Game Takes: Canes 3 Flames 2

November 26th, 2022 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

It sure looked like the script was writing itself.

Tired team comes out flat as a pancake, but guts out a huge victory in their final road game basically on fumes.

You can rip that script up.

The Flames out played and exhausted took the game to the third period at 2-2, giving themselves a chance. But a third period powerplay goal by the Hurricanes was the difference as the Flames couldn’t muster the game tying goal.

The loss moves the Flames out of a playoff spot; it’s ok though they were in one at Thanksgiving!, as they come home with a 2-3-1 record on the six game trip.

The Lineup

Michael Stone returns to the lineup after missing ten games with an undisclosed injury. That brings Dennis Gilbert out of the lineup.

Up front it’s Elias Lindholm with Adam Ruzicka and Tyler Toffoli, Nazem Kadri with Dillon Dube and Andrew Mangiapane, Mikael Backlund with Jonathan Huberdeau and Blake Coleman, and Trevor Lewis between Milan Lucic and Brett Ritchie. Sutter had teased a reuniting of the top line in the third period yesterday but heads back to the lines we’ve seen for most of this road trip.

On the blueline the Stone dressing creates more change than you’d think; Noah Hanifin remains with Rasmus Andersson, but Nikita Zadorov slides down to the third pairing with Michael Stone, and a back in time pairing with Mackenzie Weegar moving over to his offside to lineup with Chris Tanev.

Sutter may not be looking to load up his forward lines, but he’s certainly done just that with his defense pairings.

In goal Dan Vladar gets the start after more than earning another go with his play in Pittsburgh.

Line Metrics 

Ruzicka – Lindholm – Toffoli 57.0%
Dube – Kadri – Mangiapane 50.3%
Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman 56.0%
Lucic – Lewis – Ritchie 55.4%

Hanifin – Andersson 49.2%
Weegar – Tanev 56.9%
Zadorov – Stone 57.1%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +0.1
Vladar +0.4

Trend Tracker:

Here’s an odd stat. Jacob Markstrom isn’t having the kind of start to a season that he or anyone wants. His numbers just aren’t good. But if you dig into his numbers it’s really inconsistent. Five on five he’s ranked 24th out of 30 goalies at -2.2 goals saved above average that have played 10 or more games this year. But shorthanded he’s #1 at +4.5. … Moving the defense pairs around creates some value in the second and third pairing. The Weegar and Tanev pairing was pretty solid to start the season. It’s only when Chris Tanev got hurt that Sutter discovered the Zadorov fit with Weegar on his natural side. … Interesting to see the fourth line well above 50% with limited ice time. …

Brutal First

Was that the worst period they’ve played this season?

It was close. Seem to remember a rough period against Buffalo at home that had a certain stink, but today in Raleigh the Flames looked completely exhausted in the first period.

They gave up 14 shots, but even worse seven high danger chances five on five, and a total of eight in the 20 minutes. That’s a good number for 60¬† minutes but it’s pretty miserable for a single period.

Judging from the first I thought this one was over. It had a 6-1 final written all over it.

Toffoli Continues to Impress

Last year I was quietly cringing every time Tyler Toffoli touched the puck … after his first game anyway.

Plays seemed to die on his stick far too often.

I didn’t trust him to play with the team’s better players because he dragged them down.

This season he’s a different player. Maybe he was out of shape the year after Montreal’s cup final run? But now he wins battles in the offensive zone, creates offence by being tough on his stick and when he gets loose he’s money as we saw tonight on his second period goal and first period cross bar.

The Flames don’t have a lot of their core firing on all cylinders this season, Toffoli (if you consider him core) the exception.

Better After the Second

Honestly couldn’t believe they got off the canvas and fought back in the middle frame; didn’t think they had much left.

But they slowly took the game over and certainly provided Dan Vladar with more support in their own zone.

It looked like a game that was there for the taking heading into the third, but a penalty call to Blake Coleman turned the tides and the Flames found a way to lose.

In the end it’s a 2-3-1 trip, which isn’t terrible for a team that’s been in the Eastern time zone for 9 of the last 11 games.

Dan Vladar’s Night

Visually you could tell Dan Vladar had a solid night.

If it wasn’t for his first period the game would have been long over … 8 high danger chances in the first alone was the proof of his play.

In the end the expected goal split was 4.6 to 2.0 for the Hurricanes, so Vladar was good for a +1.6 and a close finish instead of a walk in the park for the hosts.

Special Teams

Another game where the Flames can’t find the difference with special teams.

They’ve managed to square up the away from five on five game on a few occasions, but they haven’t managed to win the special teams war in a very long time.

Today the Flames went 1/3 on the powerplay, a goal by Adam Ruzicka, but the Hurricanes scored twice with three chances including the third period game winner.

Won’t win many games if you’re on the wrong side every night.

Standings and Record

With the loss the Flames technically slip out of the playoffs as they are tied with St. Louis for the final playoff spot though the Blues have played one less game.

They were passed by the Oilers who came from behind today and won in New York.

They are tied for the final playoff spot with St. Louis and Nashville in terms of win percentage.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 20 Hurricanes 33
Face Offs: Flames 57% / Hurricanes 43%
Powerplay: Flames 1-3 / Hurricanes 2-3

Fancy Stats

This was the Hurricane’s game to win pretty much from the start. They had the Flames standing still, giving the puck away, and spending far too much time in their own zone. Five on five the Flames had 42% of the shot attempts with period splits of 32%/44% and 55% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 35%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 33%, with a 6-12 split.

In all situations the Flames had 41% of the shot attempts, 30% of the expected goals, and 38% of the high danger splits.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again … the right team won.

Individually the Flames were led by Jonathan Huberdeau again posting a xGF% of 75% on the night five on five. He’s had a pretty consistent road trip at the top of the charts. Shortly behind him was his center Mikael Backlund with 71%. Tyler Toffoli and Blake Coleman were in the 60s. The fourth line and the top pairing got completely caved in with under 20% on the night.

The Other Side …

The Cane’s fourth line (Jack Drury, Paul Stastny and Derek Stepan) all had 90+% night with only six minutes of ice time. Brent Burns was also in the 90s. Andrei Svechnikov was at the bottom with a 38% night.

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