Game Takes: Rangers 3 Flames 1

October 24th, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

An interesting hockey game tonight with all the off ice sparks through the day, and a team coming home from a terrible end to their road trip.

Would they have that emotional lift and push back? Or wilt under the media spotlight on home ice?

For the most part they showed up. They scored the game’s first goal, had a lead after one, and a solid second period from a five on five standpoint. But in the end the Rangers powerplay did them in, scoring twice in the second and building a lead that the Flames couldn’t overcome.

Calgary gives it s solid effort in the third but can’t find the net and run out of time.

The Lineup

Rasmus Andersson had his suspension upheld by Gary Bettman today, so we won’t be seeing #4 in the lineup for the next few days, including the out door classic. Not surprised, but disappointing all the same. Thought it was a suspension, but didn’t think it would be four games.

And with the disappointing performance in Detroit it was somewhat expected that we’d see a change in the lines. Instead of putting them back to what we saw early on the road trip though, Huska brings out the blender again.

Up front it’s Elias Lindholm between Jonathan Huberdeau and Yegor Sharangovich, Nazem Kadri with Adam Ruzicka and Walker Duehr, Mikael Backlund in his regular spot between Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman, and a new fourth line with Dillon Dube centering Dryden Hunt and Matthew Coronato.

On the blueline some change as well. Huska reunites the Dennis Gilbert – Chris Tanev pairing, and then creates two new duos with Noah Hanifin playing with Mackenzie Weegar, and Nikita Zadorov with Jordan Oesterle.

Jacob Markstrom with the start, which is somewhat of a relief with the starter leaving the net early in the pregame skate today.

Line Metrics Coming In

Huberdeau – Lindholm – Sharangovich 100% (43 seconds)
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 82.4%
Ruzicka – Kadri – Duehr NA
Hunt – Dube – Coronato NA

Hanifin – Weegar 66.1%
Zadorov – Oesterle NA
Gilbert – Tanev 64.2%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +1.1
Vladar -4.0

Trend Tracker:

Through 6 games the Flames are virtually identical to the version that concluded last season.

32nd in PDO right now, 31st last season.

23rd in five on five shooting percentage, 23rd this season.

Virtually identical high danger chances created per 60 minutes.

Virtually identical high danger chances created out of total shot attempts.

Now that’s not to say they are the same, or they’re playing the same, or that they are playing the same system but with a team largely the same (minus a sniper) to last season it’s not a great sign that they aren’t creating more nor finishing more given Sutter’s kitty by the door system.

I had hope that they’d open up offensively and with that have some success.

Not the case so far.

Markstrom’s Start

Very good first period as the Rangers took it to the Flames in the second half of the period, Markstrom escaping with a zero on the board.

But the Rangers score three goals on five shots in the second period, putting a stake in the Flames who struggle to score goals. Through two periods the Rangers with three goals on an expected goal tally of 1.11. Just not good enough.

Third period had the Rangers with two partial breaks, both of which Markstrom stood tall, but not a lot of work to change the feel from damage from the second period.

Zadorov’s Comments

Lots of assumptions rolling around from Nikita Zadorov’s comments earlier today.

“Now there’s no Darryl, so there’s no excuses.…You guys don’t like hard coaches? You don’t like soft coaches? You don’t like good coaches?”

I heard the context suggestions today, but having watches the video there wasn’t really a leading question that would have required an answer like that.

So who is the problem?

Existing vets from season to season is the easy answer, but it could also be Zadorov himself. His play hasn’t been all that solid this season to the point where he can single out teammates.

Either way not a good sign with a week to go in October.

Game Flow

Not a bad start for the Flames. With lots to prove after their sputtering effort in Detroit they manage to avoid that first game back from a road trip jinx and get off to a good start. The Flames scored 75 seconds into the game when Blake Coleman converts a Mikael Backlund pass. The two teams settle in from there with the Rangers having more zone time but only a handful of dangerous chances through the middle of the period. Rangers take over in the final third of the period though, Calgary lucky to escape with a lead.

Ironically, I thought the Flames looked much better in the second period, but it’s the Rangers that score twice on the man advantage to wrestle away the lead in a tight hockey game. Calgary had their chances in and around the Ranger’s goaltender, but couldn’t convert. Specifically, Blake Coleman with two more chances (total of four in the game). The Rangers essentially put it away with a Gustafsson goal playing four on four. The Flames didn’t give up a single high danger chance five on five in the second period.

All Calgary in the third period as the Rangers were more than happy to play it safe with a two goal lead. Lots of pucks to the net, traffic and zone time, but they never really get that rebound chance on Shesterkin. Rangers ice the puck a bunch but dodge bullets getting pucks out before being made to pay. Game pretty much ends with back to back Calgary penalties in the last couple of minutes.

Odds and Sods

Hard to miss Nazem Kadri off the start of this tilt. He makes a great move on a one on two and almost scores, then lights up Trouba creating a two on one and a solid chance. A lot of talk about the player needing to play better, maybe he’s starting to realize that for himself … Had that nervous feeling for Jacob Markstrom again with no shots against in the game’s first five minutes. Once again felt like one of those first shot first goal nights. … Don’t think Jordan Oesterle belongs at this level; he really struggles with the pace of the game and making decisions …. Crappy to see Adam Ruzicka hurt in the first period on a hit by Jimmy Vessey. Looked like boarding to me, but no call. Guessing it’s a separated shoulder, but clearly I’m no doctor. … The season started with the Flames penalty killing brigade posting a flashy doughnut through four games and creating some buzz in Calgary telecasts. Digging deeper into the numbers though had Calgary getting worked shorthanded, but bailed out by Jacob Markstrom. Tonight the Flames penalty kill didn’t look bad but surrendered two in the middle period. … I’m not going to be like McDavid and complain about an opposing powerplay, but didn’t the Rangers seem a little douche with a two man advantage in the late going? Probably too sensitive.

Special Teams

The game was pretty much won on special teams with the Rangers scoring two second period goals on basically two chances.

That was the difference in the hockey game as the Flames were blanked on their four opportunities.

Teams that can’t score goals can’t get beat 2-0 in special teams.

Standings and Record

Hey at least the Connor McDavid-less Oilers lost!

There’s something …

Flames with a .357 win percentage losing ground to the wild card teams that sit at .500.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 24 Rangers 20
Face Offs: Flames 60% / Rangers 40%
Powerplay: Flames 0-4 / Rangers 2-5

Fancy Stats

The underlying numbers tell a tale of a dominant Calgary game five on five, which is certainly true. Score effects played a role though with the Flames piling up zone time in the third period with the Rangers happy to play it safe. Five on five the Flames had x% of the shot attempts with period splits of 47%/88% and 76% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 72%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 76%, with a 13-4 split.

In all situations the Flames had 66% of the shot attempts, 66% of the expected goals, and 67% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 3.13 to 1.62 for Calgary.

Individually the Flames were led by Matt Coronato posting a xGF% of 94% on the night five on five; that will helps his numbers. He was joined in the 90s by Dryden Hunt in his first game for the Flames. Nazem Kadri, Chris Tanev, Dennis Gilbert and Jordan Oesterle were in the 80s. Only two players under water; Elias Lindholm and Jonathan Huberdeau.

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