Game Takes: Predators 2 Flames 1

January 16th, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

The Flames have found a way to find points in most games in the last six weeks, and certainly on the road.

Not so much tonight.

With the Flames looked very much distracted and thinking of home, they spotted the Predators a 2-0 first period lead and weren’t able to come all the way back despite a frenetic third period and a few close calls.

The loss moves the Flames and Oilers into a tie for both wild card spots, and concludes the road trip with a 2-1-2 record for six points in five games.

Next up the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.

The Lineup

Jacob Markstrom back in as the starter tonight, despite back to back wins by Dan Vladar, albeit the second one coming while giving up the final four goals in the game.

No other changes.

So Elias Lindholm with Dillon Dube and Tyler Toffoli, Nazem Kadri with Milan Lucic and Jonathan Huberdeau, Mikael Backlund with Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman, and Adam Ruzicka between Trevor Lewis and Walker Duehr.

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

Line Metrics 

Dube – Lindholm – Toffoli 53.8%
Huberdeau – Kadri – Lucic 52.4%
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 70.5%
Duehr – Ruzicka – Lewis 55.8%

Hanifin – Andersson 53.5%
Weegar – Tanev 55.6%
Zadorov – Stone 52.1%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +0.9
Vladar -2.8

Trend Tracker:

With the wild third period in Dallas, Calgary’s goaltending looks even more average. In total 51 goaltenders have started at least 15 games this season and Calgary barely has one in the starter rank (top 32). With Jacob Markstrom ranked 27th and Dan Vladar at 38th (Moneypuck) the Flames don’t even have an average NHL starter. Two back ups. … The Backlund line has been edged out by the Stamkos line (Point/Kucherov) in Tampa. They now have an xGF% of 75.9% to Backlund’s trio’s 75.7%. … Calgary’s top defense pair (Weegar/Tanev) comes in at 43rd. … The fourth line had a good night in Dallas pushing all four forward lines and all three defense pairings over the 50% mark. Not sure we’ve seen that yet this season.

Already On the Charter

It’s not uncommon for teams to struggle in their last game on a long road trip. They’re itching to get home, and they forget to put in that final 60 minutes of work before boarding the plane.

Tonight it sure seemed like that might have been the case, especially in the first half of the first period where the Flames lost pretty much all their details; they turned the puck over, they had poor coverage, they didn’t get pucks out, it was a mess.

The Predators capitalized with an early goal, and then added another later in the period.

With Friends Like that …

Not a lot of help for Jacob Markstrom in the first period.

The first goal goes off of Nikita Zadorov and in, and the second off of Andrew Mangiapane’s skate before heading towards the post and a tap in.

Both unlucky plays, but not the kind of period Markstrom was looking to have after sitting out the last two.

One own goal, one own assist.

Markstrom Start

He was fantastic to be honest.

No chance on the first two goals as I said, a circus save in the second, but with Nashville running up a steep high danger advantage in the hockey game, Markstrom was the difference giving his flat teammates a real chance at a road point.

Good sign for the Flames to see their number one goaltender bounce back after his third period collapse in St. Louis last Tuesday.

They’re going to need a Jacob Markstrom playing like a Jacob Markstrom down the stretch to move up the standings.

Toffoli Waive Off

We’ve seen a lot of surprising review results over the years, but Tyler Toffoli getting the game tying goal waived off in the third period wasn’t one of them.

Pretty clear kicking motion as the sniper tried to get it up to his stick and had it go straight in the net.

Honestly surprised it took as long as it did on the review.

Textbook kicking motion.

Zadorov What It Is

Great but brief interview with Nikita Zadorov after the second period on the Sportsnet telecast.

Thoughts on the game? “Horrible”

“Slow, losing battles, don’t want it as much as them. We have 20 minutes to fix it”

Just perfect, right to the point assessment of the first 40 minutes.

Third Period Flurry

The Flames didn’t give up, give them that.

After two sloppy periods and a deserved deficit they put on their work books for the third period and came pretty close to tying the game up.

The Flames had 19 scoring chances, and five high danger attempts in the third period as they pushed for the tie.

Special Teams

No special team goals in this one as the Flames go 0/4 and the Predators go 0/3.

Would love to credit both teams for solid penalty killing, but there really wasn’t a whole lot by high danger chances for either team with the man advantage.

Give the edge to the Predators as they had to kill off that oh so dangerous 4 on 3 powerplay, and killed the extra minor.

Standings and Record

Brings the road trip to an end with six out of a possible ten points and a 2-1-2 record.

Certainly nothing wrong with that.

Doesn’t help them much in the standings tonight though, as the loss burns the game in hand that Calgary had on Edmonton, moving them both into a tie in games played and points for both wild card spots.

Still … points in 4 of 5 on the road is a pretty good trip.

Take it and regroup at home.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 39 Predators 29
Face Offs: Flames 40% / Predators 60%
Powerplay: Flames 0-4 / Predators 0-3

Fancy Stats

Don’t be fooled by the late push in the shots totals, the Calgary Flames were badly out played tonight. Five on five the Flames had 43% of the shot attempts with period splits of 41%/39% and 52% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 34%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 21%, with a  4-15 split.

In all situations the Flames had 51% of the shot attempts, 49% of the expected goals, and 35% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 3.28 to 3.43.

Individually the Flames were led by Walker Duehr posting an xGF% of 64% on the night five on five. And that was it for players above the break even point on the night. Mikael Backlund, Andrew Mangiapane, Mackenzie Weegar, Blake Coleman and Chris Tanev were all in the 40s which looked good against thier teammates record on the night. Four players under 20%; Noah Hanifin, Tyler Toffoli, Nikita Zadorov and Nazem Kadri.

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