Game Takes: Blues 5 Flames 3

March 28th, 2024 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Quite the showing for the Flames.

Minus the result.

The Flames had two disallowed goals and two goal posts in the third period in falling 5-3 to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

They definitely deserved better.

The loss is the Flames 5th in a row as they continue to hold down the 8th overall draft position. Tonight, though, Montreal and Ottawa both win making the thoughts of 6th and 7th spots more realistic.

The Lineup

Lots of change for the Flames with Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington both late scratches.

Up front one line is held together; Kevin Rooney between AJ Greer and Matt Coronato. The other three lines are retooled with Mikael Backlund between Jonathan Huberdeau and Blake Coleman, Nazem Kadri with Andrei Kuzmenko and Martin Pospisil, and finally Yegor Sharangovich with Connory Zary and Dryden Hunt.

The blueline gets jumbled as well; Joel Hanley with Rasmus Andersson, Mackenzie Weegar with Daniil Miromoanov, and Nikita Okhotiuk with Brayden Pachal.

Dustin Wolf gets the start in goal.

Line Metrics Coming In

Zary – Sharangovich – Hunt NA
Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman 49.6%
Kuzmenko – Kadri – Pospisil 29.7%
Greer – Rooney – Coronato 45.2%

Hanley – Andersson 9.6%
Weegar – Miromanov 60.4%
Okhotiuk – Pachal 50.5%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +14.6
Vladar -12.5
Wolf -7.6

Wolf’s Start

Dustin Wolf gives up four goals, against an expected total of 3.99 … so he breaks it even.

Couldn’t fault him on the first two goals, probably should have had the third, and the fourth was a turnover and not his fault again.

Didn’t carry the team.

Didn’t let them down.

Game Flow

Kind of a sleepy start by both teams with no shots on goal in the first 180 seconds of play. The Blues build some sustained pressure, and get a powerplay out of it, but Wolf and some shot blocking defenders keep the game scoreless. Calgary finds their legs and pushes the play as the period winds towards the midway point but Binnington stands tall. St. Louis breaks through with an odd man rush created by a pass from Binnington, Bolduc beating Wolf on a backhand. The Flames tie it up when Andrei Kuzmenko steals the puck behind the Blues net, slips it through the defender and then dekes the pants off Binnington before putting it upstairs. They go ahead on a powerplay when a Weegar point shot is tipped in by Jonathan Huberdeau. Flames lead 2-1 after 20 minutes.

Flames didn’t seem to have their legs in the second and paid for it. The Blues tie it up when Neighbours slides the puck past a reaching Dustin Wolf. Nazem Kadri takes a four minute minor for high sticking, and the Blues Buchnevich scores on the second minor to make it 3-2 St. Louis. Calgary wakes up a touch after going down again and pushes the play up the ice, drawing a penalty. Calgary ties the game again on a broken play when a Nazem Kadri backhander is tipped by Kuzmenko past Binnington for his second of the night. Out played but right back in the game at 3-3.

Early in the third the Flames looked to have gone back out in front with a Kuzmenko hat trick goal, but the play was blown dead on a high stick. A few minutes later the Blues go ahead themselves when Yegor Sharngovich loses the handle behind the net resulting in a Brandan Saad goal making it 4-3. The Flames tie it up soon after on a goal by Sharangovich, but it’s called back on an off side. Tough turnaround. Calgary takes over the game in the 2nd half of the period and come close to tying it when Coleman tips a Huberdeau pass off the post. A few minutes later Binnington stones Coronato on a tip. The Blues put it away with an empty netter for Buchnevich, his second of the night.

Odds and Sods

Kelly Hrudey pointed out the Blues shooting everything high to start the game, and I say bring it on. May as well see what Dustin Wolf can do at this level. Ironically their only first period goal was along the ice. … Andrei Kuzmenko is so very skilled. That first period goal was amazing. I would guess he gets close to a 20-20 season next year and is dealt for a 2nd round pick at the deadline. With two tonight he’s on a 30 goal pace in Flames colours. … This is probably the fifth time I’ve whined about this but enough with the two minute / four minute decision coming down to blood. Who the hell cares? Kadri gets four minutes for high sticking a player exactly like Andersson was high sticked, but Andersson doesn’t bleed so it’s only two. Makes zero sense. Two for an accident. Four for being reckless. Five and a game for intent. Easy. … Painful third period set of circumstances. The officials blow dead what looked like a Blues high stick which would have resulted in a Kuzmenko hat trick, and then Calgary gets a goal called back for being offside. Ouch. … Interesting third period line with Coronato moving up to take Hunt’s spot with Sharangovich and Zary. Some good jump. The kind of line you want to see with the playoff dream over. All younger forwards and all part of the future.

Special Teams

All tied up.

Both teams score once on three chances with the man advantage.

Digging deeper the Flames powerplay was much more effective, generating 0.79 expected goals against the 0.17 from St. Louis.

Flames win the tie breaker.

Standings and Record

The Knights jump the Kings and into 3rd in the Pacific with their win tonight, making the Kings the elimination target. They are 16 points up on the Flames with the Kings having a game in hand.

The real intrigue is the draft position.

The Flames hold onto 8th spot in the draft, but have the 6th and 7th spot teams both win making the battle for those spots more interesting (Montreal and Ottawa).

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 28 Blues 19
Face Offs: Flames 37% / Blues 63%
Powerplay: Flames 1-3 / Blues 1-3

Fancy Stats

Sure felt like the Flames were the better team five on five tonight, but the play driving stats present a mixed bag of results. Five on five the Flames had 60% of the shot attempts with period splits of 50%/60% and 76% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 49%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 56%, with a 9-7 split.

In all situations the Flames had 59% of the shot attempts, 39% of the expected goals, and 62% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 2.51 to 3.99.

What an odd mixture of stats …

Individually the Flames were led by Martin Pospisil posting a xGF% of 77% five on five. He was joined in the 70s by Rasmus Andersson, Andrei Kuzmenko and Joel Hanley. Five players finished under 30% for the Flames; Okhotiuk, Coronato, Pachal, Sharanogivich and Grier.

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