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Friday night, Battle of Alberta, round two, game one of a back to back was played and won in pretty bland fashion for that kind of setting.

The typical slow start Flames kind of got things going by the midway point of the opening period but it was a pretty flat, low event hockey game.

The team was pretty sound and played an okay game but were never able to kick it into gear.

Game Flow

Oilers

5v5

Flames

23

Shots

16

39

Shot Attempts

38

19

Scoring Chances

15

7

High Danger Chances

7

(5v5 Data from Natural Stat Trick)

It seemed like a perfect chance for the Flames to at least render the ‘lack of effort’ criticisms and ‘can’t start on time’ pattern inert for 24 hours. Yet, again, they came out flat.

Lines

With Sean Monahan out, Geoff Ward’s trusty blender was put to use again. I personally was very happy to see the 3M line reunited. Having been the Flames’ top play driving and quality trio in 2020 it is a safe bet that, in these trying times, they could offer an answer to this club’s lack of consistency.

They were pretty much the only group to stay together throughout the night. The blender was put into overdrive and we saw anything and everything.

I know we are probably all in agreement the endless line juggling and odd player deployment choices are getting a tad frustrating. This late into a shortened season the ‘throw everything at the wall to see what sticks’ philosophy seems to be have diminishing returns.

Some of the adjustments worked well. Bumping Leivo up with Gaudreau and Lindholm was a decent look. Before the Bennett benching, returning to another unit with proven chemistry (and the only unit who seem to thrive using the forecheck based attack) in Lucic, Bennett, and Dube, was a good adjustment as well.

But man, when you are down a goal it sure seems head scratching to deploy Froese, Lucic and Dube in the offensive zone with less than three minutes on the clock. And when you are down a centre, benching an NHL centre in Sam Bennett seemed less than optimal.

It was just another night where the Flames could never get to a high level let alone apply continuous pressure.

(Even Strength Data from Evolving Hockey)

Big Save Dave

Big Save Dave earned his name back, if only for a moment, with a great stop on Leon Draisaitl.

All in all Rittich was pretty solid and just didn’t get the run support (sounds kind of par for the course for Dave thus far in 2021).

Player

GA

SA

Sv%

xGA

GSAx

Mike Smith

1

21

95.2

1.73

0.73

David Rittich

2

25

92

2.43

0.43

(All Situations Goaltending Data from Evolving Hockey)

Bennett

The saga of Sam Bennett continues and took another unexpected turn. I honestly don’t even know what to make of this. I can’t even speculate. While Ward did not comment further on the situation as whole, he did make it clear it was a decision relevant to the game.

I do not know where this goes next. Can a stalemate really go on like this? If Bennett was ticked off before surely he’s a few ticks from fuming now.

Now, it’s not like Bennett was good. Bennett was sporting a 29.65 xGF% at 5v5 and was on the ice for both Edmonton goals. He could have been more attentive on the ultimate game winner but it was a bit of a broken play. I suppose we won’t know the reason but based off of Ward’s proclivity to sit player’s in response to such lapses and errors (Leivo’s poor play on the Vancouver goal, Dube and Mackey getting into to penalty trouble) it does appear as though missed assignments on both goals were behind the decision for Bennett to ride pine.

Whether or not coach Ward says this benching is related to something that happened in this single game it’s just a fact that nothing related to Sam Bennett happens in a vacuum right now.

Always chasing

It sure would be nice to get ahead a few goals for once.

Most impressive Flame: Andrew Mangiapane

88 is the Flames best player right now in my opinion. Night in and night out he’s working his tail off and is usually the most effective player on the ice when he jumps over the boards. 54.56 xGF% and 60.78 CF% at even strength last night.


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