Game Takes: Wings 6 Flames 2

October 22nd, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

The Flames road trip … at least until this afternoon in Detroit was punctuated by solid five on five play and solid periods of strong play.

They seemed to becoming into their own.

Today not so much.

The Flames started flat, and pretty much stayed flat as the skaters and their goaltender had a bit of a rough night from start to finish.

Two quick goals for the Wings, and then from there Calgary stayed within striking distance heading to the third, but were then quickly swept away in a 6-2 Wings win on Sunday.

The loss concludes the Flames road trip at 1-3-1 and has their season record at 2-3-1 with a home game coming up Tuesday against the New York Rangers.

The Lineup

Some forced change for the lineup for the first time this season with Rasmus Andersson coming out of the lineup due to a four game suspension.

But that wasn’t the end of it!

Changes to the top three lines as well that walked out like the following; Elias Lindholm with Adam Ruzicka and Elias Lindholm, Nazem Kadri with Johnathan Huberdeau and Dillon Dube, Mikael Backlund back with Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman, and then the fourth line of Yegor Sharangovich with AJ Greer and Walker Duehr left in tact.

Changes to the blueline with Andersson out; the second pairing left alone with Nikita Zadorov lining up with Mackenzie Weegar, Chris Tanev up to play with Noah Hanifin, and then a likely sheltered third pair of Dennis Gilbert and Jordan Oesterle.

Bit of a suprise start in goal with Dan Vladar getting his 2nd start of the season.

Line Metrics Coming In

Ruzicka – Lindholm – Coronato NA
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 80.9%
Huberdeau – Kadri – Dube NA
Greer – Sharangovich – Duehr 51.5%

Hanifin – Tanev 84.2%
Zadorov – Weegar 50.0%
Gilbert – Oesterle NA%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +1.1
Vladar -0.3

Trend Tracker:

Flames continue to use this road trip to right the underlying wrongs from game one against Vancouver.

Heading into this afternoon’s game they were 9th in CF%, 10th in high danger splits and 18th in expected goal splits.

Can this team finish enough to make some noise this year? Seems like that’s the question as they are creating a pretty solid five on five game with a new coaching staff.

Decent special teams, decent goaltending … really comes down to finish doesn’t it?

Vladar’s Start

Not the greatest start, much like his opening in Buffalo on Thursday night. He gives up a goal through the wickets on the first shot of the game, and and then a deep tip eludes him on shot number five. From there though very solid in the first, keeping the game from becoming a laugher.

His second period … two more goals, both big boy shots from Wing skill players, one of them by Dylan Larkin shortside high which goalies never love to give up.

Third period and two more goals the first from the point unscreened, and then the hat trick goal by Debrincat to conclude the scoring.

Not the best of nights for Vladar as the Wings score six times on an expected goal total of 2.57.

That doesn’t 100% add up to my eye test as the Wings had some chances just outside the home plate with skilled players making skilled shots.

Game Flow

Not the best of starts for Calgary as the Wings take control off the opening face off and pressure things in the Calgary zone. Alex Debrincat is left open by Mackenzie Weegar and Nikita Zadorov and squeaks one through Vladar’s pads on the first shot of the game. The Wings get up two when a seeing eye shot from the point hits a Wing in front of the net and the Flames are in a bit of a hole. Calgary the better five on five team for the rest of the period, but they take two penalties forcing Vladar to make some big saves.

Five on five the Flames were better in the second period, but just couldn’t get enough traffic and rebounds on James Reimer. When they broke down they gave up either good chances against or were just beat by impact skill. They go down three, get to two, down three, back to two. Never really at risk of getting back into it.

The third more of the same. The Flames generate some zone time, but fail to create enough rebounds or high danger chances to get back in the game. The Wings pounce on Calgary turnover to put the game away.

Sharangovich Continues to Get More Comfy

Since moving to the fourth line we’ve seen Yegor Sharangovich start to settle in and stop handling the puck like a hand grenade. The simplicity of fourth line work give him the comfort level to start making plays and with that create a solid fourth line with newcomer AJ Green and Walker Duehr. Today that was noticed by head coach Ryan Huska as Sharangovich got the odd shift with the Lindholm line and was rewarded with his first goal as a Flames in the second period. Good sign. Guessing we see him more up the roster, and on the powerplay going forward. Calgary has two guys on the fourth line at all times that could play up the roster, setting up a good inner competition.

Kadri Line

Ryan Huska is having a heck of a time finding a working line around center Nazem Kadri. Today he tried Jonathan Huberdeau in place of Adam Ruzicka with brutal results as the three skaters (Dillon Dube on the other wing) finished at -4. In all fairness, they actually had a positive expected goal totals, but were burned by turnovers (some their own) and some spotty goaltending. Through six games, Kadri is in last place for Calgary forwards with an expected five on five goal split of 43.9%. The whole line had a rough day, but it’s hard to look past the fact that anyone who lines up with the center seems to take on water.

Odds and Sods

Dan Vladar starting two of the last three on this trip with Jacob Markstrom playing well has me wondering if the team is setting up a Dustin Wolf start this week in Calgary. … Calgary’s new look lines didn’t create a whole lot of chemistry with the possible exception of the reunited Backlund line (with Coleman and Mangiapane) as they were Calgary’s best. They scored one of the Calgary goals, and had good zone pressure all night. … Matthew Coronato saw some ice reduction today as Huska worked in Yegor Sharangovich in his place a few times from the midway point of the second period. Coronato had a chance or two up a man (or two) in the third period, but was largely ineffective five on five. He finished the game with just over 13 minutes of total ice time, which has roughly been his zone on the last three games on the trip. … After a great start to the season in the face off dot, the Flames got worked again for the second straight game on this road trip as the Wings won 56% of the faceoffs, often in key situations. …

Special Teams

It was no masterclass in how it played out, but by statistics the Flames were the victors in special teams, killing all five Detroit penalties and coming up empty on their own two chances (that overlapped on a 1:12 five on three). Calgary scored a goal up two men but it was called back with some contact from Nazem Kadri.

The Flames continue to get it done in special teams this season, despite not seeing the result in the win column.

Standings and Record

At 2-3-1 the Flames are now out of a playoff spot sitting in the 4th spot in the Wild Card chase.

They have played 5 of 6 on the road and with that I guess you can hold off in over thinking the standings until their home schedule evens up a touch.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 31 Wings 30
Face Offs: Flames 44% / Wings 56%
Powerplay: Flames 0-2 / Wings 0-5

Fancy Stats

Five on five the Flames had decent stats tonight in most categories, but did the game really feel like that? Much like Vladar’s numbers I think the Wings had chances outside of high danger count zones with some pretty skilled players doing skilled things. Five on five the Flames had 58% of the shot attempts with period splits of 48%/59% and 70% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 64%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 69%, with a 11-5 split.

In all situations the Flames had 52% of the shot attempts, 55% of the expected goals, and 62% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 3.19 to 2.57 for Calgary, believe it or not.

Individually the Flames were led by Andrew Mangiapane, posting a xGF% of 85.6% on the night five on five. Mikael Backlund was also in the 80s. Blake Coleman (completing the line), Mackenzie Weegar and Nikita Zadorov were in the 70s. Only two players under water, AJ Greer and Walker Duehr.

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