Game Takes: Leafs 5 Flames 4 (SO)

November 10th, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Well that’s quite a point.

Trailing by three goals in the second period in Toronto isn’t the best recipe for success, but the Flames managed to pull back into it with three straight goals to force overtime.

In the extra time the Flames probably had the best of the chances, but neither team score sending the game to a shoot out.

Calgary with the leverage for the first 4 sets of shots, but they can’t get the save (on Marner) or the goal (Zary) to put things away. Finally the Leafs go ahead and the Flames’ Dillon Dube fails to tie it up.

That’s points in three straight games for the Flames, and a point in the toughest game of this three game road trip.

Still have a a hole to dig out of, but it’s slowly getting less and less deep.

The Lineup

The Flames are getting healthier again, and with that some decisions up front.

Up front no change to the top three lines; a top line has Elias Lindholm with Johnathan Huberdeau and Andrew Mangiapane fresh off his suspension, no change to the second line with Nazem Kadri with Yegor Sharangovich and Connor Zary, the third line in tact with Mikael Backlund between Martin Pospisil and Blake Coleman, and then a new fourth line with Dillon Dube between Adam Ruzicka and AJ Greer. Walker Duehr with the healthy scratch.

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

Dan Vladar gets the start in goal.

Line Metrics Coming In

Huberdeau – Lindholm – Mangiapane 60.5%
Pospisil – Backlund – Coleman 72.7%
Sharangovich – Kadri – Zary 75.0%
Greer – Dube – Ruzicka NA

Weegar – Andersson 50.0%
Hanifin – Tanev 75.5%
Zadorov – DeSimone 72.4%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +0.6
Vladar -4.0

Trend Tracker:

As the Flames try to dig themselves out of a mess, they’ve now put four decent games together in a row.

The result is some movement in their rankings for some team stats, most of which were taking on water before the mini resurgence.

In five on five xGF% they now sit 13th.

Five on five PDO is 30th (no longer 32nd!) with a shooting percentage all the way up to 25th, and a save percentage still mired in last place.

In all situations the Flames are still 30th in PDO, 27th in shooting percentage and 31st in save percentage (Edmonton is worse)

Vladar’s Start

Honestly pretty great.

I think he’s like to have the Nylander goal in the second back on that two on one but other than that I think he was instrumental in the third period on preserving the Flames point.

The Leafs had 3.74 expected goals and obviously four goals overall, so he kept it pretty tight to an on par start.

Not a difference maker overall, but certainly not a problem either.

Kadri Disallowed Goal

I’ve just spent a lot of summer free time watching Blue Jays baseball and the chaos that comes from the ball and strike calls at home place. Brutal.

The call for a digital umpire is real, and probably well over due.

Could hockey use the same? If they had an auto replay on every call from Toronto Nazem Kadri would not have received a two minute minor for slashing and the Flames would have scored the tying goal at the end of the first period.

Instead it’s coincidental minors and no review on the goal and a 2-1 lead for Toronto after 20.

Game Flow

All Toronto early as the Flames start very much on their heels. Should have been 1-0 Toronto on the opening shift but for a solid save by Vladar on Bertuzzi. The Leafs do grab the lead when Sharangovich, killing a penalty tries to shuffle the puck back to Rasmus Andersson in the high slot, but fans. The flat footed Anderson gets turnstiled by Nylander and it’s 1-0. Calgary ties it up when Connor Zary converts his own rebound off a rush, getting a pass from Nazem Kadri. The tie didn’t last long as the Flames turn the puck over in the neutral zone creating another odd man rush and a 2-1 Toronto lead, former Flame Calle Jarnkrok with the goal. Calgary settles in from the midpoint of the period on and reverses the huge shot disadvantage. Look to have scored a goal by Nazem Kadri, but it’s waved off. Toronto up 2-1 after one.

The second period featured a Flames team with a lot more poise and puck management. It didn’t start well though. The Leafs added to their 2-1 lead when Willian Nylander beat Vladar short side on a short handed two on one … likely one that Vladar would live to have back. A few minutes later it’s 4-1 when John Tavares is left wide open in front of the Calgary cage for a goal that Vladar had no chance on. Calgary starts to chip away though. First Nikita Zadorov beats Woll high over his shoulder on his own rebound. Later in the period it’s 4-3 when AJ Greer tips a point shot past the Leaf goaltender setting up a much more interesting third period.

The start of the first was terrible, but overall the third period was the Flames worst on the night. Out shot 13-4, it took a solid 20 from Dan Vladar to give the Flames a chance tie things up (Marin Pospisil’s goal) and hold on for the point.

The overtime period was crazy. Toronto broke down a few times, giving the Flames many chances to put the game away but Woll stood tall.

The shootout goes deep with Calgary in the leverage position, but the Leafs wrestle control late and take the game.

Odds and Sods

The Connor Zary story continues, as the rookie winger runs his points streak to four games (all four games in his career). The kid just drives into the middle of the ice. Nothing is perimeter with him. It creates chaos and with it offence. Tonight he gets a shot off, then chases down his rebound through traffic and finishes the play. Refreshing. … Crazy to see how small Mike Vernon is, and how much that position has changed in the National Hockey League. Interesting to see Vernon on the ice in a game with Dustin Wolf backing up in Toronto. Old little guy. New little guy. … The Hanifin / Tanev pairing had a tough night; Hanifin especially with a 22% night in expected goals. … I thought Vladar got better and better as the night went on. He had that same result in Buffalo, then a brutal start, but was good in Seattle and again tonight in Toronto. Hopefully he’s settled in and finding his game. … Have to give Ryan Huska credit for playing young players when you see Connor Zary on the ice in overtime against Toronto. That’s pretty heady stuff.

Special Teams

Some solid discipline for the Flames in Toronto, giving up only one opportunity for the vaulted Leaf powerplay.

They did score on that chance.

The Flames came up empty on two chances giving the Leafs the edge on the night in special teams.

Standings and Record

The point keeps the Flames in 30th spot in the NHL standings with a .385 win percentage.

Behind them you see the Oilers at .208 and the Sharks at .192.

The Flames are now five points up on the Oilers with Edmonton having a game in hand.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 28 Leafs 36
Face Offs: Flames 41% / Leafs 59%
Powerplay: Flames 0-2 / Leafs 1-1

Fancy Stats

The Flames were pretty fortunate (thanks Vladar) for getting the game to overtime. Their turnovers and blown assignments created more than enough looks for Toronto to take the game in regulation time easily. Five on five the Flames had 41% of the shot attempts with period splits of 56%/43% and 26% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 38%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 36%, with a 8-14 split.

In all situations the Flames had 41% of the shot attempts, 36% of the expected goals, and 37% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 2.13 to 3.74.

Individually the Flames were led by Nikita Zadorov with a xGF% of 67% on the night five on five. He was joined in the 60s by defensive mate DeSimone at 63%. Dillon Dube was the only other player on the positive side of the balance. At the bottom three players were under 30%; Noah Hanifin, Adam Ruzicka, and Yegor Sharangovich.

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