In a game that had more riding on it than your average mid-season game, the Calgary Flames came up short in the latest installment of the Battle of Alberta. Here are my thoughts on the 5-3 loss to the Oilers.
Mikko Koskinen decided he wanted to be an NHL goalie on Saturday.
That’s it. That’s what Saturday’s game between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers boiled down to. Koskinen went into Saturday’s game with one of the league’s worst Save Percentages. After the game, he’s still a cellar dweller. But his 44 save performance is the main reason why Calgary went home empty handed.
Here’s what else I saw on Saturday night.
The Calgary Flames Were The Better Team…
In almost every statistical category that matters, the Flames were flat out better. They outshot the Oilers 47-31. In the third period alone, Calgary put 17 shots on Koskinen to Edmonton’s 6.
Going deeper, according to Natural Stat Trick, the Flames produced 15 High Danger Chances compared to Edmonton’s 6. Calgary’s Expected Goals number was better as well: 3.53 vs. Edmonton’s 3.24.
The Calgary Flames were also better in the faceoff circle, winning 54% of the draws.
Most importantly, I thought the team did a good job containing the league’s best player. Connor McDavid was hardly lethal on Saturday, particularly in 5-on-5 play. Calgary’s defense, most notably Oliver Kylington, did an excellent job of limiting McDavid’s space and keeping him to the outside of Jacob Markstrom’s crease. Any shots McDavid did manage were non-issues.
…Except When They Weren’t
Despite their statistical superiority, I thought the Flames penalty kill let them down on Saturday. Edmonton went 2/3 with the man advantage against a Calgary PK that I thought was flat-footed.
Both of Edmonton’s power play goals in the second period were pretty much identical. I thought Leon Draisaitl went unchallenged every time he had the puck, allowing him to set up defenceman Evan Bouchard for a cannon against a well-screened Markstrom. Whether Draisaitl had the primary or secondary assist was immaterial. He was the one with the time and space to orchestrate the play.
A BRUTAL Missed Call
The Calgary Flames could also have used a little help from the officials Saturday. The Oilers took hold of the game with about 5 minutes left with a goal from Draisaitl. A goal that should never have been.
As Draisaitl was coming down the side boards, Edmonton forward Jesse Puljujarvi, who incidentally has one of the more punchable faces in the NHL, knocked Oliver Kylington down as both were driving to the net. From any angle, it was Interference. There’s a fair argument for Elbowing. Either way, Kylington could not support his defence partner Chris Tanev, who Draisaitl beat to get the goal.
All in all, the Calgary Flames deserved better in this round of the Battle of Alberta.
Fortunately, the Flames don’t have much time to think about this one as they prepare for the St. Louis Blues on Monday.