Game Takes: Flames 5 Panthers 4 (SO)

November 19th, 2022 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Wins matter.

With a team having lost eight of their last ten you need to start racking up two points a night, not one, and certainly not zero.

But some games are more important than others, and this one was certainly one of those with the three principals in the July 22nd trade facing off against their ex teammates for the first time.

It was also an important start for Jacob Markstrom, also an ex Panther, as he put the focus on his shoulders with his comments after his gaff in the third period in Tampa Bay on Thursday night.

All told a solid game, back and forth with an entertaining overtime, before the goalies stole the show in a 10 shot shoot out.

The Flames win 5-4 in the shoot out with Jonathan Huberdeau and Jacob Markstrom keeping it alive, Markstrom stopping Matthew Tkachuk on a slap shot; not his usual shoot out move.

Next up for the Flames is a date in Philly against the Flyers on Monday night. Game time 5pm.

The Lineup

Some change up front as the Flames look to win their first game on this six game road trip.

Milan Lucic moves from the 2nd line back to the fourth with Trevor Lewis and Brett Ritchie. Blake Coleman moves up into Lewis’ spot with Mikael Backlund and Jonathan Huberdeau. Lucic’s spot is filled with Dillon Dube who gets reunited with Nazem Kadri and Andrew Mangiapane. The only line that stays intact is the top line with Elias Lindholm between Adam Ruzicka and Tyler Toffoli.

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

Jacob Markstrom looks to shake off a rough ending to the Tampa game with the second straight start on this trip.

Line MetricsĀ 

Ruzicka – Lindholm – Toffoli 62.5%
Dube – Kadri – Mangiapane 48.4%
Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman NA
Lucic – Lewis – Ritchie NA

Hanifin – Andersson 50.5%
Zadorov – Weegar 53.2%
Gilbert – Tanev 100%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +2.5
Vladar -2.3

Trend Tracker:

Most of the team took a step back in their numbers above with the Tampa game despite out shooting the Lightning badly. Their five on five high danger split was in the weeds at 4/18 which is a large determinant for xGF% splits. … With that said Jacob Markstrom actually gained a half goal above expected despite whiffing on the insurance goal in Tampa, because he had to be very good to keep his team in it to that point.

Top NineĀ 

For the first time this season the Flames had what I would consider a complete top nine when it comes to their forward group.

To start the season they had eight, and then Trevor Lewis doing his best to plug a hole. Of late they’ve gone the balanced approach with a lower roster player on three of four lines.

Tonight with the Lucic-Coleman-Dube rotation and the emergence of Adam Ruzicka this season you have what looks like three lines that work. Keep those nine together but experiment with trios going forward would be my bet.

But …

An balanced top nine also means a weakened bottom three, and we saw that tonight in the first period.

The fourth line turned the puck over at the blueline twice in the first, the first occasion creating a lot of Florida zone pressure and an almost Panther goal.

That fourth line will have to see less minutes with the top nine getting more ice.

And Speaking of Rounding Out

That spot, as I said, was filled by Adam Ruzicka.

Tonight he continued his coming out party with his third multi point game in the last four contests, posting two goals and adding an assist.

Although it wouldn’t count as a hat trick, he had a chance in the shoot out as well, but came up empty.

What a difference when you have the top nine players all in the top nine, and not just eight in those roles. Ruzicka’s emergence is a very important story line for the Calgary Flames.

Markstrom’s Night

He gave up four goals including a terrible own goal gaff by Mike Smith-ing it behind the net and surrendering the Panther’s first goal.

On the night the expected goal split was 2.5-2.0 for the Panthers, so he out goaltended his counterpart for the first time in a spell.

Not the game’s first start, but part of the victory and not the heel as it appeared when it looked like he ignited the Panther comeback.

Huberdeau Pretty Quiet

Solid night for Jonathan Huberdeau.

He could have gotten an assist on the Flames fourth goal as his board play forced the turnover that led to a Mikael Backlund pass to Blake Coleman for the go ahead goal.

He scored the shoot out tying and extending goal, giving the Flames a chance which came down to Rasmus Andersson’s winner.

He’s not rolling yet, but there are signs.

Tkachuk Has a Night

You just knew Matthew Tkachuk was going to show up and show up he did.

Draws a penalty in the first period.

Gets an assist in the second period.

Scores the game tying goal in the third period.

Not a lot of shenanigans though, as he was pretty quiet physically.

Weegar’s Return

Not the most noticeable night for Mackenzie Weegar in his return, as he was certainly over shadowed by his teammate who was much more tenured in Panther silks.

Finished the night +1 on 16+ minutes of ice time and four shots on goal.

Had a few third period chances to beat Knight but was beaten by the goaltender.

Special Teams

Pretty much even up.

Both teams score once on the powerplay in three chances to keep special teams out of the mix for winning the hockey game.

If you drill down, the Flames had three scoring chances and an expected goal total of 0.62 on the powerplay … Florida only one high danger chance and an expected goal total of 0.55.

Squeaker to the Flames.

Standings and Record

Lots of games to play tonight, but for now the win puts the Flames nail down a tie for the first wild card spot with the Edmonton Oilers with 18 points in 17 games. With Edmonton playing tonight, that tie will be solved by the end of the evening.

Same thing for points percentage with the Alberta teams tied for 7th with a .529, just back of L.A. at .575.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 35 Panthers 35
Face Offs: Flames 54% / Panthers 46%
Powerplay: Flames 1-3 / Panthers 1-3

Fancy Stats

Man I’d love to dig into these models. The game is tied in shots, pretty much tied in shot attempts, the panthers have one more scoring chance and one more high danger chance … which sounds like a pretty tight finish, but instead the Panthers get 62% of the expected goals five on five. Five on five the Flames had 49% of the shot attempts with period splits of 55%/53% and 43% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 38% as I mentioned above, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 47%, with a 7-8 split.

In all situations the Flames had 50% of the shot attempts, 44% of the expected goals, and 55% of the high danger splits; once again how do you get to 56% of the expected goal split when you have equal or lesser in every stat?

Individually the Flames were led by Brett Ritchie with a xGF% of 61% five on five in limited minutes; he left early with an injury. The rest of the team, believe it or not, was under water with Mikael Backlund, Nikita Zadorov and Jonathan Huberdeau coming the closest to breaking even. The top pairing and the third line had a tough night with numbers that averaged about 20% (Andersson at the bottom with 13.4%.

The Other Side …

Sam Reinhart led all Panther skaters with 84%, Matthew Tkachuk was next at 78%. Colin White was at the bottom with 36%.

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