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A few notes from Calgary vs Arizona:
1. Cam Talbot was exceptional
Score effects certainly played a part – the Flames led for 58 minutes, and were up by at least two goals for nearly 56 – but Calgary spent a ton of this game on their heels in the defensive zone. You simply can’t allow 48 shots on goal otherwise. It didn’t really matter, though, because the Flames were extremely opportunistic in one end, and Cam Talbot was lights out in the other.
He stopped 46 of 48 pucks fired on target and looked very comfortable and in control throughout. The Flames actually didn’t give up a ton of quality – despite being out-shot by 19, they won the high-danger chance battle – but 48 shots is a lot. That kind of volume doesn’t allow you to fall asleep at the wheel. There were tests over and over and over, and Talbot passed them with flying colours.
His save percentage is now up to .907 on the season, which is actually a hair above league average (.906). The Flames will take that from their backup.
2. The Flames continue to get to the net
When Geoff Ward took over and was asked about the team’s offensive struggles, he said he wanted his players to get to the net with more frequency. Since then they've made a habit of working the puck into more dangerous areas before shooting, and they're being rewarded accordingly.
Of the five goals Calgary scored vs Arizona, four were from the ~hashmarks or closer, and all five were from below the top of the circle.
3. Depth players are stepping up
Calgary is 7-0-1 in their last eight games, and undefeated through six with Ward at the helm. To go on that kind of run you need contributions all throughout the lineup and the Flames are most certainly getting that.
Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and some of the big boys are starting to play at the level we’d expect, while role players like Milan Lucic and Zac Rinaldo continue to make an impact.
Rasmus Andersson served the puck on a platter for Lucic at the doorstep and he made no mistake, finding the back of the net for the third time in four games.
Zac Rinaldo made a nice slot pass to set up Michael Frolik for a goal and the latter soon returned the favor, giving Rinaldo three points over the last two games.
Obviously that production is not going to continue but getting hot streaks like that from depth once in a while makes a big difference.
4. Discipline helps
Remember when the Flames traded penalties on a nightly basis? I don’t know if that was a byproduct of how they played under Bill Peters, or if they’re simply on a good run, but that’s simply not the case right now. They have taken three minors or fewer in five of the last six games, and just six penalties over the last three. Special teams is the difference on many nights and it’s a lot easier to win that battle when you limit the amount of opportunities the opponent gets. Let’s hope that continues.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com
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