Game Takes: Stars 4 Flames 3

November 1st, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Better right?

The Flames brought forward a much better effort against the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night. The results was the same … a loss, this time a 4-3 setback but they had moments of what looked like a cohesive five on five attack, and were probably the better team for the first ten and last 20 minutes of the hockey game.

But they lost.

So that’s six in a row and a 2-7-1 record to start the season and an even deeper hole to dig out of going forward.

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 65.5%
Hunt – Backlund – Coleman NA
Sharangovich – Kadri – Zary NA
Greer – Coronato – Duehr NA

Weegar – Andersson 38.0%
Hanifin – Tanev 70.8%
Zadorov – Gilbert 38.0%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +1.6
Vladar -4.0

Trend Tracker:

This recent five game losing streak hasn’t been created through mirrors.

The Flames have been bad. Real bad in almost every metric.

And with that the high expected results with less actual results narrative has fallen by the way side.

Now the Flames sit 14th in 5 on 5 expected goal splits and 15th in high danger splits.

What hasn’t changed is their woeful PDO at 32nd spot, with the league’s 2nd worst shooting percentage and last place save percentage.

Markstrom’s Start

Kind of hard to fault the goaltender once again.

Sure it’s a 3-2 league and giving up four pretty much writes off most teams, and certainly a team that struggles to score twice, but Jacob Markstrom was left on his own far too often to hang this loss on him.

The expected goal stats backs that up in this one as it measure exactly 4.0, suggesting the same; this wasn’t a Jacob Markstrom foible.

Game Flow

Calgary came out gunning, owning the first ten minutes of the hockey game and finding the net when Connor Zary took a puck off his hip, collected it and then slid it into the empty net behind Jake Oettinger. Dallas found their footing soon after though and took over the rest of the period, finally converting with that killer goal in the last minute when Jamie Benn found the net to tie things up.

The second was not a good period for the home side. They score early, which was nice, with Andrew Mangiapane finding the net just two minutes into the period and putting the Flames up 2-1. The Stars took control from there though scoring three straight goals before the end of the period and affectively putting the game away. The last goal coming with 10 seconds to play in the period on a Noah Hannifin bobble.

All Flames in the third as they pepper Oettinger with shots and look to claw their way back into the game. They get an early powerplay goal from Mackenzie Weegar to make things interesting and put 22 pucks on the net, but just can’t find the strike to tie things up and send it to overtime.

Connor Zary’s First Game

What can you say?

Scores a first period goal to put his team on the board.

Leads the team in shots on goal with six.

Almost ties it with a razzle – dazzle play in the early moments of the third and plays a solid game overall.

Took a two minute minor to get on the scoresheet twice as well.

What really impressed me though was his ability to take a pass in less than ideal circumstances and not miss a beat in moving the puck to his stick and taking the zone.

Don’t think he’s coming out of the lineup on Saturday.

Odds and Sods

Good thing Jacob Markstrom has size, as the Flames left far too many pucks in the slot/crease for their goaltender to clean up, the tender having to be as big as possible and hope that his teammates could clear the proceedings. Not a recipe for success. … Too bad Nikita Zadorov couldn’t go tonight as the big defenseman was missed. The Flames loaded up their top two pairings creating a weak third pairing that struggled to tread water. In the second they were stuck on the ice for almost three minutes with the fourth line before Markstrom found the puck and covered up. … The Flames were led in shots by Connor Zary with six on the night including a crazy inside outside move on a Stars’ defenseman that almost resulted in a tying goal. … Huge impact having Rasmus Andersson back, both on the powerplay and in five on five play. Andersson is the team’s best transitory defenseman and he showed it with some key passes through the neutral zone sending Flames forward in with speed.

Special Teams

The Flames win the battle of the special teams with a goal on five chances, while killing both of the Stars’ opportunities.

The Flames used Matthew Coronato on one unit and Connor Zary on the other threading some youth into the proceedings.

Both units had their looks.

Standings and Record

With the loss the Flames hold on to 31st place in the overall standings with just five points and a .250 points percentage through ten games.

Little hope of falling to 32nd though with the Sharks having only earned one point on the season to date.

If you want to feel a little better the 30th place team in points percentage is Edmonton.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 46 Stars 30
Face Offs: Flames 54% / Stars 46%
Powerplay: Flames 1-5 / Stars 0-2

Fancy Stats

The Flames had plenty of shot attempts and shots in this one, but not the high tally in high danger chances to drive the expected goal splits on the night. Pretty much a perimeter score effects push back. Five on five the Flames had 57% of the shot attempts with period splits of 71%/45% and 63% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 45%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 43%, with a 10-13 split.

In all situations the Flames had 60% of the shot attempts, 51% of the expected goals, and 49% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 4.29 to 4.00.

Individually the Flames were led by Nazem Kadri with a xGF% of 76% on the night five on five. Noah Hanifin was next up with a 72% night. Nine other players were in the 60s including; Mackenzie Weegar, Connor Zary, Chris Tanev, Yegor Sharangovich, Mikael Backlund, Rasmus Andersson, Andrew Mangiapane, Blake Coleman and Jonathan Huberdeau. The fourth line had a dismal night with all three of Matthew Coronato, Walker Duehr and AJ Greer nestling in around 5%.

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