.
Today’s Specials – Don’t give the guy that had 18 goals in 18 games almost 9 minutes on the powerplay?!? Are you absolutely out of your mind? The Flames are so lucky their PK even worked. The guys on that unit had more active feet but it was still largely stationary in front of the net. It led to some good, blocked shots, but if those don’t get blocked it’s not 3-0.
Also quit giving Ilya Mikheyev shorthanded breakaways. I know he misses all the time (much to the chagrin of Leafs nation) but eventually it will burn you.
Player Spotlight – Oliver Kylington – A rough night for Kyl back in for the first time in what felt like forever. I’m very excited he’s still considered ahead of Michael Stone on the team’s depth chart. He’s got ridiculously high skating ability but that doesn’t mean much when you play in a system that limits D rush chances. If Oliver wants to succeed, he should watch Rasmus Andersson pick his rush spots and learn when he can capitalize on holes in the defensive coverage a little better.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) David Rittich
2) Sean Monahan
3) Mikael Backlund
The Flames continue there brief 2 game series with the Maple leafs in about 25 mins on Sportsnet!)
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com)