Game Takes: Flames 3 Canes 2

December 7th, 2023 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Didn’t see that finish coming.

The Flames seem to be short on skill and unable to mount much of a counter attack through two periods trailing 2-0 to the Carolina Hurricanes.

And then suddenly the Cane’s house of cards cave in and the Flames score three straight third period goals in a 3-2 come from behind victory on Thursday night.

The win gives the Flames a 3-2 edge on their homestand and keeps them within striking distance of a Western Conference playoff spot.

Next up the Devils on Saturday afternoon.

The Lineup

A lifeless effort against the Wild pretty much guaranteed some change in the Flames lineup, but only to the bottom half of the roster.

Walker Duehr comes out again, for Martin Pospisil and returns to a line with Nazem Kadri and Connor Zadry. The top line in tact with Elias Lindholm between Andrew Mangiapane and Yegor Sharangovich. No change to the Mikael Backlund line as he has his usuals Jonathan Huberdeau and Blake Coleman. A new fourth line with Adam Ruzicka between AJ Greer and Dillon Dube.

No change to the top pairings; Mackenzie Weegar with Rasmus Andersson and Noah Hanifin with Chris Tanev. The new third pair has rookie Illya Solovyov trying to anchor a third pair with Dennis Gilbert.

The big news …. Dustin Wolf with his first “real” start on home ice.

Line Metrics Coming In

Mangiapane – Lindholm – Sharangovich 41.4%
Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman 46.8%
Zary – Kadri – Pospisil 60%
Greer – Ruzicka – Dube 46.8%

Weegar – Andersson 48.2%
Hanifin – Tanev 56.6%
Solovyov – Gilbert NA

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +2.2
Vladar -4.6
Wolf -1.5

Trend Tracker

The Flames have had some heady expected goal splits in the last couple of years, something that potentially pointed to a high shot volume perhaps skewing the numbers in the Flames favour.

This year the shot volume is less, high danger is up, and with that Calgary’s defensemen are no longer at the top of the list

Calgary’s highest defenseman in terms of xGF% is Noah Hanifin at 52.3%.

He’s followed closely by Chris Tanev and Mackenzie Weegar who have both posted 52.0% on the season.

They all rank in the mid to late 50s leaguewide.

Well down the list is Rasmus Andersson who sits 120th at 47.7%.

Wolf Start

Not the way he would have written it up.

Two quick goals on six shots to start the game, both on tips with the goaltender having little chance on either.

Air tight second period to follow up a great second half of the first as the young goaltender rights some of his stats and continues to build on things.

Then redemption time … Wolf holds the fort in the third period in a come from behind victory.

Officially two against in a 1.64 expected goal game, but we’ve seen that with all three goaltenders this season.

Big win.

AJ Greer So Steady

Wonder if the Flames are going to sign this guy and extend his stay in Calgary.

Hard not to argue that he’s moved up the depth chart this season from forward #12 or #13 to forward #10 through the first third of the season.

He sat out a game earlier, but he’s far from that target now on a game by game basis.

There was some push back when the Flames claimed him on waivers, but those dissenting opinions have been wrong.

He’s a solid NHL hockey player.

Solovyov Better

Much quieter game for Illya Solovyov in his second game since his recall and his fourth game of his career.

No flashy assist like we saw two nights ago, but much better playing his game which is simple and defense first.

He was physical and solid moving the puck to his outlet and avoided turning the puck over.

With Nikita Zadorov in Vancouver, Solovyov’s ability to adapt to the pace of the NHL is a huge variable in the Flame’s ability to stay in the race down the stretch.

Goal Review

Not much doubt on that one.

Hurricanes player gets his stick into Dustin Wolf’s shoulder and then makes sure of it with his skate making contact with Wolf’s pad while the puck sails in from the point.

I’m never confident on a goalie interference call, but felt pretty sure on that one.

Happy for Wolf too.

Comeback Kids

That’s six comebacks on the season, and points in many when trailing. Becoming quite the story.

Tonight the Hurricanes were playing a solid road game, limiting the Flames to almost nothing, and cruising to a 2-0 win.

But wait … Calgary scores three straight in the third period to steal away the win and add to the story of the season.

Instead of three games under .500 they’re one game under .500 and very much still in the battle.

They turn this all the way around and you remember this one.

Game Flow

Another game on the schedule, another game where the Flames come out skating in sand. Carolina builds a 5-0 lead in shots and a 1-0 lead early in the first period. The Flames really never got things going, never testing the Carolina goaltender or making things interesting. The Canes add another first period goal when Rasmus Andersson turns the puck over at the blueline resulting in another tip in goal. Same recent story for the Flames in the first period … down two.

Much better second period for the Flames as they put their best foot forward. Still they didn’t really generate a whole lot which may say more about the opposition than themselves. Or both. Neither team score sending the game to the third period with the same 2-0 score. Not a whole lot happened honestly.

Not the third period I personally expected with the Flames coming on and scoring back to back goals just minutes apart to tie the game up and completely change the complexion of the contest. First Rasmus Andersson on a broken play, and then minutes later Connor Zary collects a rebound and ties things up. Brand new game. And want proof of that? How about a Blake Coleman shorthanded goal for the game winner.

Odds and Sods

I thought Walker Duehr had his best game in some time on Tuesday night, so I was a little surprised to see him come out again tonight. Equally surprised that Adam Ruzicka continues to be in the lineup; not seeing a whole lot on his front. Calgary really never got a whole lot going, never testing the Carolina goaltender in anyway through the rest of the period. The Cane’s double their lead with another tip in goal, this time on a Rasmus Andersson bobble. … Thought Martin Pospisil looked good in his return to the lineup. He pushed it on the forecheck and seemed to have a little more dig in his game. There was no doubt that he lost a bit of his edge in the five games leading up to his scratching. …

Special Teams

Both teams get nothing done with the man advantage, but the Flames have three cracks to the Hurricanes one so you have to give the edge to Carolina on special teams.

Digging in the Flames were better with their time generating 0.33 powerplay goals to .005 from the Hurricanes with the Flames generating .007 shorthanded.

Edge for the bottom line to Carolina, but the deeper story maybe Calgary.

Standings and Record

The win moves the Flames back to one game under .500 at 11-12-3 for a .481 win percentage. That’s good for 10th in the west both in points and in win percentage and three points out of a playoff spot.

Still … keeping it interesting.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 27 Canes 31
Face Offs: Flames 45% / Canes 55%
Powerplay: Flames 0-3 / Canes 0-1

Fancy Stats

Calgary had the edge in terms of the ten bell stuff through three periods after a rough start in the first five minutes. Five on five the Flames had 48% of the shot attempts with period splits of 50%/35% and 58% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 65%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 68%, with a 17-8 split.

In all situations the Flames had 48% of the shot attempts, 67% of the expected goals, and 60% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 3.33 to 1.64.

Individually the Flames were led by Noah Hanifin posting a xGF% of 84% on the night five on five. He was joined in the 80s by his defense partner Chris Tanev. Six players were in the 70s including; Connor Zary, Nazem Kadri, Martin Pospisil, Mikael Backlund, Jonathan Huberdeau and Illya Solovyov. Only four player finished under the water mark, Dillon Dube, Dennis Gilbert, AJ Greer Elias Lindholm.

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