Game Takes: Flames 3 Vegas 1

January 13th, 2024 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

This is getting to be a hard team not to like.

They just get things done.

Not many periods taken off, and not many passengers game to game.

Truthfully, however, they’re getting dragged into the fight by their goaltender Jacob Markstrom who may not have stolen one tonight, but a case could be made in the 3-1 Flames win in Vegas tonight.

The win completes the dad trip with a sweep and keeps the Flames very much in the complicated Western wild card race.

They return home Tuesday night to play the Coyotes in game one of a six game road trip.

The Lineup

No change for the Flames after their dominant win in Arizona on Thursday night.

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 Walker Duehr takes a seat and Dillon Dube returns, so 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.

Jacob Markstrom with the start tonight in goal

Line Metrics Coming In

Huberdeau – Lindholm – Sharangovich 41.8%
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 56.3%
Zary – Kadri – Pospisil 58.3%
Greer – Ruzicka – Dube 45.3%

Hanifin – Tanev 53.0%
Weegar – Andersson 47.8%
DeSimone – Oesterle 43.5%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +11.3
Vladar -7.7
Wolf -5.2

Trend Tracker

When Yegor Sharangovich was acquired the team and more specifically Craig Conroy felt with greater opportunity the player would see his production return to levels two years ago. He also lauded the player’s ability to kill penalties and play all three forward positions.

So how has his numbers this year compared to his top six year in Jersey?

His goals / 60 is up as you’d expect as he was 0.94/60 five on five in Jersey in his good season. This year he’s 1.15/60.

Point production is down five on five though. In Jersey he had 1.88 points / 60 this year 1.73 (last season 1.54).

In all situations … in Jersey he was 1.15 goals/60 and 2.20 points/60. This year in Calgary it’s 1.44 and 2.54 as his powerplay and shorthanded production is through the roof.

League wide he’s 172nd in points / 60 five on five (top six forward), in all situations he’s 98th. Interesting to note, Tyler Toffoli is 192nd at five on five and 95th in all situations.

Shorthanded he gave up 7.70 expected goals / 60 in Jersey and this year it’s 7.63.

Markstrom Start

JFresh on Twitter has Jacob Markstrom in the top spot for goals saved above average; Moneypuck has him 4th league wide now.

Regardless of source it’s hard to argue the guy has been money this season for the Flames.

Tonight he just keeps adding to that resume.

Gives up one goal on the night on 32 shots for a .969 night.

Expected goals against were 2.64 so another +1.64 to the growing goals saved above average.

Zary & The Little Things

Connor Zary’s first period assist was a nice little play and the one you’ll see in replays after the game. He tries to pass it to Rasmus Andersson and has it come back to him. Tries to put it in himself, but has it come back to him again. Then takes it around the fallen goaltender and puts it back in the crease for Nazem Kadri to finish off. Ninety percent of NHLers just stuff that loose puck into the pads and that’s the end of it.

But it’s the little things that stand out to me.

Twice in the first period he cooly skated the puck out of trouble in his own zone completely thwarting the Vegas forecheck.

The kid has a very long fuse.

Game Flow

A penalty filled start to the game, not by way of violence, but a lot of ticky tacky calls by officials. The Flames took advantage with a Blake Coleman powerplay goal to open the scoring, and then a Nazem Kadri even strength goal a few minutes later to forge a 2-0 lead. Markstrom solid in the first period keeping the Flames two goal lead in tact through 20 minutes.

Second period was all Vegas … well except for Jacob Markstrom. The Calgary goaltender kept the Flames up two through 15 minutes of Vegas taking it to them before the Backlund line found an insurance goal for the third period. Coleman fights to get the puck out creating a two on two with Mangiapane and Backlund. Mangiapane feeds Backlund who makes a move in tight and beats Logan Thompson to make it 3-0.

Thought the first 2/3 of the third period was a much better details/road period for the Flames. Then a double turnover shift turns into a Vegas goal and the game was a gripper the rest of the way. The Flames manage to ice the win after Markstrom makes a handful of ten bell saves to preserve things.

Odds and Sods

Kind of nostalgic for me to watch a road game on TV with the Flames wearing their red jerseys. Jumps me back to the first few televised road games in Calgary when the Flames first moved here. Not sure if it was in my head or not, but road games always seemed darker than home games on TV, and the Flames in red added to it. … Some lively boards in the first period with two occasions of ringed boards almost ending up with pucks in the Calgary net. … Anyone else get a little nervous when Elias Lindholm headed to the dressing room after colliding with Yegor Sharangovich? Didn’t seem like much live, but you just never know. Luckily he returned a few minutes later and resumed a regular shift. … Fellow countryman Rasmus Andersson played a pretty big role in costing his goaltender a shut out with two turnovers on a third period shift. Could see why he broke his stick on the net. … I’ve never seen a grabbing the visor penalty. Such an odd game to call isn’t it? Pospisil puts a minor cross check on a Knight. He gets punched in the face. He grabs a visor. He’s the only one to go to the box.

Special Teams

Flames win the special teams battle again tonight.

Calgary goes 1/2 on the man advantage and kills off both Vegas opportunities.

Steady improvement from the Flames powerplay of late, and the penalty killing has been solid all season.

Standings and Record

Technically the Flames are two points out of the final wild card spot with the win, but that needs an asterisk as the Oiler’s hold that spot down and have four games in hand.

By win percentage the Flames still have four teams to pass in order to secure a spot.

With the Oilers and Kraken winning every night that bar to get in will continue to move upward.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 26 Knights 32
Face Offs: Flames 55% / Knights 45%
Powerplay: Flames 1-2 / Knights 0-2

Fancy Stats

The Flames relied heavily on Markstrom again tonight, something that is very evident in the underlying stats. Five on five the Flames had 41% of the shot attempts with period splits of 57%/33% and 40% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 40%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 45%, with a 5-6 split.

In all situations the Flames had 43% of the shot attempts, 47% of the expected goals, and 44% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 2.38 to 2.64.

Individually the Flames were led by Mikael Backlund posting a xGF% of 58% five on five. Only three other players were above the breakeven mark; Blake Coleman, Martin Pospisil and Andrew Mangiapane. The fourth line had another tough night with all three finishing at our under 20%.

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