Game Takes: Flames 5 Devils 3

February 8th, 2024 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

For however long it lasts, this is becoming a pretty interesting story.

The Flames go into Boston and win without Elias Lindholm.

Great story, but how about an encore as the Flames hold serve by beating the Devils 5-3 in Jersey to run their record to 2-0-0 on this four game Eastern trip and to within a point of a playoff spot.

The path is doubtful, but damn if it isn’t becoming a fun possibility!

The Lineup

A win in Boston and two days without another player transaction add up to the same lineup heading out for tonight’s game against the Devils.

At least as far as we  know at the moment!

Will be interesting to see if the top line of Yegor Sharangovich between Jonathan Huberdeau and newcomer Andrei Kuzmenko can replicate their chemistry from game one together. No change to the other three lines as well; Nazem Kadri with Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil and Mikael Backlund with Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman and finally a 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 and a second straight game for the 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 71.3%
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 58.9%
Zary – Kadri – Pospisil 58.9%
Pelletier – Rooney – Duehr 45.1%

Hanifin – Tanev 54.0%
Weegar – Andersson 47.9%
Kylington – Pachal 44.9%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +13.8
Vladar -6.7
Wolf -5.2

Trend Tracker

With Noah Hanifin’s tenure in Calgary on life support lets look at the player against his peers.

The player was always underappreciated in Flames silks in my mind, as he was nothing but a defendable, play driving five on five defenseman.

In the past three seasons Hanfin, five on five ranks …

  • 22nd in overall ice time for blueliners
  • 60th in ice time / game
  • 18th in xGF60
  • 20th in GF60
  • 25th in xGF%

He isn’t a dynamic, offensive blueliner, but that much can’t go right with him on the ice without the player playing a role in getting the puck up the ice, and keeping it on the offensive zone.

On counting stats he sits 29th 5 on 5 with 1.14 points per 60 minutes, a tick under Mackenzie Weegar for the Flames lead in this time period.

He’ll be missed.

Deadline Mind Games

The leaps and jumps in your brain when watching hockey near the trade deadline.

Playing a team rumoured to be in on a few of the Flames players so you notice things. Vanacek had a tough night. Jacob Markstrom was strong, that has to be good right?

Then the Tanev down the tunnel moment.

Later with the Flames up 2-1 after two you wonder if beating the Devils takes them out of the trade market.

Boy that Holtz kid looks good!

Quite the time of year.

Jacob Markstrom’s Start

Not sure the Flames pull this one out without Jacob Markstrom’s third period.

He had to be good in the first half of the first, and parts of the second, but the Devils really turned it up in the third period generating over 20 shots and giving the Flames a scare or two.

His counting stats solid, 37 saves on 40 shots for a .925 night at the office.

The Flames gave up 3.46 expected goals in all situations, and only gave up the three. Felt like it should have been five.

Kuzmenko Has a Third

Quite the third period in Andrewi Kuzmenko’s second game.

He had a solid night going into the third, but in the third he coughs the puck up on a Calgary powerplay creating a breakaway for Palat and a goal that made the game very close.

Then he corrals a loose puck and hits the twine himself, scoring the game winner and making up for his mistake.

Finishes it off with a great interview at the end of the game.

Game Flow

Decent first period again for the Calgary Flames, after their impressive victory in Boston. Jersey was the better team for the first 2/3 of the period and opened the scoring when they finally solved Jacob Markstrom on a two on one. But Calgary forced the issue later in the period, caught up in shots on goal, and tied the game when some board work from Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman resulted in a Mikael Backlund goal short side. Score tied at one through 20 minutes.

Often in the NHL a golden chance at one end that is thwarted turns into a chance and a goal going the other way and that’s what we saw in the second period. Jacob Markstrom and Martin Pospisil both make big saves, puck goes the other way and Connor Zary finishes it when the puck leaks through Vanacek. Flames lead 2-1. The last ten minutes of the period was literally all Calgary as they dominated and should have scored another two or three goals hitting three goal posts (at least?) and a handful of other chances. Calgary just a different team since the all star break. Flames up 2-1 through 40.

Just a crazy third period. A total of five goals in the third period; three by the Flames and two by the Devils and the Flames skate away with a crazy 5-3 win. Calgary gets up 3-1, 4-2 and then 5-3 again in walking away.

Odds and Sods

Another pretty good start for the new top line. They had their share of foibles, but also a dominant shift that had them pour it on for 40 seconds and get a few scoring chances. Kuzmenko set up Jonathan Huberdeau late in the period for what looked like a tap in goal, but Huberdeau bobbled the puck. … Anyone else with antzy feelings when Chris Tanev sprinted down the tunnel in the second period? I mean it’s a good sign in a way that he’s sprinting but with a net collision and a sport with blades on everyone feet I couldn’t help but wonder if he had a serious cut. … Very strange moment late in the game with the puck going up the wall and Pospisil chasing it down essentially colliding with Vanacek. Then the Nazem Kadri gets pushed into Vanacek for a second collision, puck goes to Pospisil who hits the empty net. But no the puck was blown dead? Why? … Still very very early, but that top line looked good again tonight posting huge underlying numbers (80% expected goals). Unbelievable start for the new trio in the wake of Elias Lindholm missing in the lineup.

Special Teams

Neither team scores on the powerplay … the Flames failing on three chances and the Devils on two so give the edge to the hosts tonight.

Calgary with a slight edge in expected goals at 0.23 to 0.18.

Standings and Record

The good news … the win moves the Flames to within a point of the final playoff spot, as they trail the St. Louis Blues.

More specifically though, the Blues have two games in hand leaving the Flames with a hill left to climb. The hill is getting smaller but it’s still a hill.

The Flames now only have to climb over two teams; the Blues and the Predators.

The Blues are five games over .500 and the Flames just two.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 30 Devils 40
Face Offs: Flames 47% / Devils 53%
Powerplay: Flames 0-3 / Devils 0-2

Fancy Stats

Calgary on the wrong side of pretty much every advanced stat as the Devils were the better team five on five all night. Five on five the Flames had 48% of the shot attempts with period splits of 50%/56% and 34% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 49%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 43%, with a 10-13 split.

In all situations the Flames had 45% of the shot attempts, 52% of the expected goals, and 46% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 3.76 to 3.44.

Individually the Flames were led by former Devil Yegor Sharangovich posting a xGF% of 86% five on five. He was joined in the 80s by Jonathan Huberdeau, with Andrew Kuzmenko just under that mark. Three players finished under 30%; Mikael Backlund, Andrew Mangiapane and Martin Pospisil.

All content is property of and cannot be used without expressed, written consent from this site.