Last night’s win over the Buffalo Sabres was the best game the Calgary Flames have played all season long. They stuck with their process, fought back after Buffalo’s talented roster scored three tying goals, and looked much more like a playoff team than they did at any point last season. However, the biggest story was the play of their new-look fourth line of A.J. Greer, Yegor Sharangovich, and Walker Duehr.
The WAY Line
This line truly paved the way for the Flames last night. They were a constant buzzsaw in the offensive zone, owning the puck along the boards and cycling it extremely well, using their defensemen effectively, and generating quality scoring chances.
They might be one of the most unexpected lines in the league at this point. Sharangovich is coming off a terrible season where he was healthy scratched in the playoffs, Walker Duehr is undrafted and only broke into the league last year, and A.J. Greer was claimed off waivers after not making the Boston Bruins roster.
It’s a completely different look than the Trevor Lewis, Milan Lucic, Brett Ritchie, and the sludge that seemed to accompany them onto the ice when they jumped over the boards. This line is fast and fun, and very effective.
The WAY line played 7:25 at 5v5 last night, the third highest total for any Flames line, though all four lines played a fairly even amount in the game.
The line of misfits generated shot attempts very well, throwing 10 pucks towards Devon Levi, nine of which were unblocked. Only three managed to hit the net, which is something they can definitely work on, however the pressure they created was immense.
Digging deeper into the quality of the shots, this line’s performance looks even better.
In a game where the whole Flames team played well, the ranks aren’t the best, but the raw totals are. The fourth line generated quality shots at a very high rate, owning the share of scoring chances, high danger chances, and expected goals share. Of the 10 shot attempts they had in the game, a whopping seven were scoring chances, and six were high danger chances. You don’t see that type of quality share very often.
Add in the fact that they had just one shift start in the offensive zone, this line was relied on to start on the fly and tilt the momentum in the Flames’ favour. They delivered.
Trust the process
The Flames definitely look different this season. Ryan Huska is implementing a lot of changes to the way the Flames play, and while that takes time to get used to and perfect, this team is looking like it has the pieces to truly contend for a playoff spot. The WAY line looks young and fresh, speedy and skilled, heavy and annoying – all the qualities a fourth line in 2023 should have.
If they can be relied on to play the way they did last night in Buffalo, the Flames will boast some of the best depth in the league. Let’s see if they can continue their dominance tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets.