Game Takes: Kings 8 Flames 2

March 20th, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

No doubt about it, the LA Kings are a tough out.

If you were looking at the schedule with 20 games to go you’d probably assign one of those five losses the Flames could afford to a date in LA against the Kings.

Thing is … the Flames have lost games to the Ducks and in overtime to the Coyotes, so they don’t have a lot of room on the bingo card for mistakes.

Tonight a goal off the skate of Anzi Kopitar seemed to short circuit the Flames and send them spiraling to an ugly 8-2 loss in Los Angeles.

Some recent outcomes still have them in it, but the race downward towards an ever lowering playoff hurdle seems to be their only saving grace.

Next up the Ducks tomorrow night.

The Lineup

With the Flames picking up points, you wouldn’t expect to see much by way of change, yet we get a small tweak after the overtime loss to the Stars.

Elias Lindholm with Andrew Mangiapane and Tyler Toffoli; a line putting up 80+% through their time together. Mikael Backlund with Jonathan Huberdeau and Blake Coleman, Nazem Kadri with Jacob Pelletier and Dillon Dube, and Adam Ruzicka with Brett Ritchie and Trevor Lewis.

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

Jacob Markstrom back in the net carrying the mail again.

Line Metrics Coming In

Mangiapane – Lindholm – Toffoli 82.4%
Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman 53.1%
Pelletier – Kadri – Dube NA
Ritchie – Ruzicka – Lewis NA

Hanifin – Tanev 66.7%
Weegar – Andersson 63.2%
Zadorov – Stecher 46.0%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom -0.6
Vladar -7.8

Trend Tracker:

With the six goals against vs Dallas, Jacob Markstrom remains to negative territory after a solid run in the positives for much of March. He’s now at -0.6 goals saved average on the season. Dan Vladar who hasn’t seen the nets in a while remains at -7.8.

Lots of discussion around forward lines this season, and potentially not lining up players with chemistry. However the recent change on the blueline certainly can’t be critiqued, as the Flames now have two top four pairings with 63%+ xGF%. That’s elite as it gets. That gives the Flames the first and 5th best pairings in the league if you cut off the min minutes played at 200 minutes.

Over Early

Big game.

Need the win.

Down 4-0 after one.

Thanks for coming out!

The Flames just weren’t ready to play, and with that they got pretty much what they deserved … a thorough beating.

Hate to tune into a late game and have it over after 20 but that was the feel wasn’t it?

Hard to Fault Markstrom

You can’t be on a 12 goals against pace and not have a stake in the problem, but it’s hard to fault Markstrom for any of the first period goals.

Four goals against on 14 shots isn’t pat yourself on the back for shooting percentage, and an expected first period goals of 0.95 says a lot doesn’t it?

Calgary’s goaltending woes continue … not that the poor goaltender was alone in having a tough 20, his teammates were worse.

Glimmer & Face Punch

Score a quick goal in the second period and suddenly it’s 4-1.

Right after that Calgary gets another powerplay and had a few looks to make it 4-2, but just couldn’t put it together.

Then back to back goals by the Kings to finish the period and put things away.

Ah well …

Non Pull

So what is Sutter doing in not taking Jacob Markstrom out to start the second?

Have to come back and keep your best goaltender in to help make it happen?

He’s your guy so why change now?

You did this you fix it?

Hard to say but it’s pretty much an entire radio show for discussion.

Odds and Sods

Sorry but I’m worried about Calgary skill. Jonathan Huberdeau is a play dying event every time he gets the puck. Nazem Kadri falling by himself all over the ice. It’s not easy when you’re two best players want to go elsewhere, but is there a huge bounce back potential from these two guys? I’m honestly getting more and more worried every month. This is the anti-Flames season, everything that could go wrong seems to be going wrong, so hopefully they are the poster boys for a bounce back. But colour me worried. … Not sure how you miss that cross check by Roy on Pelletier in the second period. Right to th eback of the neck/helmet and no call. On the same shift the Kings score the 5th goal.  … Didn’t mind Zadorov going after Byfield in that late scrum down five goals. Pretty douchey move to put your shoulder into a guy skating backwards already in a scrum. Zadorov settles it. … Have to wonder how that late Jacob Pelletier turnover for the 8th goal will effect the lineup for tomorrow night. Not something any head coach would love to see. … Not going to win many games with less than 20 shots on goal.

Special Teams

Easy pick tonight.

The Flames go 1/3 the Kings 2/5 so yeah I’ll give the edge to the Kings and maybe for killing that penalty in the second, right after the Flames score with the scoreboard at 4-1 though. Felt key.

Want another reason? The Kings had the only three high danger chances up a man.

Easy win for the Kings.

Standings and Record

Another huge missed opportunity.

The Jets and Predators got worked last night, but Calgary evens things out with a loss in LA tonight.

Does anyone want this last spot?

Winnipeg plays the Coyotes tomorrow night, the Predators play the Sabres.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 17 Kings 39
Face Offs: Flames 46% / Kings 54%
Powerplay: Flames 1-3 / Kings 1-3

Fancy Stats

The Flames just didn’t have it going tonight, generating next to nothing and being flat all night. Their goaltending wasn’t great for sure, but it was demonstratively back seat compared to how bad the skaters were. Five on five the Flames had 43% of the shot attempts with period splits of 45%/38% and 45% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 36%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 31%, with a 5-11 split.

In all situations the Flames had 46% of the shot attempts, 40% of the expected goals, and 35% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 2.29 to 3.39.

Individually the Flames were led by Noah Hanifin, posting an xGF% of 63% on the night five on five. Only six other players were above break even; Jonathan Huberdeau, Adam Ruzicka, Chris Tanev, Mikael Backlund, Trevor Lewis and Blake Coleman. Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli were under 10%. Ugly!

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