Game Takes: Flames 3 Wings 0

October 21st, 2021 | Posted in Game Day | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Wouldn’t you know it … out play two teams to start the season and come up winless, play a sloppy third game of the season and walk away with a shut out victory.

From a Hockey Gods standpoint that’s what you call evening the score, as the Flames beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-0 on Thursday night, Jacob Markstrom picking up the shut out.

The Flames scored twice in the first period, had a miserable second frame, and then a very solid third in putting away the win, and helping their goaltender bring home the doughnut.

The win gives the Flames an even 1-1-1 record on the season, and starts their five game road trip with a victory. Calgary skates into Washington to play the Capitals on Saturday morning.

The Lineup

Tyler Pitlick is back, and Glen Gawdin is in Stockton; the easy summary to the lineup changes tonight. But the rest up front is a bit of a head scratcher. Not sure if Sutter is sending a message to a 0-1-1 club or trying to find four lines that he can just roll five on five, but some of the trios are certainly a stretch.

The top line of Elias Lindholm between Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau stays in place, but from there it gets interesting. Mikael Backlund centers what looks to be the second line with Blake Coleman and Pitlick. That leaves a bottom six of Sean Monahan between Milan Lucic and Trevor Lewis and Dillon Dube moving to center along with Andrew Mangiapane and Brett Ritchie.

Not sure how long that will last.

The bigger story is on the blueline where Oliver Kylington gets top four minutes (to start) paired up with Chris Tanev. The top pairing of Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson stay together, and so too does the “off to a good start” 3rd pairing of Juuso Valimaki and Erik Gudbranson.

Jakob Markstrom gets the start in goal.

Kylington’s Big Chance

With the departure of Mark Giordano to Seattle in the expansion draft someone (anyone??!) was going to get the opportunity to be a top four defenseman in Calgary that wasn’t last year.

The team acquired Nikita Zadorov in the off season in the hopes that he could foot the bill, but he’s struggled in the first two games of the season.

So with Valimaki gelling with Gudbranson to start the year the job shifts to Oliver Kylington to try and secure.

In the past there was only so much room on a team that had Giordano and Hanifin ahead of you in the left side pecking order, but now Kylington gets what’s likely his best regular season opportunity to date.

So How Did He Do?

Honestly great.

I thought he had a bit of a wobbly first period fanning on the puck twice and falling down twice, but he didn’t get burned on any of the bobbles and turned it around. His toe drag late in the period was exactly why he’s a welcome addition to the lineup. Something they need.

As the game went on I felt he got more comfortable and was noticeable jumping up into the play or just taking the puck with speed and creating on his own.

Bottom line he and his pairing mate Chris Tanev were both in the black at 55+%, something we haven’t seen with Tanev paired with Zadorov.

Sutter’s no dummy … I think Kylington stays in that role, for now at least.

The big question now is where the Juuso Valimaki vs Nikita Zadorov battle goes for the third pairing.

Could Have Been Burned Early

The Flames could have been out of this one early.

Their start was horrific to say the least.

Turnover after turnover, bobbled pucks … even Markstrom solid as he was, was in on the act making poor reads in distributing pucks and turning the puck over himself.

A tough start, and a miserable second period could have turned this game into a loss quite easily.

Gudbranson as Paul Coffey

Had to chuckle at Erik Gudbranson getting assists on both of the first period goals.

Really shows you have to play the games on the ice, and not on paper.

There’s no hiding that Gudbranson hasn’t been the player that was projected when he was taken third overall, but the vitriol at his signing in Calgary has an ironic twist to see him playing well to start the season and then picking up two points tonight.

He won’t venture far from his norm, so I’m guessing things will settle down shortly, but in a sheltered role on the third line the guy has been solid to start the season.

Go Get A New Stick

I’m so tired of seeing a guy without a stick wander around his own zone doing basically nothing when a trip to the bench and back would happen in less then 10 seconds.

Ironically, Sean Monahan in the second without a stick did in fact help in regaining possession when he rubbed his man out, but the team needs to make it a rule … go get a stick.

I mean honestly, a guy leaves for ten seconds and it’s like a brief powerplay with the wrong guys on the ice for the bad guys more often than not.

It’s not surrendering a breakaway.

Markstrom Start

Have to hand it to Jacob Markstrom tonight. He was in the zone.

He handled the puck like Arturs Irbe, but when it comes to his primary role; stopping pucks, he was square and ready all night long.

Without his work in the first period I think this is another loss for the Flames.

Markstrom took some criticism from fans, and also from his head coach in briefings today, but he certainly fulfilled his part of the recipe tonight.

Good sign.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 29 / Wings 33
Face Offs: Flames 51% / Wings 49%
Powerplay: Flames 0-2 / Wings 0-3

Fancy Stats

Wouldn’t you know it, the Flames lose the battle of the possession stats for the first time this season but come away with the victory. Five on five they had 46% of the shot attempts with period splits of 53%/32% and 50%. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 36%, and for high danger scoring chances the team had 50%.

In all situations the Flames had 48% of the shot attempts, 50% of the expected goals, and 58% of the high danger splits. So overall the Flames had the better of the play despite a putrid second period.

Individually the Flames were led by Mikael Backlund who had 68% of the shot attempts five on five. Other players with good nights included Matthew Tkachuk, Blake Coleman, and Johnny Gaudreau who had 67%, 63% and 59% respectively. Oliver Kylington and Chris Tanev were both over 50% as well. At the other end of the pile, Andrew Mangiapane and Dillon Dube each had a rough night with less than 30% of the five on five shot attempts.

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