Game Takes: Flames 3 Canucks 2

December 31st, 2022 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Happy damn New Year Calgarypuck!

Flames win on New Year’s Eve on the strength of a great start, a solid second period, and then a great third after the Canucks made it close.

The Flames had goals from Elias Lindholm, Blake Coleman and Mackenzie Weegar, building a three goal lead before letting Vancouver squeak back into things.

The Oilers and Avalanche lost in regulation tonight giving the Flames a little wiggle room as they continue to push up the standings.

Successful New Year’s Eve!

The Lineup

If it aint broke …

Darryl Sutter seems to have found something, so naturally there is no point in making any changes. All four lines have chemistry, and the defense pairings are also all in positive territory.

Up front it’s Elias Lindholm with Dillon Dube and Tyler Toffoli, Nazem Kadri with Jonathan Huberdeau and Milan Lucic, Mikael Backlund with Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman, and Adam Ruzicka with Trevor Lewis and Brett Ritchie.

On the blueline no change as well; Noah Hanifin with Rasmus Andersson, Mackenzie Weegar with Chris Tanev, and Nikita Zadorov with Michael Stone.

In goal the Flames return to Jacob Markstrom.

Line Metrics 

Dube – Lindholm – Toffoli 56.3%
Huberdeau – Kadri – Lucic 53.9%
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 71.7%
Ruzicka – Lewis – Ritchie 56.6%

Hanifin – Andersson 52.9%
Weegar – Tanev 55.2%
Zadorov – Stone 54.3%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +4.4
Vladar -1.5

Trend Tracker:

Once again it’s a small sample size; the four lines have averaged about 60 minutes together as units, but look at the expected goal splits. Some weak California teams to help that along, but also contests against Edmonton, LA and Seattle. First time this year there hasn’t been a weak link up front for rolling lines. … In the group the new Backlund line just doesn’t waiver. You can see 70%+ nights for a line, but to have 5 games together and still be in that range clearly suggests they’re play driving monsters. … Say it every game but the top pairing continues to improve their numbers every game. Could be a solid second half for this team. … Good to see Vladar cut his goals saved above average deficit in half with his strong play in Seattle.

One of Those 1sts

The Flames lead the league in first period goals, so can’t really complain if they come up empty.

But they shouldn’t have.

Low event hockey for the most part, but Calgary gave up basically nothing while generating 60-70% of all the major shot metrics, including a 3-1 edge in high danger chances.

Some big saves by Spencer Martin, and another goal post … this one by Mikael Backlund keeps the game scoreless after one.

Another period of driving the play though. Something we’ve seen somewhat regularly in the team’s last 6-7 games.

Penalty Trouble

The Flames scored a short handed goal and were more than competent killing penalties so they essentially managed to dodge a bullet.

But you just can’t take that many penalties in a second period when up one or two goals.

Just inviting the opposition to get back into it.

Blake Coleman holding the stick … why? Always gets called.

Backlund and Hanifin a little less guilty as they were aggressive plays.

Michael Stone with a late cross check behind the play … silly.

They need to clean this up, way too much pressure on the penalty killing.

Mackenzie Weegar 1st

Great to see Mackenzie Weegar finally snap his goose egg in a Calgary uniform.

The guy is a great defenseman, he may not be as productive this season as he’s been in the last two in Florida, but defensively and in transition he’s been an Ace for the Flames.

His shot decisions though have always had me wondering, he seems to shoot too late often, wait for gaps to close, hold the puck too much or in other situations not shoot at all when a chance was there.

Hopefully they point that out in tape, because he has the skills to finish with better reads.

No Call on Coleman Twice?

Third period close game … and Coleman gets in twice.

One time stick in the mitts, second time a pick to keep him from getting to the puck and no call on either play?

Given the Flames 2nd period parade to the box that makes little sense to me.

And Speaking of Coleman

Did he have a night.

Scored a goal, should have had three, and led all skaters in expected goal splits.

He’s a great second wave offensive hockey player. You don’t queue up a game putting that weight on his shoulders, you let him do his thing defensively and killing penalties, and then he just pops a few times a season.

Great night.

From 3-2

Thought the Flames had an impressive finish to the game with the Canucks making it close five minutes into the third.

Really both Canucks goals were on fortunate bounces, and it could have left them scrambling and sitting on the lead from that point on.

Instead they only gave up two shots and should have scored another two or three goals themselves.

I think they’re starting to trust the system.

Imagine the Miller Contract

Can’t imagine being a Vancouver Canucks fan and having to stare down these JT Miller moments and think of the contract that he just signed.

Just a disaster.

How they could sign a contract like that basically gifting Bo Horvat to another organization is beyond me.

I was really worried that the recovery in Vancouver was more likely with Benning fired; not so sure that’s the case any more.

Term and dollars to a selfish, me first hockey player.

Enough with the WAH!

Please let this commercial go.

One of the oddest car commercials I’ve ever seen.

The fact that we see it 3 times every period just rubs it in.


Dube Noticeable …. Breaking Out?

Have to say I found myself anticipating Dillon Dube shifts tonight.

Nice breakaway off the goal post, that should have been in, but it wasn’t just that one chance.

But overall … speed through the neutral zone, zigging and zagging on the cycle and creating chances, creating.

The Flames have a clear cut top cut of elite players; Huberdeau, Kadri, Lindholm, Kadri … Andrew Mangiapane has wavered a bit this year, but with Dube stepping up it seems to have completed the six.

Have to think we’ll see a big second half from the player.

Special Teams

The Flames take the special teams battle pretty much anyway you look at it.

They kill off all four Canuck powerplays and score a shorthanded goal, despite not scoring on either of their two chances.

Digging deeper the Flames had a high danger chance in their four minutes up a man, the Canucks had one in eight minutes, but also gave up one shorthanded.

Dominant night for the Flames penalty killers.

Standings and Record

Huge win for the Flames.

They gained so much momentum before the Xmas break, losing to the Oilers in a came they should have won easily was a blow. So back to back wins over Seattle and now Vancouver, both in regulation are huge points towards the run they’ve been on.

The Flames win, the Oilers and Avalanche lose. Seattle lost last night. Vancouver of course gets no points.

So yeah Flames in 3rd in the Pacific, and ahead of Edmonton in points % and gaining on Seattle in points %.

Almost as important … right now it appears we are heading for a nine team race for eight spots, or more likely four teams battling for three spots.

With Seattle slipping that’s a good sign.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 30 Canucks 24
Face Offs: Flames 58% / Canucks 42%
Powerplay: Flames 0-2 / Canucks 0-4

Fancy Stats

What a third period from the Flames. Getting scored on early, but then taking over when it comes to driving play to edge out the Canucks in every stat through 60 minutes. Five on five the Flames had 53% of the shot attempts with period splits of 58%/45% and 54% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 57%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 55%, with a  11-9 split. In the third period the Flames had an 8-4 edge in high danger chances.

In all situations the Flames had 54% of the shot attempts, 66% of the expected goals, and 57% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 3.28 to 1.69.

Individually the Flames were led by Blake Coleman posting an xGF% of 77% on the night five on five. Andrew Mangiapane, Tyler Toffoli and Mikael Backlund were also in the 70s. Mackenzie Weegar was the only Flame in the 60s. Only four players under water; Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, Milan Lucic and Elias Lindholm.

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