Game Takes: Flames 6 Lightning 3

March 7th, 2024 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Sure didn’t see that coming.

The Flames through nine months of shedding assets have never seemed to give any F***s.

Never has that been more evident than tonight where the depleted squad skated on to the ice in Tampa and completely outclassed the Lightning on their way to a 6-3 victory.

The Flames were paced by Yegor Sharangovich who scored twice and added two assists.

Calgary dropped to five defensemen early in the second sitting Dennis Gilbert and showing confidence in newcomer Joel Hanley.

Fun ride. Calgary may as well make the playoffs now right?

The Lineup

Well more change. Dude got traded. Dude got suspended. Dude got hurt. Dude got claimed.

Lots of moving dudes results in one forward line and one defense pairing with any familiarity.

So look for Yegor Sharangovich between Jonathan Huberdeau and Matt Coronato, Mikael Backlund between Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman, Nazem Kadri between Jakob Pelletier and Andrei Kuzmenko, and Kevin Rooney between Dryden Hunt and Walker Duehr.

On the blueline they reunite the old first (second?) pairing of Mackenzie Weegar and Rasmus Andersson, the old third pairing is the new second pairing with Oliver Kylington and Brayden Pachal, and a new third pairing of Dennis (don’t call me Greg) Gilbert and newcomer Joel Hanley.

Jacob Markstrom expected to get the call.

Line Metrics Coming In

Huberdeau – Sharangovich – Coronato 84.1% (3 minutes)
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 56.1%
Pelletier – Kadri – Kuzmenko NA
Hunt – Rooney – Duehr 50.0%

Weegar – Andersson 47.6%
Kylington – Pachal 49.1%
Gilbert – Hanley NA

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +18.6
Vladar -5.7
Wolf -8.8

Jacob Markstrom’s Start

Honestly the man didn’t have a whole lot to do.

He faces 22 shots stopping 19 for an .864 save percentage.

Not the normal Jacob Markstrom start both in terms of numbers and the level of pressure the big guy was under.

At 2.04 expected goals his three against represents his worst start in likely four months, but really couldn’t fault him on any of the Tampa goals.

The Big Five

Well here we are.

Calgary came into the off season with seven UFAs to sign and a pledge from their general manager Craig Conroy to not walk any of them to free agency.

He didn’t.

One signed, fiver were traded and the other one is on a lifetime mutual loyalty pact with the franchise.

Four of the five players traded were upper roster players; that is top six forwards, top four forwards or the starting goaltender. Out of those 11 upper roster players four are now gone, and with that you see a team struggling in pretty much every face of the game.

Credit to Conroy for getting it done, with some luck however as offers were made to three of the five players, who if signed could have been a disaster.

A new era begins.

Next Wave

No better way to usher in that new era than have a bunch of young players be difference makers in the first game after the the last UFA hits the road.

Yegor Sharangovich isn’t 20, but acquired for Tyler Toffoli and certainly part of the top six scores two goals and adds two assists.

Matt Coronato with a great assist, and an impact on another goal where doesn’t get a point.

And Jakob Pelletier banging in his first of the season on a Kuzmenko net drive.

Youth is served.

Bless the Waiver Wire

Can you imagine how thin the team’s blueline would be without the waiver wire?

With Brayden Pachal on the 2nd pairing and Joel Hanley on the third the Flames blueline isn’t all that deep as it stands. But if those two weren’t in Flames colours we’d have Oesterle on the third pairing, Gilbert on the second, and a call up rounding out the top six.

As the game wore on Ryan Huska dropped to five defensemen with newcomer Hanley in the mix, and Greg Gilbert dropped, further proving my point (unknown if Gilbert was hurt, but didn’t seem to be the case).

Not a bad way to fuel a non playoff season.

The overall blueline depth is a different story with all the defensive prospects added through trades in the last few weeks.

Double Birds!

I’m likely over thinking this.

But a big win in Tampa against a team fighting for their playoff lives is certainly a “bird”.

When said team spent the last three weeks in the driver seat for the acquisition of Noah Hanifin, with the push by Hanifin and his agent to Tampa letting the squad think the player was coming to them and they could wait it out only to not get him last night?

Double bird.

Love it.

Game Flow

The Flames come ready to play and jump on the Lightning quickly rolling their first three shifts essentially in the Tampa zone. Mikael Backlund gets a great chance on a three on one but hits the goal post. A few minutes later Yegor Sharangovich centers the puck to Dryden Hunt who scores his 2nd of the year beating Vasilevsky to the far post. Tampa taks over the second half of the period and ties it up when the Flames turn it over creating a two on one and a Sheary tip. Score tied 1-1 after one.

Someone should tell the Flames they’re supposed to suck. They don’t get it. Calgary comes out strong in the second period, equalling their start to the first. Most of the play in the Tampa zone before a great pass from Jonathan Huberdeau finds Sharangovich cross crease and he roofs it to make it 2-1 Flames. Calgary goes up 3-1 when Matt Coronato gets the puck past the blueline from a neutral zone battle, recovers it and feeds Sharangovich for a one timer. Soon after Andrei Kuzmenko drives the net from the corner and Jakob Pelletier cashes on the rebound. 4-1 Flames. The Lightning make it closer for the third when Stamkos finds Cirelli in the crease as a penalty expires. Flames lead 4-2 after two.

Flames take a three goal lead into the third period and win by three goals. Calgary makes it 5-2 when Blake Coleman tips home a Sharangovich shot from the point. Tampa makes it closer, but the Flames put it away with an Andrew Mangiapane empty netter off a Mackenzie Weegar blocked shot for the win.

Odds and Sods

Who had the Flames now minus five UFAs from mid last summer not giving up a shot to the Lightning in the first 13 minutes tonight on their bingo card? Nope, not me. … Poor Joel Hanley got hemmed in for his first two shifts in a Calgary uniform, the second one last well over 90 seconds. Not the way you want to start! … Didn’t get a point, but Matt Coronato made a great defensive, and then transition play on the Flames second goal. He had a good shot in the first and was moving his feet all night. … Jonathan Huberdeau was dealing tonight. Sharp on all his touches and making a difference on most shifts. Great assist on the Sharangovich goal. Elite. … Speaking of Huberdeau, it sure looked like he was getting some extra ice time tonight. Time with Sharangovich and Coronato but also Kadri. … So Sharangovich and his four point night. He’s now one point ahead of Tyler Toffoli with one more game played, and one goal behind. Who had that this close in March? What a trade!

Special Teams

No powerplay goals.

No shorthanded goals.

Both teams get three chances.

All tied up.

The Lightning generated 0.52 of expected goals, the Flames just 0.30 so give the edge to the home side.

Standings and Record

So the Flames are now five points out of the final wild card spot, but seven points back of the team with the worse win percentage.

They pulled even with the Seattle Kraken again for that last spot out of the playoffs.

Honestly the UFAs have been moved, go ahead and win it would be an hell of a story!

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 24 Bolts 22
Face Offs: Flames 30% / Bolts 70%
Powerplay: Flames 0-3 / Bolts 0-3

Fancy Stats

The Flames played a classic road game, bending but not breaking in their own zone, and winning the battle for the higher danger chances overall. Five on five the Flames had 43% of the shot attempts with period splits of 36%/50% and 44% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 57%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 56%, with a 10-8 split.

In all situations the Flames had 44% of the shot attempts, 55% of the expected goals, and 52% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 2.44 to 2.04.

Individually the Flames were led by Blake Coleman posting a xGF% of 77% five on five. He was joined in the 70s by Brayden Pachal and Andrew Mangiapane. Yegor Sharangovich, Mikeal Backlund, Oliver Kylington and Jonathan Huberdeau were in the 60s. Dennis Gilbert was at 0% with four minutes of ice time.

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