It is absolutely crazy to say we are now 50% of the way through the 2022–23 season. The Flames find themselves at an overall record of 19–14–7, and have 45 points. That puts them in the first wild card spot based on both points and points percentage. The Vegas Golden Knights, Seattle Kraken, and Los Angeles Kings are trying to cement themselves in a top three spot in the Pacific Division while the Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators, and St. Louis Blues are lurking in the weeds just behind the Flames. Things are tight in the West, and the Flames will have a dogfightto earn a spot in the playoffs.
However, they are showing good signs, with the recent segment being their best of the season so far, with a record of 5–2–1. That is a very nice bump from the previous three segments, so hopefully the Flames are trending in the right direction.
Flames game segments
Note: All CF%, SCF%, HDCF%, and xGF% data is provided by NaturalStatTrick.com. Ice times are courtesy of NHL.com.
Game 33 (Calgary @ San Jose)
This was the first game where we saw Milan Lucic in the top-six, as well as the Mangiapane-Backlund-Coleman line being reunited. These top-nine forward lines stayed the same throughout Games 33 to 40. And, for a sign of things to come, a very strong game from the 3rd line, which has become a massive strength for the Flames. Chris Tanev also returned to the lineup next to MacKenzie Weegar.
The Flames played very well, especially the newly put together third line, and the second defence pair. The fourth line was really the only line that struggled.
Game 34 (Calgary @ LA)
We moved from a dominant performance against the Sharks, to a very average performance against the Kings. A lot of players struggled in this one. Only the Backlund line and the first pairing were successful. Ultimately a game where the Flames shouldn’t have gotten a point, but they did! The bottom pairing struggled mightily.
Game 35 (Calgary @ Anaheim)
A very well played game from the top and fourth line, and the second and third pairings. The second period was one of the best individual periods I think I’ve ever seen, where the Flames outshot the Ducks 23-1 and had an expected goals rate of 93.02%.
Game 36 (Edmonton @ Calgary)
The Flames somehow lost this game, which is funny. As they say in hockey, that’s hockey! Stuart Skinner was fantastic, and stole the two points for Edmonton. Everyone on the Flames played extremely well, but hitting a couple posts and playing against a good goalie means Calgary lost this one.
Game 37 (Calgary @ Seattle)
After getting ‘goalied’ by the Oilers, the Flames followed that up with a very dominant performance from their goalie themselves. Dan Vladar saved 1.43 Goals Above Expected, which helped to get the team the win. The fourth line and second pairing struggled.
Game 38 (Vancouver @ Calgary)
The Backlund line was fantastic in this one, with high danger chances being 6-0 Flames when they were on the ice. Brett Ritchie was injured in this game, and has since been placed in Injured Reserve. The second line and top pair struggled a bit.
Game 39 (Calgary @ Winnipeg)
The bottom-six, along with the first and third pairings were extremely effective against the Jets, but the second line struggled, and Markstrom was below average, so the Jets squeezed by.
Game 40 (New York Islanders @ Calgary)
Everyone played pretty well, with the exception of the third pairing. It was also lucky that the Flames got to play the Islanders without Ilya Sorokin or Mathew Barzal. The second pairing was the most effective in this one.
Forward Lines Summarized
Note: bolded lines are lines that are currently in use, with the fourth line being in flux.
|Mangiapane – Kadri – Dube||222:46||52.52%||46.70%||47.09%||43.67%|
|Huberdeau – Lindholm – Toffoli||154:55||54.34%||53.21%||51.10%||53.60%|
|Dube – Lindholm – Toffoli||102:19||57.62%||58.81%||62.61%||53.43%|
|Lucic – Kadri – Huberdeau||92:49||54.03%||50.88%||48.62%||33.78%|
|Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman||87:16||69.60%||70.69%||71.37%||77.73%|
|Coleman – Backlund – Lewis||83:27||59.30%||51.22%||48.64%||39.66%|
|Ruzicka – Lindholm – Toffoli||81:48||60.35%||66.17%||57.71%||62.22%|
|Lucic – Rooney – Ritchie||81:19||46.65%||42.85%||43.81%||42.35%|
|Ruzicka – Backlund – Coleman||78:37||59.89%||58.21%||57.97%||57.83%|
|Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman||54:51||55.61%||61.94%||56.12%||64.99%|
|Ruzicka – Lewis – Ritchie||46:31||57.59%||55.25%||50.85%||42.17%|
|Huberdeau – Kadri – Mangiapane||40:51||48.05%||34.75%||37.24%||26.06%|
We saw some new lines appear on this chart, with varying results. First, Dube – Lindholm – Toffoli has been very effective since being put together, but they are overshadowed by the Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman, which has played out of this world. The Flames’ very good lines are hovering around 60% in their metrics. You love to see it.
The Backlund line is currently at or over 70% (!!) in all four categories, including a 77.73 HDCF% ratio. Absolutely bonkers. This list confirms that whoever plays with Mikael Backlund has success. This shows just how underrated Backlund has been this season, and how well he has been performing.
The one change that needs to be made is the Lucic – Kadri – Huberdeau line. Their results are extremely poor when compared to the other top-nine lines the Flames are currently playing. Having a HDCF% ratio of 33.78% is not an effective in any sense.
Defence Pairs Summarized
|Hanifin – Andersson||578:03||50.12%||53.99%||50.91%||52.95%|
|Weegar – Tanev||362:25||59.00%||56.91%||55.73%||56.23%|
|Zadorov – Stone||252:47||58.73%||54.62%||51.86%||53.08%|
|Zadorov – Weegar||226:55||63.29%||54.02%||55.83%||43.95%|
|Zadorov – Andersson||70:23||53.35%||52.72%||52.65%||54.16%|
|Zadorov – Tanev||68:00||60.70%||59.68%||61.37%||53.64%|
|Mackey – Stone||46:18||60.06%||47.43%||53.21%||59.37%|
The Flames overall record increasing also aligns with every single defence pair’s metrics increasing. The Hanifin-Andersson pairing started out the season poorly, but has since rounded into form. For the first time since these eight game segments have begun, the ‘Handersson’ pairing has metrics above 50% in every single category. That’s great to see and exactly what the Flames need.
Weegar-Tanev continues to be great, and is still the Flames best pairing, by a significant margin. The Zadorov-Stone pairing increased their metrics a bit. Zadorov is still getting some minutes next to Weegar, Tanev, and Andersson. That tells me the Flames would like an upgrade over Michael Stone, as Sutter trusts Zadorov a lot more.
Note: GSAx numbers are courtesy of MoneyPuck.com.
Neither goaltender has been phenomenal, but I think the goaltending position has rebounded quite well recently. In the past nine games the Flames have allowed an average of 2.22 goals per game. That is a lot lower than their average of 3.06 goals allowed in the previous 31 games.
Of the 73 goalies who have played at least five games, Markstrom ranks as the 21st in terms of GSAx. Dan Vladar ranks 49th. Those are both modest increases from the last eight game segment.
In looking at recent games and overall metrics, the sense is that the Flames are starting to turn things around and be the team we all know they can be. A record of 5-2-1 in this eight game segment is a massive improvement and the best segment of the Flames season so far. We’ve seen improvements in metrics from lines and pairings, like the Hanifin – Andersson pairing. We’ve also seen new forward combinations be extremely effective, while the Lucic – Kadri – Huberdeau line needs to be changed. Not enough good things can be said about the Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman line. They are freaks of nature, and we love and appreciate them.
Couple the Flames recent successes with the easiest schedule in the league remaining, good things seem to be on the Flames horizon. Hopefully they can continue to strong pace put together through Games 33 to 40.
We just saw both Jakob Pelletier and Walker Duehr recalled from the Wranglers. Pelletier seems like an obvious candidate to replace Milan Lucic on the second line. Hopefully the Flames give him a shot soon, and we can cover it on on the next eight game segment.
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