The anxiety was kept high until Josh Leivo gave the team the 2-goal lead late in the third period as the Flames slim-odds playoff drive continued. Overtime against the Habs is not an option so finding a way to capitalize on your chances and take the 2 points at 5v5 is an absolute necessity.
It’s a Team Game – CF% 57.82%, SCF% 62.24%, HDCF% 80.66%, xGF% 75.2% - This was all Flames since puck drop. The Habs are faltering but that’s no reason to diminish the solid team wide effort that was put in from the Calgary team. Expect the Canadiens to come out Friday afternoon ready to rock & Roll as they feel the pressure mount & the hair rise on the back of their necks from the stampeding Flames.
Corsi King – A big contributor to the Flames posting strong team numbers is the great group play of their 4th line and 3rd D pair. Josh Leivo (78.59%) – Brett Ritchie (75.21%) – Derek Ryan (69.98%) – Juuso Valimaki (74.94%) and Michael Stone (66.99%) ate up on the bottom 6 matchups they had last night. Not good news for the Habs if that keeps up
Corsi Clown – In saying that Dube (36.19%) – Mangiapane (38.72%) and Monahan (36.41%) lost their possession matchup. Mangiapane is a very strong driver in play so I doubt that trend continues, especially since they were the best line in the TO game this week. Giordano (46.37%) & Tanev (46.79%) also were on the wrong side of corsi, but not by a significant margin
Taken By Chance – Ryan, Ritchie and Leivo had 5 High Danger Chances each and surrendered no high danger chances against. That’s a major swing. I’ve said before your 4th line shouldn’t be the reason you lose a game, but against the Habs they were a huge reason the team won. Always nice to win a game where your 4th line plays as well as they did.
xGF% - Valimaki (91.53%) and Stone (84.78%) have been a bit of a resurgent revelation in this run. Yes I’m going to continue complimenting Michael Stone until such time he starts to falter again, but he’s making sound decisions defensively – it really helps when the entire forward group is having a positive impact in defence. That helps not just your goaltender but your D corps too.
Game Flow –
The Flames had the grips on this one from the puck drop. The played like a team that knew if they lost it would be their season, and the Habs played like a team that was fairly tired already. They’ve got so many games left over the next month after their COVID situation it’s hard to imagine things getting easier for that team.
Game Score – the top 11 scores were all Flames, we’ll just list the top 5 – to see the whole list please go to hockeystatcards.com – Tanev (3.49), Hanifin (2.83), Giordano (2.69), Leivo (2.59), Valimaki (2.26). The D really ran the team to a victory in this one.
Shot Heatmap –
That’s what i like to see. For comparison i’ll post a tweet i sent out earlier in the day from where the Flames offence has been trying to shoot the puck from, and it’s a direct contrast to how this one looks. More of this and less of this:
In The Crease – 1.09 expected goals against (brutal effort from MTL) with one actual goal against on a high danger chance. More than just another day at the office for the Flames number 1 netminder. He’s got to love what he’s seen in front of him recently as every single skater has got their defensive game going fairly strong now.
Today’s Specials – My only criticism is I want Hanifin on the top pairing, but I like that Monahan was taken off of it. Tkachuk – Gaudreau – Lindholm - Mangiapane – Hanifin would be the ideal top pairing from my perspective, but they are gonna have to get more than one PP to really test the limits of the Gio-Andersson pairing with the top 5v5 line. Make no mistake this season is the one where Noah Hanifin is putting all his 5 tools together, he’s ready to be the next big number 1D – and we can thank Tanev for that.
Player Spotlight – Elias Lindholm – This man compliments Johnny Gaudreau so much because he’s got the natural ability to finish chances from farther out, whereas Monahan requires more in tight scoring chances. With the team playing a a more perimeter game when he gets a chance, he’s making something happen with it. Having this man and his versatility on the roster is such a huge benefit to this squad.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Josh Leivo
2) Juuso Valimaki
3) Chris Tanev
The Flames keep the high-stakes games going Friday afternoon against Montreal again in – yet another – must win.
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com) - follow @Flash_33 on twitter for many Flames related statistics and team updates.