One step forward, three steps back: the story of the 2021 Calgary Flames. Everything that was adjusted for and employed on Saturday afternoon was gone. No more lateral movement, no more possessive carry ins, and no more passes to the slot. The one thing that did remain the same was the defence allowing the opposition to walk across their own blueline with speed and control – which ended badly for the Flames.
It’s a Team Game – CF% - 41.83%, SCF% - 40.83%, HDCF% - 43.85%, xGF% - 42.66%. Despite getting handily outplayed by the Sens (or as they are calling themselves – the Sickos) I still believe Calgary has the potential to be the better team. There’s just no execution and no in-game adjustments outside of switching up who is playing with who. No tactical or systematic tweaks to try and outperform. The message is clear – the staff believes this style of play wins games and the problem clearly lies in the player’s court. I vehemently disagree.
Corsi King – Dominik Simon (69.59 CF%) did everything you could have asked from him in his 5:37 on Monday. It got him waived by the team. This game was more of an outlier and Simon actually has struggled more than succeeded but waiving a guy after a strong performance is a bad message. Before anyone argues – it is 100% true a player can have a strong game and be the best player on the ice and not accumulate a point on the night. This is the NHL – a league of bounces – sometimes you need enough opportunity to get that bounce. Mark Giordano (56.75%) and Rasmus Andersson (51.19%) also finished on the plus side of corsi, but that’s where their positivity ends.
Corsi Clown – From the doghouse to the penthouse back to the doghouse – Sam Bennett (19.71%) killed his team’s chances more often than not and it will find him back as a scratch on Thursday. Bennett has been able to have a quality game every now and again but has no consistency in his game. It was time to say it earlier, and we can definitively say it now – Sam Bennett has not turned out to be a top 6 forward. That’s not to say he can’t still be an NHL talent – he’s got a long career ahead of him as a 3rd line forward – it just won’t be with the Calgary Flames.
Taken By Chance – I’m going to just mention who was the best (Simon 66.94 SCF%) so we can get into the bad. Valimaki (25.90 SCF% // 15.55 HDCF%) got absolutely run over by the Sickos with his partner Nikita Nesterov (26.40 SCF% // 36.30 HDCF%) fairing only slightly better. Backlund (49.31 SCF% // 50.00 HDCF%), Lindholm (49.31 SCF% // 50.00 HDCF%), and Mangiapane (50.69 SCF% // 50.52 HDCF%) were able to tread some water but not able to move the needle forwards.
xGF% - Sam Bennett (15.14%) was beyond bad. I don’t put the sole onus on him – there’s some other issues clearly present throughout the organization – but even how he performed is unacceptable regardless how a system is set up or how deployment is allocated. Simon (69.19%) led another category again, really trying to up his value for other teams. Nobody bit and now he can be transferred back and forth between the taxi squad.
Game Flow –
Woahhh OOHH, we’re almost halfway there, WOOOAHHHH OHHH, Clearly living on a prayer.
Game Score – The top Flame by Game Score is Mikael Backlund (0.68) followed closely by Chris Tanev (0.65). Dominik Simon (0.15) and Joakim Nordstrom (0.15) were the only other Flames players to earn a positive score on a truly terrible night all around (and for the 2nd time in 3 games)
Shot Heatmap –
Where’s the chances from the right/Left circle? Why so many point shots? Why why why is all i’ve been asking for 3 weeks. There’s just not enough lateral movement to create quality scoring chances. Mix that with a reluctance to pass the puck to the slot and you’ve fallen well below mediocrity and right into the basement.
In The Crease – I love to normally praise my goaltenders but this was not a quality start by David Rittich. 3 Medium Danger chances got past him which is waaaay to many if you want your team to win. The real issue is how much the Flames are asking of their goalies’ game in and game out – if they are not giving them an all-star performance every night, they don’t have a chance to win. That’s a recipe for consistent failure. 2.02 expected goals faced at 5v5 – 4 goals against – just no way I can give that a passing grade.
Today’s Specials – The Flames top powerplay unit generated NO scoring chances in over 3:30 of PP time. The second unit got OUTCHANCED 3-2 in over 2 mins of PP time. This thing has gotten so predictable any goal scored at this point would be more on the lucky side for the Flames than a cause of proper execution. Bumping the puck back has caused more unnecessary turnovers being made than my grandmother prepping for a communal bake off. Just show me an adjustment of some kind instead of sticking to the SAME THING OVER AND OVER.
Player Spotlight – Dillon Dube – The subpar play has gone on far too long for it to be considered just a slump. The bubble Dube showed us what this man can be and yet it’s been missing for most of the season. Since the slump started, he’s had struggles all over the entire ice. Everyone calling for Gaudreau to be benched needs to stop and understand maybe benching a young guy like Dube – not for punishment purposes but to watch a game and try and see what’s going on – has more benefits than trying to sit your highest quality chance producer.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Dominik Simon
2) Elias Lindholm
3) Andrew Mangiapane
The Flames end their 4-game set against the Sens Thursday March 4th back home at the ‘Dome. Puck drop is (estimated) for 7:00 PM MST
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com)