Game Takes: Kraken 4 Flames 2

March 4th, 2024 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Another really slow start.

Another comeback.

This one though coming up short as the Flames don’t find the full third period magic despite two goals from Andrei Kuzmenko in falling 4-2 ot the Seattle Kraken.

Calgary came out flat as a pancake going 14 minutes without a shot and putting themselves behind the eight ball.

The loss leaves them seven points out with now only one game in hand on the Predators.

The Lineup

Despite winning five in a row we’ve seen a lot of change in the Calgary lineup … illness, trades, and now an injury with Connor Zary on the sidelines, possibly a shoulder or rib injury from a collision with Evgeni Malkin.

Up front its Yegor Sharangovich with Jonathan Huberdeau Dryden Hunt. Nazem Kadri with Andrei Kuzmenko (taking Zary’s spot) and Martin Pospisil, Mikael Backlund with Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman, and finally Kevin Rooney between Jakob Pelletier and Walker Duehr.

Matt Coronato was called up but is a healthy scratch..

On the blueline its Noah Hanifin with Mackenzie Weegar, Oliver Kylington with Rasmus Andersson and a third pairing of Jordan Oesterle lining up with Brayden Pachal. Dennis Gilbert a healthy scratch after playing against the Penguins on Saturday.

Jacob Markstrom starts for the Flames. Last home game? Last game overall? Or a Flame on Saturday?

Line Metrics Coming In

Huberdeau – Sharangovich – Hunt 36.4%
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 56.6%
Kuzmenko – Kadri – Pospisil NA
Pelletier – Rooney – Duehr 41.9%

Hanifin – Weegar 44.3%
Kylington – Andersson 52.4%
Gilbert – Pachal NA

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +18.7
Vladar -5.7
Wolf -8.8

Trend Tracker

Some interesting stats …

  1. Jacob Markstrom is now 2nd in goals saved above average at +18.7. That’s a pretty solid number given his start to the season (more on the team than the goaltender). He’s also 2nd in wins above replacement.
  2. That Huberdeau / Sharangovich line is getting filled in with Dryden Hunt; now down to 36.4% in expected goals on the season. Huberdeau was a boat anchor for defensive metrics earlier in the year, but had solid numbers when Kuzmkenko was on that line.
  3. The Flames are a five game winning streak, but in the five games they’ve only had a clear edge in play in one contest; the win over Winnipeg. They were well under water against Edmonton, slightly under against LA, and pretty much split against Pittsburgh and Boston.

Jacob Markstrom’s Start

Markstrom was strong against Pittsburgh, instrumental in the come from behind win despite giving up a terrible goal in the first period.

Tonight the Flames were down 1-0 and 2-1 but neither goal were his fault … both point blank chances for the Kraken in front of the net.

Without Markstrom the Flames are probably done through 20 minutes.

He can’t hold this one though giving up two third period goals to land on the wrong side of the expected vs actual goal comparison for the first time in what feels like forever.

Hanifin’s Last Game?

Noah Hanifin has been a mainstay on the Flames blueline for the past 5.5 years.

A controversial player for the Flames in that some fans saw him as developing but never developed, while another section of the fan base saw him as a first pairing defenseman and an impact player.

I know what camp I was in.

Tonight will be his last home game in Calgary, and perhaps his last game overall (if he gets dealt before Thursday or is held out for that game).

Great player for the Flames, and about to add to that interesting Dougie Hamilton trade tree.

However …

Was Ryan Leslie hinting at a last second attempt by the Flames to sign Noah Hanifin?

Discussion after the second period on the telecast about whether or not he’ll be on the plane to Tampa tomorrow, when Leslie says it’s not over yet, and stranger things have happened (paraphrasing).

He’s on the inside for some Flames news, maybe Hanifin is having a change of heart?

What a week.

Game Flow

A huge stinker from the Flames to start this one. Down 1-0 early on a Gourde goal, and badly outplayed. No shots through the first 13 minutes of the game. Not the best way to start a game on home ice. No more scoring in the first, but the Kraken continue to dominate. If not for Jacob Markstrom this one is likely already over. Flames trail 1-0 after one.

The two teams switched roles in the second period with the Flames putting the boots to the Kraken and Seattle hanging on for dear life. The Flames tied things up when they got a second period powerplay on the strength of a Martin Pospisil dust up. Calgary scores when Andrei Kuzmenko corrals a rebound and beats Grubaurer from behind the net on a stuff play. The tie game didn’t last long though when the Pahal/Kylington pair got stuck with a turnover and a coverage issue and it’s 2-1 Seattle. Calgary pushes a bit in the last few minutes but Seattle holds their lead through 40.

The Kraken score on the first shift of the third period when Jordan Oesterle misses a shoot in, the puck ending up out front with Hanifin behind the net looking for the pass, Larsson with the shot, tipping off Hanifin’s stick. Calgary doesn’t quit once again, and keep on coming. A great shift by the new Kadri line results in Kuzmenko’s second of the night when he wrists one through traffic at the tail end of a dominant shift. Calgary gets a powerplay right afterwards and almost ties it with numerous chances. Calgary gets another powerplay and comes close before a late powerplay turnover from Andersson leads to a breakaway and the goal that put things away. Seattle leads 4-2.

Odds and Sods

Yikes that was a tough start from the Flames. If Markstrom is dealt this week or this summer, periods like that are going to go a heck of a lot worse. Moving out defensemen that help prevent chances is the first step. Moving out the brick wall that prevents the chances from becoming goals is the next. Elite player. … Ryan Huska blendered the lines a bit with the Flames skating in sand early. Dryden Hunt to the fourth line and Jakob Pelletier to the first line to play with his “dad”. … The biggest adjustment to start the second period was on the blueline though. With the Flames completely disjointed in their own zone, Huska reunited the 2nd and 3rd pairing from before the Tanev trade; Weegar with Andersson and Pahal with Kylington. The result was Hanifin with Oesterle, which isn’t ideal, but the other two pairings had more flow. … It’s interesting to have a player in Martin Pospisil that creates anger all over the ice but won’t fight. I mean I get it, he’s had concussion issues and he doesn’t want to risk it, but I’m sure opposing teams (and opposing fans) find it annoying as hell that he’ll piss someone off to the point of a fight that will never happen. Tonight a highlight hit in the first, and almost dust up in the second and then a boarding penalty and game misconduct in the third. … Not sure I saw a 30 plus shot night from the Flames on the docket after not getting a single shot in the game’s first 14 minutes, and a total of two in the first period. … Kuzmenko with his 4th and 5th goals in Flames silks in ten games, a 40 goal pace on the season. Next year will be key, but if he can find that 20 goal pace next season he likely gets dealt at next year’s deadline for some value.

Special Teams

Both teams score a goal.

Both teams score a goal on the Flames powerplay!

So even up on the night the Flames go 1/4 on the powerplay with a shorthanded goal taking them back to 0/4 technically.

The Kraken 0/4 with less complication.

Digging in though, a good night for the Flames powerplay as they generated 2.54 expected goals in 6:36 of time, compared to Seattle at 0.41 in 6:04.

Standings and Record

This one hurts.

The Kraken move into a tie with the Flames, the Blues are ahead again, but the bigger issue is they remain seven points out with a game in hand on the Predators, but one more game played vs the Kings.

The team can probably only afford to lose five games in regulation the rest of the way, a tall order in 21 games.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 38 Kraken 30
Face Offs: Flames 53% / Kraken 47%
Powerplay: Flames 1-4 / Kraken 0-4

Fancy Stats

The Flames did well to get back into a game that they were a long way out of, but didn’t close the gap on the quality stuff and with that lost the play driving stats battle as well as the hockey game. Five on five the Flames had 53% of the shot attempts with period splits of 36%/67% and 65% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 45%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 44%, with a 8-10 split.

In all situations the Flames had 57% of the shot attempts, 58% of the expected goals, and 48% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 4.99 to 3.64.

Individually the Flames were led by Yegor Sharangovich and Jonathan Huberdeau, both posting a xGF% of 75% five on five. Jordan Oesterle was in the 60s. Kevin Rooney and Dryden Hunt were at 5% on the night. Ouch!

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