Game Takes: Flames 3 Coyotes 2 (OT)

January 16th, 2024 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Don’t look now but the Flames are crawling back into things.

For weeks they’ve been say two points back but with way more games played. Tonight with a 3-2 win in overtime over the Arizona Coyotes the Flames move to within two points back with even games played.

They still have three teams to topple in terms of win percentage, but the come back win tonight makes things more and more interesting.

Next up the Leafs and Oilers on home ice.

Statement time.

The Lineup

No change expected for any of the skaters or combinations after a successful two game road trip.

Elias Lindholm with Jonathan Huberdeau and Yegor Sharangovich, Mikael Backlund with Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman, Nazem Kadri between Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil, and on the fourth line Adam Ruzicka between AJ Greer and Dube.

On the blueline Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev, Mackenzie Weegar with Rasmus Andersson and Nick DeSimone with Jordan Oesterle.

Dan Vladar with the start tonight in goal after we learned of Jacob Markstrom’s “minor” injury incurred in practice yesterday.

Line Metrics Coming In

Huberdeau – Lindholm – Sharangovich 41.2%
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 56.8%
Zary – Kadri – Pospisil 58.1%
Greer – Ruzicka – Dube 42.6%

Hanifin – Tanev 52.8%
Weegar – Andersson 46.8%
DeSimone – Oesterle 48.3%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +13.4
Vladar -7.7
Wolf -5.2

Trend Tracker

Calgary’s fourth line may need a switcheroo.

The trio of Adam Ruzicka, AJ Greer and Dillon Dube had a miserable mini trip (and honestly the one before it too), and are now a sub 43% line when you look at expected goal splits.

Time and time again we’ve seen Ryan Huska drop the fourth line altogether in third periods to preserve leads, when earlier in the year he’s find his favourite nine forwards going that night and reconfigure the lines.

As with a third pairing that’s sub 50% though, NHL teams run out of depth and the fourth line is certainly a place where less trustworthy players get placed and cemented in the lineup.

Do they have a mix of three forwards when factoring in Walker Duehr that can break things even in expected goals and let the other three lines carry the torch?

Not sure they do.

Vladar Start

Very very good.

He had no chance on either of the goals .. the first that his his defenseman, the second off a Coyote skate. He was never beaten clean on the night.

On the night 2.59 expected goals against and he gives up the two. Finally gets things going in the right direction in terms of goals saved above expected.

Blake Coleman With 20

Story just continues to get better and better every time out.

He no longer had his dad in stands to fist pump and high five with other family member, but that didn’t stop the hottest Flame form continuing his hot streak by adding his 20th of the season; a crucial goal that got the Flames back in it.

Twenty ties his career best, and the man has just under half a season left to beat and then add to it.

Incredible season from a very deserving player.

Weegar Tough Night

When Mackenzie Weegar first arrived in Calgary he was a nervous mess, handling the puck like a time grenade.

As the season wore on the jitters went away in his new local and he became the Mackenzie Weegar we know now.

Every once in a while though that jittery game creeps back into his arsenal, and tonight was one of those nights.

Shots that didn’t get through, fans on shots, bobbles on cross ice passes, or bump backs on the powerplay … you could hear the player yelling “F**k!!” on numerous occasions.

One of those nights.

Game Flow

This one started in molasses. On the road the Flames were jumping all over their foes and getting off to good starts. Tonight they had their opposition doing little as per usual, but this time they joined them. Icings, pucks over the glass, off sides … literally nothing going on for the first 15 minutes of the period. Finally in the last few minutes we had some violence with Connor Zary getting crosschecked in the face (he’s fine) and then a Rasmus Andersson goal post on the ensuing powerplay. No score. Shots from both teams combined don’t total 10.

Another sleepy period for the most part, though if you were to pick a team it would be Arizona because they did manage a handful of chances, while the Flames accomplished very little. The Coyotes go ahead when a fortunate bounce off the boards caroms out to Durzi who’s one timer floats, hits Noah Hanifin in the back and eludes Dan Vladar. Calgary comes close on a late powerplay but Ingram is solid on an Elias Lindholm stuff attempt. Calgary starts to find their game in the last few minutes of the period, potentially setting up an interesting third period.

Interesting third period. The Coyotes double the lead when Logan Cooley has the puck bounce off his skate and in and it looked like the game was over. The Flames hadn’t managed to generate a whole lot, and now down two with about a half period to play things looked pretty bleak. But wait … the Flames tie the game up with back to back goals from Blake Coleman and Nazem Kadri and suddenly it’s a brand new game. Chances both ways at they play the final eight minutes of the period without a whistle. Heading to overtime tied at two.

Pretty wild overtime. The Flames get two Swedes stuck on the ice for the first 100 seconds of the extra frame but fend it off and survive. The Coyotes almost score on a breakaway from Logan Cooley. Then Calgary gets a powerplay for two many men on the ice and win it late when Yegor Sharangovich rushes out to the point to keep a puck in and then calmly walks in a roofs it for the winner. Flames win, another come from behind win.

Odds and Sods

Having Jacob Markstrom out for any length of time will be interesting as the Flames are really relying on their goaltender. Lots of talk in the media of the Flames becoming a different team from November 1st and on, but the truth of the matter lies in the team getting more luck in shooting, and much better goaltending; what they give up is actually worse in the last three months than the season’s initial 31 days. … Jonathan Huberdeau was a late scratch with the Flu bug moving Dillon Dube up the roster in his place. Walker Duehr stepped in on the fourth line in Dube’s place. … Just can’t stand that odd font on the back of Coyote jerseys. The “E” really gives me a headache. … You’d have to think that Kesselring cross check to Connor Zary’s face will be reviewed by the league. Not a good look. Cross check a player into your goalie, then cross check him in the face, then when he’s down cross check him in the side of the head. … Sharangovich again. Unbelievable. Not sure what story is better; Coleman or Sharangovich, but both are adding a lot of entertainment to the season. …. Nazem Kadri with another two point game.

Special Teams

Another night with the Flames winning the special teams battle.

Tonight they score once on five chances, the overtime winner … and kill all three Coyote penalties.

Seems to be a trend lately.

Winning special teams. Winning games.

Standings and Record

Four in a row is a statement.

And we’re starting to see it in the standings.

The Flames no longer have to climb over four teams to get in, that number is three, and they’re only two points back with even games played with the Nashville Predators.

They’re back in it.

Tough team not to cheer for.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 33 Coyotes 27
Face Offs: Flames 57% / Coyotes 43%
Powerplay: Flames 1-5 / Coyotes 0-3

Fancy Stats

The Flames were not the better team five on five, they relied on Dan Vladar and some desperation defense as the Coyotes took it to them for most of the first 50 minutes. Five on five the Flames had 39% of the shot attempts with period splits of 47%/40% and 34% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 42%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 29%, with a 4-10 split.

In all situations the Flames had 47% of the shot attempts, 56% of the expected goals, and 38% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 3.27 to 2.59.

Individually the Flames were led by Noah Hanifin posting a xGF% of 69% five on five. His defense partner Chris Tanev was just back at 66%. Andrew Mangiapane, Connor Zary and Blake Coleman were all above 50%. Another rough night for the fourth line as Adam Ruzicka was 0%, Walker Duehr 5%, and usual fourth liner Dillon Dube at 8%.

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