Game Takes: Flames 4 Kings 2

March 30th, 2024 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

The Flames show up every night.

We’ve seen it.

They’ve almost caught a team or two in their five game losing streak, but didn’t get the bounce or the finish and lost the games.

Tonight though, the Kings looked past them, and they muscled their way to a 4-2 victory on Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada to snap their losing streak and keep some pride alive.

The Flames avoided getting eliminated tonight with the win.

Punt that issue forward for another night.

The Lineup

The Flames continue to be without Andrew Mangiapane, but Oliver Kylington returns to the fold. Nikita Okhotiuk takes a seat to make room.

Up front we see Mikael Backlund between Jonathan Huberdeau and Blake Coleman, Nazem Kadri with Andrei Kuzmenko and Martin Pospisil, a new line with Yegor Sharangovich with Connory Zary and Matt Coronato, and finally a fourth line with Kevin Rooney between AJ Greer and Dryden Hunt.

On the blueline it’s Joel Hanley with Rasmus Andersson, Mackenzie Weegar with Daniil Miromanov, and Oliver Kylington with Brayden Pachal.

Dustin Wolf gets the start in goal.

Line Metrics Coming In

Zary – Sharangovich –  Coronato 8.9%
Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman 50.2%
Kuzmenko – Kadri – Pospisil 33.3%
Greer – Rooney – Hunt 80.0%

Hanley – Andersson 667%
Weegar – Miromanov 54.2%
Kylington – Pachal 49.3%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +14.6
Vladar -12.5
Wolf -9.4

Markstrom’s Start

Had to feel for the guy.

Thirty minutes into the game and he had only seen five shots on goal.

Tough to stay mentally sharp in a game like that!

In the end he pulls it off though with LA scoring twice against 2.25 of expected goals for a small uptick in his most important stat.

Looking Past the Flames

Have to chuckle at team after team looking past the Calgary Flames.

They’re depleted.

They lack talent.

But they’re gamers every single night.

It hasn’t worked of late with the Flames losing five straight coming in, but it was pretty clear through two periods that the LA Kings felt they had an easy one tonight in Calgary.

They were wrong.

Game Flow

When you play the LA Kings you expect low event hockey and that’s exactly what we saw in the first period; five on five at least. The two teams swapped mid period powerplay goals with Nazem Kadri and Adrian Kempe doing the honours. Later in the period the Flames go ahead when Kadri and Martin Pospisil combine to keep the puck in, Kadri to Andrei Kuzmenko, Kuzmenko to Pospisil for a tap in and it’s 2-1 Flames. Calgary takes over the second half of the period five on five and gains the better of the chances. Kings get a late powerplay chance, but it’s all Calgary with the chances down a man. LA lucky to be down just one through one.

Flames simply don’t let up. It’s all Calgary for the first 3/4 of the second period with the Kings generating only one shot on goal despite having a full two minute powerplay. The Flames double their lead when Rasmus Andersson puts the puck on net on a Calgary powerplay, the rebound deflecting to Blake Coleman who puts it in for his 29th goal of the season. The Kings get a late powerplay and Kopitar converts with Ramus Andersson hobbled on a previous shot block. Flames lead 3-2 after two.

So the LA Kings were going to come out and dominate the third right? Think again. The Kings don’t get a whole lot accomplished off the top of the period as the two teams grind down the clock with the Flames still up front. The Flames put it away on a mid period powerplay when Jonathan Huberdeau sends some back hand sauce to the point and Mackenzie Weegar one times it to make it 4-2 Calgary.

Odds and Sods

Big opportunity tonight for Matt Coronato, moving up to a line with fellow young impact forwards Yegor Sharangovich and Connor Zary. The trio was put together in the third period of the Blues game and continued into tonight. Coronato is still learning the league, but has spent a lot of his time in a checking role so the elevation is interesting to see if he can help create some offence. … Two more points for Kuzmenko tonight as the Russian winger continues to roll in Calgary. Given the fact that he has had two minor injuries and what sounded like a debilitating sickness, he’s been really productive in Calgary colours. … Coronato isn’t there yet, but it’s nice to have some shooters in Flames silks. Every time Yegor Sharangovich gets the puck in a shooting position I’m on the edge of my seat. Entertaining as hell. Coronato will be the same when he gets his time and space down. … When the world discussed the Flames moving defenseman 1, 3 and 5  (guesses) this season I wasn’t expecting a whole lot back in terms of players that can play right now. I know Conroy was talking about now and later, but it didn’t see likely that they’d find some players you’d want to keep. Felt more like a cap dump situation. So the impact that we’ve seen from picks ups this season is pretty impressive. I’ve talked about Miromanov a lot, but Braydon Pachal and Joel Hanley are pretty solid hockey players as well. They’re not core assets, but they’re assets. Some good moves. …

Special Teams

High volume special teams night!

The Flames score three times on five chances and they give up two on four chances.

That’s a Flames win on special teams all the way!

The faceoff being the key in four of the five powerplay goals on the night.

Standings and Record

Well first off, the Flames didn’t get eliminated tonight! That’s something.

The win moves them 14 points out with even games played.

The win also moves them back into a tie with the Buffalo Sabres with the Flames having two games in hand. That means position number nine once again in the NHL draft.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 35 Kings 18
Face Offs: Flames 55% / Kings 45%
Powerplay: Flames 3-6 / Kings 2-4

Fancy Stats

Despite the huge gap in shots on goal, the play driving stats were pretty tight between the two teams five on five. Five on five the Flames had 58% of the shot attempts with period splits of 71%/50% and 54% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 50%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 50%, with a 8-8 split.

In all situations the Flames had 59% of the shot attempts, 58% of the expected goals, and 55% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 3.16 to 2.25.

Individually the Flames were led by both Connor Zary and Matt Coronato posting a xGF% of 86% five on five. Jonathan Huberdeau and Daniil Miromanov were in the 70s. Two players were under 30%; Andrei Kuzmenko and AJ Greer.

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