Game Takes: Oilers 5 Flames 2

October 29th, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

You can’t win a hockey game in the first ten minutes of a contest, but you certainly can lose one.

The Flames did exactly that on Sunday outdoors in Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, as they laid full and complete egg from the opening draw falling down 2-0 and effectively sealing their fate.

Turnover after turnover after turnover for the Flames, something we’ve seen far too often in this still young season. Calgary pushes back in the second and third and has it at a one goal game with 13 minutes to play but the damage was done.

That gives the Flames five straight losses after a decent 2-1-1 start to the season.

The hole just keeps getting deeper and deeper.

The Lineup

The load up one line option lasted about 7 minutes into the Blues game before being dismantled. It’s not seeing the light of another day.

Instead it looks like the Flames are trying to balance out three forward lines in the hopes of finding some offence. At the day before skate we saw Elias Lindholm with Dryden Hunt and Dillon Dube (thinking Hunt is a placeholder for Ruzicka), Nazem Kadri with Jonathan Huberdeau and Matt Coronato (not sure why they keep trying these two together, not talking about Coronato), Mikael Backlund with Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman, and the static fourth line of Yegor Sharangovich with AJ Greer and Walker Duehr.

The defense pairings stay in tact from the Blues game which is good news for rookie Illya Solovyov. Noah Hanifin with Mackenzie Weegar, Nikita Zadorov with Dennis Gilbert, and Solovyov with Chris Tanev.

Markstrom with the start with his cool out door game mask.

Line Metrics Coming In

Hunt – Lindholm – Dube 84.2% (2 min)
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 73.5%
Huberdeau – Kadri – Coronato NA
Greer – Sharangovich – Duehr 53.8%

Hanifin – Weegar 56.3%
Zadorov – Gilbert 66.7%
Solovyov – Tanev 42.1%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +1.4
Vladar -4.0

Trend Tracker:

Would sure like to get my hands on the models for various websites when it comes to goals saved above average. The inconsistency between them is almost unfathomable.

Moneypuck has Jacob Markstrom at +1.4, which is 13th for goalies to have played 5 or more games.

Naturalstattrick has Markstrom basically flat (+0.02) but in a similar range at 15th overall (goalies with 5 or more games).

JFresh posted goaltenders listed by goals saved above average, and had Markstrom 7th at +6.4. ( Would be nice to know which one to use/follow.

Markstrom has been very good this year at any rate, but is he top 7 good or top 13-15 good?

Markstrom’s Start

The stat line won’t look good for Jacob Markstrom’s start in Edmonton on outdoor ice; giving up three first period goals rarely does. Hard to fault him much of it though as he was beat on an uncovered rebound, a great pass on a two on one and a screened shot from the blueline.

More solid Markstrom in the second, as he keeps his team in the game until Calgary was able to make it a one goal game and then give him somewhat of a breather.

His stats showed an expected goals total of 1.53 after one, but he was back to even par after two with an expected goal total of 2.96.

The third sees Markstrom give up a fourth Oiler goal on a crazy bounce from the point, another one that you honestly couldn’t fault him for.

Game Flow

About as poorly as you could start if you’re the Calgary Flames. On their heels and just not ready. The Oilers had the puck for most of the game’s first 4.5 minutes with the Flames feebly turning the puck over at a constant rate. They get through a few breakdows thanks to the solid play of Jacob Markstrom, but finally get victimized when Brett Kulak converts a rebound to make it 1-0 Edmonton. Soon after it’s 2-0 when Draisaitl, coming out of the penalty box for a two on one sets up Hyman. Calgary draws closer when Nazem Kadri scores on the second set of powerplays. The Oilers round out an ugly period with a screened Bouchard point blast.

The Flames show a little pride with some push back in the second period. Don’t get me wrong they still couldn’t complete a pass to save their lives, but they got in on the forecheck and made it much more difficult for Edmonton’s spotty defense. They’re awarded when Mikael Backlund has his rebound converted by AJ Greer; his first as a Flame. From there it started to tip Calgary’s way with more zone pressure, but still not an ounce of flow to the Calgary offensive game.

The third started pretty much like the second finished; Calgary much stronger on the forecheck than their first period, but still handling the puck like a hand grenade. They do get some pucks to the net in the first half of the period including a solid slot chance by Matt Coronato that unfortunately goes straight to the crest. Tight game continues until the Oilers get a fourth goal on a crazy bounce from the point to pretty much put it away.

Jittery Bunch

The Calgary Flames have zero confidence. Zero. To me that’s why we are seeing this parade of mindless turnovers. They don’t want the puck and when they get it, they force it. Backlund, Zadorov, Hanifin, Mangiapane, Coronato, Huberdeau … the list just went on in the first period. The team can’t execute a simple play because all of their sticks are time bombs. The Flames aren’t as bad as they look right now, but that doesn’t matter; they’re running out of time to save their season.

Top Line & Third Pairing Eaten Alive

The top line couldn’t get it going offensively, but defensively it wasn’t their best night as the trio went -3 on the night and were a big part of the story. Honestly Dillon Dube, along with Nazem Kadri and Jonathan Huberdeau seem to have trouble defensively no matter who they line up with.

Similarly the third pairing with Chris Tanev and Illya Solovyov were also -3 on the night, a tough second skate for the Flames rookie.

It will be good to get Rasmus Andersson back on Wednesday.

Odds and Sods

Clearly I’m biased, but I’d think the neutral fan would give the nod to the Flames both in the jersey kits for today’s game and for the entry outfits before the game. The off white and red with a hint of yellow lapped the Oilers busy combination quite easily. Entry outfits had the Flames in a hillbilly look with overalls, hats and boots (no shirts for most), the Oilers in oil worked attire. … Not sure who the dumbest hockey player in the first period was; Leon Draisaitl for skating all the way to the bench with a broken stick, literally hockey 101 for kids since age 5. Or Darnell Nurse for punching Dryden Hunt twice in the head after a Skinner puck freeze. Use your head! I guess Nurse gets the nod because Calgary scored on that series. … If I was to tell you that the Oilers would take four of five penalties in the first period, I think we’d all assume that first period went pretty well. To be down 3-1 after one and have the “makeup” call likely against you the rest of the way? Yikes. … So what to make of Dryden Hunt and his role on the team. I mean he works hard, he keeps the odd board battle going. But why is he playing with Elias Lindholm? I guess it could be a pretty clear reveal on how bad things have gone as Huska is out of options, but clearly there are better fits for the top nine than Dryden Hunt. Don’t even get me started on his appearance on the powerplay. … Noticed the second powerplay unit starting many of the team’s powerplays tonight. Can always be luck of the draw when you have a tired line that features many from powerplay one tired and unable to go, or it could be a message for a group that hadn’t scored in five games coming in.

Special Teams

Special teams played a huge role in this one, especially in the first period when the Oilers put the Flames on two lengthy five on three situations.

The Oilers killed most of that mess off, giving up one late goal. But that could have drastically changed the game with a few Calgary powerplay strikes.

So I give the edge to the Oilers despite technically losing the goal battle on special teams tonight.

Standings and Record

Given how things are going in Calgary, is it too early to look at the standings league wide and just ignore the Western Conference for now?

The Flames are in 31st place just ahead of the Sharks and in solid lottery position nine games into their schedule.

Not the start Craig Conroy and Ryan Huska were looking for. Solid for UFA decision making though!

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 27 Oilers 32
Face Offs: Flames 45% / Oilers 44%
Powerplay: Flames 1-6 / Oilers 0-2

Fancy Stats

The entry of advance stats has done a lot to help hockey fans dig deeper on the why beyond the scoreboard. Tonight if you only had shots on goal you’d be fooled into thinking this was a close hockey game. It wasn’t. Five on five the Flames had 45% of the shot attempts with period splits of 29%/48% and 70% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 29%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 17%, with a 4-19 split. That’s not a type … 19 to 4 in high danger chances five on five. Markstrom needs the week off.

In all situations the Flames had 53% of the shot attempts, 38% of the expected goals, and 38% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 2.97 to 4.75.

Individually the Flames were led by Matt Coronato and Nazem Kadri posting identical xGF% of 54.5% on the night five on five. They were the only two players to be above water on the night. The other end of the list Halloween scary for some players with Dryden Hunt, Elias Lindholm, Illya Solovyov and Chris Tanev all sitting at 10% or under. Another four players; Yegor Sharangovich, Walker Duehr, AJ Greer and Dennis Gilbert. Ugly night in Edmonton.

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