Game Takes: Flames 2 Habs 1

November 14th, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

The Flames complete the three game Eastern Canadian with a 1-1-1 record after a solid road win in Montreal tonight by a 2-1 score.

Jacob Markstrom was brilliant in the win, giving up just the lone second period tally, a marker that was very much a fluke.

Calgary got goals from Nazem Kadri and Connor Zary, as they continue to click as linemates.

The Flames travel home to take on the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night. After that it’s the Islanders at the dome on Saturday and then off on another road trip.

The Lineup

Back to the blender!

Change to all four forward lines again. Tonight we see Elias Lindholm with Adam Ruzicka and Andrew Mangiapane, Mikael Backlund with Jonathan Huberdeau and Blake Coleman, Nazem Kadri with Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil and Dillon Dube with Yegor Sharangovich and AJ Greer.

On the blueline its Mackenzie Weegar with Rasmus Andersson, Noah Hanifin with Chris Tanev, and Nikita Zadorov with Nick DeSimone.

Jacob Markstrom is healthy and gets the start in goal.

Line Metrics Coming In

Ruzicka – Lindholm – Mangiapane NA
Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman 100% (5 min)
Zary – Kadri – Pospisil NA
Sharangovich – Dube – Greer NA

Weegar – Andersson 51.3%
Hanifin – Tanev 60.6%
Zadorov – DeSimone 69.4%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +0.6
Vladar -4.9
Wolf -1.1

Trend Tracker

So Calgary goaltending.

To the eye it looks to not be the problem, but five on five they have the worst save percentage in the league.

Part of that is the penalty kill where the Flames goaltenders have been lights out, masking what looks like a 5 on 5 problem.

Calgary goaltenders have only posted a 90% save percentage or greater in three games this season; opening night against Winnipeg (Markstrom), the game in Washington (Markstrom), and the loss at home to the Blues (Markstrom). The rest are sub .900.

Digging deeper for Markstrom he’s 27th in low danger save percentage, 35th in medium danger save percentage, and 5th in high danger save percentage.

Markstrom’s Start

The section above says only three plus .900 starts for Calgary goaltenders this season.

Make that four.

Jacob Markstrom was simply brilliant tonight in turning away 34 of 35 shots to take the win and a clear first star turn for the Flames.

The numbers say the same thing with the Habs running up an expected goal total of 4.48, and only scoring the one goal.

Did he steal it? I’d say so honeslty.


Calgary with two late penalties with a one goal lead on the road.

Both on cross checks.

Nazem Kadri on Suzuki in a play that happens about 35 times per game, but if the player goes down you go off. For that I don’t blame Kadri as much for that one.

Then with two minutes left to play Andrew Mangiapane continues his recent lack of discipline by taking a silly penalty on a powerplay. Did he go down easily? Perhaps, but he was also hit in the numbers from a player on a powerplay trying to create space.

That gets called all the time.

Mangiapane has to clean it up.

Connor Zary Story Continues

That’s two more points and six in six games to start his NHL career.

An assist on the Nazem Kadri goal in the second period, and then scores the game winner.

He’s on the first powerplay unit, and is part of the own zone break out.

The Flames trust him with the puck on his stick to make plays, and it shows.

Huge impact in just a half dozen games.

Game Flow

Entertaining first period of hockey with both teams skating well and moving the puck quickly. Montreal has the better chances in the first five minutes and test Markstrom who’s ready for the task. Calgary starts to wrestle things away in the second half of the period, but fail to solve Montembeault. Pretty fun period to watch for a scoreless draw.

The second period more of the same with both teams carrying the play off and on. Calgary opens the scoring when Nazem Kadri scores an incredible individual effort goal, spinning in the Montreal zone and beating Montembeault with a wrister. Montreal ties it up on a fluke goal that bounced off of Rasmus Andersson and then Markstrom and into the net. Later a great set play results in a Rasmus Andersson pass to Connor Zary for the rookie’s 3rd of the season. Markstrom with another strong period.

Good road third for the Flames as they kept it simple and worked the clock down for the first half of the period. They scored an insurance goal by Andrew Mangiapane, but it was called back on an Elias Lindholm off side. Later in the period they get a two on zero breakaway but have Blake Coleman shoot the puck wide. Montreal continues to press forcing Markstrom to make more game saving saves in a tight margin finish. The third was Calgary’s best defensively as they steer the game home.

Odds and Sods

Clearly the trade request messed with Nikita Zadorov in Ottawa, as he put up his worst game since his first six or so in Calgary silks back with Sutter. Tonight, the complete opposite as he was very much back to the kind of hockey we’ve seen in the last 14 months. Rushing the puck, looking for hits, and creating offence on the pinch. And then an elite poke check to stop a last second rush with time expiring. Get that trade value up buddy! …  Another solid night for the rookies with Zary scoring a goal and a helper, and Pospisil adding an assist. Neither are fading and honestly I’d say Pospisil is getting better game by game. Both have added a lot of jump to the Flame’s roster. … Said it last game, but I’ll say it again; I like me some Nick DeSimone. Just a quietly solid defensive defenseman. … Things just continue to not go well for Elias Lindholm. Setup again in the slot to have the puck go off his stick. He’s offside on Mangiapane’s insurance goal. Things just not clicking for Calgary’s number one center in a contract year.

Special Teams

Neither team can score with the man advantage as the Flames are zip for three and the Habs zero for four.

Montreal with 1.88 expected goals on the powerplay to Calgary’s 0.52.

Calgary wins the special teams, or more specifically Jacob Marstrom with the win.

Standings and Record

With points in four of the last five games the Flames are slowly chugging up the standings of late.

They now sit in 26th spot, a huge boost from the 30th spot they’ve held in recent weeks in a tie with the Minnesota Wild at .400 in win percentage.

With the recent success it’s time to have a look at the West as well, something we haven’t done of late in this section. The Flames are now three points back of a playoff spot, but the Blues have two games in hand. A better way to look at it is games over .500 with the two wildcard teams sitting at +2, while the Flames are still -3.

Lots of ground to make up.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 29 Habs 35
Face Offs: Flames 50% / Habs 50%
Powerplay: Flames 0-3 / Habs 0-4

Fancy Stats

A very close hockey game five on five, as both teams had similar totals for shots, shot attempts, expected goals and high danger chances. The Habs had the significantly more effective powerplay. Five on five the Flames had 45% of the shot attempts with period splits of 53%/46% and 32% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 46%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 47%, with a 7-8 split.

In all situations the Flames had 44% of the shot attempts, 39% of the expected goals, and 44% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 2.9 to 4.48.

Individually the Flames were led by the new top line with all three of Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane and Adam Ruzicka posting an xGF% of 71% on the night five on five. Connor Zary, Martin Pospisil, Nazem Kadri and Chris Tanev were in the 60s. Mikael Backlund, Blake Coleman and Jonathan Huberdeau were at the bottom of the pile with numbers in the 20s.

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