Game Takes: Devils 4 Flames 3 (OT)

November 6th, 2022 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Another game, another painful start for the Calgary Flames on this eight game homestand which is now thankfully over.

The Flames come out lost defensively, lose Michael Stone off the hop, and spot the Devils a 3-1 lead on blown cover after blown cover after blown cover.

Better territorial play through the second and third got the game tied up before an overtime penalty to Elias Lindholm resulted in the Devil’s game winner and a Calgary skid hitting four games.

The Flames now get out on the road, with games Monday, Tuesday and Thursday on a quick three game trip.

Hope they bring a chalkboard.

The Lineup

Back to what works? Back to what worked better?

The Flames haven’t started the season scorching five on five; even when they were 5-1-0 they weren’t getting a whole lot done without special teams. But they were winning.

Darryl Sutter completely resets the forward group back to the Edmonton game (and the games before that) up front.

So it’s Elias Lindholm with Jonathan Huberdeau and Tyler Toffoli, Nazem Kadri between Dillon Dube and Andrew Mangiapane, Mikael Backlund with Blake Coleman and Trevor Lewis, and finally the fourth line of Kevin Rooney with Milan Lucic and Brett Ritchie.

Chris Tanev is still out with an upper body injury so the bottom two pairs are still in dissaray. Noah Hanifn with Rasmus Andersson, Nikita Zadorov up to the second pair with Mackenzie Weegar; they were one of the few shining lights against Nashville, and Connor Mackey with Michael Stone.

Amazing how one injury can make a deep blueline look pretty average.

In goal it’s Jacob Markstrom.

Line Metrics 

Huberdeau – Lindholm – Toffoli 57.3%
Mangiapane – Kadri – Dube 51.6%
Coleman – Backlund – Lewis 54.3%
Lucic – Rooney – Ritchie 42.9%

Hanifin – Andersson 45.8%
Zadorov – Weegar 61.5%
Mackey – Stone 36.8%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +3.8
Vladar -3.6

Trend Tracker:

With the forward lines back together we see the top nine all above water in play driving, something we didn’t see with the change up. The fourth line still has some work to do. … The Noah Hanifin / Rasmus Andersson pairing has to get it going. They face the toughest matchups but are sliding; now a 45.8% pairing. … Jacob Markstrom continues to recover, he now sits 16th in the league in goals saved above average.

Back to the Game Plan?

Not in the slightest.

Calgary had a solid system game going against Edmonton, but had a few bounces against them and found a loss.

Then spotty games against Seattle and Nashville setting up tonight’s game against New Jersey and a chance to get things right in their last game of this tortuous homestand before they hit the road.

Do they find it?

Not even close. Just a harrowing start, and when they did get back in the game it was more about quick chances that resulted in goals, and almost nothing to do with prolonged pressure and a system paying off.

Lots of work to do.

The Markstrom Start

Once again, pretty much the only member of the team’s core that is playing consistently well these days.

No chance on any of the goals, and some huge saves to keep the game close and give his team a chance.

But his stand in the third period after the Flames managed to tie the game was unreal. On a solid run of late, not the team’s problem at all.

Ron MacLean …

Have to admit I usually don’t see all the slights and bias that fans complain about.

For me it’s usually nothing much to see …

But even I noticed Ron MacLean consistently talking about Calgary “trying to get back in it” in a 3-2 game intermission. One goal game Ron, they are in it.

Does seem like maybe there’s an agenda there.

Calgary Skill Fighting the Puck

Jonathan Huberdeau is the poster boy for it given the huge expectations placed on the player coming over in a trade for Matthew Tkachuk.

But I thought all the Flames skill players have been terrible of late.

Andersson and Weegar fought the puck on the blueline.

Kadri, despite scoring a goal tonight looked lost at times. Lindholm scored, but yet another Lindholm-less game for the dependable center.

And Huberdeau … just can’t get things sorted. He’s fighting the puck, turning it over on simple plays and clearly showing his frustration.

I’m as patient as they come, but this team needs to chill out.

Defensive Structure

You can lose on a lack of talent, but it’s a harder pill to swallow when you see brain dead play after brain dead play.

The Devils first two goals tonight where born on the backs of terrible defensive reads by the Flames in their own zone. First Conner Mackey inexplicably chases the puck behind the net when it was clear his partner at the time was doing the same.

A few minutes later Rasmus Andersson is left out front of the net having to cover two players with Nazem Kadri not engaging to help a brother out.

Will drive Sutter crazy.

I’m never one to suggest it’s a lack of effort, but it’s certainly a lack of focus. The Flames may have nuances in their system, but covering the front of the net between two defensemen and a center is hockey 101.

Lucic Complaints

Lucic … enough with the penalty complaints. It’s getting old.

You swung your stick into the feet of an opposing player, player went down … yeah that’s a penalty.

Not a good look to keep whining about it, especially when you smash your stick on the ice.

Michael Stone Injury

Sometimes you have plans …

Michael Stone gets hurt in his first 30 seconds of action greatly altering the already depleted Flames core for the rest of the night.

With Connor Mackey struggling, Sutter pretty much went to four defensemen the rest of the night with decent results.

You’d almost think this may create a new pairing, with Nikita Zadorov and Mackenzie Weegar putting up solid underlying numbers for their second straight game in Tanev’s absence. But that would cause a lot of ripple with Weegar swapping from the left side to the right to play with Zadorov creating four righties to two lefties on the current roster.

Special Teams

The Flames powerplay continues to be a problem, but tonight it was a matter of not getting that powerplay goal to change the game, but also not getting many chances.

The Flames only had two powerplay looks the whole night, and they overlapped for a 30 second two man advantage. The Devils had five looks and scored once.

Edge to Jersey clearly.

Standings and Record

The Flames now have a four game losing streak, but at least they halted their pointless skid with the overtime loss.

The Flames are now out of the playoffs in terms of points, but 7th in the conference in terms of points percentage. That pretty much does in their great start.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 30 Devils 35
Face Offs: Flames 48% / Devils 52%
Powerplay: Flames 0-2 / Devils 1-5

Fancy Stats

Another terrible start, but this time with a somewhat promising turn around that got them a point. Even when they were controlling some of the simple shot metrics, they weren’t doing much to generate high danger. Not a recipe for success. Five on five the Flames had 51% of the shot attempts with period splits of 39%/52% and 63% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 45%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 42%, with a 10-14 split.

In all situations the Flames had 48% of the shot attempts, 48% of the expected goals, and 41% of the high danger splits. Clearly the right team won in the end.

Individually the Flames were led by Trevor Lewis (something we’ve seen often this year), with an xGF% of 77% five on five on the night. His linemates Mikael Backlund and Blake Coleman were 71% and 76% respectively. Nikita Zadorov was 62%, Tyler Toffoli and Mackenize Weegar had solid nights. Dillon Dube and Andrew Mangiapane had terrible nights at 18%, Milan Lucic and Jonathan Huberdeau weren’t far behind.


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