Game Takes: Flames 6 Panthers 2

November 29th, 2022 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Emotional night at the Saddledome.

The Flames get up 3-0 in the first period, walk out a stinker in the second, but solidify things with a solid third period skating away with a 6-2 victory and a season sweep of Matthew Tkachuk’s Florida Panthers.

Speaking of Tkachuk, not the offensive night he had in Florida with no points and a -2 on the night, including a cross checking penalty.

The ex-Floridians were productive though, as Jonathan Huberdeau has a goal and an assist while Mackenzie Weegar adds a helper.

Dan Vladar solid for his second win of the season in his third start in the last four games.

The Lineup

A couple of surprises for the lineup tonight, as the Flames return home after a long six game road trip that ended with three losses (one point).

Up front Darryl Sutter flips Jonathan Huberdeau and Adam Ruzicka, reuniting the top line of Huberdeau with Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli. Ruzicka gets a new look on the left side with Mikael Backlund and Blake Coleman, which could work as Backlund has always done well to break in young forwards. The other two lines don’t change; Nazem Kadri with Dillon Dube and Andrew Mangiapane, and Trevor Lewis with Milan Lucic and Brett Ritchie.

On the blueline no change from the last game, but going with a recent change having Mackenzie Weegar back to the left side with Chris Tanev. That leaves the first pairing in tact with Noah Hanifin on the left and Rasmus Andersson on the right, and a third pairing of Nikita Zadorov with Michael Stone.

In goal, the other minor surprise with Dan Vladar getting his second straight and third start of the last four. Don’t get me wrong, he deserves it, but still a surprise nonetheless.

Line Metrics 

Huberdeau – Lindholm – Toffoli 57.1%
Dube – Kadri – Mangiapane 46.2%
Ruzicka – Backlund – Coleman NA
Lucic – Lewis – Ritchie 37.8%

Hanifin – Andersson 47.0%
Weegar – Tanev 55.9%
Zadorov – Stone 54.8%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +0.1
Vladar +0.8

Trend Tracker:

That’s 131 minutes for the Nazem Kadri / Andrew Mangiapane / Dillon Dube combination, and it’s not working. This season’s early pick for best line has turned into a black hole sitting at 46.2% with a healthy sample size. Mangiapane is fighting it under the pressure of a new pact, Dube looking to enter the 20 goal club and falling flat, and Kadri not using his linemates. … Same could be said for the Flame’s top pairing of Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson; no longer a 50+% pairing and sliding further into the muck.

Vladar Start

Good to see Dan Vladar getting the start. The Flames just haven’t gotten the goaltending required to win, and they need a find a way to change that. If the backup is playing better they can’t really continue to roll out Jacob Markstrom with mixed results.

Coming into the game tonight the Flames had six games (of 21) this year where goaltending had a positive influence, eight others they were tight to average, and seven where they hurt the cause. That shouldn’t be the Calgary Flames, and it has to change.

Of the positive six, Vladar has three of them only four starts.

Tonight he picks up his second win of the season and only gives up two goals, the second looked somewhat questionable but I think it hit a stick.

The expected goals against was 2.34, so Vlader gets the check mark!

Tkachuk Reaction

I think everyone was waiting in anticipation to see what the cheer to boo share would be with Tkachuk on the ice for his first game back in Calgary tonight.

Oddly enough it was 100%, but in both directions.

When he touched the puck it was nothing but boos from the crowd.

When they played his video tribute it was nothing but cheers.

Which basically means going forward it’s going to be nothing but jeers I would surmise, with the pleasantries over.

Quick Start

The Flames have gone through some games where they were controlling the play, but not getting the big save nor the finish, losing some games they likely should have won.

Tonight they score three goals in the first period; a shortie, a powerplay goal and an even strength goal on eight shots.

Part of that was Sergei Bobrovsky struggling in net, some of it was some good bounces, and even more so a team driving to the net, generating traffic and finding rebounds.

Dube Best Mode

Must something about those black uniforms …

Last year we got the classic picture of Dillon Dube scoring against the Oilers in the Blasty jersey with the scowl on his face.

Tonight back in black he scores a great shorthanded goal, and then adds an assist on Rasmus Andersson’s even strength goal, and then a second assist on an Andrew Mangiapane goal in the third to put the game away..

Additionally a physical start that set the tone for his team.

With the three points, Dube now has three goals and five points in the last five games, seemingly turning the corner and almost back to last year’s pace.

Not to Overlook Mangiapane

Also maligned, but Andrew Mangiapane has a big night.

First period assist with a nice toe drag to set up Dillon Dube shorthanded, and then gets the favour returned in the third period when Dube finds him to put the game away.

Getting some offence from Dube and Mangiapane is just huge for this team.

Who am I kidding, any offence is huge for this team.

Huberdeau’s Night

It’s coming …

But it’s still not there is it?

Just not a lot of creation coming off his stick for most of the first quarter now plus of the season but tonight he was productive.

He starts the night with a powerplay goal against his former teammates when he banks a puck in past Bobrovsky on a first period powerplay. In the third he’s foiled on a breakaway, but has the presence of mind to center it to Tyler Toffoli who beats Bobrovsky to give Huberdeau a two point night.

Later he goes off with Patrik Hornqvist for roughing minors.

Sleepy Second

Not a lot of energy from the Flames in the second period, as they pretty much sleptwalked through the first 17 minutes of the period, and were lucky to come out of it still up two.

The shots ended up 10-6 for Florida but Calgary had only one shot through the first ten minutes of the period.

If there was a silver lining for Calgary it was five on five chance prevention, as they period featured a 2-1 split for the Panthers, which is miniscule.

Close Out Third

Thought the Flames had a solid third period.

They kept it simple, put pucks to the net, and kept the rebounds at bay around Dan Vladar.

Finding the two third period gravy goals were a bonus and made it easier to stear home.

Trade Summary for Two Games

Matthew Tkachuk picks up two points in the first game between the two teams while the Calgary guys were held scoreless.

Tonight Huberdeau has a goal and an assist, and Weegar adds a helper as the Calgary side of the deal picks up three points in the two games to edge out Calgary’s former #19.

Oh and the Calgary guys won both games too.

Tanev …

What the hell was Vancouver thinking.


I don’t get it.

Special Teams

The Flames win a special teams night!


The Flames score a shorthanded goal on the Panther’s first chance of the night, and then add a powerplay goal on their first chance to get them out in front and help them to a victory.

Special teams also spun the game when it came to expected goal splits with Calgary getting a handful of shorthanded chances.

Standings and Record

The win puts the Flames back into a playoff spot in terms of points with 23 in 22 games.

Truly though they’re still a touch back as both Minnesota and Nashville have 22 points in 21 games for a higher points percentage.

The Flames are one point back of the Oilers with even games played, and four points back of the Kings with two games in hand.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 23 Panthers 33
Face Offs: Flames 63% / Panthers 37%
Powerplay: Flames 1-4 / Panthers 0-4

Fancy Stats

Another game that fits the eye test with the Flames better in special teams, but not the better team five on five overall. Calgary’s second period definitely tipped the scales towards the Panthers even up. Five on five the Flames had 46% of the shot attempts with period splits of 46%/38% and 54% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 47%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had  45%, with a very quiet 5-6 split.

In all situations the Flames had 50% of the shot attempts, 58% of the expected goals, and 47% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 3.25 to 2.34 for the Flames.

Individually the Flames were led by Brett Ritchie posting a xGF% of  70% on the night five on five. Andrew Mangiapane, Dillon Dube, Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev, Milan Lucic and Nazem Kadri were in the 60s. At the bottom a rough night for the third defense pairing as Michael Stone and Nikita Zadorov were around 20%. The third line had a rough night as well.

The Other Side …

Matthew Tkachuk at the top for the Panthers with a 63% night. Aleksi Heponiemi, Radko Gudas and Brandon Montour were all under 40%.

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