Game Takes: Flames 5 Canucks 2

November 16th, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

The Flames are streaking!

A tired Vancouver teams comes into Calgary tonight and runs smack dab into a motivated Flames team ready to steal their lunch. Calgary erases a 1-0 Vancouver lead by scoring four straight and eventually taking it 5-2 on Thursday night.

The win gives the Flames points in six of the last seven games, and moves them back within striking distance of a playoff spot with that big Thanksgiving date fast approaching.

The Flames have another home game on Saturday against the Islanders before hitting the road for another four game trip.

The Lineup

The Flames had some clunky lines in Montreal, but they found the win, and with that the lines and pairings stay in place for tonight’s game against Vancouver.

So look for 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, who stole them a game in the province of Quebec, gets the start again in the nets.

Line Metrics Coming In

Ruzicka – Lindholm – Mangiapane 75.0%
Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman 28.6%
Zary – Kadri – Pospisil 65.1%
Sharangovich – Dube – Greer 19.5%

Weegar – Andersson 51.3%
Hanifin – Tanev 61.4%
Zadorov – DeSimone 65.4%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +3.1
Vladar -4.9
Wolf -1.1

Trend Tracker

Goaltending … Jacob Markstrom’s game stealer in Montreal boosted his goals saved above average from 0.6 to 3.1. When you look at starting goaltenders, which at this point basically means goalies with 8 or more games played he’s ranked 11th out of 35. That’s not Vezina category, but it’s certainly in the range of an option for teams looking for a goaltending upgrade.

Playing the Canucks so lets talk heaters …

The Vancouver Canucks have an all situations PDO of 1.073, almost three full percentage points higher than any other hockey team. Their shooting percentage is ranked 1st at 14.6%, and their goaltending is ranked 2nd at .927.

To put that in perspective, last year the Bruins finished the season at 1.04, .02 ahead of the Dallas Stars, and .033 worse than Vancouver currently. The number one team in terms of shooting percentage were the Oilers at 11.8% (3% worse), and the number one team in goaltending was Boston at .929 (which is pretty close).

The Canucks have some skill, and skill teams can out do a PDO, but I think it’s fair to assume they will come off that 14.6% significantly.

They’ve banked the points though, making it more and more likely they find themselves a playoff team when the dust settles. They’re the anti-Oilers this season, where Edmonton has some good underlying numbers, but don’t have the wins, and have dug themselves a hole.

Markstrom’s Start

Solid again.

He gives up a first period goal on a powerplay and a third period goal on a great tip and that was it on the night.

The Canucks score twice on 24 Canuck shots, with only 15 coming in the last 45 minutes of the game.

Tale of the tape says the Canucks had expected goals of only 1.26, but Markstrom was solid nonetheless.

Lindholm Break Out

Man did he need a night like this.

Only one point in his last nine games, and no goals.

The city is pretty focused on Jonathan Huberdeau’s struggles, but the other guy was Elias Lindholm who has had a time of it as well.

Tonight he picks up three helpers (scoresheet may have made it two), added the empty net goal and was a difference maker.

Flames Find 2nd Line?

The search for chemistry has been an ongoing nightmare pretty much from the drop of the puck this season.

Nobody gelling with anyone.

Recently Nazem Kadri has gotten it going, basically when Connor Zary arrived giving Calgary a top six line that works.

Tonight Huska may have found another when he swapped Dillon Dube and Adam Ruzicka, placing Dube on the Lindholm/Mangiapane line.

Lots of zone time, Lindholm with three points, Dube with his best game in some time.

Godo sign.

Pospisil On the Line

Love the exchange between Martin Pospisil and Miller at the end of the first period. Pospisil just held his ground and JT Miller went into the net. Could be called interference, but honestly it’s just two guys colliding.

Miller gets up and gloves Pospisil in the face, the rookie just swats him back.

Later Pospisil bumps into Quinn Hughes with both players going down. The Canucks are incensed and bring it to the rookie who calmly defends himself. No extra penalty. No escalation. Calm.

Good size, strong on his skates, can stick up for himself.

Huberdeau’s Best Game Since Early October?

Even before he hit the scoresheet it was looking like one of Jonathan Huberdeau’s better games of the season.

Plays weren’t dying on his stick, he was moving the puck well, and winning battles.

Then in the third he scores a goal on a great shot short side, and then adds an assist on Lindholm’s empt netter.

His play and the continued steadiness from his linemates Mikael Backlund and Blake Coleman gave the Flames three scoring lines that worked tonight.

Game Flow

Funny first period for momentum swings with the Canucks pinning the Lindholm line in the Calgary zone, and then Calgary returning the favour soon after with the Canucks on a delayed penalty. The Canucks open the scoring when they score in the 45 second abbreviated powerplay, Pettersson with the honours. The goal was a powerplay one timer which Markstrom appeared to lose sight of, as he didn’t move at all. The Flames tie it up with about five to go in the period on a nice three way passing play that resulted in Mackenzie Weegar lighting the lamp. Evenly played period with an even score.

All Calgary in the second period. Literally all Calgary. Shots were 17-5 for the Flames and they scored the only two markers of the period. They could have had more. First Dillon Dube steps in behind DeSmith and puts a loose puck past the Vancouver goaltender to give the Flames their first lead of the night. Then in the dying seconds with the Flames dominating four on four Noah Hanifin gets a puck to go off of DeSmith and in to make it a two goal lead. Dominant period.

The third wasn’t as dominant as the second, but didn’t take away from a pretty solid 60 by the Flames on the night overall. Calgary basically puts the game away when Mikael Backlund feeds Jonathan Huberdeau who beats DeSmith over the shoulder short side before looking to the heavens in relief. Huge goal for the much maligned Calgary forward. Vancouver narrows the lead when Hoglander tips a Myers point shot past Markstrom. The Flames put it away with an empty net goal by Elias Lindholm.

Odds and Sods

Walker Duehr sure seems to be in the Ryan Huska dog house. I like rotating fourth line players around and keeping them hungry, but he missed all three games on the road trip and was a healthy scratch again tonight. … That must be the longest delayed penalty I’ve ever seen in all my years watching hockey. Quinn Hughes takes a penalty in the first period and the Flames had what felt like a three minute section of playing keep away from the Canucks. Not sure they ever got a scoring chance, but they certainly upped their possession numbers! … Don’t love Adam Ruzicka as the umbrella forward with one defenseman on the Flames’ first powerplay unit; just not his game. I think he’d be a better net front guy if they want to keep the same 5 guys out there. Huberdeau would probably be a better fit on that right side. … The Canucks are certainly on the only team to do it, but do we have to defend a star player every time someone bumps into him? Hughes carries the puck a lot, he going to face some contact, but chasing around a player for a non hit just looks silly. If that was called correctly Calgary would have gone to the powerplay.

Special Teams

The Canucks win the battle of the special teams with a goal on three powerplay chances, while killing the Flames only two opportunities.

It just wasn’t a special teams night, however with both teams having basically 90 seconds of powerlay time total.

Calgary with an expected goal total up a man of 0.00.

Standings and Record

The Flames are up to .438 now in win percentage and four points out of a playoff spot with even games played with both Anaheim and Arizona.

The Flames are now two games under .500 with their recent run of success.

Calgary now sitting 25th overall in the league.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 39 Canucks 24
Face Offs: Flames 52% / Canucks 48%
Powerplay: Flames 0-2 / Canucks 1-3

Fancy Stats

Calgary as dominant in the underlying stats as they were by the eye test, running the table on every single stat. Five on five the Flames had 61% of the shot attempts with period splits of 57%/64% and 59% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 67%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 67%, with a 10-5 split.

In all situations the Flames had 59% of the shot attempts, 66% of the expected goals, and 56% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 3.64 to 1.87.

Individually the Flames were led by Nikita Zadorov posting a xGF% of 84% on the night five on five. Seven different players hit the 70s on the night including; AJ Greer, Nick DeSimone, Blake Coleman, Jonathan Huberdeau, Yegor Sharangovich, Mikael Backlund and Nazem Kadri. No players were under water, but the worst on the night was Noah Hanifin at 50.3%.

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