Game Takes: Flames 4 Blues 1

January 12th, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Talk about flipping the script.

Two nights ago the Flames cruised into the third period with a 3-1 lead playing an almost perfect road game in the middle frame. They gave up basically four straight goals, with one waived for an offside in losing a 4-3 game in overtime in St. Louis.

Tonight they have a more perilous 1-0 lead into the third, cough that up on a tough bounce just 20 seconds into the third but then got up, dusted themselves off and took over in scoring three straight goals in turning away the very same St. Louis Blues 4-1 on Thursday night.

Dan Vladar was solid in the nets, Dillon Dube scored twice, and Walker Duehr scored his first NHL goal.

The win gives the Flames a 1-0-2 record and four of a possible six points on the trip.

The Lineup

Just a change between the pipes after the team’s collapse in St. Louis on Tuesday night; a reverse that turned what looked like a text book road game and two points into a very disappointing single.

So Dan Vladar gets his turn, and this time not on a back to back, but because Jacob Markstrom played a pretty strong role in the team blowing the final 20 minutes two nights ago.

No other changes …

Elias Lindholm between Dillon Dube and Tyler Toffoli; a line that got cratered on Tuesday night. Nazem Kadri with Milan Lucic and Jonathan Huberdeau; scored a nice goal on Tuesday but were also part of the final three Blues goals to sink the win. Mikael Backlund between Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman, and finally Adam Ruzicka at center with Trevor Lewis and Walker Duehr.

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

Line Metrics 

Dube – Lindholm – Toffoli 52.2%
Huberdeau – Kadri – Lucic 49.1%
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 68.5%
Duehr – Ruzicka – Lewis 42.6%

Hanifin – Andersson 53.5%
Weegar – Tanev 56.4%
Zadorov – Stone 52.0%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +0.9
Vladar -1.1

Trend Tracker:

The big losers from the face plant on Tuesday night in St. Louis? The top line and Jacob Markstrom. The top line had their xGF% shaved by 2.2% dropping to 52.2% overall. That’s hard to do in one game with any amount of minutes behind the number. Similarly Jacob Markstrom had 1.5 goals saved above average shaved off his number, putting himself and Dan Vladar within 2.0 of each other. … As a tandem the Flames have the 21st best all situations save percentage in the league at 0.894. Couple that with the league’s 28th ranked all situations shooting percentage and you have trouble! … The Flames have the 12th best expected goals on the season, and the 10th best expected goals against to put in perspective how much execution is killing them. … The Flames strength this year, even without Oliver Kylington was their blueline. Yet according to Moneypuck the Flames best defensive pair in expected goal splits (75 minutes or more) is the Tanev/Weegar pair ranked 46th. That means no top pairing folks. The next best pair is ranked 60th (Hanifin/Andersson), Zadorov/Stone as a pairing is ranked 73rd.

Rough Start for Weegar

Not the type of first period you expect from Mackenzie Weegar, as he was front and center on two dangerous Blues chances.

First he tossed a pizza up the middle inexplicably, creating an odd man chance and a great scoring opportunity that was foiled by Dan Vladar.

Then later in the period he was the closest Flame to Brandon Saad and then appeared to let the winger go on a breakaway, once again stopped by Vladar.

He was better later in the period, and key in breaking up a zone entry by the Blues on a late powerplay to help redeem himself.

Pelletier Sits

I certainly understand the frustration from the fan base in wanting to see the first round pick play.

Why call him up if you’re not going to play him?

Having said that it’s only been three games, not 10 or 15, so I think the fan base is overreacting somewhat.

If he’s up for two or three weeks and doesn’t play, there’s little argument that it’s a real pointless exercise.

At the end of the day though, the issue this season isn’t when or how often a kid from the AHL plays, but he lack of execution from their key players. Their fate is unlikely to change without a change in said execution.

Duehr NHL First

The other newbie had himself a night.

Noticeable on a few rushes and getting pucks to the net, in the second period he scored his first NHL goal when he took a pass from Nazem Kadri and got a quick shot off and past Greiss to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.

With his size and speed, Duehr has not looked out of place at all at this level.

Great to see him get that first one in game three with his family in the stands.

Sloppy Game

The Flames played a solid road game.

They had the territorial advantage, got pucks to the net, and did their thing.

What I didn’t like though was the absolute breakdowns that happened far too often creating odd man breaks or straight up breakaway for the Blues. Luckily Dan Vladar was equal to the task.

Most of the miscues came on turnovers with Calgary players leaning up the ice on offence leaving no net to fall back on should a mistake occurred. In their own zone it was a different story where they kept things to the outside and didn’t give up much.

But the overall team pinch was killing them, especially in the first 25-30 minutes.

Funny How One Game Changes Things

Those sneaky loser points.

The Flames drop back to back games in overtime in disappointing fashion and suddenly the sky is falling and all is lost.

Win a regulation game in St. Louis and suddenly it’s four points out of a possible six and shaping up as a good road trip.

They have points in four straight games, and ten of their last 12.

Not bad given the temperament in the city.

Vladar Start

Pretty good no?

The Flames as I said were pretty sloppy in the first half of the game relying on Dan Vladar to bail them out on odd man breaks and clear cut breakaways.

He got it done.

Pretty much robbed of a shut out by a lucky bounce in the third period, but the points are the points … and Vladar now has points in eight straight starts.

Clearly doing the job as a backup.

Special Teams

Big Flames win in the game, big Flames win in special teams.

They came up empty in their only chance on the powerplay, but were solid in killing off three Blues chances through the course of the night.

Kept the Blues to only two high danger chances in six minutes down a man.

Standings and Record

Good night for the Flames.

Big two point in regulation time against a team chasing them, but also had a Predator loss on the out of town scoreboard.

Suddenly the Flames are in a good spot both in points and points percentage, which wasn’t the case four days ago.

The Flames now have 49 points in 43 games and sit at .570 in wins percentage. That’s good for the first wild card spot in points and 7th spot in points percentage in the West.

Seattle won, keeping their five point lead (they have two games in hand), LA seven points up with Calgary having two games in hand.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 40 Blues 26
Face Offs: Flames 50% / Blues 50%
Powerplay: Flames 0-1 / Blues 0-3

Fancy Stats

Pretty dominant game for the Flames overall. They ran the show in terms of shot attempts, expected goals, scoring chances and high danger chances. Keep in mind by the letter of the law a breakaway is only a high danger chance if the player was already in the homeplate area before receiving a pass. Otherwise it’s just a scoring chance. Five on five the Flames had 63% of the shot attempts with period splits of 68%/60% and 59% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 62%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 72%, with a  13-5 split.

In all situations the Flames had 59% of the shot attempts, 61% of the expected goals, and 65% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 3.9 to 2.54.

Individually the Flames were led by Elias Lindholm posting an xGF% of 88% on the night five on five. That’s a big bounce back for that line, as linemate Tyler Toffoli was at 81%, with Mackenzie Weegar and Chris Tanev also in the 80s. Dillon Dube was just a hair behind. Only three players under water; Trevor Lewis, Adam Ruzicka and Michael Stone.

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