Game Takes: Flames 5 Ducks 4

April 2nd, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

That’s quite the weekend!

Back to back come from behind 5-4 victories in a season where they hadn’t come back once is something else.

Tonight they had a pulled goalie, deficits of 2-0 and 4-3 and a boatload of help from the bottom half of the roster as Nick Ritchie, Milan Lucic, Michael Stone and Nikita Zadorov all scored key goals.

The win keeps pace with the Jets, as they whipped the Devils in Winnipeg tonight keeping the dream alive.

Next up the Hawks on Tuesday night.

Five more games to go … still only two points back.

The Lineup

Just the one change with Michael Stone coming in for Dennis Gilbert on the blueline.

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 Chris Tanev remains out. Michael Stone is back and ready but they go with the current status quot of Noah Hanifin with Rasmus Andersson, Nikita Zadorov with Mackenzie Weegar and Michael Stone on the third pairing with Troy Stecher.

Markstrom, in goal.

Line Metrics Coming In

Mangiapane – Lindholm – Toffoli 68.4%
Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman 51.3%
Ritchie – Kadri – Dube 44.9%
Lucic – Lewis – Duehr 58.2%

Hanifin – Andersson 53.0%
Zadorov – Weegar 59.3%
Stecher – Stone NA

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom -4.8
Vladar -7.4

Trend Tracker:

So what are the most successful lines put together this season by Darryl Sutter?

I took lines that had 50 or more minutes together and then averaged their ranking in GF% and xGF% (blending results with driving play).

  1. Andrew Mangiapane – Elias Lindholm – Tyler Toffoli – They were 1st in actual goal splits and 1st in expected goal splits actually besting the Backlund line.
  2. Andrew Mangiapane – Mikael Backlund – Blake Coleman – 2nd in both categories
  3. Adam Ruzicka – Mikael Backlund – Blake Coleman – 3rd in actual goals and 4th in expected goals. The Backlund/Coleman duo do it again.
  4. Adam Ruzicka – Elias Lindholm – Tyler Toffoli – 3rd in actual goals and 6th in driving the play
  5. Milan Lucic – Nazem Kadri – Jonathan Huberdeau – 8th in actual goals, and 5th in expected goals

So what does it mean? First off don’t sell low on Andrew Mangiapane, he’s been in it all year and just hasn’t had the puck go in. Then come controversy … Should Adam Ruzicka have been given more of a chance? We all saw his play slip and how he doesn’t back a spot when he comes in, but he’s been part of two successful lines this year. And finally how about Milan Lucic on a top five line in terms of production and play driving?

Man this team …

No player nor team is perfect. Hockey is a two way sport where the other team gets in the way.

But with the come from behind win in Vancouver it was imperative that the Flames just get to it tonight, but they only managed that for about three shifts before handing Anaheim the lead.

Poor coverage. Poor backchecking. A poor penalty. And poor goaltending.

The game worked out in the end, but a frustrating that start that easily could have cost them.

Markstrom Pulled

Good move.

I didn’t like either of the two first period goals.

He had help, don’t get me wrong … the Flames were pretty soft in the high slot in picking up the dangerous player and when your goalie isn’t sharp that isn’t good enough.

Vladar comes in and gives up two on nine shots himself.

Goaltending Woes

Just too many times this season we’ve seen this script.

Four goals against for two goaltenders on 18 Ducks shots with both goaltenders having matching .778 save percentages in a period of work each.

I get that the Flames break down, but so does the opposition, but they get the save more than 75% of the time.

Just a mind boggling season in the nets for the Flames.

Walker Duehr Building

Good to see Duehr with a tiny promotion at the end of the second period as he got out with Mikael Backlund and Jonathan Huberdeau.

As his confidence grows he seems to be doing more and more with the puck and creating opportunities for himself and his linemates.

Don’t think he’ll be a fourth liner for long … he’s got a third ceiling floor going forward for sure. Wouldn’t rule out the second line and some spot powerplay duty too.

He’s a player.

Line Shuffles

The Flames comeback was somewhat fueled by some mix ups on the forward lines for the last 40% of the hockey game.

Dillon Dube back with Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli.

Walker Duehr elevated to the Backlund line with Jonathan Huberdeau.

Andrew Mangiapane with Nazem Kadri and Nick Richie.

And the demotion was Blake Coleman, likely for his first period penalty, to the fourth line with Trevor Lewis and Milan Lucic.

Hanifin Starting to Pop

Not hard to see why Noah Hanifin went 5th overall when you see a game like tonight.

And honestly it’s been coming on for some time … as the lanky defenseman is getting more and more comfortable rushing the puck and jumping into the play.

I think he lacks the elite finish to turn some of those rushes into goals, but he’s sustaining zone time, and creating opportunities.

Hope the Flames manage to tie him up long term, because I think his next 4-5 seasons are going to be elite.

Lucic with a Huge Goal

If this is the swan song of both or either of Milan Luicic’s career or career in Calgary it’s great to see some of that younger version finish in his last handful of games.

Huge goal tonight on a block turnover by Mackenzie Weeger, Lucic going top shelf despite the puck getting away from him a bit.

Keyed the Flames third period comeback win and gave the club a chance to perhaps get into the playoffs.

Rough night on Friday in Vancouver for the fourth line, but a huge goal tonight.

Deadline Guys

What a night for Brad Treliving’s acquisitions.

Troy Stecher of course, had a goal and an assist in the come from behind win in Vancouver on Friday night, tonight he had an assist.

Nick Ritchie had a goal in the second period, and then made a great play to get the puck back to the point for Michael Stone’s winner.

With the Flames neither firmly in nor out Treliving’s hands were somewhat tied. His moving of two assets not in the team’s plans for two upgrades with higher dollars still owed was a minor tweak that has clearly paid dividends.

Odds and Sods

Despite the obvious payoff finish, I just don’t understand taking Dennis Gilbert out for Michael Stone. Stone has struggled all season defensively, and I thought Gilbert was a steady presence on the third pairing, keeping his game simple, and not getting in any trouble. … Something wrong with Rick Ball’s microphone tonight as he had that “ground control to major Tom” sort of feel going on instead of his usual crisp call. … The Zadorov/Weeger pairing made up for a tough first period with a much better second period, and I’m not just talking the Zadorov goal. They were around 11% in expected goals in the first period and -2.

Special Teams

Flames win the special teams battle with a huge second period powerplay goal by Andrew Mangiapane.

A very low call night with only a total of three penalties called, but the Flames get the tide changing goal early in the second which helped get them back on that comeback trail.

Standings and Record

The Jets are winning again.

The Flames with another come from behind win tonight keep pace with the Jets who also won, easily over the Devils.

But that bar is rising with each Winnipeg victory, potentially necessitating Calgary running the table to finish.

Five more games to go, and they’re still two points out.

Great finish oncoming.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 41 Ducks 24
Face Offs: Flames 54% / Ducks 46%
Powerplay: Flames 1-2 / Ducks 0-1

Fancy Stats

Sometimes you need a bounce. I personally didn’t see much of a difference from this come from behind win over the Ducks at the Dome tonight vs the failed comeback against Anaheim two weeks ago. Tonight the pucks went in. This one was honestly never really close save for goaltending where the Ducks got a better performance. Five on five the Flames had 69% of the shot attempts with period splits of 54%/63% and 87% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 68%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 73%, with a 16-6 split.

In all situations the Flames had 68% of the shot attempts, 67% of the expected goals, and 68% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 3.74 to 1.82.

Individually the Flames were led by Tyler Toffoli once again, posting an xGF% of 89% on the night five on five. Trevor Lewis, Michael Stone, Troy Stecher, and Dillon Dube were also in the 80s. Elias Lindholm the lone player in the 70s. Only one player under water and that was Nazem Kadri at 44%.

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