Game Takes: Vancouver 3 Calgary 2 (SO)

April 9th, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Sometimes you just run out of room.

The Calgary Flames had a terrible November and February on the season, and didn’t work them off with a dominant month to reset the season. As a result they’ve been on a tight margin race back to a playoff spot for March and April; one that didn’t afford them a lot of room for error.

On Saturday night they needed more room.

In a game where they didn’t start all that strong, and couldn’t finish against a goaltender on top of his game, they battled and came from behind again, forcing overtime in a game where they were down two goals.

But in the room or margin was too tight and they came up a point short.

Their chances weren’t all that good coming into the game, they’re much less coming out.

The Lineup

No change after the Flames big win over the Jets on Wednesday night.

No change on the blueline as we see Noah Hanifin with Chris Tanev, Mackenzie Weegar with Rasmus Andersson, and Nikita Zadorov with Troy Stecher.

No change from the previous game that saw Trevor Lewis with Milan Lucic and Walker Duehr. Dillon Dube moves up to play with Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli, Andrew Mangiapane gets back to Mikael Backlund’s line with Jonathan Huberdeau. Blake Coleman charged with trying to get Nazem Kadri and Nick Ritchie untracked.

Jacob Markstrom gets the start.

Line Metrics Coming In

Dube – Lindholm – Toffoli 52.4%
Huberdeau – Backlund – Mangiapane 18.6%
Ritchie – Kadri – Coleman 64.3%
Lucic – Lewis – Duehr 55.9%

Hanifin – Tanev 65.4%
Weegar – Andersson 59.1%
Zadorov – Stecher 46.0%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom -5.4
Vladar -8.4

Trend Tracker:

With Andrew Mangiapane back on Mikael Backlund’s line, and Blake Coleman employed with Nazem Kadri it’s interesting to dig into the trio away from each other to see who the big play driver is.

All season all three players have been well above water, and really so when they played together, but what do the numbers say?

Together for 401 minutes they put up a monster 67.1% xGF%, ranked 1st in the NHL for lines that have been together 400 or more minutes. That isn’t a metric to make them look good, if you reduce the minutes to 2oo they’re number two.

But how does each player fair without the other two?

Andrew Mangiapane is 52.2% when playing with neither Blake Coleman or Mikael Backlund.
Blake Coleman is 48.0% without Andrew Mangiapane and Mikael Backlund.
Mikael Backlund is 57.8% without Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman.

Backlund the principal driver? But all three players elite in play driving.

Sleepy First

I wouldn’t say the Flames were bad, they had an almost sure goal hit a goal post from Elias Lindholm and were in it.

But they didn’t take charge.

A seeing eye goal from the point, and a brutal turnover by Jonathan Huberdeau at the line on the powerplay led to two Vancouver goals and in the newest most important game of the season, the Flames were in trouble.

Markstrom Start

I thought Jacob Markstrom was very good on the night.

A first period goal through a maze of skates is tough to fault him on, and a shorthanded breakaway to a 100 point player much the same.

Not his fault that his teammates couldn’t solve the other guy.

An expected goals against of 2.68 vs 2.00 means a checkmark for the goaltender in a huge Saturday night game.

Fourth Line Usage

It worked out in the end, as the Flames scored two third period goals to tie things up, but I was surprised to see the fourth line as often as we did when the team was down in a must win game.

On the night the 11 minutes they averaged is pretty close to league normal; maybe 45 seconds high (one shift), but the line was getting filled in and they needed to sustain momentum. The line wasn’t getting it done.

Sutter has always been a roll the lines guy, which I think does have a positive affect on continuity and rest vs a team that leans too much on less players, but in certain situations you have to shorten your bench, and tonight both of the big reasons presented themselves.

Overtime …

After playing two and a half minutes with nothing going on, all hell broke loose in the final handful of minutes with both goaltenders making a lot of key saves or the game would have been over.

I think Nazem Kadri in particular will be seeing that overtime chance in his dreams for the entire off season.

One of the final nails delivered on the season was their anvil all season … can’t win in extra time.

The overtime had an expected goals of 0.37 to 0.28 for Vancouver.

Odds and Sods

Elias Lindholm could have scored 5 goals on his own on the night. On top of the goal post he had numerous huge scoring chance including a shorthanded chance in the second that was simply robbed by Demko. … Calgary just got owned in the face off circle tonight, which led to a poor powerplay in some cases, and some missed chances to sustain pressure, or take advantage of a tired Canucks team that iced the puck. … An elite game from the Noah Hanfin / Chris Tanev pairing as they were dominant five on five, giving up next to nothing and helping to generate all kinds of zone pressure. Both players had xGF nights in excess of 2.0. The Flames top line with Lindholm, Toffoli and Dube was the driving force from the forwards.

Special Teams

Pretty much have to go with Vancouver for special teams.

The Flames scored a powerplay goal while blanking Vancouver on all three of their chances, but the shorthanded goal loomed large on the night an essentially evened the special teams in a game where the other team had to win.

Standings and Record

With two games left, if the Flames win both and gain four points the jets will only need to find two points in their final three games to clinch a spot.

That’s essentially needing four outcomes to go Calgary’s way in five remaining games for the two teams.

Not impossible.

Not bloody likely.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 43 Canucks 33
Face Offs: Flames 43% / Canucks 57%
Powerplay: Flames 1-2 / Canucks 0-3

Fancy Stats

Essentially the Flames got goalied on Saturday night. A close first period (slight edge Calgary in high danger, Canucks with more shot volume) went completely to the visitors the rest of the way, but the Flames could only get two pucks by Thatcher Demko. Five on five the Flames had 57% of the shot attempts with period splits of 34%/68% and 68% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 66%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 68%, with a 15-7 split.

In all situations the Flames had 55% of the shot attempts, 61% of the expected goals, and 59% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 4.27 to 2.68.

Individually the Flames were led by Noah Hanifin, posting an xGF% of 87.6% on the night five on five. He was joined in the 80s by Chris Tanev, Blake Coleman, Nick Ritchie, Mikael Backlund and Nazem Kadri. The fourth line had a tough night with all three skaters under 40%.

All content is property of and cannot be used without expressed, written consent from this site.