Game Takes: Flames 4 Islanders 1

January 6th, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Go figure.

For weeks the Flames have been running up shot volume and outplaying teams, but coming up short … usually due to a lack of finish.

So yeah on a night where the team wasn’t very sharp, were out shot, and didn’t generate a whole lot they put up four on the tired New York Islanders, winning the hockey game 4-1 and securing a big two points before heading out on a five game road trip.

The win allowed the Flames to once again leap frog the Oilers and into the first wild card spot.

Goals by Milan Lucic, Blake Coleman, Nikita Zadorov and Nazem Kadri in a game where their best player was their goaltender.

Next up Chicago on Sunday night.

The Lineup

Very little change from the Flames 3-2 loss in Winnipeg on Tuesday night.

Elias Lindholm with Dillon Dube and Tyler Toffoli, Nazem Kadri with Jonathan Huberdeau and Milan Lucic, Mikael Backlund with Blake Coleman and Andrew Mangiapane, and a relatively new but effective fourth line of Radim Zahorna with Adam Ruzicka and Trevor Lewis.

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

Jacob Markstrom gets the start in goal.

Line Metrics 

Dube – Lindholm – Toffoli 57.2%
Huberdeau – Kadri – Lucic 47.4%
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 71.3%
Ruzicka – Zahorna- Ritchie 81.4%

Hanifin – Andersson 53.1%
Weegar – Tanev 55.0%
Zadorov – Stone 53.1%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +3.0
Vladar -1.5

Trend Tracker:

Mikael Backlund has centered two lines this year that fall into the top ten play driving trios with a minimum of 75 minutes together. The current trio with Coleman and Mangiapane is 1st, and Backlund and Coleman with Ruzicka is 3rd. The current Lindholm line with Dillon Dube and Tyler Toffoli is #28 league wide. … On the blueline the Flames don’t have any pairs in the top ten, but they do have all three current pairs between 35 and 60. That almost suggests three second pairings. Imagine if Oliver Kylington was on the roster? … Jacob Markstrom is currently 20th in goals saved above average (goaltenders with a minimum of 15 starts, 42 of them). That’s decent, but still not where he needs to be. With the top ten all in double digits, it’s likely he doesn’t break into the top ten this season. He was a Vezina runner up last year though, while sitting in 12th spot.

Nazem Kadri an All Star

Little surprised that the league picked Nazem Kadri to go to the all star game as the Flames representative. He doesn’t lead the team in goals (Toffoli) or points (Lindholm), is -4 (only Mangiapane is worse), and isn’t the break out story we’re seeing in Rasmus Andersson.

Good player, and a good addition to the team, but it wouldn’t have been my pick.

Rasmus Andersson is 15th in league scoring, and has been the story in Calgary so far this season in my mind.

Two Goal Lead Against the Isles

Same score as the game on the Island.

Last time around it was 3-1 Calgary after the second period, and they looked home and cool. Instead they give up two third period goals and another in overtime to drop the game 4-3.

Tonight they got the same lead by playing the same way, but this time in 20 minutes not 40.

But then a scoreless second set up the exact same situation going to the third and a foreboding sense of deja vu.

Not this time …

Calgary scores the only third period goal and put the tired Isles to bed with two points.

Of Course Lucic Scores …

I’ve said all along that the big lug can sit the odd game out, and certainly doesn’t belong in the top six on a permanent basis.

But right now it’s working, and with that you have to look at the total picture (how all four lines are operating) when making decisions on who to play with whom.

So yeah after all that debate, he scores the game’s first goal.

Predictable isn’t it?

But if Lucic isn’t with that line, he’s on the fourth line by the looks of it, as Sutter wants him in the lineup every night. On that fourth line they probably get caved in. Tonight the opposite as the two lanky kids and Trevor Lewis were pushing the play all night.

Ugly Start to the Second


From a pedestrian powerplay to unforced turnovers and a general lack of execution of simple passes the Flames were very lucky to get out of the second period with the same score with which they entered.

Two breakaways, one just as a Calgary powerplay expired, the other right smack dab in the middle of it forced Jacob Markstrom to be strong.

Towards the final third of the period they got it turned around and had a few scoring chances late, but Sutter must have been pulling his hair out for the first 12-13 minutes.

Rough Rasmus

Arguably he’s been the team’s best player leading into Xmas and coming off the break.

Logging big minutes, playing a big role on special teams, and putting up points.

Tonight though … not his best work.

Two huge turnovers creating Islander chances, and a few other bobbles and blunders that took away from what looked like scoring chances for his side.

Everyone has the odd face plant game, hopefully that’s out of his system as they head out on a five game road trip.

Markstrom’s Start

Clearly Calgary’s best player in this one.

His teammates weren’t all that sharp despite a good start, forcing their goaltender to bail them out on numerous occasions.

His expected goals against was 1.84, only gave up the one, and that on a pretty good shot by Parise.

Good start and for once he got some run support.

Special Teams

The Flames were two powerplays … both just awful.

The Islanders with one chance  … also awful.

I’d like to say it was excellent penalty killing but it felt like both teams committed powerplay suicide.

One high danger chance between them in the six minutes, going to the Flames

Edge to the Islanders though, with the two kills.

Standings and Record

The win moves the Flames past the Oilers again and into the top wild card spot.

Both teams have played 40 games, the Flames with 45 points, the Oilers with 44. Nashville and Colorado just back with games in hand.

The Flames are starting to reel in the Kings, who have five more points, but with two more games played.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 21 Islanders 25
Face Offs: Flames 42% / Islanders 58%
Powerplay: Flames 0-2 / Islanders 0-1

Fancy Stats

Just an ugly hockey game overall. The Flames were outshot, which we don’t see very often, and neither team was very crisp in a very low event hockey game. Five on five the Flames had 61% of the shot attempts with period splits of 62%/62% and 61% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 57%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 58%, with a  7-5 split.

In all situations the Flames had 61% of the shot attempts, 55% of the expected goals, and 62% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 2.26 to 1.84.

Individually the Flames were led by Chris Tanev and Mackenzie Weegar both posting an xGF% of 84% on the night five on five. Elias Lindholm was next up at 71%, followed by Tyler Toffoli and Trevor Lewis. Three players in particular had rough nights, Adam Ruzicka with 24%, Michael Stone at 29% and Nikita Zadorov at 34%

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