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A few takeaways from G3 of Calgary vs Winnipeg:
The MMA line was spectacular. Absolutely spectacular. They were the best trio on the ice yesterday by a landslide. Andrew Mangiapane was absolutely everywhere. It felt like every other shift he was generating a shot or two within a couple feet of Connor Hellebuyck. Matthew Tkachuk was his usual self – he attempted six shots, drew a penalty, created chances for his teammates, etc. – and Mikael Backlund looked as dynamic as I’ve ever seen him. He was consistently skating past, or right through, Winnipeg defenders and generating a ton of looks in dangerous areas. He led all Flames with five chances.
Calgary steamrolled Winnipeg with MMA on the ice at 5v5. All told, they won the shot attempt battle by 11, chance battle by eight, and out-scored Winnipeg 2-0, in just 12 minutes. Remarkable.
It was another disappointing overall performance from Calgary’s top line. They looked sharp, and did some damage, on the power play to make it feel like they’re back in good form, however, that’s simply not the case. They were not only bad at 5v5; they were terrible. Calgary’s top trio once again struggled to navigate their way through the neutral zone and into the OZ with possession. Whenever they did get there, they failed to break the defense down and generate much of note. They also spent way too much time on their heels and the numbers reflect that. Calgary generated just six shot attempts – compared to 15 against – in ~12:30 and controlled only 22.86% of the Expected Goals. The power play production is great but it's more important that they get going at 5v5, especially considering most playoff games won't feature 500 penalties (as has been the case so far).
I thought Mark Jankowski was serviceable in his return to the lineup. He had a couple looks at net, although they all missed, and the Flames won the chance battle with him on the ice. He also contributed on the penalty kill, skating a couple shifts there with Winnipeg failing to generate a shot attempt. He wasn’t a world beater by any means but the 4th line looked less of a liability than it did with Zac Rinaldo. He should play again in G4.
Cam Talbot didn’t have the toughest workload but I thought he was solid once again. He didn’t leave a lot of garbage for Winnipeg players to pounce on and looked very controlled throughout. Talbot also made one or two Grade A stops that could have turned the outlook of the game. He didn’t steal the game by any means. He just didn’t hand Winnipeg the lifeline they needed.
Nik Ehlers was a big-time problem. His speed took the top off of the defense on more than one occasion and he was all over the puck in the offensive zone. With MMA attached to Winnipeg’s top unit, they don’t really have a competent defensive line up front to slow Ehlers down before he gets going at full speed. They need to bear down on him and do a better job of taking away space next time out. Once he picks up speed, he’s almost impossible to stop. The Flames need to get on top of him.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com
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