Game Takes: Blues 3 Flames 0

October 26th, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Things just seem to be going from bad to worse for the Calgary Flames.

When they lost to the Rangers on Tuesday night at least they had some solid stats to suggest they were perhaps heading towards getting out of their scoring funk.

Instead they take a step back if anything against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night, dropping a somewhat listless game and failing to get on the scoreboard in a 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

That’s four straight losses for the Flames as they continue to dig a hole that will make securing a playoff spot very difficult, but moving free agents a little easier.

The Lineup

Another loss and with it another top to bottom change up of the whole roster.

The Flames go with the load up option by having Elias Lindholm center Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri, the third line becomes the second line but is intact with Mikael Backlund with Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman, a new third line with Dillon Dube between Dryden Hunt and Matthew Coronato, and the fourth line we saw on the road; Yegor Sharngovich with AJ Greer and Walker Duehr.

On the blueline the top pairing of Noah Hanifin and Mackenzie Weegar stay together, Nikita Zadorov back with Dennis Gilbert, and then Illay Solovyov up from the Wranglers to play with Chris Tanev.

Jacob Markstrom with the start in goal.

Line Metrics Coming In

Huberdeau – Lindholm – Kadri 84.3% (six minutes)
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 73.5%
Greer – Sharangovich – Duehr 61.5%
Hunt – Dube – Coronato 0% (2 minutes)

Hanifin – Weegar 50.0%
Zadorov – Gilbert 100% (two minutes)
Solovyov – Tanev NA

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +0.8
Vladar -4.0

Trend Tracker:

The Rangers loss was another example of very good underlying stats without the results.

The Flames coming into tonight’s game sat 5th in CF%, 2nd in shot splits, 5th in expected goal splits, and 2nd in high danger splits. Some of those numbers are better than last year, but the theme remains the same; out play the opposition territorially but fail to score enough goals to win the game.

Calgary sits 27th in shooting percentage, and 32nd in save percentage to be last place in PDO.

But with 89 games of sample size between the two seasons can we really stick to the unlucky team motif?

Or is it a lack of high end talent that makes their offence anemic?

Markstrom’s Start

Jacob Markstrom was very clearly the best player on the ice for either team, and kept this game from being a laugher.

Got beat on a shorthanded breakaway and then a double deflection, but stoned the Blues the rest of the way to keep the game close, and give the Flames a chance.

Just solid start to finish as he gives up two in a game where the expected goals were 3.32.

Doing his part.

Solovyov’s First Game

Since the Flames moved to Calgary they’ve selected 46 players in the 7th round of the NHL Entry Draft, tonight with Illya Solovyov’s first NHL game 10 of them have now played in the NHL. Stu Grimson leads the way with 729 NHL games, followed by David Moss.

And it’s the second straight season where a 7th round pick suited up for the Flames with Dustin Wolf the other in the last regular season game of last season.

And for Solovyov? A great start to his National Hockey League career, as he was a steady presence on the third pairing with Chris Tanev and didn’t look out of place at all.

All told he had 16.5 minutes of ice time, was even, and had a shot on goal and a minor penalty. His underlying stats had him at 47.8% in xGF%, but 8% above the average Flame in the game.

Game Flow

The Flames have been starting well of late, but tonight it was the visitors that hopped straight into their game plan and took it to the Flames. Calgary doing a decent job of giving up the zone, but not giving up the slot and avoiding high danger chances with the exception of Rob Thomas finding himself behind everyone for a chance on Markstrom. Some better Calgary play through the middle of the period creates a powerplay when Andrew Mangiapane is hauled down, but it’s St. Louis that finds the net short handed when Nazem Kadri turns the puck over creating a Kapanen goal. Dryden Hunt turns it over in the neutral zone and the Blues take advantage with a point shot that likely hit two bodies. Down two after one and it could have been worse if not for two late Markstrom saves.

Just a great road period for the Blues in the second. They literally gave up nothing with a young goaltender in their cage. Generated some chances themselves and drew two penalties. Pretty much how you draw it up if you’re a coach. Solid system and honestly the Flames never had a chance (at least in their current state!). The Flames get a late powerplay that lasts a handful of second before Mackenzie Weegar gets nabbed on an iffy interference call ending the man advantage. No goals in the second.

The Blues were clearly looking to keep it simple and bring a road game home, so they didn’t push the play much offensively in the third period. This seemed to generate a bit of hope for the Flames and with that they started to drive the play more and created more zone time than we saw in the second. At least that’s how is started. Then the Flames seemed to join the Blues in sitting back and killing the clock and very little happened the rest of the way.

Penalty Kill Prowess

On the telecast they mentioned that the Flames had a great start to the season killing penalties, but have struggled since. If you dig into the numbers the opposite is actually true.

In the first three games of the season the Flames gave up almost 4 3/4 expected goals in just nine shorthanded minutes, but no goals against.

In the four games after that they gave up 2 1/4 expected goals against in 32 minutes short and gave up four goals.

Penalty kill much improved, but actual results inverted.

Story of their season so far.

Mangiapane with and “Edge”

For his first few seasons Andrew Mangiapane was Calgary’s answer to Scott Hartnell. Hartnell in Philly created a cult following for falling on the ice in pretty much every game he played. They called it Hartnell Down … had t-shirts made up and everything.

Mangiapane was the same. Always losing his feet, often without any real help from the opposition.

Not the case anymore. In fact I’d say he may be Calgary’s strongest player on his skates in board battles, as he rarely loses them despite his size.

A player looking to make amends for an off season, staying on your skates more often might be a good start!

Odds and Sods

Thought Dillon Dube and Matthew Coronato had some good chemistry in the first period. They had some solid transition plays, and the puck seemed to be following Coronato around as he had three shots on goal in the game’s first ten minutes. … Loved the AJ Greer fight in the first. Bortuzzo has always been that glove in face guy, and you knew he’d overreact to the late Sharangovich shot on an off side. Greer steps in and handles it for Sharanogovic and acquits himself well in the bout. … I get trying to find combinations that work. When you’re losing you change up the lines. But why blender the lines again in the first period? Sooner or later Huska will have to give these guys some time to build chemistry. … As much as I like the try from the guy I’m just not sure Dryden Hunt is an NHL level player, and certainly not one that should get a powerplay shift or a bunch of time in the Calgary top six. Head scratcher. … I did think some of the second half of the game lines had some merit if a guy like Zary was up instead of Hunt helping to balance the lines. … Kind of an odd game for Chris Tanev considering his body of work. He turned the puck over a few times, which he almost never does, but also rushed the puck up the ice with speed a number of times, doing his best Zadorov impersonation. …

Special Teams

I guess you give the Flames the nod for special teams tonight as they kill all four Blues penalties, and fail on two of their own.

Powerplay doesn’t look great, but the penalty kill is finding their form and giving up less.

Markstrom doesn’t hurt when you’re down a man as well.

Standings and Record

The Flames are now 12th team in the West with a .313 win percentage.

They are only two points back of the last wild card team however, though the Wild have a game in hand.

Oilers heading to another loss though.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 27 Blues 35
Face Offs: Flames 53% / Blues 47%
Powerplay: Flames 0-2 / Blues 0-4

Fancy Stats

The Flames had the better of the shot attempts tonight, but much like a lot of last year that just wasn’t the case when it came to the blue chip, ten bell chances. Five on five the Flames had 54% of the shot attempts with period splits of 56%/52% and 51% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 44%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 35%, with a 6-11 split.

In all situations the Flames had 49% of the shot attempts, 38% of the expected goals, and 33% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 2.01 to 3.32.

Individually the Flames were led by Blake Coleman posting a xGF% of 63.7% on the night five on five. He was joined in the 60s by Matt Coronato, putting up his second straight solid five on five game. Only five other Flames were in positive territory; Dennis Gilbert, Mikael Backlund, AJ Greer, Nikita Zadorov and Andrew Mangiapane. Elias Lindholm was at the bottom at 10%, and Nazem Kadri was at 18%. Ouch.

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