Game Takes: Flames 5 Flyers 2

November 21st, 2022 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Results matter, don’t get me wrong.

But the Calgary Flames were plugging along with a lot of things going against them but still getting middling results.

The league’s worst starting schedule, some key injuries, and some iffy goaltending and finishing was more than enough of a recipe to burn the muffins and cause a small fire in the kitchen.

But the underlying stuff suggested a turnaround, and slowly we’ve seen exactly that with the Flames winning 5-2 in Philly tonight to win their second of three on this six game road trip and four of five overall as they look to erase the effects of a seven game losing streak.

Tonight Blake Coleman, in his 400th NHL game scored a goal and added two assists, while Jacob Markstrom was strong in the victory.

Next up the Flames travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins on Wednesday night.

Three more to go on the trip … do they come home with six points? Seven? Eight? More?

The Lineup

Only one change to the Flame’s lineup after the win in Florida; with Kevin Rooney coming into the lineup with the injury to Brett Ritchie.

So up front it’s the red hot Elias Lindholm with the also red hot Adam Ruzicka and the previously red hot Tyler Toffoli, Nazem Kadri with the struggling younger class of Andrew Mangiapane and Dillon Dube, Mikael Backlund with Jonathan Huberdeau and Blake Coleman, and Roony back in at center on the fourth line with Milan Lucic and Trevor Lewis.

On the blueline it’s Noah Hanifin with Rasmus Andersson, Nikita Zadorov with Mackenzie Weegar, and Dennis Gilbert with Chris Tanev.

In goal the Flames go back to Jacob Markstrom once again. The Flames have back to backs later this week, but with Markstrom getting the first three starts on the trip we may see a 5/1 split.

Line Metrics 

Ruzicka – Lindholm – Toffoli 61.6%
Dube – Kadri – Mangiapane 48.7%
Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman 58.6%
Lucic – Rooney – Lewis NA

Hanifin – Andersson 49.3%
Zadorov – Weegar 53.3%
Gilbert – Tanev 72.7%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +0.9
Vladar -2.3

Trend Tracker:

Are the Flames finding a fit for Jonathan Huberdeau with Michael Backlund? He’s not filling the net, but it does appear the duo (especially with Blake Coleman added) is starting to run the show when it comes to play driving shares. Good step towards getting the elite winger back to elite. … Have to think he bumps Adam Ruzicka at some point though. … Speaking of Ruzicka, the top line has come back to Earth somewhat with xGF% splits in the low 60s (still great!) compared to the low 80s (unsustainable!) that we saw in the first few games. … Tanev continues to be the defenseman whisperer, this time making the plucky Dennis Gilbert into a serviceable defenseman. … Markstrom was great late, and in the shootout in Florida, but the game was a 2.5-2.0 game with both goaltenders giving up more than they should have by the models. He’s now just +0.9 in goals saved above average.

Coleman’s 400th Game

Players always seem to find the scoresheet on milestone nights, and tonight was no different for Flames veteran Blake Coleman.

Celebrating game number 400 in his career, the former Jersey draft pick didn’t have to wait long to hear his name announced as he assisted on both Flames goals in the first period.

In the third period he added to his night scoring the first empty netter to give himself a three point night.

He’s gone from the third line to the second line to the fourth and back to the third (or maybe 2nd, hard to say) this season, but it appears he may have found some chemistry with Mikael Backlund and Jonathan Huberdeau.

Markstrom’s Night

Pretty solid right?

No chance on either goal and picks up the wins and a .900+ save percentage night.

Made some key saves down the stretch when the game got closer than it looked like it would, but overall picks up the two points and didn’t give up a softie.

All told the Flames end up on the downside of the high danger split with the Flyers having 12 to the Flames 8.

Markstrom equal to the task.

Huberdeau Lights the Lamp

Big goal for Jonathan Huberdeau tonight as he looks to get back into his regular mojo that he had in Florida.

The goal in the shootout in Florida didn’t count in the player’s statistics, but playing a key part in beating his former teammates (extending the shoot out) could prove key in getting him comfortable and into a groove in Flames’ colours.

Tonight he was put on a two on one by Coleman, and then used Coleman as a decoy and beat Cater Hart blocker side high for his 3rd of the season.

The rest of the night featured about a half dozen elite passes from the left winger that didn’t result in goals … but they will.

Another Gilbert Scrap

Have to like this guy.

Coming into training camp the news of Oliver Kylington’s absence shown the light on a handful of defenseman vying for the 6th spot in the Flames regular lineup … and Dennis Gilbert was well down the list.

Juuso Valimaki, Connor Mackey, Nick Meloche and Michael Stone were all higher up in the pecking order, and perhaps Nick DeSimone as well.

He’s far from securing a spot of course, Michael Stone is back skating, but his three scraps in five starts is sure to get the eye from his head coach. Flames assistant Cail MacLean mentioned the team got a big lift out of his scrap in Florida in their 5-4 shoot out win on Saturday.

A Different Kind of Balance

The Flames ended their mini homestand and started their road trip with extreme balance up front in their lines; essentially a fourth liner on all four lines (no offence to the as of yet not completely broken out Adam Ruzicka).

So tonight in game two of the new top nine being the top nine it was interesting to actually see some balance.

All three of the top three lines had some push against the depleted Flyers, but the fourth line had their moments as well.

Honestly think Ruzicka becoming an upper roster player (ish) was key to Sutter abandoning the search. The team was missing a player, it was clear to everyone including the Flames, perhaps they’re not now.

Ex Panthers Mic’d Up

Super interesting (and entertaining) feature after the first period showing the ex Panthers, Jonathan Huberdeau and Mackenzie Weegar mic’d up in the game against their former foes.

Little bit of insight of how players talk to each other to set up face offs, both in their own zone and in the offensive zone. Some chatter on the bench.

But the best was Weegar skating up to Nikita Zadorov “I think we’ve been on for every goal. Not sure that’s a good thing”

Love stuff like that.

Orange Crush

Always feel a little ripped off when the Flames play in Philly and the Flyers don’t wear their classic orange home (previously road) jerseys.

Love the orange with the white, and old style name bars.

Funny how orange when framed in white looks amazing (to me), but when framed in blue it looked neon and tacky as hell (any guesses who I’m talking about?).

When I was a wee lad the Flyers were scary, and those orange jerseys hold a lot of nostalgia for me.

Mangiapane Struggling

Yeah he coughed up the puck to make the game closer than it should have been, and yeah he missed a point blank chance with an open net.

But that’s not what I’m getting at.

He seems lost offensively, zigging when he should zag, zagging when he should zig. Far too many times you could see the open guy but he couldn’t … granted it’s easier on TV than inside the helmet but his feel and reads are just off.

Lots of pressure with a 35 goal season least year and a larger contract but the Flames need #88 to get into that secondary scoring role. Right now he’s sub Ritchie/Lewis.

Rasmus Andersson …

Game winning shoot out goal in Florida and a lucky one tonight in Philly, but the defenseman is on pace for a 65 point season; quite a break out for the Flame’s defender.

One of my favourite draft picks.

There are obvious picks like Matthew Tkachuk, but it’s always fun when you have a guy dialed in for the second round and they actually select the guy. He’s gone from the “little bit lazy, little bit fat” camp disappointment to one of the most important guys on the team.

Breaking out party.

Special Teams

No special team goals in the game.

The Flames score three five on five goals and two empty netters, and the Flayers score twice five on five.

The Flames take the night’s special teams though killing three Philly powerplays compared to Calgary having two.

The Flyers had three high danger chances in their opportunities, the Flames one in their two. Give Markstrom some credit too.

Standings and Record

The win moves the Flames past the Oilers, who lost in New Jersey, and into the first wild card spot cleanly.

At 9-7-2 they have 20 points, same as Edmonton, but in one less game. They sit three points back of Seattle for the third spot in the Pacific with even games played.

The Flames are now 7th in the West in win % at .556, the Oilers now sit 9th.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 30 Flyers 25
Face Offs: Flames 50% / Flyers 50%
Powerplay: Flames 0-2 / Flyers 0-3

Fancy Stats

Pretty dominant game for the Flames from post to post, though not entirely perfect. The Flames had the better of the shots, shot attempts and scoring chances, but gave up high danger chances when they broke down making the 10 bells pretty even between the two teams. Five on five the Flames had 58% of the shot attempts with period splits of 50%/62% and 65% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 69% as I mentioned above, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 50%, with a 7-7 split.

In all situations the Flames had 52% of the shot attempts, 68% of the expected goals, and 40% of the high danger splits.

Individually the Flames were led by the Florida boys with Mackenzie Weegar posting a xGF% of 91% and Jonathan Huberdeau just behind at 90% five on five. Players in the 80s included; Milan Lucic, Nikita Zadorov, Kevin Rooney and Trevor Lewis … solid night for the fourth line. Only three players were under water on the night, Rasmus Andersson, Elias Lindholm, and Adam Ruzicka with a misstep at 17%.

The Other Side …

The Flyers had stellar nights from Kiefer Bellows and Lukas Selak, both in the 70s. Morgan Frost was a brutal 1.75%. Yikes!

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