After the Jets got the two goal lead it took until the late third for the Flames to try and press to score. Too little too late yet again. The Flames were doing everything structurally correct in the first only to have things end up in the back of their net. The Backlund turnover was heartbreaking and it was evident in the immediate effort from the team afterwards. The Flames should have had no problems creating high danger scoring chances against this Jets squad, yet they constantly fail to execute. (Stats are from 5v5 SVA)
Legend: CF%: CorsiFenwick // SCF%: Scoring Chance Ratio // HDCF%: High Danger Chance Ratio // xGF%: Expected Goals Ratio
It’s a Team Game – CF%: 47.72%, SCF%: 46.85%, HDCF%: 52.88%, xGF%: 48.7%. All around sub-par effort. The Flames once again played 3 completely different periods of hockey. One where they dominated, one where they got spanked, and one where nothing happened (credit to Winnipeg for that).
Corsi King – Mikael Backlund (70.58% CF%) was tops tonight. Followed by consistent sparkplug Andrew Mangiapane (68.98%). Having Mange is a genuine treat and watching him every night never give up is even sweeter. He’s had to fight to get here and you can see he’s still fighting every shift for even more. Beautiful to watch.
Corsi Clown – Now this baffled me after watching because I swore these two were always pressing but Sean Monahan (23.17%) and Johnny Gaudreau (38.46%) got buried in their own end. Mind you all the memory I have from them is early and late, or on the PP which doesn’t count towards these numbers. Regardless they struggled getting possession of the puck tonight so there’s no wonder the Flames struggled to score.
Taken By Chance – Monahan didn’t generate a 5v5 scoring chance tonight. A far and away difference from what he has been putting up nightly for 9 straight games. Nordstrom didn’t either, but he’s been here before. The positive is that the chances given up by 23 none were high danger. The best at creating high-danger chances tonight were none other than Juuso Valimaki and Nikita Nesterov, both with 100% ratios. As for all around chances, Andrew Mangiapane (69.78 SCF% // 82.01 HDCF%)
xGF% - The third line showed up tonight, pushing play. I usually call this the Andrew Mangiapane (79.12%) factor. His linemates Mikael Backlund (74.79%) and Josh Leivo (79.79%) also had quality nights. Josh Leivo has actually strung quite a few decent games together with nothing to show for it. Lots of Flames were miserable tonight, like the top 6 and the “first” defence pairing. Rasmus Andersson (37.69%) is so much better than this. He single got Hanifin back on track last year, but I really do feel 10 games in Mark Giordano (42.28%) is becoming just a ½ second too slow to go up against the NHL’s top competition anymore.
Game Flow –
The Jets picked up the pace after the Kyle Connor goal and it was very evident. The Flames couldn’t muster a proper pushback until mid-way through the 3rd. Once again they took over 15 mins off and the Jets made them pay. At the end of the 1st it was all Calgary and yet somehow some way, every single time, they forget how to play hockey. Sometimes it happens in the first, sometimes it happens in the second, but it has happened for 8/10 games this year.
Game Score – Andrew Mangiapane (2.10) with a very well deserved score. Juuso Valimaki (1.76) was 2nd and Mikael Backlund (0.91) was 3rd. Pretty big drop off but the only real difference separating them were points. Backlund kept the play alive well before Mangiapane scored on the beautiful tip pass from Valimaki. He deserves the credit for that great play. As for the bad giveaway to Kyle Connor? Well don’t mess around with the puck that close to the blue line if you’re the last man back.
Shot Heatmap –
I really felt this was the worst showing so far against Winnipeg. They just didn’t create high danger chances. Geoff Ward employs a lot of board play in his system. Establishing possession low in the O-zone (off a dump and chase usually) is the go-to for this squad. Instead of then funneling it to the goal mouth or the hashmarks the Flames have everyone on the perimeter. They’re attempt at offence comes off pushing the puck back to the point and then having the D-men or high forward drive through the slot. The problem seems to be that if they can’t establish possession in the zone the opposition just pick up the puck and transitions back towards Calgary’s zone. Makes for boring low event hockey if the other team learns how to counter it.
In The Crease – The first blip of a bad game from the Flames new starter. He faced 1.38 xGA at 5v5 and tonight faltered. His HDSV% was never going to stay as high as it was, but it really hit hard with 3 high danger goals against tonight. Not much support tonight from ¾ forward lines and 1/3 of the D-pairs. I have no doubt Markstrom is still going to be mentally ready for Saturday’s big tilt against the Oilers.
Today’s Specials – You know the statistics are that most teams will only score on 1 in 5 powerplays. Tonight just wasn’t the night. One food for thought that I would like to see is replacing Giordano off the second unit with Hanifin or Valimaki. Eventually Juuso Valimaki is going to force whichever coach is in charge to let him loose with his consistently good play. Oh yeah, by the way Geoff - Lucic is still good defensively but struggles with offence. The powerplay just isn’t the place when Josh Leivo’s big capable body is right there.
Player Spotlight – Matthew Tkachuk – He’s the best player the Calgary Flames have. When he’s on his game he drives the play up the ice, Scores goals, pisses people off, and does all that while putting up tremendous defensive numbers. He’s the elite draft lottery player the Flames have never won, and he’s off his game right now. He hasn’t played anywhere near the level of two-way play that he started the season with. The only ever time I’ve seen his numbers slump was after the incident with Zack Kassian last year. This seems to have happened once again after the Muzzin incident. I know he’ll get back to the level he once was at, but just because we love him doesn’t mean he needs to be immune from proper criticism.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Andrew Mangiapane
2) Mikael Backlund
3) Juuso Valimaki
The Flames look to find the spark they’ve been looking for all season when the first of 10 BATTLE OF ALBERTA’S this Saturday!
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from gamestatcards.com))