Game Takes: Flames 5 Stars 4

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

Maybe the season isn’t over just yet …

The Flames bounced back in Dallas running up 2-0 and 4-2 before finding a way with six seconds left on a Tyler Toffoli breakaway to turn a disappointing lost lead into a heroic last second win.

The victory moves the Flames to within six points of the sputtering Winnipeg Jets who lost to the San Jose Sharks tonight at home.

Calgary got two points from all of Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri and Mackenzie Weegar as a roster shake up seemed to add some zest to the top six trios.

Calgary flies to Minnesota to play the Wild tomorrow night.

The Lineup

Lots and lots of change, some of it puzzling.

The blueline remains the same as the Wild game on Saturday night. Noah Hanifin with Chris Tanev, Mackenzie Weegar with Rasmus Andersson, and Nikita Zadorov with newcomer Troy Stetcher.

No change in goal as Jacob Markstrom makes his third straight start.

But up front it’s a blender.

Walker Duehr comes out for Nick Ritchie, who takes Jakob Pelletier’s place with Nazem Kadri and Jonathan Huberdeau. Pelletier goes up into Dillon Dube’s spot with Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli, Dube goes to the fourth line to center Milan Lucic and Trevor Lewis. The only line kept intact is Mikael Backlund centering Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman.

Line MetricsĀ 

Pelletier – Lindholm – Toffoli NA
Ritchie – Kadri – Huberdeau NA
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 67.4%
Lucic – Dube – Lewis NA

Hanifin – Tanev 67.4%
Weegar – Andersson 64.3%
Zadorov – Stetcher 49.6%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +0.4
Vladar -7.8

Trend Tracker:

Some team stats summaries five on five.

With the Flames out of it they have some great stats suggesting things should be different but others that shed some light on what’s not working.

CF% 2nd – This is the shot volume stat with Calgary and Carolina leading the way. They are second in CF60 and CA60 as well.

SF% – Same thing, 2nd in shot splits and 2nd in both shots for/60 and shots against/60.

SCF% – In terms of home plate splits they are still solid, 5th in splits, 7th in SCF/60 and 4th in SCA/60.

HDCF% – When it comes to home plate shots off of a pass, rebound or deflection they slide down to 13th in splits, 18th in what they generate and 6th in what they give up. Still decent but a big drop off from simple shot attempts.

All this leads to a xGF% split ranked 3rd.

Piss poor finishing? The Flames are near the bottom in all shots, but ranked 3rd in high danger situations. Poor goaltending? The Flames are 4th worst in save percentage and 18th on high danger attempts.

This will be the thing to figure out in the off season. Do they have the players to get it done, or is the system relying on shot volume a thing of the past?

Ritchie First as a Flame

Leading up to the 2014 NHL draft I was getting very nervous with all the Nick Ritchie talk and the Flames.

Calgary was in the 4-6 spot down the stretch and Ritchie just seemed like a reach. With Brian Burke at the top of the food chain though, you knew a big guy with hands would be on the radar.

Calgary took Sam Bennett of course and that certainly worked out better, if not as good as it should have.

So you always kind of pictured Nick Ritchie a Flame right?

Tonight we saw that live and he didn’t disappoint with a first period goal on a Huberdeau shot that Oettinger lost in his crease, and then a chance in the second on a great pass from Huberdeau.

Overall not a line driver, but has good enough hands and size to keep a cycle going.

Flames “State”

Lots of talk about the Flames quitting on Sutter because of their flat performance on Saturday night.

And while the grumpy old bugger may be a pain in the ass to play for, I personally didn’t see a team quitting; they’ve worked too hard all season.

Tonight we saw that was likely, as they rebounded with a great effort in Dallas, with the Stars flat as a pancake and also likely not quitting on their coach.

Until the Flames are very very out of it, expect high effort and a lot of points that are counter intuitive to the draft position.

Line Juggles

Not sure I was a big fan of all the changes, but have to admit they seemed to provide a spark in the top six, as the top two lines all had a solid start in a dominant Flames first period.

Ritchie of course scored, but the Lindholm-Pelletier-Toffoli line had a handful of chances as well and bottled up the Stars in their own zone.

Don’t like seeing Dillon Dube as the punished player though, he’s been pretty consistent in the second half.

Markstrom Start

Didn’t have a lot of work to do in the first half of the game, and then was forced to hold the fort with the Stars coming on.

Wouldn’t fault him on any of the goals as there was a deflection off a teammate, a wide open slot shot, a shorthanded breakaway and a screen.

In the end though expected goals against of 3.41 and 4 in the net so a slight minus.

Not a bad start at all.

Stetcher Assist

Man what a pass by Troy Stetcher to his pairing mate Nikita Zadorov in the second period.

Zadorov keeps it in with a backhand up the wall to Nazem Kadri, Kadri threads the needle on a dangerous pass across the blueline through some Dallas’ boots to Stetcher, and Stetcher finds Zadorov opening up for a one timer.

Hell of a first point in a new set of silks.

Dube Demotion

Now that’s how you handle a demotion.

Dillon Dube moves off the top line to the fourth line and has a high energy, physical, play extending effort on pretty much every shift.

Loses some ice time, loses some talent for linemates, loses his spot on the powerplay … doesn’t pout a lick and has a solid game.

Hanifin Rough Night

Noah Hanifin had a rough night.

He was his usual solid self, don’t get me wrong … but a second period turnover led to the 2nd Dallas goal, and his bobble at the blueline led to the Star’s shorty in the third.

He did play a big role in the Flames 3rd goal, his shot hitting off Elias Lindholm and beyond Oettinger.

End of night totals came in at an assist with 22 minutes of ice time (team most) and a -1.

Oettinger Gives Up Five?

Hands up … who had five goals against Jake Oettinger on their bingo card?

Yeah nobody.

The brick wall from last year’s playoffs barely gave up five goals in seven games in the first round loss to the Flames, so beating him five times tonight was certainly a shock.

Off night I guess.

Odds and Sods

Pet peeve of mine; strings on jerseys. Check that, strings that don’t have a purpose. A good old fashioned jersey that comes apart at the neck but has strings is just fine. Silks like the Dallas home jersey that has strings that start upper chest and stop under the normal neckline and are cosmetic have to go! … All the new guys had two assists tonight as Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri and Mackenzie Weegar all had identical scoring stats. Not a bad sign after the team’s best players were called out by Darryl Sutter in the pre game media availability. … Sutter’s lineup shake did wonders for the top six who all had productive nights, but cratered the bottom six who all got buried. … Don’t look now but the Flames won a one goal hockey game!

Special Teams

The Stars get the edge in special teams scoring once on four chances, the Flames coming up empty on only two attempts.

Digging in though, the Flames actually did more with their man advantage despite only having 50% of the time to work with. Up a man Calgary had four high danger chances to the Stars’ two.

Standings and Record

Keeping that dream alive!

And why not? The season felt over on Saturday night so a big win in Dallas to at least keep the conversation going is a refreshing change. Could be a little more interesting if they can beat the Wild tomorrow night as well.

The Flames are now five points back of the Colorado Avalanche, but the Avalanche have three games in hand. The most logical target is the Jets who lost in overtime to the Sharks tonight and are now six points up with even games played.

Winnipeg is 2-6-2 in their last ten and maybe just maybe they continue to fade.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 37 Stars 33
Face Offs: Flames 56% / Stars 44%
Powerplay: Flames 0-2 / Stars 1-4

Fancy Stats

Dallas really came on in this one. The Flames had a pretty good grip on the first half of the game, but with 2-0 and 4-2 deficits the Stars just kept coming at Calgary eventually tying things up. Five on five the Flames had 49% of the shot attempts with period splits of 56%/62% and 30% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 43%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 43%, with a 9-12 split (1-7 in the third period).

In all situations the Flames had 50% of the shot attempts, 47% of the expected goals, and 46% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 3.04 to 3.41.

Individually the Flames were led by Tyler Toffoli posting an xGF% of 78% on the night five on five. He was joined in the 70s by linemates Elias Lindholm and Jakob Pelletier. Nazem Kadri, Nikita Zadorov and Jonathan Huberdeau were in the high 60s. Six players were under the 20% mark if you can believe it; Milan Lucic, Dillon Dube, Trevor Lewis, Mikael Backlund, Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman.

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