Game Takes: Flames 3 Jets 2

November 13th, 2022 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

What a difference a Chris Tanev return makes.

Some key blocked shots and coolness behind the blueline made a huge difference in the Flames grinding 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night.

Jacob Markstrom stood on his head at times, and the Flames were excellent in shutting the Jets down in the third period to snap a nasty seven game losing streak and right things with the home ice win.

The Flames got goals from Elias Lindholm, Adam Ruzicka and Trevor Lewis.

Next up a home game with the LA Kings, before they head out East again for a road trip.

The Lineup

Bit of a slight of hand from Darryl Sutter in the pregame skate.

He has Chris Tanev in a fourth pairing with Connor Mackey, which indicated to everyone that he wasn’t ready to return. And then scratches what was believed to be the third pairing and dressed the Mackey/Tanev pairing in tonight’s game.

No sneaky arrival for Jonathan Huberdeau though.

So Elias Lindholm between Adam Ruzicka and Tyler Toffoli; Toffoli continues to be a hugely present surprise again. The second line has to find their mark, Nazem Kadri between Blake Coleman and Dillon Dube. The third line has been hopping with Mikael Backlund and Trevor Lewis and a fourth line with Kevin Rooney between Milan Lucic and Brett Ritchie.

On the blueline the usual first pair of Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson, Nikita Zadorov with Mackenzie Weegar, and finally the aformentioned fourth pairing as a third pairing with Mackey and Tanev

In goal it’s Jacob Markstrom.

Line MetricsĀ 

Ruzicka – Lindholm – Toffoli 77.7%
Coleman – Kadri – Dube 28.6%
Mangiapane – Backlund – Lewis 84.7%
Lucic – Rooney – Ritchie 45.7%

Hanifin – Andersson 50.4%
Zadorov – Weegar 65.5%
Mackey – Tanev 50.0%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +2.0
Vladar -2.3

Trend Tracker:

The Flames defense pairs and forward lines are still relatively newly minted; with the exception of the fourth line and the top pairing, but the new look is starting to get a little bit of time under their belts for comparisons. … The top line with Ruzicka has run the show in back to back games, which will not go unnoticed from the head coach. Similarly the play driving third line had taken an even further step towards domination with Andrew Mangiapane stepping in for Blake Stone. The second line however is getting trashed, with Kadri’s group under 30% in two games. … Weegar and Zadorov continue to chug along at 65%. … Markstrom back in the nets after having his numbers slide in back to back games.

The Tanev Slotting

As I said above, it was pretty sneaky to play him alongside Connor Mackey in the pregame and then have them play the game.

Given the recent pecking order I would have thought Gilbert or DeSimone might stay in the lineup ahead of Mackey, with Zadorov sliding down and Tanev playing with Mackenzie Weegar.

So is that a first game back and work him easy kind of thing?

Or has Sutter noticed that he might have a “thing” with the Zadorov / Weegar and didn’t want to break that paring up? The Zadorov/Weegar pairing have been nothing but solid since being put together in Tanev’s absence and sport a 65% possession mark nightly.

Having a Ball

First off just great that Rick Ball is OK and back calling Flames games. That’s a scary situation and could have easily gone poorly.

He’s top of class in talent as a play by play guy, but also warm in a way that makes a Flames game homey and familiar in a way that you look forward too.

Before he got hurt I was always annoyed when we didn’t get Ball on Saturday nights, so it’s ironic that he calls his first game back on a Saturday night.

Ruzicka and Lindholm Have a Night

Goal and an assist each way in the first period, which is quite a start for a top line missing Jonathan Huberdeau.

Lindholm coming around is huge, he truly had a huge adjustment to losing both of his linemates from last season.

For Ruzicka, just being in the right spot at the right time, as Lindholm tips his pass early, and then setting him up later.

But on the whole, Ruzicka looked much more comfortable tonight and showed some of his skill moving the puck.

Huberdeau will come back, but the youngster needs to continue to carve out a spot in that top nine when he gets bumped off the first line.

Backlund Shorthanded

That was a pretty incredible set of plays made by Mikael Backlund on the Trevor Lewis shorthanded goal.

Gets a hold of it in his own zone and feels pressure coming, elevates the puck straight up and out of the zone, and then skates it down and finds it creating a two on two.

Lewis breaks and Backlund threads the needle to his attacking partner for the shortie.

What a start to this season by Mikael Backlund.

A lot of trepidation on his contract when it was signed, but now with one year left after this season and the solid start to this season and you start to wonder if they can get him to do a Thornton special season to season in two years and keep it going.

Markstrom Penalty?

How do you pick Jacob Markstrom out of that silly play near the end of the second period for a penalty.

His team is already down a man, and you hand that out?

Rasmus Andersson pushed Dubois into his goaltender, but the Jet forward had already directed the puck towards the cage on an off side and wasn’t going to avoid going through the blue paint.

If you really want to punish the team already down you give Andersson the call, but if you see the game for what it is, you leave it … both Andersson and Dubois were pushing it.

Markstrom …

Quite the night.

The Flames threw an effective and impressive blanket over things in the third period, making pretty easy on their goaltender.

But his play in the first 40 was impressive as hell, with the second period especially tilted as the Jets had a 6-1 edge in high danger chances, but spit the period a goal each way with the Flames.

Money goaltending.

Special Teams

The Flames powerplay woes continue, as they don’t seem to have enough skill with Jonathan Huberdeau out of the lineup. They just can’t seem to get set up and establish what they’re trying to accomplish.

The penalty kill was rock solid though.

Neither team are able to score with three chances on the night, Calgary gets the edge with the only high danger chance on the night.

Standings and Record

The win moves the Flames back to .500 and of course snaps the seven game losing streak (they managed two points making their eight game record 1-5-2).

The Flames with 14 points are a point out of the final wild card spot, chasing Minnesota and Chicago.

With the skid stopped hopefully they can get themselves back into the top eight and not look back.

Good start tonight.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 35 Jets 23
Face Offs: Flames 47% / Jets 53%
Powerplay: Flames 0-3 / Jets 0-3

Fancy Stats

The Flames out shot the Jets, but don’t be fooled, they didn’t necessarily out play them until the third period where Calgary shut things down effectively. The Jets had the final totals for expected goals and high danger chances despite a lopsided shot count. Five on five the Flames had 51% of the shot attempts with period splits of 53%/25% and 68% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 42%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 44%, with a 8-10 split.

In all situations the Flames had 52% of the shot attempts, 46% of the expected goals, and 48% of the high danger splits.

Individually the Flames were led by Dillon Dube with an xGF% of 90% five on five on the night. Four players had 70%+ night including; Rasmus Andersson, Noah Hanifin, Tyler Toffoli, and Nazem Kadri. Andrew Mangiapane and Adam Ruzicka were in the 60s. Kevin Rooney had a rough night with 0% and was seemingly benched (unless hurt) with only four minutes. Brett Ritchie played eight minutes but was at 1%. Seems like coach Sutter is a little flummoxed with the fourth line.

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