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G52 Calgary Flames vs Ottawa Senators: Low-danger hockey

May 9, 2021, 11:42 AM ET [36 Comments]
Todd Cordell
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Five things to watch when the Calgary Flames take on the Ottawa Senators:

1. Hitting their stride. The Senators enter tonight’s game the hottest team in the NHL. No, seriously. They have a league-leading 17 points over the last 10 games and have been remarkably good at 5v5 during that stretch. They’ve controlled more than 56% of the Grade A chances and conceded fewer goals than anybody. That’s impressive considering their rotating cast of characters between the pipes. The Senators are playing their best hockey down the stretch and will be far from a pushover in this one. Even in the latter half of a B2B, this will be a tough one for the Flames.

2. Low-danger hockey. At 5v5, Ottawa has given up 59 high-danger chances over the last 10 games. That’s 3rd in the NHL, and only two more than the 1st place Capitals. Somehow, they’re not even the best team in this game at preventing Grade As. The Flames rank 2nd over the same period with 58 HD chances against. Both teams are doing a fantastic job of keeping teams out of the slot area and, with OTT in a B2B, I doubt they’ll be looking to open things up in this one.

3. Finding his footing. Jacob Markstrom has been a disappointment this season. He just has. I’m not saying he has played at a disastrous level but, by and large, there were too many downs over the course of the year. We haven’t seen that much of late, though. Markstrom – like the Flames as a whole – has really taken his game up a couple notches. Since April 5th – arbitrary cut off date, I know – Markstrom owns a .933 save percentage at 5v5. That’s 3rd best in the NHL, behind only Vezina candidate Juuse Saros and Cam Talbot, who plays behind the rock solid Minnesota Wild. That is what the Flames are paying for; especially over such a large workload. It’d be nice to see Markstrom finish the season strong and enter the summer fully confident in what he can do moving forward.

4. Stutzle SZN. The Flames are going to have to pay close attention to Ottawa’s dynamic rookie. For a lot of the year he was overwhelmed at 5v5. While he’d pick up the occasional point, Ottawa was consistently dominated during his time on the ice. That’s not the case anymore. Stutzle has a 54 xGF% over the last 10 games, which is very strong. He’s been very productive, too, picking up seven points (five goals) during that time. He’s the type of talent who can break through a structured system and make something out of nothing so the Flames will have to stick to him like glue in this one.

5. Regression time. Matthew Tkachuk has 40 attempts and 29 scoring chances over the last 10 games. He has scored zero goals in that time. Zero. He’s getting good looks on a nightly basis and just can’t get anything to go. I know Ottawa has defended extremely well of late but they’re in a B2B situation and their goaltending group isn’t exactly scary. Perhaps Tkachuk can get back on track in this one.

Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com
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