Game Takes: Caps 3 Flames 0

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

The Flames are getting pretty consistent in rolling out solid road game efforts, giving themselves a chance to win.

Tonight they did the same, pretty much owning the first period but coming out of the first frame down 1-0.

From there the Caps found their legs and built on their lead, while the Flames had trouble solving Darcy Kuemper in dropping a 3-0 game in D.C.

The road trip concludes in Carolina tomorrow afternoon. The Flames have an Even Steven 2-2-1 record with the balance coming down to a result against the Hurricanes.

The Lineup

With points in three straight games on the trip, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Sutter isn’t making any significant changes to his forward lines or defense pairings. The Flames least used forward, Kevin Rooney comes out of the lineup for the healthy again Brett Ritchie on the fourth line. Other than that it’s status quo.

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.

On the blueline no change as well; Noah Hanifin with Rasmus Andersson, Nikita Zadorov with Mackenzie Weegar, and Dennis Gilbert with Chris Tanev.

Back to Jacob Markstrom tonight, after Dan Vladar was a point stealer in Pittsburgh. Would guess Vladar will get the start tomorrow afternoon in Carolina.

Line MetricsĀ 

xGF%
Ruzicka – Lindholm – Toffoli 56.7%
Dube – Kadri – Mangiapane 49.5%
Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman 57.6%
Lucic – Lewis – Ritchie 16.4%

Hanifin – Andersson 48.6%
Zadorov – Weegar 53.5%
Gilbert – Tanev 57.1%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +0.5
Vladar +0.4

Trend Tracker:

With a healthier dose of ice time for the recent combinations we are starting to see some trios and pairings settle in to more normal play driving numbers. … For example, the top pairing (Hanifin/Andersson) gets some of the most challenging minutes, but they are what they are; a 50% pairing. Meanwhile the Zadorov/Weegar pairing still has a solid % but have come down to Earth after a 65% start in their first few games. Gilbert still holding his own. … Top line was at 80% for the first handful of games, now just under 57%. We could see a Huberdeau for Ruzicka swap soon.

Booing the High Stick

Maybe my TV isn’t big enough and the jumbotron’s size revealed that Alex Ovechkin’s stick never touched Rasmus Andersson … but I don’t think so.

Don’t want to be the snotty Canadian fan that looks down his nose at unwashed Americans, but if contact was made and you saw the replay at the Saddledome would you boo?

What are you booing?

Stick makes contact with a player’s head. Penalty.

Just seems insane to me to boo a high sticking call. You can disagree with a stick in the hands call thinking it was more of a stick lift. You can disagree with a boarding call, a slash, an extra roughing call.

But a high stick to the head on video and you’re booing?

Good Start

The Caps scored the first period’s only goal, but by and large it was a more Calgary Flames-ish start to the game than we saw in Pittsburgh (definetly) and even Philly to some degree.

The Flames out shot the Capitals 15-6 in the first and had their chances.

But it’s the Caps with the only goal on a Calgary fourth line down low turnover that created an odd man rush the other way; former Flame Erik Gustafsson with a smart pass into the slot for TJ Oshie.

Ruzicka Demoted

I personally saw this coming … was suggesting it on the site for the last few days.

After his return to invisi-giant in both games in Pennsylvania you just had a feeling that Darryl Sutter wouldn’t let the kid play on the top line as long as he was sleep walking.

But man does it appear he was trolling fans by moving him to the fourth line with Trevor Lewis moving up to the top line.

Now there is a line of thought in that, if you care to believe it.

The middle two lines have been the team’s best two lines in recent games. So if Sutter decided he didn’t want to mess with either of Nazem Kadri or Mikael Backlund’s trios then you have to a fourth line for first line swap. And I suppose if that’s the case you’d rather see Lewis moved up than Milan Lucic or Brett Ritchie.

But I can almost see the tweets on twitter in my mind when he made the switch.

Nikita Nazem Spat?

Late in the second period the Flames had a three on two developing but it was called back on an offside with Nikita Zadorov dragging a leg and Nazem Kadri bobbling the puck.

I can’t read lips.

And I wasn’t on the bench.

But my gut tells me the two exchanged some blame for the play with Kadri perhaps saying something about Zadorov being to quick and Zadorov replying with something like “move the f****ing puck”.

Both are right.

Zadorov with a burst like that is leaving it down to a one chance pass or nothing, you can’t force the issue that much.

However Kadri has had a real issue this season with not moving the puck. He gets it and he keeps it. And keeps it …

No big deal hockey players get annoyed with each other in the moment but was interesting to watch.

Creation

The Flames are a middle of the pack team when it comes to creating offence.

They have good shot totals.

They have good shot attempt volume.

But they don’t have a lot of high danger creation, and we are certainly seeing that on this road trip.

I like to trust a guy like Darryl Sutter, but at some point we may need to see the best six forwards on two lines and see how it shakes out. The blended top nine is certainly better than the blended top 12, but they’re not generating a whole lot.

Third Period Mix Up

Wrote the Ruzicka and Creation topics in the second period, so it was interesting to see Sutter put Jonathan Huberdeau up on the top line in the final frame.

They had some zone time, but as the shutout would dictate they didn’t get it done.

Does that continue into Carolina though?

Will be interesting to see.

Swing Lo

Don’t get me wrong, I think ultimately the Capitals deserved to win the hockey game.

But what if …

Milan Lucic delivers a cross check just as Noah Hanifin is beating Darcy Kuemper with a wrister down 2-0.

Instead of 2-1 it’s soon 3-0 with a Washington powerplay goal and game over.

Might have been a different finish.

Capitals Unis

Nostalgia is a powerplay tool, it bites me every time.

The Caps jerseys in the 90s never particularly caught my eye, they were a little uneven and gimmicky, but nice to see them back.

Gives me the Joe Juneau / Petr Bondra vibe.

Special Teams

Pretty clean overall, with only four powerplays overall … each team with two.

The Capitals score the game clinching 3-0 goal on their second chance and with that take the mantle of the better special teams night.

Calgary hasn’t won this category on this trip have they?

Standings and Record

With the regulation loss the Flame’s road trip moves to 2-2-1 with the tipping point coming tomorrow in Carolina. Get a point and you’re .500, less than that and road trip failure, two points and solid trip!

As a result the Flames hold onto the top wild card spot by points and the second wild card spot in terms of points percentage.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 32 Capitals 25
Face Offs: Flames 50% / Capitals 50%
Powerplay: Flames 0-2 / Capitals 1-2

Fancy Stats

The Flames had the mirror opposite of their game in Pittsburgh with a solid first, terrible second, and a rebound third overall. Calgary had the chances and the metrics to get it done, but just couldn’t solve Darcy Kuemper. Five on five the Flames had 53% of the shot attempts with period splits of 60%/36% and 62% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 57%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 59%, with a 10-7 split.

In all situations the Flames had 52% of the shot attempts, 53% of the expected goals, and 55% of the high danger splits.

Individually the Flames were led by Jonathan Huberdeau posting a xGF% of 86% on the night five on five. Mikael Backlund, Mackenzie Weegar, and Blake Coleman were in the 70s. Chris Tanev and the fourth line were all under 50% on the night.

The Other Side …

The Caps were lead by Erik Gustafsson and John Carlson with 60+% nights. Martin Fehervary (who are these people!?) had a rough night at 18%.



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