Game Takes: Flames 2 Knights 1 (OT)

November 27th, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Well that was a hockey game.

Who says you need high scoring contests to get people out of their seats?

Tonight we got an old fashioned goalie battle with the surprise start Dan Vladar (more on that later) outlasting Calgarian Aidan Hill with a 2-1 overtime victory on the strength of an end to end Mackenzie Weegar winner.

A huge two points for the Flames, as they move into a tie for the final playoff spot, at least in terms of points.

The Lineup

The Flames seem to be set up front of late with all four lines creating a bigger sample size of success (or lack thereof) on their recent road trip.

So it’s not expected we’ll see much change tonight. Look for Elias Lindholm with Andrew Mangiapane and Yegor Sharangovich, Mikael Backlund with Jonathan Huberdeau and Blake Coleman, Nazem Kadri with Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil and a fourth line of Adam Ruzicka between with AJ Greer and Dillon Dube.

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

Jabob Markstrom was to get the start for the Flames, but a late arriving illness required Dan Vladar to start with EBUG Dusty Nickel backing him up.

Line Metrics Coming In

Mangiapane – Lindholm – Sharangovich 60.0%
Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman 40.8%
Zary – Kadri – Pospisil 61.5%
Greer – Ruzicka – Dube 54.1%

Weegar – Andersson 47.3%
Hanifin – Tanev 61.0%
Zadorov – Gilbert 41.7%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +2.7
Vladar -5.5
Wolf -1.1

Trend Tracker

From a discussion on the site today, a look at how the team has performed offensively in front of the two primary goaltenders.

The Flames have won only one contest when they’ve scored two or fewer goals, with Jacob Markstrom averaging 2.9 of goal support and Dan Vladar with 3.5.

Digging deeper … Calgary has an expected goals of 3.4 with Markstrom in net, and 3.1 with Vladar, so the back up is getting better finishing from the skaters.

More scoring chances (30.1) and high danger chances (13.1) for Markstrom as well (which supports the expected goal totals), Vladar has seen 26.2 and 11.8 respectively.

Shots are pretty tight at 32.9 to 31.1 in Markstrom’s favour.

It appears the Flames are playing just as well or better offensively with Markstrom in net, but just haven’t finished to the same degree.

Have to have some luck on your side from 200 feet away.

5PM Rule

Normally travel and the time for such would be the impediment in calling someone up if a player (in this case a goalie) gets sick late in the day.

The Flames have their farm team in town of course, and with both teams in Calgary tonight it would have been pretty simple to recall Dustin Wolf when Jacob Markstrom came up lame with the flu bug.

However, the NHL has a 5pm local time cut off for roster changes, meaning they couldn’t call up Wolf and had to go with the EBUG option instead.

Shame, because with Vladar starting in Denver and not having his best game it would have been a logical Wolf start. Wolf however, had a rough one of his own on Sunday giving up five goals to the Canuck’s farm team and getting the yank.

Sharangovich Continues to Stand Out

If there was a way to look up time with the puck I think Yegor Sharangovich would be the likely biggest variance winner between October and November for time with the biscuit.

The growing confidence is really obvious.

He’s making plays on almost every five on five shift, getting some of the bump back work on the first powerplay unit, and making a difference pretty much every time you see him. And the shot … got it off two or three more times again tonight, including in his new spot as the right wall trigger man on the powerplay.

Sure looks like early season jitters in a new location was the reason for his slow start.

Ruzicka, Pospisil and Zary Get Short Benched

It’s been a Huska thing.

I don’t always love the targets but I like the emulation of the Scotty Bowman plan to go with the ones that are going.

Tonight he elevates Dillon Dube and AJ Greer to play with Nazem Kadri in the third, pretty much stapling Adam Ruzicka, Martin Pospisil and Connor Zary to the bench.

Ironically, Zary in limited duty got an assist on the AJ Greer tying goal.

Vladar’s Start

What can you say?

Likely the best goaltending performance of the season for the Flames, and if not top three and certainly Dan Vladar’s best.

He was outstanding.

No chance on the first period goal, on a deflection that turned into a pass for a wide open net.

Then he goes to work and makes two huge pad saves on two on ones, a breakaway save in the third, and a point blank save on Carrier with time winding down in the third period.

Money goaltender tonight, no doubt about it.

Greer Fitting In

Just have to love AJ Greer don’t you?

I mean he’s replaceable, he’s a fourth line winger, but he does his job very well.

Great to see him score twice on the last three games and start putting up points.

Solid defensively, and with an edge. He’s been a great addition.

Game Flow

I thought the Flames had an excellent start to this game five on five. They went a few minutes without a shot on goal, but were the better team in the game’s first 10 minutes. Then they got in penalty trouble and lost their mojo towards the end of the period. Luckily they only gave up the one powerplay goal, and got out of the period just down a goal.

For a scoreless period the second period tonight was uber exciting. End to end play. Some hits. Some great saves by both goaltenders, a great show by both teams. Shots 9-7 for the Flames, high danger chances 3-2 for the Knights, and Vladar with two amazing pad saves.

Another entertaining period in the third with both teams chugging again. Vegas with the better chances including a far blue line in breakaway that was stoned by Dan Vladar. Aidan Hill good as well, but tested quite as much.

Overtime was … well interesting. The Flames start on the powerplay, don’t score, but the period plays out four on four without a single whistle. The Flames win it on an end to end goal by Mackenzie Weegar. Crazy game.

Odds and Sods

Everyone was holding their breath early when Carrier went into Dan Vladar, sending the Flames goaltender into the net. He was ok, but pretty much everyone watching was thinking the EBUG was going to be in the nets just two and a half minutes into the game. … The Flames with three first period penalties in a row. First an Andrew Mangiapane hook resulting in a goal, then a Connor Zary clear over the boards, and finally Mackenzie Weegar trying to stop what could have been a tap in. … It used to be Backlund’s thing, but man does Nazem Kadri get kicked out of a lot of faceoffs. I get that if you’re not cheating you’re not winning, but he may need to alter how much he cheats. … Don’t officials generally pick up broken sticks when they get a chance? A broken Lindholm stick in the second period lied on the ice for about 4 minutes and touched the puck about a half dozen times. Then the exact same thing happens in overtime with two more broken sticks. Lazy bastards! … How did Blake Coleman not get an interference penalty for knocking that Knight clear off his skates nowhere near the puck in the middle of the second period? … Don’t you just wonder how much more fun the next Battle of Alberta game is going to be with Martin Pospisil and Connor Zary in the lineup. Pospisil with the speed and edge, and Zary with the ice in veins offensive game. Looking forward to it. … David Amber outed Cassie Campbell as a Flames fan (I think?) after the second period. Clearly her husband works for the team, so it’s not hard to 2+2 together, but you don’t see media outing media like that. Wondering when the Oiler fans will get named?! … With a delayed penalty in a tie game with a minute to go in the third don’t you play keep away and take the two minute 4 on 3 powerplay in overtime? Calgary isn’t going to catch Vegas anyway so who cares if they get a point? … Anyone else hold your breath that the overtime winner might have been off side? Saw the Vegas bench eye the monitors and walk away and it was good.

Special Teams

The Flames powerplay comes up empty again, the Knights score a goal on one of their three chances and once more the opposition takes the special teams battle.

Nothing new there.

They did look a little better though, with the man advantage. Better zone entries and an actual plan to set up Sharangovich with the one timer as the primary weapon.


Standings and Record

Ok this seems crazy to pound out on a keyboard, but the Flames are in a playoff spot if you go by points alone.

The win gives them two points of course, and a share of the second wild card spot with the Seattle Kraken, each with 21 points in 22 games.

Now digging deeper the Nashville Predators and Arizona Coyotes are both higher in points percentage putting the Flames in a tie for 10th truly.

But honestly didn’t think we’d see the argument at all after October.

Is it becoming an interesting season?

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 34 Knights 28
Face Offs: Flames 55% / Knights 45%
Powerplay: Flames 0-3 / Knights 1-3

Fancy Stats

Solid hockey game from the Flames. They gave up a little too much by way of ten bells on Dan Vladar, but when the dust settled the Flames had all the metrics in their favour on the night. Five on five the Flames had 59% of the shot attempts with period splits of  61%/56% and 60% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 58%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 46%, with a 6-7 split.

In all situations the Flames had 62% of the shot attempts, 59% of the expected goals, and 50% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 3.63 to 2.58.

Individually the Flames were led by AJ Greer posting a xGF% of 84% on the night five on five. Mackenzie Weegar, Dillon Dube, and Mikael Backlund were in the 70s. Jonathan Huberdeau, Blake Coleman and Rasmus Andersson also had great nights. Only four players under water; Connor Zary, Martin Pospisil, Nikita Zadorov and Dennis Gilbert.

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