This one was fun for the whole family. With first place on the line, the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers seemed like they wanted to show off the skills of their respective teams, with the two trading beautiful and lucky (you have to be good to be lucky) goals up until the end of the second period.
Then, Matthew Tkachuk hit Zack Kassian legally and all bets were off. Kassian threw a fit and also a flurry of punches, which would give the Flames a lengthy power play. That, in turn, led to the game-winning goal as Calgary held on until the very end, again refusing to give Cam Talbot breathing room in the form of an empty-net goal. It’s unlikely he is complaining though, as he made 29 saves en route to giving the Flames the lead in the Pacific Division.
|5v5 SVA||CF%||SCF%||HDCF%||xGF%||Game-Losing |
|55.13||50.3||60.4||59.9||N/A||Many, but one |
5V5 PLAYER STATS
- Another night, another instance of Andrew Mangiapane leading the Flames at CF%, this time with 69.2%
- Only three Flames were below 50% CF: Zac Rinaldo (42.3%), Noah Hanifin (42.9%), and Travis Hamonic (43.2%)
- Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, and Mikael Backlund had an absurd xGF% of 74.44% in 12:40 minutes together at 5v5. You love to see it (and Gaudreau getting rewarded with a goal)
- Connor McDavid‘s CF% was 39.4%, which is a lower number than the speed he was clocked at on his beautiful goal (an absolutely astonishing 44 km/h – game respect game, folks)
- Riley Sheahan didn’t have his best game last night, posting a 30.8 CF% which was the bottom of the barrel for Edmonton
- The third and fourth lines had 18.7% and 27.8% xGF respectively at a combined 14:12 minutes on ice, which is a great indicator of why they didn’t score
STATS COURTESY: NATURAL STAT TRICK (AND ALSO UHH THE EYE TEST)
THOUGHTS ON THE GAME
Last night was a great statement game for the Flames under Geoff Ward, who have sometimes been luckier than they’ve been good under their interim head coach. While two of their goals were more fortunate than not (Elias Lindholm‘s first, Dillon Dube‘s only), it seemed as though the Flames played a smarter, more complete game. It wasn’t as thorough as their last game against the Oilers, but it was their most convincing win in 2020.
The most encouraging thing about last night’s game was that even after their great start got nullified by the first of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins‘ goals, they stuck to their game plan. It would not have been a surprise in other games this season to see the Flames lose steam after not only that, but the absolute show of force by McDavid.
Instead, they kept plugging away and relied on a whole team offence which is an area they could (and did) outpace their opponents. While they were a bit more defensive than one would have liked in the third period (with a comical amount of times they iced the puck), it was a game that says Ward is taking the team in the right direction.
The absolute turning point was when Kassian decided to go off over getting hit legally in a full-contact sport. Congratulations to him for only taking a double minor this season instead of a triple minor! The only thing that would be have been more delicious following that is if Tkachuk scored the game-winner instead of screening the net.
However, what is Kassian trying to accomplish? Not to ignore the fact that McDavid also jumped in with a shot at Tkachuk, when McDavid should really only be focused on being the absolute best player on the planet to help Edmonton win games.
Kassian’s actions should absolutely be a suspension in this league, and additionally he should be fined for using misogynistic language in his post-game presser. Will that happen in the National Hockey League though? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Finally, that is now the second time that the Oilers have elected to start Mikko Koskinen over Mike Smith against Calgary this season, and it’s also the second time he has let in four goals. Koskinen is clearly trying to indicate that he believes that Mike Smith should be allowed to start against the Flames. Let us face Smith, you cowards!
THE GAUD, THE BAD, AND THE BEAUTIFUL
Good: The first two periods were (for the most part) fantastic entertainment from both sides, giving the Battle of Alberta some actual stakes for the first time in far too long.
Bad: There has to be a better strategy in the third period leading by a goal than collapsing into a defensive shell and hoping that Talbot will hold the fort, because it might not work four times in a row.
Beautiful: This quote from Tkachuk after the game: “If (Kassian) doesn’t want to get hit, then stay off the tracks. I caught him three times there – you think he’d learn after the first one. If he wants to react that way we’ll take the pp, we’ll take the game winner, & we’ll move on to first place.”
Opponent: Montréal Canadiens
Standings: 6th in the Atlantic
Season Series: 0-0-1
Photo by: Gerry Thomas NHLI via Getty Images