Game Takes: Rangers 2 Flames 0

February 12th, 2024 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

What is it about the New York Rangers and Calgary Flames in Manhattan?

Last year they played what many felt was the regular season’s most exciting contest. Tonight may not have hit those same levels but it was on the same page as the Flames and Rangers had a spiriting game featuring one of the better goalie battles we’ve seen.

For the Flames, you just have to tip your hat.

Another gutsy performance from a team that didn’t get the memo that their season is over because they’ve traded some key players.

They finish the road trip 3-1-0 and on the outside, but playing some of their most exciting hockey we’ve seen this season.

The Lineup

Three games with this lineup and three victories. Don’t expect any change for tonight’s game in Manhattan.

So the new normal has Yegor Sharangovich between Jonathan Huberdeau and Adrei Kuzmenko, 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 andOliver Kylington lining up with Brayden Pachal.

Jacob Markstrom starts in goal.

Line Metrics Coming In

Huberdeau – Sharangovich – Kuzmenko 78.9%
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 57.8%
Zary – Kadri – Pospisil 54.5%
Pelletier – Rooney – Duehr 47.8%

Hanifin – Tanev 52.8%
Weegar – Andersson 48.2%
Kylington – Pachal 35.7%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +15.7
Vladar -6.7
Wolf -5.2

Trend Tracker

Jacob Markstrom is the first star in the NHL this week with a perfect 3-0 record and eyepopping counting stats.

He’s now up to 15.7 goals saved above average, and 3rd spot in the league … leaving the Bruin’s tandem behind and gaining ground on 2nd place Thatcher Demko, his former Canuck teammate.

His goals against average is 0.49 better than expected, which has him 4th leaguewide.

He’s third in wins above replacement at 2.62.

He’s just over a goal per game above expected in his starts since December 1st.

Incredible goaltending.

Jacob Markstrom’s Start

Maybe it’s a Flames strategy to abandon the guy in order to get him to waive his no movement clause.

Would explain the complete lack of support in the game’s first 25 minutes.

Markstrom simply brilliant again for the Flames stopping 29 of the 30 shots he faced for a .967 night.

Expected goals against was 4.28, with the Flames giving up an astounding 19 high danger chances against. Incredible that he only gave up the single goal.

Getting predictable isn’t it?

Best Game Ever for Zary?

Sure the kid has an unsustainable shooting percentage around 32%.

Sure he’s the Flames “luckiest” player this season when it comes to awarded vs generated in the forward group.

But he’s a good hockey player, and tonight was likely his best game in the National Hockey League.

Beat players one on one, drew penalties, was physical, great with the mitts and all over the offensive fabric of the game with his linemates Martin Pospisil and Nazem Kadri.

Such a bright future.

Rough Game for Coleman

Yikes that was a tough game for Blake Coleman.

Turned the puck over a bunch, one resulting in the Rangers first goal.

But beyond the cough ups, just handled the puck like a brick all night.

He’s a meat and potatoes guy, he’s never going to wow with skill, but sometimes the meat is overcooked, and the potatoes about 15 minutes of boiling light.

Pospisil a Beauty

Have to love Martin Pospisil when he inserts himself in the guts of a hockey game.

His second period shift against Panarin was just classic.

Stood him up at the blueline, hit him in the neutral zone, hammered him in the corner, and then had Panarin drop the gloves and attack him.

Good trade off!

Just a fun presence in the lineup, we haven’t had a depth player like that since Ville Nieminen. (Tkachuk was a prick, but also a star player).

Game Flow

Not a bad start for the Flames, but the Rangers were the better team in the early going and Jacob Markstrom had to be extremely sharp. The rest of the period doesn’t get any better as the Flames give up a lion’s share of ten bell chances, but Markstrom is equal to each and every task. Elite goaltending keeps the game scoreless through 20 minutes.

The first few minutes of the second period were an extension of the first; the Flames under siege, and Jacob Markstrom saving their bacon. The Flames finally found their legs about five minutes in and then were likely the better team for the rest of the middle frame. It’s the Rangers that open the scoring though when Blake Coleman turns the puck over, creating a two on one and a go ahead goal. Calgary comes close but can’t find the equalizer; 1-0 Rangers after 40.

The goalie battle continues into the third period; now a battle because the Flames continued to put pucks on net and make life much more interesting for Shesterkin. Neither guy gives up a goal in the third, but the Rangers put it away with an empty net goal to make it a 2-0 final. Another classic game between the Rangers and Flames.

Odds and Sods

Sad to see Jakob Pelletier head to the Flames locker room after getting squished by Jacob Trouba in the first period. Looked like his shoulder so I was certainly thinking the worst on his exit. Hopefully it’s not that severe. … Speaking of hope, another Chris Tanev careening into the Flames net but getting up and skating off on his own steam. This time it looked like ribs. I get that you can’t rest him for 4 weeks, but hopefully that trade market closes soon and we can all breathe easy with the assets acquired and injury fear put to bed. … Flamesnation writer Mike Gould (CP’s Scorp) pointed out last week that Oleg Saprykin was the last Russian forward to play for the Flames. With the Flames in New York along with Marc Savard my mind went to that draft day trade in 1999. The Rangers sent Marc Savard and the 11th pick (Oleg Saprykin) for Jan Hlavac, the 9th pick (Jamie Lundmark) and a 3rd round pick. Good trade for Calgary! Lundmark of course played in Calgary as well later in his career. … Hate seeing Jimmy Vesey back in New York. He never slighted my team, but I always cheer against players that try to determine where they play. I realize the rules are the rules, but they leave a bad taste. He picked the Rangers (like Adam Fox), but it didn’t stick leaving him bouncing around the league. Annoying to see him back. … I’ve said a half dozen times; don’t have strings on a jersey that don’t conclude with an opening. It looks dumb, and it’s not preserving history. …

Special Teams

Neither team score a goal on a total of five powerplay chances between the two clubs.

The Rangers get blanked on three so the Flames are the victors in the special teams battle on the night.

Penalty kill continues to be dominant, with Markstrom playing a key role.

Standings and Record

Tough loss for the Flames tonight.

They looked dead and buried early in the second period, but then found the drive to push back and truly make it an interesting hockey game.

The loss keeps the Flames three points out of the final playoff spot in the West, but now the Blues have two games in hand.

The Flames have 29 games to go, they likely can’t lose more than nine of them in regulation.

Tough road ahead.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 30 Rangers 31
Face Offs: Flames 41% / Rangers 59%
Powerplay: Flames 0-2 / Rangers 0-3

Fancy Stats

Given the Jacob Markstrom highlight reel tonight it won’t come as a surprise that the Rangers were the better team in terms of driving play. Five on five the Flames had 44% of the shot attempts with period splits of 36%/44% and 52% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 43%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 42%, with a 10-14 split.

In all situations the Flames had 45% of the shot attempts, 44% of the expected goals, and 39% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 3.33 to 4.28.

Quite the goalie performances!

Individually the Flames were led by Brayden Pachal for the second time on this road trip, posting a xGF% of 75% five on five. Connor Zary and Mackenzie Weegar both had nights in the 60s. At the bottom Yegor Sharangovich and Andrei Kuzmenko at the bottom with numbers in the 20s.

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