Game Takes: Hawks 4 Flames 3

January 7th, 2024 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Any team can beat any other team on any given night.

We all know that.

We also know that the odds of that happening increase dramatically if the favoured team shows up flat and doesn’t put in the work required to win the hockey game.

Truthfully the Flames were a little unlucky today as they had two own goals, and another off a crazy bounce into the slot in this afternoon’s 4-3 loss in Chicago..

But they didn’t show up ready to put their A game on the ice and paid for it.

The loss squares the road trip at 2-2-0, simply not good enough if you have your eyes on getting back into the playoff race.

The Lineup

With back to back afternoon games to wrap up this trip the Flames make a couple of changes; one up front plus switching goaltenders.

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 is in for Adam Ruzicka, so Dillon Dube between AJ Greer and Duehr.

No change on the blueline; Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev, Mackenzie Weegar with Rasmus Andersson and Nick DeSimone with Jordan Oesterle.

Dav Vladar with the start tonight in goal

Line Metrics Coming In

Huberdeau – Lindholm – Sharangovich 42.4%
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 58.9%
Zary – Kadri – Pospisil 57.2%
Greer – Dube – Duehr 20.0%

Hanifin – Tanev 54.3%
Weegar – Andersson 48.3%
DeSimone – Oesterle 58.7%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +9.3
Vladar -5.0
Wolf -5.2

Trend Tracker

First off Markstrom again.

With his effort in Philly yesterday he now sits 6th in the league in goals saved above average, and is within striking distance of the top five. He is the biggest reason the Flames season isn’t considered over at this point.

As Kyle Woodley said on 960 last week, he could end up a Vezina finalist.

The balanced lines …

Calgary now has three decent lines that can score, but the downside of the chane is the top line taking on water again. The Lindholm-Huberdeau-Sharangovich line is now down to 42% five on five in expected goals.

Vladar Start

His numbers don’t look great, but honestly the guy had zero luck.

Two goals deflected in off his own defenseman, a bank off the glass into the slot and a perfect shot.

Tough afternoon for Dan Vladar.

All told he had an expected goals against total of 1.8 but gave up 4.0 on 20 shots for an .800 day at the office

No Goal

Think this one was the right call.

Elias Lindholm takes a great pass from Jonathan Huberdeau and in the process of deflecting in the puck basically spins Mrazek with the puck going over hte line.

Without the stick on pad, the puck likely doesn’t go in.

Game Flow

Kind of sleepy period for the most part. The depleted Blackhawks are pretty much harmless unless the Flames feed them chances through mistakes. The Hawks take the lead on a great shot by Colin Blackwell after putting on the breaks and letting DeSimone skate by him. Calgary looks to tie it, but the Elias Lindholm goal is waved due to goalie interference. The Flames do tie it up late when Noah Hanifin makes a great pass to Nazem Kadri for a tap in.

Well if the first was sleepy for the Flames, the second was catatonic. The Flames had zero jump. They score first when Andrew Mangiapane’s shot on the powerplay hit a Hawks defenseman and carromed in. It was a sign of things to come, but at the other end as the Hawks score back to back goals off Calgary defensemen; the first off Andersson the second off DeSimone. Had to feel for Vladar.

The Flames had a little more jump in the third period as they tried to salvage a disaster in Chicago, but it wasn’t enough. The Hawks add to their lead on a crazy bounce off of the boards, a Hawk or Dillon Dube straight out front and it’s 4-2 Chicago. The Flames get to within one moments later with another odd goal, Nazem Kadri with his second on a bank shot off of Mrazek. But that’s as close as they got.

Odds and Sods

Surprised we didn’t see the NHL debut of Yan Knuznetsov this afternoon. With the back to backs and Dennis Gilbert out it felt like a no brainer to me. … Just a head shaking season for Dillon Dube; he’s completely lost his game. Today that turnover in the second period was just a symbol for his season. Later on he’s unlucky enough to be part of the bank pass into the slot for the game winner. Tough season.. … Lazy game for many Calgary Flames, but Nazem Kadri was one of the worst. Back to that never be F1 and always shoot the puck and never pass guy. Scored a goal, but not a good effort. … Interesting that it’s back to back games where Elias Lindholm has knocked the helmet off an opposing player with a hit on the boards. Salty play of late.

Special Teams

A saw off statistically with both teams going 1/3 on the powerplay in the contest.

Digging deeper the Flames generated more garnering 0.56 of a goal vs the Chicago total of 0.31.

But picking a winner from two terrible powerplays doesn’t seem right.

Pathetic draw.

Standings and Record

The Flames stay two points out of the final wild card spot, but that team, Edmonton, has four games in hand.

Really, by percentage the last playoff spot is behind held down by the Nashville Predators who are five games over .500. Calgary is one game under. Six games to make up.

The Preds are on a 92 point pace, meaning the Flames need to go 26-14-2 for a 105 point pace the rest of the way.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 31 Hawks 20
Face Offs: Flames 57% / Hawks 43%
Powerplay: Flames 1-3 / Hawks 1-3

Fancy Stats

It’s not saying much, given the opposition and their injuries, but the Flames were the better team for the most part. They didn’t give up much, but had little luck in their own zone. Five on five the Flames had 56% of the shot attempts with period splits of 61%/53% and 56% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 54%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 79%, with a 11-3 split.

In all situations the Flames had 60% of the shot attempts, 58% of the expected goals, and 76% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 2.52 to 1.80.

Individually the Flames were led by Mackenzie Weegar posting a xGF% of 87% five on five. He was joined in the 80s by Rasmus Andersson and Mikael Backlund. Elias Lindholm was in the 70s. The fourth line was at the bottom as all of AJ Greer, Dillon Dube and Walker Duehr had single digit nights.

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