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Flames 4, Flyers 0: No sweep for you

That wasn’t fun.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Calgary Flames Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers looked to sweep the road trip by beating the other team from Alberta, the Calgary Flames.

They didn’t.

First Period

The game started quickly, and by quickly, I mean there wasn’t a whistle for seven minutes. Nonstop action is always fun! It took slightly over seven minutes for there to be a whistle, and it’s our fault.

After the long stretch without a whistle, it was a relatively lame period. There were some man-advantages for both teams over that period. However, both penalty kill units for the Flames and the Flyers stood their ground, and neither team could convert on the powerplay. Calgary led the xG battle 0.82 to 0.32. The best player for the Flyers was Cam Atkinson, who continued his rampage of firing pucks on the net whenever he found a lane. He had an individual xG of 0.24. The rest of the team had a total of 0.08. He had a good chance on a puck that ricocheted off a Flames player, but Jacob Markstrom stood tall.

The most eventful part of the first stanza was Carter Hart, in his 100th career start making some huge saves off of a Flames rush. The most impressive was his cross-crease save with his left pad. He continues to show that last season wasn’t something we should be expecting.

Second Period

The Flyers took two penalties within the first ten minutes of the period. The first one they killed off thanks to Hart making some incredible saves, but he couldn’t save their butts forever. The penalty kill couldn’t keep up with some excellent passing by the Flames. Rasmus Andersson’s stutter-stepped his way to the right side of the ice and threw a perfect pass in front to Sean Monahan, who put it past Hart, who did everything he possibly could to keep the score tied at zero.

The offense was nowhere to be found for the orange and white. They spent most of the middle frame in their zone or defending rushes. Their strategy consisted of dumping the puck in and going for a change. Claude Giroux took a slashing penalty once they finally got it in gear, got a shot on goal, and established some offensive zone possession time. Monahan almost had his second goal of the game right in front of the crease, but Hart said no and made a huge stop. That’s pretty much the moral of the second-period story. What’s more fun than a total of 25 seconds of offensive zone time and five shots on goal? Anything. Literally, anything. This sucks.

What’s the overall damage, you might ask? The Flames are winning the xG battle 2.27-0.82, and Atkinson still leads the Flyers with 0.24 individual xG. For context, the Flames leader in that stat to this point was Matthew Tkachuk with 0.71. It’s a miracle the Flyers were still in the game.

Third Period

Both teams started the period with very little offensive possession, resulting in even more boring hockey. The offense began when the Flyers took ANOTHER penalty, and the Flames took advantage...again. Justin Braun, a defenseman that has been excellent with Ryan Ellis out due to injury, cleared the puck to the corner, but it bounced straight to the stick of Tkachuk. He tapped it between his legs to Monahan, who threw it cross-ice to Elias Lindholm, who threw it back across the ice to Tkachuk. It went in, and the Flames went up 2-0.

The line consisting of Sean Couturier, Giroux, and Travis Konecny continued to be one of the only lines producing anything substantial. Although they still looked on their heels, the offense did begin to come out of its shell. And what would a game against Calgary be without Tkachuk getting angry at some point and starting a scrum? After a collision with Ivan Provorov on the blue line (one that looked to be intentional to stop a rush) created the hustle and bustle in the neutral zone, Tkachuk and Lindholm went to the box for the Flames, and Braun went to the box for the Flyers.

Head coach Alain Vigneault pulled Hart with 4:43 left in the third period, and Mikael Backlund hit the empty net after a sweet exit pass from Andersson just a minute and four seconds later. To add the cherry on top, Johnny Gaudreau, a player who was buzzing around creating scoring chances the entire game, extended his point streak to seven games with a goal over the right shoulder of Hart.

Three Big Things

  1. Carter Hart can only do so much. We all hope this doesn’t become a recurring theme for this season, but it’s the truth. In a milestone start, the young goaltender played as well as possible in a game where the Flyers couldn’t generate any offense. He ended the game with a 0.01 GSAx, and he played much better than that statistic shows. His save percentage for the night was a .914, which better represents how he performed.
  2. Discipline continues to be an issue for a team that can’t keep taking penalties. Some of the penalties were questionable, but they can’t happen even if you disagree with the call. The Flames took advantage of powerplays multiple times, and it will continue to happen if nothing changes. Being disciplined can be challenging, especially in a game where the team can’t seem to get anything going, but the score would have looked less daunting had the penalties not wracked up.
  3. The numbers discrepancy was astounding. The Flames wracked up a 4.24 xGF and a 3.01 xGF against Hart, while the Flyers barely put up anything with a total of 1.43. As for individual numbers, there were three players in orange and white that had over 50 percent in xGF%, which is average for those of you who don’t know. As for the Flames, there were only three players that were below it. It was just a sad, sad showing for a team that would’ve loved to have a sweep of western Canada.

Late-night starts are hard. You’ve earned sleep. The Flyers are back on Tuesday against the Arizona Coyotes.