Game Takes: Avalanche 3 Flames 1

January 18th, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

You just can’t come out that flat.

You just can’t spot the Stanley Cup champions a three goal lead regardless of who they are missing.

That was the case tonight in Calgary, as the Flames came out as flat as flat can be, and with poor play and some unfortunate bounces found themselves down 3-0 early, a lead that was too big to recover from.

The loss moves the Flames out of a playoff spot by points percentage with tonight’s victors passing them by, and with Tampa on the schedule a two game skid could become a “thing”.

Guess we will see.

The Lineup

No changes to the lineup, much to the chagrin of the city looking to see first round pick Jakob Pelletier in the lineup.

Sutter spoke glowingly about the prospect between games but suggested the standings were too tight to experiment.

So 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 Walker Duehr.

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

After a solid start in Nashville, Jacob Markstrom gets the start again in goal..

Line Metrics 

Dube – Lindholm – Toffoli 50.6%
Huberdeau – Kadri – Lucic 49.7%
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 68.5%
Duehr – Ruzicka – Lewis 55.8%

Hanifin – Andersson 53.2%
Weegar – Tanev 55.9%
Zadorov – Stone 50.6%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +2.5
Vladar -2.8

Trend Tracker:

Pretty much every trio and pairing took a beating in the game in Nashville. With these lines at most together a month they don’t have the minutes foundation to withstand the impact. So 2-3% drops for the first and second line, less of an impact to the defense pairs who have been together for a good spell. … Goalie gap (moneypuck) is larger again with Markstrom back to +2.5 to Vladar’s -2.8 after the Predator game.

Some special teams stats …

The Flames ailing powerplay in terms of chance generation are ranked 17th in high danger chances, 20th in scoring chance generation and 18th in expected goals. They have produced 1.1 less actual goals compared to expected per 60 minutes which is the 7th worst gap in the league.

The Flames penalty kill is much better. In terms of high danger chances against they are 7th, scoring chances they are 9th, and expected goals against / 60 they are 4th. They have given up 0.68 goals/60 less than they were expected, pointing to some solid goaltending down a man.

Could a Start Go Worse?

You name it and it happened to and by the Flames in the first period.

Some sloppy play.

Two needless penalties.

A Mike Smith like goalie bobble behind the net.

And just like that 3-0 Colorado after twenty minutes.

Just ugly.

At least it was early … better to get the down three over early so you have more time to dig back into it.

Dube Taking Next Steps

It’s been a productive 2nd quarter (into the third) for Dillon Dube, we can all see that.

But it’s the how that is really starting to gain attention.

Recently Darryl Sutter called Dube the most improved player in the organization this year, and it’s hard not to see why.

He looks faster.

His hands look more silky.

And he’s playing bigger.

Twice tonight he bowled over Avalanche defensemen on the forecheck, and they legitamately looked surprised it was Dube that delivered the force.

Think there is more still to come.

6th Dman

I like Michael Stone, he’s a great story.

And I hope he continues to play for the Flames in that 7th defenseman role.

But he’s over his head and playing too much in the 6th spot.

Tonight he took two penalties trying to defend, something we’ve seen a lot of lately. If you notice it’s forcing Nikita Zadorov to improve however, as he lugs the puck 90% of the time instead of doing the D to D pass made popular by every other defense pairing in the league.

The Flames (behind the scenes) need to get a gauge on Oliver Kylington’s intentions (and ability to step back in), and if he’s not available they need to upgrade that 6th spot.

Markstrom’s Start

Jacob Markstrom’s first period tonight was almost a carbon copy of Dan Vladar’s third period in Dallas.

Hard to fault him for any of the goals, but you have to come up with more saves and less goals against in a period of hockey.

Both goaltenders (Markstrom and Vladar) had expected goals against in their 20 minutes of less than a goal, but gave up three.

He bounced back in the second period, making some key saves and giving his teammates a chance to get back into it. Unfortunately the guy at the other end had better fortune on the night and was able to keep the Flames at bay.

The third was pretty much all Calgary, but the damage was done in the first.

By the end of the game the Avs had an expected goal total of 2.12, so he closed the gap.

Special Team

Both teams hit the scoresheet with the powerplay, the Flames in two chances the Avalanche in three.

The Flames had three high danger chances in their 2:41 of powerplay time, the Avalanche just one in almost five minutes.

Edge goes to the Flames, which is rare in a loss.

Standings and Record

With the loss the Flames still hold on to the West’s final playoffs spot, but the Avalanche with the win now have a higher points percentage.

Calgary will have to nip this in the bud.

Flames are two points back of the Oilers now with even games played.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 35 Avalanche 29
Face Offs: Flames 56% / Avalanche 44%
Powerplay: Flames 1-2 / Avalanche 1-3

Fancy Stats

When you get down big early score effects certainly play a role, and I think that was the case tonight with the Avalanche feeling pretty much home and cool after 20. Five on five the Flames had 53% of the shot attempts with period splits of 48%/43% and 72% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 62%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 57%, with a  8-6 split.

In all situations the Flames had 54% of the shot attempts, 58% of the expected goals, and 58% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 2.91 to 2.12.

Individually the Flames were led by Walker Duehr for the second straight game, posting an xGF% of 99% on the night five on five. Granted he only played 7 minutes, but a good sign for the young player, he seems to be on the right side of the puck to start. His linemate Trevor Lewis was next with 84%, Milan Lucic, Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri were all in the 70s. Only three players were under water; Elias Lindholm, Michael Stone and Dillon Dube.

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