We were treated to the most entertaining 20 minutes of Flames hockey during the first period. The real telling sign of the full potential of this roster. It was followed by 40 minutes of lacklustre effort as the Oilers pushed back and actually kept building momentum. Calgary needs to have that 1st period effort when it matters – the pushback with the goalie pulled could hardly be classified under “urgency”.
It’s a Team Game – CF% - 48.46%, SCF% - 57.12%, HDCF% - 69.94%, xGF% - 65.22%. While the total numbers may look well it doesn’t tell the story correctly. The Flames dominated the first so much that the semi-even second period and the uninspired 3rd period weren’t enough to alter the numbers. Yes, believe it or not one period can be that impactful – imagine that for 3 periods (it’s what you would need in the playoffs)
Corsi King – Derek Ryan (72.59%) led the way with Brett Ritchie (67.46%) riding right behind him. The 4th line was able to significantly outmatch their competition when out. The Flame bottom 6 outmatched the Oilers bottom 6 as the third line including Mikael Backlund (55.93%) and Andrew Mangiapane (55.77%)
Corsi Clown – As for the Flames top lines – well they got outmatched by the Oilers elite skill. I’m not ashamed to say that McDavid and Draisaitl steamrolled Mark Giordano (27.07%) and Rasmus Andersson (28.82%). Some select choice words directed towards McDavid may have been uttered in my living room after he sniped the 3-2 goal. The Tkachuk (34.55%) Lindholm (38.69%) & Dube (38.69%) line especially got buried.
Taken By Chance – We made jokes that Derek Ryan (100.00 SCF% // 100.00 HDCF%) wouldn’t fix the Flames himself, but he’s sure doing his best to try. The real MVP’s that logged heavy minutes and dominated were Noah Hanifin & Chris Tanev (88.70 SCF% // 100.00 HDCF%). They were on for 14.9 scoring chances to 1.9 at 5v5 SVA - & 7.51 High danger chances to none. The word elite doesn’t describe what they did – too bad they couldn’t get the W.
xGF% - Derek Ryan (97.31%) and Brett Ritchie (96.84%) played their asses off. Defensive domination with a regular amount of offence produced. These guys aren’t going to challenge for the art ross trophy but not having your bottom 6 get catered in their own zone is highly beneficial. The previously mentioned players that struggled in possession and scoring chances struggled here as well. Mark Giordano (32.15%) does not have the legs to cover McDavid anymore.
Game Flow –
The early domination was something fans had been desperate for. It had been a long time since the team played with such ferocity, care, and passion. Some players were able to keep that for 60 minutes but without everyone going the whole time this roster has some holes that are too easily exploited by the most talented players in the game.
Game Score – Breakout performances for Noah Hanifin (4.46) and Chris Tanev (3.60). Noah Hanifin looked like an absolute stud and was all over everyone. On the other hand the worst performances were Mark Giordano (-1.73) and Rasmus Andersson (-1.03). Pretty polarizing performances from the 4 guys utilized the most.
Shot Heatmap –
The priority at getting shots from the slot continued for the second straight game. It’s going to be very interesting to see the evolution of this team under the new tutelage of their coach. If they can shore up their defensive zone entries they have the skill to be a quick strike transition team - it just needs to be unlocked.
In The Crease – Not the best night back in the crease. Markstrom looked very shaky early before settling in. He would have had the Yamamoto goal 100% had Mikael Backlund not whacked his stick at the puck. Either get your body in front of the puck or let the goaltender get it (easier said than done from my couch, I know – but that doesn’t make the message less viable)
Today’s Specials – A Much better showing of puck movement on the powerplay. The break in wasn’t forced to Johnny and they were able to run the umbrella without giving up possession. Rasmus Andersson’s slap shot is such a low % chance though and Johnny or Lindholm would be better suited to rip it from the inner slot. Look for some goaltending holes or get a more containable rebound.
Player Spotlight – Juuso Valimaki – He’s still up & down in terms of performance, but I want to highlight someone who is swiftly becoming ready for more responsibility. A Valimaki – Andersson pairing intrigues me to no end and is something I would love to see. The Flames are poised to become a more mobile and fast paced team and Valimaki has the tools to succeed.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Derek Ryan
2) Noah Hanifin
3) Chris Tanev/Brett Ritchie
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com)