Game Takes: Knights 3 Flames 2

March 23rd, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Another one goal loss.

Another game where the Flames create a lot of shot volume, but get got leaning offensively and bleed offensive odd man rushes against, ultimately ending in defeat.

The effort was there, they threw the kitchen sink at the Knights in the third period.

But the damage was done in a 3-2 loss on Thursday night.

With a rough out of town scoreboard things are looking close to terminal.

The Lineup

Just one lineup change tonight for a key game against the Knights; Jacob Markstrom in for Dan Vladar after the backup won in Anaheim.

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

On the blueline it’s the back to the past setup with Chris Tanev out with Noah Hanifin with Rasmus Andersson, Nikita Zadorov with Mackenzie Weegar and Dennis Gilbert on the third pairing with Troy Stecher.

Markstrom, as I said, in goal.

Line Metrics Coming In

Mangiapane – Lindholm – Toffoli 74.3%
Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman 55.0%
Ritchie – Kadri – Dube 49.5%
Lucic – Lewis – Duehr 51.9%

Hanifin – Andersson 52.8%
Zadorov – Weegar 56.2%
Gilbert – Stecher 74.9%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom -4.1
Vladar -7.4

Trend Tracker:

So what’s more concerning? The guy with a high expected individual goal total and a low actual goals? Or the guy that should have more chances and it’s getting them.

The Calgary Flames have been hurt by a lack of finish all season with three players featuring prominently in the gnashing of teeth; Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri and Andrew Mangiapane.

Nazem Kadri leads the Flames with 24.5 expected goals in all situations (more than even Toffoli). He has 21 goals on the season, so he’s honestly not that far off. His expected total last year was 29.2 and he scored 28.

Andrew Mangiapane has an expected total of 22.7 goals and has only scored 14. He’s 5th on the team in expected and 7th in actual production. Last year his expected total was 23.6 and he scored 35. Guessing he hits the middle of that next year (and beyond).

Jonathan Huberdeau is a pass first guy, so goals are never his key metric but he’s not creating as much. His expected total is 15.7 and his actual production is 14 (pretty close). Last year his expected total was 26.0 but he’s been closer to 17-22 most seasons.

Mangiapane has the team’s worst actual vs expected differential at -8.7, Mikael Backlund and Blake Coleman are at -6.2 and -5.8 respectively. Tyler Toffoli is the best at +5.3, over Nikita Zadorov at +3.5.

Flat Start

Just a brutal start for the Flames as they were clearly feeling the back to backs in California after only a one game stand in Calgary.

Flat footed, and flat brained … they let the Knights get behind coverage too much and paid for it with a two on one, and another odd man rush. If not for some solid work from Jacob Markstrom it could easily have been a 4-1 period for the visitors.

Mangiapane Disallowed Goal

Not much doubt about that one.

You could see the full on kick in the live call of the play.

He kicked the puck back to his stance with his right foot, and then directed it in with his left foot. Still a good play as it could have bounced off of Thompson and back to him; the idea is to keep the play moving.

But clearly a non goal.

If the Blake Coleman “kick” in the playoffs was a 2/10 on the non goal spectrum, this one was a 9 or possibly a 10.

Dube Board Work

There is no better forward on the Flames at winning board battles than Dillon Dube this season.

He has the speed to get there, the strength to win a battle, and the skill to pivot out of the win and create something.

Very little luck involved in his break out season.

He’s a keeper.

Sloppy Second

There’s a been a few themes this season, most of them not all that positive.

But a secondary theme has been the not letting the game come to them habit. Players want to make an impact so they get on their toes and look for opportunities to make a difference.

Tonight, as we’ve seen many times this season, it’s had them cheating offensively and creating massive breakdowns against.

Not winning hockey.

Tough Night For Mackenzie Weegar

Rock solid defensively all season.

Tonight we saw the turnover version of Mackenzie Weegar, though he had some help. He and pairing mate Nikita Zadorov were both cheating offensively all night giving up countless odd man rushes.

Add in some puck bobbles on the blueline line all night, and the game on his stick with a Jonathan Quick save and it wasn’t a night to PVR for Mackenzie Weegar.

Odds and Sods

Fourth line had a good game. Milan Lucic with the first period goal, but Walker Duehr was noticeable on the forecheck all night. The kid has speed and a decent amount of speed … Funny how the other top four configuration is so much more sound. Rasmus Andersson and Noah Hanifin just aren’t suited to play together. They’re not on the same page. And the other pairing is doomed with Nikita Zadorov playing over his head. Get well soon Chris Tanev. … Another one goal loss. They had the effort to win the game, but not the composure to stick with the system and not give up all the odd man chances.

Special Teams

The Flames win the special teams battle, something that usually bodes better in the game outcome than we saw tonight.

They go 1/2 on the powerplay while blanking the Knights on their only chance.

Calgary wasn’t shy in creating with the man advantage either posting four high danger chances to the Knight’s one.

Standings and Record

Not a good night for the Flames, but really when you don’t win your own game that’s the case.

Flames with zero points.

The Kraken with one, the Predators with two, and Jets heading for two.

This looks to be over pretty soon doesn’t it?

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 44 Knights 32
Face Offs: Flames 41% / Knights 59%
Powerplay: Flames 1-2 / Knights 0-1

Fancy Stats

We’ve seen this script before. The Flames win the battle on the shot clock and in shot attempts, but cheat offensively and give up way too many odd man chances effectively giving the game away. Five on five the Flames had 55% of the shot attempts with period splits of 56%/54% and 54% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 48%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 45%, with a 13-16 split. You can’t give up 16 high danger chances five on five in just 52 minutes.

In all situations the Flames had 59% of the shot attempts, 53% of the expected goals, and 51% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 4.06 to 3.56.

Individually the Flames were led by Nikita Zadorov, who was exciting at both ends of the ice, posting an xGF% of 69% on the night five on five. He was joined in the 60s by Mikael Backlund, Jonathan Huberdeau and Blake Coleman. Troy Stecher was at the bottom of the pile with a 23.5% night.

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