Game Takes: Flames 6 Kraken 3

November 4th, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

The Flames simply can’t lose in Seattle.

That’s now five visits to Climate Pledge Arena and five victories for the Calgary Flames, as they’ve been Seattle’s least favourite guest.

Tonight the Flames had an iffy first, but a rock solid second and third erasing a 2-1 Kraken lead and skating away with a well deserved 6-3 road victory.

The win snaps the Flames six game losing streak and leap frogs them over the Edmonton Oilers in the standings, who lost today to Nashville in Edmonton.

Martin Pospisil played his first NHL game, and just like Connor Zary on Wednesday night, scored his first NHL goal on his 3rd shift in the first period making the Flames the first team to have back to back first goal in first game players since New Jersey in 2001.

The Lineup

Another loss and another trip to the kitchen blender for Calgary’s lines.

The put a line that worked earlier together with Elias Lindholm between Jonathan Huberdeau and Andrew Mangiapane, the go to line is no more so it’s Mikael Backlund with Dryden Hunt and Blake Coleman (Dube is hurt), a new second line of Nazem Kadri with Yegor Sharangovich and Connor Zary playing in his first NHL game, and then finally Matt Coronato with his first spin at center between AJ Greer and Walker Duehr.

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

Jacob Markstrom gets the start in goal.

Line Metrics Coming In

Huberdeau – Lindholm – Mangiapane 62.5%
Pospisil – Backlund – Coleman NA
Sharangovich – Kadri – Zary 69.2%
Greer – Dube – Duehr NA

Weegar – Andersson 69.2%
Hanifin – Tanev 70.3%
Zadorov – DeSimone NA

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +1.0
Vladar -4.0

Trend Tracker:

Ten games in and time to look at some team leaders and losers in some underlying stats categories.

Expected Goal Split:

The third line runs the table with Blake Coleman, Mikael Backlund and Andrew Mangiapane sitting one, two and three. Mackenzie Weegar and Nikita Zadorov run out the top five. Only seven Flames players are over the break even mark, the other two are Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin.

On the bottom for this stat? Jordan Oesterle, who is under 40%, Dillon Dube, AJ Greer, Elias Lindholm and Walker Duehr. Elias Lindholm has to be a huge disappointment for the annual Selke contender. Just a miserable start to his season.

Defensemen xGA/60:

Which Calgary defenseman have done a good job of preventing bad things from happening when they’re deployed?

Nikita Zadorov is number one with 2.19, Dennis Gilbert second with less sample size. Chris Tanev at 2.32. Rasmus Andersson the worst at 3.11.

To put those numbers in league wide perspective, Zadorov is 35th league wide, and Rasmus Andersson is 169th.

Vladar’s Start

Dan Vladar’s first start in some time was very much like recent Jacob Markstrom games we’ve seen of late.

The goalie is good. The goalie stats aren’t.

He gets the win, but gives up three and posts a .850 save percentage, but I honestly wouldn’t blame in for any of the goals … maybe the first one from a ways out, but it looked like a screen.

Expected goals against suggest 1.75 for the Kraken, so not a night that will improve the Calgary backup’s stats line.

Mangiapane Cross Check

Honestly, what was he thinking?

Looks like he was pissed off that McCann blocked his shot and then just cross checked him in the back of the neck when he was on the ice.

Stupid, stupid play.

Don’t have a problem with the match penalty being doled out at all.

He may get another game or two as well.

Pospisil’s First Game

Calgary fans always roll their eyes and say “so Flames” or “of course” when rookies score their first goal against the Flames.

Well that’s back to back games where a Flame rookie scores his first NHL goal, both in their first NHL games, with Martin Pospisil lighting the lamp tonight.

His game started with two or three relatively quiet shifts followed by having to serve Andrew Mangiapane’s major. His goal occured when he was sprung from the box, joined the rush and found a rebound with Nazem Kadri’s corpse sliding through him and out the other side.

Overall he’s bigger than I thought, he finishes every check and moves well enough to play at this level.

Not sure he’s a top nine player though.

Zary’s Second Game

You just notice the kid right?

Picked up an assist (more on that later) on the Hanifin goal, had another dangle opportunity, but almost as impressive was some of his details.

His back pressure was noticeable tonight, which is likely kind of sad, as it sticks out as being different from his teammates. He caught puck carriers on numerous occasions, breaking up rushes and disrupting the opposition.

Young players run out of gas, but through two games he not only belongs, but needs to stay because he brings something they need.

Game Flow

Seattle the better team off the hop, but the Flames were finding their feet when Mangiapane took his match penalty. The first half of the major was all Seattle and they capitalized to make it 1-0. Calgary ties it up soon after they kill of the remainder when Pospisil scores in his first NHL game. A turnover by Mackenzie Weegar turns into a late Seattle goal and they take the lead to the intermission.

Much better start to the second period for the Flames, as they settled into their game plan and did the best they could to roll four lines with a forward missing. Probably the best early opportunity an Elias Lindholm rebound that bounced to Jonathan Huberdeau but wasn’t corralled. The Flames get a two man advantage late in the period and score after the first minor expired when Noah Hanifin’s point shot wiggled it’s way through. The Flames out shoot the Kraken 12-3 in the second period and tie the game up after two.

All Calgary in the third again as they give Seattle pretty much nothing and then score the go ahead and insurance goals in the first half of the period. First Zary takes the line and throws it to the point where Zadorov’s shot is tipped home by Sharangovich. Then a breakaway by Greer is turned away, but he puts it back out front and Backlund cashes in for his first of the season. Seattle gets a late one with the goalie pulled, but then the Flames score not one but two empty net goals to put it away.

Odds and Sods

I’m likely developing a bias, but I swear I could see (feel) some surprise from Connor Zary when he dumped a puck in and then realized that Nazem Kadri wasn’t going to go get it. The rookie had to blow by the veteran to get in on the puck and become F1. So frustrating. … Speaking of Zary, really loved his addition to the second powerplay unit. He plays in the Ovechkin position but with the left shot. But he’s aggressive, asking for the puck and looking to create from up high. Before the Hanifin goal he made a great seam pass to Huberdeau that was bobbled. … I thought Nick DeSimone faired well on the third pairing with Nikita Zadorov. Not a lot bad happened when he was on the ice, he kept it simple and made the easy play when it presented itself. … Noah Hanifin was a standout tonight for the Flames. Scored the tying goal, made a great stop on a Kraken two on one in the third with the game in doubt, and was noticeable in the offensive zone all night. … The Flames got crushed in the face off circle tonight, posting 40% on the night. That’s somewhat surprising since the Flames came into the game 7th in the league at taking draws. … More talk on the telecast about the Calgary Flames elite penalty killing sitting over 90% on the season. Digging deeper though the Flames still have relied too much on goaltending as they sit 8th worst in xGA/60 when killing penalties.

Special Teams

The Flames powerplay sort of setup the comeback tonight with a late goal in the second period.

The Flames had played a solid middle frame but had nothing to show for it, but found the net on the back half of a two man advantage to tie the game up and create the solid third period to come.

Stats wise the Flames get the edge with one goal in two chances while giving up one in three (of which one was five minutes).

Standings and Record

When I last looked the Flames were in 31st spot which is last place if you consider the state of the San Jose Sharks; not really an NHL team.

But with the Penguins foibles of late, and the Oilers loss earlier today they leap frog two teams and into 28th spot in points. They are 29th and still ahead of Edmonton in points percentage.

I’m sticking with the overall standings until the Flames put some wins together and get back into the playoff discussion (if they do).

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 31 Kraken 20
Face Offs: Flames 40% / Kraken 60%
Powerplay: Flames 1-2 / Kraken 1-3

Fancy Stats

The Flames didn’t give up many shots again … only nine in the last two periods, but the underlying metrics weren’t as lopsided as you would have thought. Five on five the Flames had 52% of the shot attempts with period splits of 58%/47% and 48% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 59%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 57%, with a 8-6 split.

In all situations the Flames had 51% of the shot attempts, 70% of the expected goals, and 59% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 3.88 to 1.75.

Individually the Flames were led by Martin Pospisil in his first NHL game with a xGF% of 90% on the night five on five. Four players were in the 80s; Mikael Backlund, AJ Greer, Noah Hanifin and Walker Duehr. The top pairing sputtered as Mackenzie Weegar and Rasmus Andersson were both below the 30% mark.

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