Game Takes: Flames 5 Ducks 1

March 21st, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

You can’t wipe out a 8-2 loss in a huge game with a win the next night.

But in a points perspective, it’s a split and with that they stay in the race.

The Flames came ready to play tonight, jumping on the Ducks on the first shift and scoring and then pretty much controlling things the rest of the way in a 5-1 win in Anaheim.

Out of town they literally got zero help, but they got their own business done and kept in the battle.

Now it’s back to Calgary for 7 of their last 10 starting on Thursday against the Knights.

The Lineup

Lots of change, as you’d expect after a drubbing the night before.

On the blueline Chris Tanev is out with an upper body injury, creating a scramble of all three defense pairings. Noah Hanifin goes back to Rasmus Andersson, Nikita Zadorov is reunited with Mackenzie Weegar, and a new look third pairing of Dennis Gilbert with Troy Stecher.

Up front Jakob Pellitier is out … possibly with that crosscheck to the head last night. Additionally Adam Ruzicka gets a seat, with Milan Lucic and Walker Duehr both inserted and playing on the fourth line with Trevor Lewis. No change to the top six with Elias Lindholm between Andrew Mangiapane and Tyler Toffoli, and Mikael Backlund with Jonathan Huberdeau and Blake Coleman. The third line slightly altered with Nazem Kadri between Nick Ritchie and Dillon Dube.

Dan Vladar gets his first start in 11 games.

Line Metrics Coming In

Mangiapane – Lindholm – Toffoli 68.3%
Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman 53.9%
Ritchie – Kadri – Dube NA
Lucic – Lewis – Duehr 52.9%

Hanifin – Andersson 52.8%
Zadorov – Weegar 56.3%
Gilbert – Stecher NA

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom -4.1
Vladar -8.8

Trend Tracker:

Checking in on the new guys for how they’ve fared when on the ice.

The third pairing has had it’s struggles so Troy Stecher is near the bottom of the team both in xGF% at 41.7% and in xGA60 at 3.08; only Connor Mackey was worse. In actual goal splits it gets worse with Stecher sitting at 30%.

Nick Ritchie looks to be a defensive dynamo by his numbers. His xGA60 is 1st on the team at 1.90, edging out Chris Tanev. He’s also first on the team in xGF% at 64.7% through 69 minutes of Flames hockey. His actual goal split not so much as he sits at 40%.

Line Up Changes

Not sure what happened to Chris Tanev last night, but clearly a loss when one of your top four defensemen comes out (arguably defenseman number one). I like Dennis Gilbert though, and thought he did well to plug the gap.

Once again not surprised to see Adam Ruzicka come out, he just doesn’t get much done. Walker Duehr taking his part and having an energetic start to the game.

Milan Lucic in for Jakob Pelletier, which would cause a riot if not for that cross check on Pelletier last night. He’s likely out for concussion related reasons, or at very least precautionary.

Bounce Back First

Needed a start like that.

Sutter starts the Nazem Kadri line which was interesting with the chaos over night with Elliotte Friedman. The line strikes in the first 30 seconds when a Noah Hanifin shot hits Nick Ritchie, then the big lug collects the rebound and puts it in for an early goal.

Late in the period the other new guy strikes as well, when Troy Stecher walks in a Jonathan Huberdeau drop pass and beats Gibson high.

Calgary solid in the first outshooting the Ducks 17-7.

Vladar Start

I thought Dan Vladar was excellent tonight.

He didn’t get a lot of work; especially in the first period, but was solid when pucks did come his way.

Tough game when you don’t see a lot of touches, but when you do they seem to be difficult saves.

Will be interesting to see how they divvy up the final ten games with the Flames likely to go down to the final week in contention for that final playoff spot.

Toffoli Monster Night

Lots of down turn topics this season but Tyler Toffoli hasn’t been one of them.

He’s already set a career best in points coming into tonight, and added three more assists to that total in a dominant game.

Thing is … he likely should have scored three himself as well, but was foiled by John Gibson on about five occasions through the hockey game.

The puck his following the guy, simply a great season.

Odds and Sods

Kind of interesting to see the first goal of the game by Nick Ritchie; the former Duck first rounder. There’s a great example of the masses not wanting a team to draft someone and being 100% right. Calgary was in the 4-7 range through much of the second half of the season with talk of Nick Ritchie and William Nylander mostly in the discussion. Most wanted nothing to do with Ritchie. … What a season for Rasmus Andersson, now up to 11 goals with his howitzer in the second period. I think his shot, and his creeping into that bumper spot is a wrinkle the Flames should exploit. … Another 40+ shots night for the Flames this season. Honestly feels like an every second game thing all season. Lots of pucks to the net in that but tonight they were full marks for carrying the play. … Thought Dennis Gilbert more than held his own tonight filling for the Tanev injury. I think he should be in their plans next year.

Special Teams

The Flames were full marks for the special teams win tonight, going 2 for 5 on the powerplay and killing 2 of the 3 penalties they took.

They would have won the game on five on five play alone, but it was a good bounce back after getting raked on special teams by the Kings the night before.

The Flames had three high danger chances with the powerplay and none against, the Ducks two on their chances, but gave up a short handed high danger chance as well.

High danger totals 4-2 Calgary.

Standings and Record

Zero help on the out of town scoreboard tonight with the Predators, Jets and Kraken all winning their games.

So no change … four points back of the Jets, and one point up on the Predators.

Move on to another night I guess.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 43 Ducks 20
Face Offs: Flames 55% / Ducks 45%
Powerplay: Flames 2-5 / Ducks 1-3

Fancy Stats

This one was all Calgary as you’d expect given the standings. The Flames were on the shot attempt train of course, but also ran the show in scoring chances and high danger in all three periods. Five on five the Flames had 62% of the shot attempts with period splits of 60%/62% and 65% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 61%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 71%, with a 15-6 split.

In all situations the Flames had 60% of the shot attempts, 61% of the expected goals, and 70% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 4.00 to 2.59.

Individually the Flames were led by Tyler Toffoli, posting an xGF% of 95% on the night five on five as he leads the way in pretty much every fashion. His linemates were up next with nights in the 80% range. Troy Stecher and Dennis Gilbert had great nights as well. Only four players under water; Milan Lucic, Blake Coleman, Dillon Dube and Mikael Backlund.

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