David Rittich was excellent three nights ago in Montreal. He was even more excellent last night in Toronto. The 2020 NHL all-star was stellar as the Flames engaged in a netminding war with the Maple Leafs, ultimately coming out on top with a big win. The Flames opened the scoring in the first period off a nice Derek Ryan tip in. The Maple Leafs responded midway though the third, and neither team was able to seal the deal in regulation or overtime. Just one goal was scored in the shootout off the stick off Matthew Tkachuk, which gave the Flames a much needed bounce back win.
5v5 Player Stats
- Only four Flames skaters finished above 50% CF on the night, three of which was the entire line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Mikael Backlund.
- Andrew Mangiapane led the team in iCF (7), iSCF (6), and iHDCF (2).
- The line of Sam Bennett, Mark Jankowski, and Tobias Rieder got absolutely shelled last night, finishing with 25.0% CF, 22.2% SCF, and 0% HDCF.
Toronto Maple Leafs
- Only four Leafs skaters finished below 50% CF on the night.
- John Tavares and William Nylander led the game with 70.45 CF.
- Auston Matthews led the Maple Leafs in iCF (10), iSCF (5), and iHDCF (3).
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Thoughts on the Game
Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled with how well Cam Talbot has played recently for the Flames, even earning himself third star of the week honours from the NHL. But just so we’re clear, this is David Rittich’s world and we’re just living in it.
The Maple Leafs played a pretty solid game. They didn’t generate as many scoring chances as the Flames, but they absolutely could have scored more than the single goal they did. Rittich was stupendous last night and made jaw-dropping saves against multiple Leafs’ shots, including two on seemingly wide open nets. He was the game’s first star, and he deserved every bit of that honour. Rittich wasn’t on the original all-star roster, but make no mistake, he’s a solid goalie and has been incredible for the Flames this season. He deserves to be an all-star.
Other than Rittich, the Flames played a pretty tight defensive game for the most part. In our handy stats table above, you can see that the Leafs led in adjusted Corsi, but the Flames were the better team in terms of adjusted scoring chances and adjusted high danger chances. The Flames’ defenders did a great job of collapsing and forcing the Leafs to shoot from the perimeter. You can’t expect to completely shut down that high flying offense, and they didn’t, but they did a good job limiting their chances. Oliver Kylington was particularly steady last night and made some key plays both offensively and defensively for the Flames. He’s really come into his own this season on the defensive side, perhaps the offense will improve as well.
Another player who had a great game is Elias Lindholm. Put me in the group that wasn’t totally on board with moving him to the middle. It was definitely the right call and it looks like he just gets better every game. He was good in both zones, and could have easily had a few goals had Frederik Andersen not been such a wall in the Leafs’ net.
Last note: Mark Jankowski was back in the lineup last night against his hometown team. In one of his first shifts he made a move shorthanded to split the defense and get a partial break on Andersen. He was hooked on the play and drew a penalty, nullifying the Leafs’ powerplay. However, that was the only good thing he did all game. He was absolutely buried at 5v5, and didn’t factor in on the penalty kill very much either. Jankowski was drafted in 2012. That’s eight years ago. Let that sink in.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Good: Back in the win column as the Pacific gets tighter and tighter by the day. Any night that the Flames come away from with two more points is a good night.
Bad: The Flames gave the extremely potent Leafs powerplay four opportunities, and it eventually led to the tying goal. Better discipline is necessary against teams like Toronto.
Beautiful: Literally everything Rittich does. When he was asked which of his many big saves was his best of the night, he responded with, “ask my groin”. How can you not love this guy?
Opponent: Ottawa Senators
Standings: 7th in the Atlantic
Season Series: 1-0-0
Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images