Game 1: Flames 9 Oilers 6 (Flames lead series 1-0)

May 19th, 2022 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Well that was something.

The Flames jumped on the Oilers early and often building up a 3-0 first period lead and then cruising …

Ok, maybe not cruising.

Calgary pretty much dominated the game, but a rough outing for Jacob Markstrom turned what should have been a cake walk into a 6-6 third period tie, and more adversity for the Calgary Flames in the 2022 playoffs.

Luckily the Flames were able to re-wrestle control, scoring three straight third period goals to win game one by a 9-6 score, one of the craziest playoff games in Flames history.

Three point nights for Matthew Tkachuk (hat trick), Johnny Gaudreau and Rasmus Andersson while Connor McDavid had four points in the defeat.

Have to assume the Oilers will come back with Mike Smith for game two.

The series resumes on Friday.

The Lineup

So much up in the air when it comes to lineups.

Is Chris Tanev ok? Is he going to play?

Why did they recall Juuso Valimaki when Connor Mackey and Michael Stone are available?

Have to assume they go with seven defenseman if Tanev dresses, and six if he doesn’t.

So its Elias Lindholm with Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund with Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman, Calle Jarnkrok with Dillon Dube and Tyler Toffoli, and then Milan Lucic and Trevor Lewis mixing and matching the odd shift, Lewis helping out on the PK. And if they go with 12 forwards assume Brett Ritchie.

On the blueline it’s the expected six if Tanev can go. So it’s Noah Hanifin with Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington with Chris Tanev, and Nikita Zadorov with Gudbranson. Michael Stone filling here and there if they go with seven, and lining up with Oliver Kylington in Chris Tanev’s place if he doesn’t.

Jacob Markstrom gets the start in the nets.

Playoff Line Metrics (showing most common trios/pairs)

Gaudreau – Lindholm – Tkachuk 50.8%
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 57.1%
Lucic – Lewis – Ritchie 73.9%
Mangiapane – Backlund – Tofoli 45.5%
Dube – Jarnkrok – Toffoli 56.3%
Dube – Jarnkrok – Coleman 33.3%

Hanifin – Andersson 55.8%
Zadorov – Gudbranson 62.7%
Kylington – Tanev 53.2%
Kylington – Stone 84.2%
Hanifin – Tanev 37.5%
Zadorov – Stone 73.3%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +4.1

Playoffs Statistically (Five on Five)

Flames Splits …

CF% 61.1% (2nd)
SF% 58.9% (2th)
GF% 55.6% (5th)
xGF% 60.0% (3rd)

Play Driving Players … (xGF%)

Ritchie 72.5%
Stone 70.0%
Lewis 65.6%
Zadorov 64.5%
Gaudreau 61.5%

Bottom of the list (no one under 50%) … (xGF%)

Toffoli 56.7%
Backlund 56.4%
Mangiapane 55.6%
Hanifin 54.9%
Tanev 54.3%

It’s All About the Jersey

Some focus on a putrid part of Flames history and ignore the fact that they’ve had three GMs and four coaches in that period, so the consistency isn’t there.

Others focus on the team itself being cursed as a franchise, so a little success this year is very much tonic.

You’re all missing the script … it’s the jersey.

The classic jersey (the one they are wearing now) has now made the playoffs in 14 of the 15 years where it was the primary for 88%. The Black “C” jersey from the 2004 run was only the primary jersey for three years, but it pushed them to a playoff spot all three times. The Reebok jersey was a terrible 46% and the pedestal 33%. Blasty zero for three.

When it comes to winning rounds the classic jersey has won 13 playoff rounds in 16 years for 81%, the Black “C” three wins in three years (all in the same year), the Reebok jersey three playoff wins in 13 years, the pedestal zero for six, and blasty zero for three.

Seems so obvious to me now.

What a Start!

Well you map out a start, but you don’t expect that!

The Flames come out furious and run up a three zip lead in the first 6.5 minutes on nine shots, getting Mike Smith pulled.

Who had that on their bingo card?

From there the Flames had more chances, putting 18 shots on goal but giving up a goal to Connor McDavid to narrow the lead, a goal that was almost as important as their three. Why? It didn’t seem to phase them. They just kept doing what they do and could have easily have had a 4-1 lead after twenty minutes.

Playing the Body

Love that the Flames found a way to get the body on McDavid early in the game.

Big hits form Milan Lucic; think that old can’t play against his old team physically thing can be put to bed, and then later by Nikita Zadorov.

That matters in a seven game series.

The Lucic hit wasn’t all that late, so I can’t see how they found him and only him on that penalty call but that’s another discussion.

PK Looking Good

Almost seems pointless digging into details in a game like that, but the Flames PK was excellent against the Oilers, blanking them on their four chances.

In the eight minutes where the Oilers had a 5 on 4 advantage they only generated one scoring chance and zero high danger chances. The Flames actually created a high danger chance short handed.

That’s only one game, but what a statement early in a series that the elite penalty killing may be able to handle the elite powerplay.

So Markstrom …

None of the three goaltenders had a particularly good night.

Mike Smith was pulled after 6.5 minutes, giving up three goals in ten shots. His replacement was better, but still pretty average, getting beat five more times on 37 shots.

So easy win right?

Yeah think again, as Jacob Markstrom had a rough night himself giving up six goals on 28 shots for a terrible .786.

The second period was especially rough as he gave up four goals, the last three of which came to the glove side with Markstrom deep in his net.

Wonder if the big lead had him changing his game thinking the game was home and cool?

Both teams are going to need better goaltending than that.

Tkachuk Hat Trick

Matthew Tkachuk scores a hat trick with the empty netter, which is significant in this series.

One, the Oilers and their fans hate the guy, so that’s the last thing they want to see at the Saddledome … a prolonged wait down three goals late to pick up hats and put them in the container.

But additionally it’s huge for the Flames as the player has gone from zero goals through six playoff games to now four through eight, getting him firmly back to his regular season self.

The Flames are going to need the top line and all three of the line’s players rolling if they want to advance.

Third Line Filled In

It was such a strange game, so much so that perhaps one shouldn’t make too much of any of the details.

However, the line that took the brunt of the Oilers comeback was certainly the Jarnkrok/Dube/Toffoli trio as they were on for three of the Oilers goals.

The fourth line was one for two, but also scored a goal to offset the damage.

One of the Flames strengths in this series is their depth and the fact that they can roll out three different lines against pretty much anybody.

Hopefully that third line sag is more about a rough night by Markstrom and not a concern.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 48 Oilers 28
Face Offs: Flames 47% / Oilers 53%
Powerplay: Flames 1-3 / Oilers 0-4

Fancy Stats

The Oilers comeback shouldn’t fool you, the Flames played an excellent game five on five and should have won the game going away, and not had the contest tied in the third period for a stretch. Five on five the Flames had 64% of the shot attempts with period splits of 62%/67% and 61% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 67%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 68%, with a 13-6 split.

In all situations the Flames had 63% of the shot attempts, 69% of the expected goals, and 73% of the high danger splits. This was a blow out that was close for a while, but finished in a three goal margin. Justice?!

Individually the Flames were led by Blake Coleman with 88% in terms of xGF%. His linemate Andrew Mangiapane was just behind with 88% himself. Mikael Backlund and Oliver Kylington were also in the 80s. Michael Stone was in the 70s. Only one player on the roster was under water, Brett Ritchie at 49%.

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