Game Takes: Flames 7 Blues 1

January 25th, 2022 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Well that was something, wasn’t it?

Where was that finish on Saturday night?

The Flames gave up the first goal on Monday night at the Saddledome with the St. Louis Blues going ahead on their first shot of the evening.

It didn’t seem to matter.

The Flames scored seven unanswered goals and completely dominated the play five on five and on their own powerplay in routing the Blues by a 7-1 score and snapping a one game losing streak.

Now their schedule is about to get tighter with three games in four nights starting Wednesday in Columbus.

The Lineup

This marks three straight games where the team’s best nine forwards are on the top three lines, but tonight with a bit of a boost to the fourth line with Adam Ruzicka dressing for Brad Richardson. The Flames could really use a boost on that fourth line, so if Ruzicka could establish himself it would certainly be a good start.

So up front it’s Elias Lindholm with Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Backlund between Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman, Sean Monahan between Milan Lucic and Dillon Dube, and the fourth line of Ruzicka between Trevor Lewis and Brett Ritchie.

On the blueline no change as well; as Noah Hanifin plays with Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington with Chris Tanev, and Nikita Zadorov with Erik Gudbranson.

Jacob Markstrom gets the start in goal.

Line MetricsĀ 

Gaudreau – Lindholm – Tkachuk 63.8%
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 56.7%
Lucic – Monahan – Dube 64.9%
Lewis – Ruzicka- Ritchie 63.6%

Hanifin – Andersson 55.5%
Kylington – Tanev 56.7%
Zadorov – Gudbranson 57.4%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +8.2

Was Lindholm offside on Tanev’s Goal?

I was very surprised that the Blues didn’t at least look at that skate drag by Elias Lindholm on the Chris Tanev goal.

It looked really really close live, so I was pretty much expecting one of those long delays where we have to see the skate and the puck in slow motion a dozen times.

But nope … straight to center and drop the puck.

Want to see that replay, could be a bullet dodged.

Gaudreau Is The Man

What a game, and what a season.

Johnny Gaudreau has been pretty noticeable on most nights in recent weeks (months?) but last night was a whole other level.

It felt like every shift he was moving his feet and creating something. It didn’t hurt that his linemate Matthew Tkachuk was also on, and the two of them seemed completely in synch with the Blues firmly on their heels.

Ends the night with a goal; his patented partial break top corner shot, and three assists and was the engine of the Flames running over St. Louis.

Career Night for Tkachuk

Can’t overlook Matthew Tkachuk in the proceedings too, as the Calgary winger tied his career high with a five point night, all of them assists.

The crazy thing is it could have been eight or nine as he was thwarted a few times on his own chances to score.

As I said above, Tkachuk really seems to work well with Johnny Gaudreau, all kinds of chemistry and creativity just popping from the duo.

It’s going to be an interesting off season.

Ruzicka Makes His Presence Felt

Calgary just needs something to happen at the bottom of the roster, don’t they?

Adam Ruzicka has all the physical tools; he’s huge, he can shoot, he’s reasonably quick on the ice, but in previous starts he’s just looked behind the play.

Not so last night.

Sure the game was a runaway, the opposition in tatters, but to me Adam Ruzicka finally looked like he belonged.

Scored a goal when he took Lindholm’s place at the end of a top line shift and buried a chance provided by Gaudreau, should have scored again on a breakaway, and had another chance on a two on one with Lucic.

But beyond that I felt he kept plays alive, found pucks in the corner and got them to the point. He had that fourth line humming a bit on numerous shifts.

Good sign!

Monahan With Another Gooder

This Monahan resurgence could be a thing.

Two goals against the Panthers, he should have had two in Edmonton and played a solid all around game.

Tonight he fights to get the puck back on a Calgary powerplay, then takes a pass from Tkachuk and buries another goal, his 7th of the season.

Another element that has come alive, faceoffs, as he was dominant at 71% after a great 61% night in Edmonton.

With faceoffs, his shot and physical play seemingly coming at the same time you have to wonder if there was a physical limitation that was holding him back and he’s turned the corner.

Either way he’s now on a 16 goal 42 point pace for 82 games.

Oiler Angst

Calgary fans hate losing to the Oilers, so you knew there would be some vitriol in social media and on our site after the team’s 5-3 loss on Saturday night.

But when you take a look at how Calgary played five on five that night, and then bookend that effort with the games against the Panthers and Blues you start seeing a Flames team that has gotten back to their system and really creating offence through pace of play, a solid forecheck and some better line combinations.

With their swoon before and after the covid break it was only natural to wonder if the team’s hot start was somewhat of a mirage, something that couldn’t and possibly wouldn’t be sustained.

The play in the last three games suggests that may not be the case.

Special Teams

The Flames powerplay was smoking hot last night scoring twice, but whipping the puck around at will and causing chaos.

In the end they go 2/5 while the Blues are 0/2.

Standings and Record

The win gives the Flames a 19-12-6 record good for 44 points in 37 games. Additionally in terms of points they move into a playoff spot officially, edging out Dallas and San Jose for the final wild card spot. Calgary has two games in hand on the Stars, and fjive games on the Sharks.

In the division the Flames are four points back of the Kings with six games in hand, and five points back of the Ducks with 7 games in hand.

The Flames are 6th in the conference in win percentage at .594.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 48 / Blues 21
Face Offs: Flames 60% / Blues 40%
Powerplay: Flames 2-5 / Blues 0-2

Fancy Stats

This may be the most lopsided game I’ve seen since I started paying closer attention to underlying stats. It didn’t look close watching, and it certainly isn’t close when you peel back the onion and look at the numbers. Five on five the Flames had 76% of the shot attempts with period splits of 83%/83% and 65% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 82%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 82%, with a 18-4 split.

In all situations the Flames had 71% of the shot attempts, 72% of the expected goals, and 75% of the high danger splits.

Individually, the Flames were led by Erik Gudbranson in his 600th NHL game with a 86% split of five on five shot attempts on the night. Other guys in the 80s included Blake Coleman, Mikael Backlund, Adam Ruzicka, Dillon Dube and Nikita Zadorov. Most of the team was in the 70s in percentage, the three guys with “rough” nights; Rasmus Andersson, Elias Lindholm and Trevor Lewis all finished above 60%.

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