After we looked at the first eight games from the Flames 2022-23 season, things were looking good. The Flames had beaten a bunch of good teams, including the reigning Stanley Cup Champions in the Colorado Avalanche. While they started 5–1–0, things started to trend down a bit, and they finished the first eight game segment 5–3–0. The second set of eight games? Even worse. Let’s take a look.
Note: I’ve added SCF% (Scoring Chances For) and HDCF% (High Danger Chances For) to these graphics to give us an deeper look into how each line/pairing is performing at 5v5. All statistical numbers are courtesy of NaturalStatTrick, and time on ice values are courtesy of NHL.com.
Game Nine (Nashville @ Calgary)
In the game against Nashville, Chris Tanev comes out of the lineup due to injury. Tanev is such an important member of this Flames team. More on that later.
Huberdeau – Kadri – Mangiapane is put together for the second straight game, and they… struggled. The Hanifin – Andersson and Mackey – Stone pairings also struggled. Zadorov – Weegar was the lone line/pairing that stood out after being put together for this game.
A strong showing from Jacob Markstrom, who saved 1.12 Goals Above Expected. Ultimately, Calgary is outplayed by the Predators, and take the deserving loss.
Game Ten (New Jersey @ Calgary)
Following the loss to the Predators, the Flames welcomed the red hot New Jersey Devils, and they certainly came to play. Forward lines are shuffled once again, back to how the team started the season.
The team loses Michael Stone due to injury after he plays only one shift. This results in extremely high ice times for the Flames top-four defencemen, including Rasmus Andersson’s 29:43.
The Devils organization has embraced analytics in every facet of their game. It shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise that they have had so much success early on this season. They outplayed the Flames, and deserved to get the win. The Flames got a point in a game they probably didn’t deserve to. The fourth line got destroyed by a team of fast and skilled players.
Game Eleven (Calgary @ New York)
The Flames head to the road, and follow up a poor performance against the Devils with a strong one against the Islanders. The top line and top-four defence had very strong games, while the Mackey – DeSimone pairing struggled.
The second straight game where Markstrom was below average based upon Goals Saved Above Expected and general save percentage data.
Ultimately, a game that the Flames should have won, but they still get a point. Rasmus Andersson took a bad penalty in overtime, and the Islanders capitalized.
Game Twelve (Calgary @ New Jersey)
Another matchup between the Devils and Flames in short order. This time around, the Flames play much better and actually outplay the Devils by quite a large margin. Jonathan Huberdeau is out of the lineup, so Adam Ruzicka plays on the top line.
The only detriment in this game was Jacob Markstrom, who let in 1.07 goals above what he was expected to.
Game Thirteen (Calgary @ Boston)
Dan Vladar gets the start against his former team, and performed quite well.
The Ruzicka – Lindholm – Toffoli line performed well for the second straight game.
Mangiapane – Backlund – Lewis and Zadorov – Weegar also performed extremely well.
The second straight game where the Flames outplayed their opponents, but ended up with losses.
Game Fourteen (Winnipeg @ Calgary)
After a three-game roadtrip where the Flames outplayed their opponent but lost, they come home and are downplayed by the Jets, but win. Chris Tanev returned to the lineup after missing the last five games with an injury.
Incredibly strong game from the top-six and first pairing, while everyone else struggled, particularly the fourth line.
Jacob Markstrom had a good bounceback game after a series of rough starts. The Flames snap the losing streak!
Game Fifteen (Los Angeles @ Calgary)
We come into this game with the return of Jonathan Huberdeau to the lineup, and top-six Milan Lucic, as Darryl Sutter tries some new forward line combinations. Things worked for the most part, as all four lines performed well, and got on the scoresheet.
A rough game from the first and third pairings on defence, while Weegar – Tanev performed exceptionally well.
Neither goaltender in this game did much goaltending, leading to a whopping 6–5 victory for the Flames.
Game Sixteen (Calgary @ Tampa Bay)
The Flames head back to the road, with the one change being DeSimone out, and Gilbert in.
This game saw the Flames out-chance the Lightning, but there was no quality. Tampa Bay obliterated the Flames in terms of xGF% and HDCF%.
For the first time I’ve ever seen, Gilbert – Tanev had 100% in every major statistical category, even offensive zone starts!
Flames forward lines summarized
With lines shuffling quite a bit over this eight sample, we know have more lines and combinations to look into:
|Lucic – Rooney – Ritchie||81:19||46.65%||42.85%||43.81%||42.35%|
|Coleman – Backlund – Lewis||80:28||60.68%||53.52%||51.41%||43.77%|
|Dube – Kadri – Mangiapane||80:12||52.74%||46.09%||46.64%||50.95%|
|Huberdeau – Lindholm – Toffoli||76:52||51.88%||52.36%||50.05%||51.53%|
|Ruzicka – Lindholm – Toffoli||42:31||71.97%||64.27%||69.30%||64.71%|
|Huberdeau – Backlund – Lewis||22:55||67.09%||63.93%||71.33%||70.49%|
|Coleman – Dube – Ritchie||21:01||66.17%||60.53%||60.04%||47.26%|
|Lucic – Kadri – Mangiapane||19:36||49.80%||36.59%||45.61%||22.97%|
The four forward lines that have the highest ice times just seem to be playing averagely. The Huberdeau – Lindholm – Toffoli line is the only line featured which has above average stats in all four categories.
Since the lines have been swapped, Ruzicka – Lindholm – Toffoli has been outstanding in ever category. Hopefully Ruzicka can keep up his play on that line, as it has worked quite well. Huberdeau – Backlund – Lewis has also been incredibly good in the minutes they’ve played together.
Coleman – Dube – Ritchie has been quite solid in terms of CF%, xGF%, and SCF%, but are below average on HDCF%.
Lucic – Kadri – Mangiapane has not worked in any sense. Can we be done with top-six Milan Lucic now? Please?
Flames defence pairs summarized
|Hanifin – Andersson||214:30||50.21%||50.60%||48.85%||46.82%|
|Weegar – Tanev||122:58||54.45%||58.39%||55.22%||61.71%|
|Zadorov – Weegar||108:40||63.11%||52.82%||54.99%||52.16%|
|Zadorov – Stone||84:58||63.85%||59.09%||53.69%||65.45%|
|Zadorov – Andersson||33:25||46.72%||40.61%||47.41%||44.78%|
Some notable things stand out on the defensive end. Notably, Hanifin – Andersson have been quite average in every aspect.
Weegar – Tanev have played very well together, particularly in terms of xGF% and HDCF%.
Nikita Zadorov has played extremely well with both Weegar and Stone, but did not gel well with Andersson.
In the first eight games, the Flames had a record of 5–3–0. In games nine to sixteen, the Flames had a record of 2–4–2, which is definitely a step back. With an overall record of 7–7–2, the Flames are definitely not where they want to be. Most figured there would be an adjustment process with a bunch of new faces coming in. So there is hope that this eight-game segment was just that, and they play well on the rest of this road trip.
With Chris Tanev in the lineup, the Flames have a record of 7–4–0. Without him, the Flames are 0–3–2. He is such an important stabilizing presence on the backend. His impact to this team simply cannot be quantified (although the differing records tell us a big story).
Not enough good things can be said about Mikael Backlund, who has looked fantastic this season. He has formed a great duo with Trevor Lewis, who has been an underrated contributor for the Flames in 2022-23.
Jonathan Huberdeau is looking more and more comfortable as the games go by. I would expect we see the points start to bundle shortly. His counterpart in the Tkachuk trade, MacKenzie Weegar, has been a two-way force so far. The offensive game will come, and I would like to see him get some him on the first power play unit.
Tyler Toffoli didn’t have a great finish to last season, but he’s on a tear so far in 2022–23. As a fantasy owner of Toffoli, it has been fun to watch.
The Flames need to see improvement from Hanifin, Andersson, Mangiapane, Dube, and Lucic. Lucic ranks last on the team in terms of xGF%, SCF%, and HDCF%, while he ranks 4th last in terms of CF%.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire