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Five observations from Calgary vs New Jersey:
1. The Flames flexed their muscles
Calgary’s biggest issue in the early going is inconsistency. There will be spurts of quality play on a nightly basis, but often 30-40 minutes of underwhelming hockey comes along with it. That wasn’t the case last night. The Flames were OK in the 1st period and downright dominant over the final 40.
In that time, they out-chanced the Devils 30-10 (11-3 high-danger) and out-scored them by four. The Flames did get some bounces, and extra power play opportunities to work with, but they took full advantage and deserve credit. That’s what good teams do.
In a season full of roller coaster performances, this one might have been the team’s most complete. They were legitimately good for the majority of the game against a Devils team that had been playing much better of late.
2. Sean Monahan asleep at the wheel
I know that probably seems weird to say after a multi-point performance but I wasn’t overly impressed. Despite seeing a regular shift at even-strength, and almost six minutes of ice on the man advantage, Monahan only recorded a single shot attempt and scoring chance. He converted (good!) but you expect more from a top line player whose primary talents are, well, generating chances and putting them in the back of the net. He was a drag at 5v5, too, finishing with a ~33 CF% and ~33 xGF% – both good for last on the team. I don’t know what the deal is but he just hasn’t been the same since ~March of last season.
3. Noah Hanifin was a factor
All season long I’ve commented on his new-found aggressiveness with the puck and more consistent involvement offensively. He continues to drive that home on a nightly basis. A game after being one of three players to attempt 10 shots, Hanifin put another seven pucks towards the net and piled up a game-high three points – all of which were primary. This season he has been much more willing to shoot and is putting his excellent skating ability, and edgework, to use, by driving from the point whenever the opportunity presents itself. If not anything else, it’s really fun to watch.
4. The Flames defended admirably
New Jersey is not a run-and-gun team. Despite the improved personnel, they play pretty slow and are generally content trying to bottle the game up and trade the occasional chance. Even still, they have Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, Kyle Palmieri, Jack Hughes, P.K. Subban, and co. on the roster. There is a lot of scoring talent. And, Hughes aside, they didn’t really manage much. The team as a whole only generated five high-danger chances, tied for the lowest total Calgary has given up this year. While there were a couple sloppy breakdowns, particularly in the 1st period, the Flames did an excellent job of making David Rittich’s life as easy as possible.
5. The season of misery continues
Mark Jankowski played just over six minutes at 5v5 last night. The Flames won the scoring chance battle 5-1 in that time. Seems good, right? Apparently not! The Devils managed to convert on their lone opportunity while the Flames went 0 fer. Jankowski has now dressed in 16 games and the Flames haven’t potted one (1) goal with him on the ice. They’ve given up eight, though, and Jankowski’s spot in the lineup continues to be in question. Jankowski was a really good bottom-6 goal scorer over the last couple years. Now? The team as a whole can’t convert *anything* when he’s out there.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com
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