Game Takes: Flames 4 Bruins 1

February 6th, 2024 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Not sure anyone was expecting a game like that, coming off the all star break, and icing a roster for the first time in six years with Elias Lindholm.

Says a lot about this team’s level of pride and integrity.

The Flames showed up on time and put in one of, if not the best efforts of their season in beating the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Tuesday night.

The Flames were led by Jonathan Huberdeau with his best game in Flames silks, and saw the newest Flame, Andrew Kuzemenko light the lamp in his debut.

The Lineup

You want change? Here it comes!

No less than 5 different bodies in the starting 20 players in tonight’s lineup through demotions, promotions, and a blockbuster trade.

Two lines and two pairings, however, remain the same.

Up front it’s a new top line with Yegor Sharangovich moving to center with Jonathan Huberdeau and newcomer Andrei Kuzmenko. The middle two lines stay the same; Nazem Kadri with Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil and Mikael Backlund with Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman. A completely new fourth line with Kevin Rooney centering Jakob Pelletier and Walker Duehr.

On the blueline it’s the usual top two pairings; Noah Hanifin with Chris Tanev and Mackenzie Weegar with Rasmus Andersson. A new third pairing with Oliver Kylington lining up with waiver claim Brayden Pachal.

Jacob Markstrom starts in goal.

Line Metrics Coming In

Huberdeau – Sharangovich – Kuzmenko NA
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 58.1%
Zary – Kadri – Pospisil 59.0%
Pelletier – Rooney – Duehr NA

Hanifin – Tanev 53.2%
Weegar – Andersson 47.8%
Kylington – Pachal NA

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +13.0
Vladar -6.7
Wolf -5.2

Trend Tracker

Since his time in a Calgary jersey may be limited, lets focus on Chris Tanev.

In Chris Tanev’s time in a Calgary uniform he has blocked 501 shots in the regular season. There are only five players ahead of him; Jacob Trouba, Alex Martinez, Brayden McNabb, Connor Murphy and Adam Larsson.

That’s an average of 5.9 blocks per 60 minutes in all situations.

In the last three years for defensemen that have played 2500 or more minutes in total (131 players), he sits tied for 1st in xGA60 at 2.15 with Jonas Brodin.

When he was signed there was a lot of concern that the Flames gave up a million a year too much and a year too many. Now he’s about to exit with a pretty decent return at the end of his contract.

Best free agent signing in Flames history?

The New Guys

Andrei Kuzmenko – Great first shift between he and Jonathan Huberdeau as they had three great scoring chances, two set up by Kuzmenko to Huberdeau, which is ironic considering their skill sets. Quieter second period, but set up Huberdeau in the paint for a tap in that hit a Bruin’s skate.

Jakob Pelletier – In and around it all night. Got a lot of pucks to the net. Good on the transition finding the streaking player. Good wheels and in the right spot all night.

Brayden Pachal – Not the luckiest of starts for Calgary’s new blueliner as the player has his stick break while defending a two on two backing into his own zone. The Flames managed to box the Bruins out, so he survived uscathed. Thought he was solid all night in the end; good size, plays with some snarl and has good speed.

Oliver Kylington – Didn’t notice him all that much, which is a good thing for a third pairing defenseman. Had a great move coming out from behind the net freezing two Bruins and having them run into each other.

Kevin Rooney – Nothing flashy about Kevin Rooney, he’s basically a replacement level player looking replaceable. Good human and a solid option for a team that looks a little thin roster wise.

Huberdeau’s Best Game as a Flame?

Sure seemed like it to me.

Productive with a three point night, but it was more than that.

He was strong on the puck, winning board battles and creating offence all over the ice.

He had some chemistry with Kuzmenko for sure, but honestly it was more about the Flames assistant captain than the new addition.

Jacob Markstrom’s Start

The guy didn’t have a lot to do in the first 45 minutes of the game, and then got pretty busy for about ten minutes and then quiet again.

On the night though he was ahead of it as the expected goals against in all situations was 1.78 and he only surrendered one goal, down two men.

Typically strong night from Jacob Markstrom.

Game Flow

A great, if somewhat unexpected first period for the Flames as they were full marks for a 2-0 lead through 20 minutes. The Bruins had a moment or two in the Calgary zone, but the Flames had the better chances and drove the play. Calgary opens the scoring when Andrei Kuzmenko takes a Jonathan Huberdeau pass (hope that’s a trend) and rifles a wrist shot past Slayman. The Flames double their lead when Connor Zary takes a Nazem Kadri pass and drives to the net, beating the goaltender with a backhand. Impressive stuff.

Calgary was even better in the second period all told. No goals from either side, but the Flames spent even more time in the Bruin’s zone that the first, but didn’t create the same level of scoring chance. Markstrom continues to have a boring night at the other end. Flames still lead 2-0 through 40 minutes.

Kind of feel like this game turned on a too many men on the ice penalty. The Bruins had a two man advantage with a four minute minor to Mackenzie Weegar. They were successful with the two man bulge and were pressing for the tying goal when they inexplicably had six guys way up the ice … on a powerplay. Instead Jonathan Huberdeau scores four on four and it’s a completely different game. Calgary back for one more, an end to ender by Noah Hanifin on a powerplay to put things away.

Odds and Sods

We all wondered if that first line had too much offence and not enough defense. Would they ever get the puck? Their first few shifts featured a bounce or two and a very energetic Jonathan Huberdeau giving them zone time. Good start. … Interesting to watch the Flames penalty kill with forwards 1 (or 2) and 6 missing in their six forward rotation. That’s a big change to the roster for a special teams group. Seemed like their acquitted themselves pretty well. … Little surprised that Martin Pospisil was thrown out for his his stick on Brad Marchand. It was certainly a shot to the face that was intended to be a glove. Thought maybe four minutes, but five and a game seemed a bit over the top especially on a pest that was whacking away at Calgary’s goaltender. … Three point night for Nazem Kadri, with the second assist on the Kuzmenko goal changed. Not a bad first night back from an all star break. He’s been money pretty much all season after a tough ten games to start the season. … Funny to see a stat line with the Flames having a 2/4 night on the powerplay but a reality of two broken play rushes creating the two strikes without ever really getting set up. They’ll take it! … Speaking of penalties, this one was a rough game as the teams started getting more and more hostile as the night went on. Think it might have stemmed from the Pospisil hit to Marchand’s face.

Special Teams

Flames win the special teams battle with two powerplay goals on four chances, while giving up one goal on an equal number of opportunities.

The powerplay goals weren’t, as I said, how you draw it up, but it certainly helps the stats.

Solid night for the Flames in all areas.

Standings and Record

The Flames creep back into the conversation again with the unexpected two points in Boston.

They’re now just three points back of a wild card spot, but have played an extra game.

Overall the Flames are tied for the 9th draft spot with the Arizona Coyotes.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 29 Bruins 22
Face Offs: Flames 45% / Bruins 55%
Powerplay: Flames 2-4 / Bruins 1-4

Fancy Stats

The Flames had the lion’s share of the offensive zone time, and away from the puck kept the game to a low event game in a very tough barn as they were full marks for the victory. Five on five the Flames had 55% of the shot attempts with period splits of 65%/58% and 35% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 61%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 50%, with a 6-6 split.

In all situations the Flames had 54% of the shot attempts, 58% of the expected goals, and 47% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 2.46 to 1.78.

Individually the Flames were led by Boston boy Noah Hanifin posting a xGF% of 80% five on five. He was joined in the 70s by Chris Tanev, Blake Coleman, Mikael Backlund, Andrew Mangiapane and Connor Zary. Five players were under water; Walker Duehr, Kevin Rooney, Brayden Pachal, Oliver Kylington and Mackenzie Weegar.

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