Post Game: Flames Stun Blues

Taylor McKee
December 23 2013 10:24PM

Pic via PaulSh

The Blues are a very good hockey team. They a strong, tough, skilled, insanely deep on defence and they have two above average goaltenders. The Flames have Chris Breen, Reto Berra, and David Jones. So, I am sure that Flames fans weren't expecting a lot from this game.  

What the Flames faithful got in the last game before the Christmas break was a thrilling, combeack 4-3 Flames shootout win thanks to a tying marker that came with 4.2 seconds remaining in the third and a shootout winner from Joe Colborne. 

This was the first game back from a five-game road trip that the Flames faired about as well as anyone could have hoped, losing frequently but competing . Their last game was a 4-3 afternoon loss to the Penguins in which the Flames played well but let's face it, if they played that game 25 times, the Penguins probably win 24 times. In no uncertain terms, the Blues were a better club coming into tonight's game but the Flames managed to scrape out a clutch victory and send the dome faithful home with a smile.

GAME SUMMARY

During the pre-game show on the radio, Pat Steinberg interviewed Patrik Berglund who said that the Blues were disappointed with their starts. Well, they had a pretty good start in this game.The Blues started off with pretty good pressure while old Reto Berra made an apperance and looked uncomfortable in the early moments.

The Flames earned an early power play that had had a surprisingly good amount of possession but was unable to capitalize. That was a pity because immediately following the failed power play, Giordano was the victim of a soft call and the Blues scored a nanosecond into their powerplay. 

The Flames had another power play in the opening frame and once again had a ton of good pressure including a post hit by Giordano and a point blank chance from Lee Stempniak, whom is currently exhaling liquid nitrogen. The first ended with the Blues leading 11-8 in shots, the vast majority of which occurred in the first seven minutes of the period.

Early on in the middle frame, the Flames were able to control the play quite well and were able to draw a couple power plays.The Flames finally were able to connect on the man advantage in the second stanza with Jiri Hudler converting on a laser-beam of a pass from Mikael Backlund. Seeing Backlund on the PP makes my heart smile. 

However, as good teams do, the Blues responded with two goals in 44 seconds, one from Jaden Schwartz and the other from former Oilers bust Magnus Paajarvi and it looked like that was all the much Blues would need offensively. The Blues completely took over the second and dominated play throughout the remainder of the period. The Blues outshot the Flames 22-13 after two including 19-5 at even strength.

The Flames started the third with a fair amount of push-back but failed to score on chances from David Jones (who has looked very bad lately) and Shane O'Brien (who is just bad). However, the trio of Backlund, Byron, and Cammalleri produced a very nice goal mid-way through the third. Byron, channeling John Stockton, swung a no-look pass to Cammalleri who put it past Halak.

In the final two minutes, Patrik Berglund took a penalty and the already effective Flames powerplay got another chance to bring the game even. The Flames pulled the goalie and Sean Monahan missed an absolute, no doubt, can't miss, point blank, empty net, face-palmer of a chance that looked as it would have been the last chance for the Flames to tie it up. Then, Backlund won a faceoff and the puck found Giordano who slammed it home to tie the game.

In overtime, Matt Stajan was the recipient of a knee on knee collision from David Backes, and left the ice in a great deal of discomfort. That hit may earn Backes a phone call from Brendan Shanahan. Hopefully, the injury isn't too serious and Stajan can use the Christmas break to heal up. This resulted in another powerplay in overtime but the Flames were unable to score. This sent the game to a shootout where Joe Colborne scored the only goal and Reto Berra improved his shootout record to 3-0, allowing just four goals on 17 attempts.

The game finished with the Blues out-shooting the Flames 35-29 but who cares? The Flames gutted out an improbable victory and climbed out of a two-goal hole in the third.

THE RED WARRIOR

This one is a bit tough because the Flames had a lot of good performances from a lot of different players in this one. Mark Giordano played 26 minutes of ice, five shots on net, and, most importantly, had the clutch game-winner in the dying seconds of the game. Reto Berra held strong for the Flames and didn't give up that soft third period goal that Flames fans have become so accustomed to seeing.

I think I will go with Mikael Backlund who had another very strong game with two assists and six shots on net to go with it. Backlund's play has been noticeably better the last few games and is finally starting to show poise and confidence in the offensive zone with the puck, something that was missing from his game in the first part of the season.

SUM IT UP

It looked as though this would be another game in which the Flames would lose a close game to a much better team but they found a way to keep the game close, erase the two goal deficit, tie the game late, and win it in a shootout because Reto Berra rules at them. Mikael Backlund continues to solidify his spot in the Flames top-six and looks as though he is finally returning to the form he reached at the end of last season. 

The Flames are again a very injured team heading into the Christmas break with Wideman, Russell, Blair Jones, Glencross, and possibly Stajan all in sick bay. The Flames aren't in action again until December 27th when the face the Edmonton Oilers.

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Taylor splits time between UVIC and Calgary studying history. Taylor likes the Flames, the Cannons, Buckshot, and the Oxford comma. Taylor scored on his own net on dome ice when he was 8. Twitter: @TaylorMcKee_
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#1 JohnyR
December 24 2013, 03:49AM
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Injury to Backlund in 3...2...

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#2 Walter White
December 24 2013, 07:22AM
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JohnyR wrote:

Injury to Backlund in 3...2...

All our UFAs are going down with serious injuries, no trade value at the deadline, on the bright side; re-signing them will be cheap....

WW

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#3 FXO
December 23 2013, 10:52PM
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"Lee Stempniak, whom is currently exhaling liquid nitrogen." Huh? Lost me on that one. He is like some mutant dragon? (Good write up, thanks.)

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#4 Walter White
December 24 2013, 06:28AM
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beloch wrote:

6-0 Blues-Oilers
5-4 Flames-Blues

That's freakin' sweet. Here's hoping, on Friday, the Flames finally give the Oilers the blow-out they've been asking for all season!

Will there be a "throw an Oilers jersey on the ice" ceremony at the game?

WW

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#5 beloch
December 24 2013, 05:06PM
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@SeanCharles

The thing that worries me the most about Colborne is that he isn't that young. He'll be 24 in January and is less than a year younger than Backlund. He's getting close to his peak, but he probably wouldn't have played in the NHL much this season if it weren't for his contract status. I agree that he has some great tools. That wraparound he nearly pulled off a game or two ago was a thing of beauty! Still, he might not develop that much more.

My advice is to stay away from the Leafs' koolaid and temper your expectations. Any leaf player or prospect is almost always massively overhyped in everything written about them. If he proves to be a competent fourth liner with a shootout edge, I'd call that a win, given what Burke traded for him.

Personally, I sincerely hope that the Flames have better options in a year or two. Bill Arnold seems to be perpetually in Gaudreau's shadow, but he's a very promising center ice prospect with NHL size who could join the team later this season, and might be good enough to bump Colborne. Of course, if Stajan is traded the team will have room for both of these players.

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#6 BurningSensation
December 23 2013, 10:52PM
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Has anyone worked out the benefit of having a shoot-out ace?

Jusi Jokinen is an average player with issues in his defensive game, but he is absolutely money in the shootout. How many points in the standings has he contributed by being a shoot-out God?

Is it worth having an ace guy on the roster, even if he has issues defensively, so long as he is making huge contributions whenever it goes to a skills competition?

Which brings me to Colborne - if he's a guy who is making the skill play after OT how much of his deficits should we be willing to overlook for it?

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#7 RexLibris
December 24 2013, 06:27AM
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@BurningSensation

Jokinen has value as a depth center as well. Carrying a player whose principle value is in the 10% of games that go to a shootout is a poor use of a roster spot, on par with dressing a goon who can't play.

Jokinen is a solid depth center who can handle tough opposition. He shouldn't be playing higher than 3C, but if you can find a way to put him in as a 4th line center, you've got a good player on a good team.

What I've found is that it isn't always the high-flying offensive guys who shine in the shootout. Case in point - Fernando Pisani had a high shooting % in the shootout on a decent sample size.

You want functional players with a range of skills. If Colborne could become a solid 4th line center who can play 8 to 10 minutes a night and keep the ice on an even-keel but also has a 50% SO record, then he'll have a long career.

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#8 BurningSensation
December 24 2013, 07:47AM
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RexLibris wrote:

Jokinen has value as a depth center as well. Carrying a player whose principle value is in the 10% of games that go to a shootout is a poor use of a roster spot, on par with dressing a goon who can't play.

Jokinen is a solid depth center who can handle tough opposition. He shouldn't be playing higher than 3C, but if you can find a way to put him in as a 4th line center, you've got a good player on a good team.

What I've found is that it isn't always the high-flying offensive guys who shine in the shootout. Case in point - Fernando Pisani had a high shooting % in the shootout on a decent sample size.

You want functional players with a range of skills. If Colborne could become a solid 4th line center who can play 8 to 10 minutes a night and keep the ice on an even-keel but also has a 50% SO record, then he'll have a long career.

All of which sounds logical on its face. I think more highly of Jokinen than you do (he's been Malkin's winger for long stretches this year to great effect. But that could just be Malkin).

I was curious if the math exists anywhere on what shootout guys contribute in the way of 'wins'.

Recall that the Flames for several years barely missed the playoffs, and were nothing short of horrific in the shooutout. A guy like Colborne, whatever his actual gameplay is like, might be able to make an outsized contribution to the team simply by being awesome in the shootout.

So while I agree that Colborne will have a long career if he can play 12min a night and be 50% in the shooutout, I wonder if that is the cutoff for retaining him even if he is no better than a dancing bear while on the ice.

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#9 seve927
December 24 2013, 09:26AM
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coachedpotatoe wrote:

The Flames have seemed to prove the skeptics(experts wrong) because of their hard work. I still believe that when all is said and done once the trade deadline falls and the UFA's are traded (Stajan, Cammi, Stemp, BJones, Butler, Russell{he needs to be resigned} and DSmith, they will fall back in the standings and hopefully get a top three draft pick. We still need a lot of pieces to become a contender; although I do believe we have some very good ones in our system.

If Stajan is injured long term 2-6 weeks(I hope not) whom should we recall or can either BJONES/Byron play center at this level. On the farm we have 3 worthy candidates: Street who already played up here and is an adequate NHL player, Knight who was one of our big free agent signings of the year and has some size(it would also send a positive message to the NCAA guys) and of course Granlund who seems the most skilled of the lot. What they decide will give us a small indication of what the management team is thinking as all three have played well in ABBY.

I don't really care where the Flames pick this year. I'm not that big on Ekblad, and I don't know that there's much difference between Reinhart, Draisaitl, Bleackley, DalColle, Perlini, Nylander. Fleury or McKeown could be excellent picks, and not that Burke would likely go for him, but Julius Honka is shooting up the rankings as well. I'd be fine with a top 10, and one other first this year, and as many wins as possible.

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#10 RexLibris
December 24 2013, 12:23PM
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@BurningSensation

I like Jokinen plenty, I'm just trying to retain some reasonable perspective. He's playing on a great team with great linemates.

When Tambellini balked at claiming him off waivers last year the last of my patience with him disappeared.

The Oilers would have to trade an asset now to get a player like that.

The issue with your question, as mentioned by Kent above, is that sample size takes time and often by the time those players become established they are more difficult to acquire.

Let's not forget, we're talking about one goal in one game here and I think the Flames have more pressing needs than carrying a shootout specialist at this time.

In fact, one could argue they'd do better without a shootout ace for the next two years.

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#11 BurningSensation
December 24 2013, 03:27PM
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SeanCharles wrote:

I don't understand how some people cannot see Colborne's value, even not including the SO.

He is quite effective at protecting the puck with this size and reach. He has strong board play, he can shoot the puck and is rather skilled at handling it.

He has faults but he is young.

I like the idea of having players like Colborne, Knight and Arnold as guys who can be bottom six centers for us moving forward.

Colborne has met expectations IMO, perhaps exceeding them due to his SO skills.

What does everyone have against a young skilled 6'5" center who can skate and contribute??

Why is he such a whipping boy?

I think the issue is in part that he looks to have all the tools necessary to be successful (especially size), but has otherwise not being able to put them in the same toolbox.

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#12 BurningSensation
December 23 2013, 10:54PM
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FXO wrote:

"Lee Stempniak, whom is currently exhaling liquid nitrogen." Huh? Lost me on that one. He is like some mutant dragon? (Good write up, thanks.)

He's cold. He's very, very, very cold.

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#13 RKD
December 23 2013, 10:56PM
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I went to tonight's Flames game and was extremely entertained. The Blues stopped competing after forty minutes because they thought they had the game in hand. I told my buddy the Flames would get the next one, they had so many chances prior to. They got the next one and when Gio scored with four seconds I lost my mind. The hit by Backes was dirty, even he knows it. This is what separates us from the Oilers. We compete every shift and I had a feeling we weren't going to blown out like the Oilers were.

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#14 CTibs
December 23 2013, 11:52PM
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I really didn't think Monahan's no goal was his fault. Looked to me as if the puck took an unfortunate bounce. Regardless, Monahan did have himself a good game tonight. He's slowly re-earning the trust of Hartley, having nearly more icetime than his starting linemates combined, not to mention that he was put in during crunch time.

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#15 coachedpotatoe
December 24 2013, 09:00AM
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The Flames have seemed to prove the skeptics(experts wrong) because of their hard work. I still believe that when all is said and done once the trade deadline falls and the UFA's are traded (Stajan, Cammi, Stemp, BJones, Butler, Russell{he needs to be resigned} and DSmith, they will fall back in the standings and hopefully get a top three draft pick. We still need a lot of pieces to become a contender; although I do believe we have some very good ones in our system.

If Stajan is injured long term 2-6 weeks(I hope not) whom should we recall or can either BJONES/Byron play center at this level. On the farm we have 3 worthy candidates: Street who already played up here and is an adequate NHL player, Knight who was one of our big free agent signings of the year and has some size(it would also send a positive message to the NCAA guys) and of course Granlund who seems the most skilled of the lot. What they decide will give us a small indication of what the management team is thinking as all three have played well in ABBY.

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#16 Kent Wilson
December 24 2013, 09:22AM
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@BurningSensation

Dellow dealt with this in the past:

http://www.mc79hockey.com/?p=3128

Summary - a replacement level 4th line guy who is above average in the shoot-out is probably worth it.

Determing if a guy is above average is the tough part. Takes a lot of shots to separate noise from ability.

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#17 McRib
December 24 2013, 10:00AM
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@seve927

Agree, anywhere in the Top. 10 will net us a quality prospects. Leon Draisaitl, Michael Dal Colle, Brendan Perlini, Hayden Fleury or Roland McKeown would all be great choices for me. Also not a huge fan of Aaron Ekblad a lot more top OHL prospects would be able to play in the OHL a year early if they were 6'3" 200+ Pounds at 14 years old, early bloomers scare the scrap out of me to be honest wouldn't mind in the slightest if we missed out on him with the 2nd pick.

Which is why I also don't like Conner Bleackley at all, fortunately I have a hard time seeing the Flames taking him after Brent Sutter slighted Poirier (Thank God). Bleackley reminds me of Mark McNeil his draft year playing in a great situation with tons of ice time and a fully developed frame he has bust written all over him to be honest for me.

All-in-all not too worried about missing out on Reinhart, Ekblad as the players in the 3-9 range could end up being as good or better would rather see the Flames play their asses off and win a couple from time to time.

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#18 Lober
December 23 2013, 10:32PM
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Probably the game of the year

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#19 loudogYYC
December 23 2013, 10:46PM
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@Lober

No doubt at all. I'm gonna say one of the best of the past 2 or 3 years. They fought and battled and pulled it off. Whatta win!!!

Backlund was a beast, 3 assists tonight, regardless of what the scoresheet says. He's on fire!

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#20 Jibmeister
December 23 2013, 11:57PM
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Shane O'Brien with an actual good game tonight.

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#21 prendrefeu
December 24 2013, 01:14AM
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Byron!!

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#22 beloch
December 24 2013, 02:55AM
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6-0 Blues-Oilers
5-4 Flames-Blues

That's freakin' sweet. Here's hoping, on Friday, the Flames finally give the Oilers the blow-out they've been asking for all season!

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#23 SmellOfVictory
December 24 2013, 08:30AM
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Walter White wrote:

All our UFAs are going down with serious injuries, no trade value at the deadline, on the bright side; re-signing them will be cheap....

WW

Russell wasn't likely to be traded, anyway. Stajan was a possibility, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's up and ready to go before the deadline.

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#24 SmellOfVictory
December 24 2013, 09:45AM
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seve927 wrote:

I don't really care where the Flames pick this year. I'm not that big on Ekblad, and I don't know that there's much difference between Reinhart, Draisaitl, Bleackley, DalColle, Perlini, Nylander. Fleury or McKeown could be excellent picks, and not that Burke would likely go for him, but Julius Honka is shooting up the rankings as well. I'd be fine with a top 10, and one other first this year, and as many wins as possible.

I agree in that any top 10 pick is probably going to pan out relatively well for the Flames. However, I'd rather they stocked up on 2015 1st rounders than 2014 1sts. If they can trade guys like Cammalleri or Stajan to some of the weaker playoff teams for 2015 1sts, there's the chance that those teams will be non-playoff teams next season. And that means potential tickets in the McDavid sweepstakes.

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#25 seve927
December 24 2013, 10:22AM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

I agree in that any top 10 pick is probably going to pan out relatively well for the Flames. However, I'd rather they stocked up on 2015 1st rounders than 2014 1sts. If they can trade guys like Cammalleri or Stajan to some of the weaker playoff teams for 2015 1sts, there's the chance that those teams will be non-playoff teams next season. And that means potential tickets in the McDavid sweepstakes.

True, but that would really be a coup to get a 2015 first from a team that missed the playoffs. I think it's pretty well known how valuable those lottery tickets will be. I don't see anyone but the truly elite teams trading a 2015 first (although the Islanders may opt for giving next years as opposed to this years top 5 to Buffalo).

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#26 seve927
December 24 2013, 10:32AM
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McRib wrote:

Agree, anywhere in the Top. 10 will net us a quality prospects. Leon Draisaitl, Michael Dal Colle, Brendan Perlini, Hayden Fleury or Roland McKeown would all be great choices for me. Also not a huge fan of Aaron Ekblad a lot more top OHL prospects would be able to play in the OHL a year early if they were 6'3" 200+ Pounds at 14 years old, early bloomers scare the scrap out of me to be honest wouldn't mind in the slightest if we missed out on him with the 2nd pick.

Which is why I also don't like Conner Bleackley at all, fortunately I have a hard time seeing the Flames taking him after Brent Sutter slighted Poirier (Thank God). Bleackley reminds me of Mark McNeil his draft year playing in a great situation with tons of ice time and a fully developed frame he has bust written all over him to be honest for me.

All-in-all not too worried about missing out on Reinhart, Ekblad as the players in the 3-9 range could end up being as good or better would rather see the Flames play their asses off and win a couple from time to time.

I haven't seen Bleackley, just looking at his numbers. He's leading his team in scoring by 11 points, and near the top in +/-. Mark McNeill wasn't close to that. But I know you follow junior much closer than I do, so, point taken.

How would not taking Bleackley if he was the BPA provide any sort of retribution re Poirier???

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#27 FXO
December 24 2013, 11:32AM
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@BurningSensation

Ah!

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#28 coachedpotatoe
December 24 2013, 12:26PM
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seve927 wrote:

I don't really care where the Flames pick this year. I'm not that big on Ekblad, and I don't know that there's much difference between Reinhart, Draisaitl, Bleackley, DalColle, Perlini, Nylander. Fleury or McKeown could be excellent picks, and not that Burke would likely go for him, but Julius Honka is shooting up the rankings as well. I'd be fine with a top 10, and one other first this year, and as many wins as possible.

Firstly i want to say that I'm proud of how well this team has played and want them to win, however I'm realistic enough to realize that once the UFA's are traded we will have a much more difficult time playing as well as did last night and this will result in us having a higher draft pick.

I'm not tied to anyone of the draft eligable players but I do believe that the higher your choice is the more options and control you have over your own destiny. Let's say we are third and Ekbald is available and team is 5/6 and they really want him we may get their pick as well as some other assets and I don't think that would be a bad deal. I wonder out loud had we finished with the 4th pick would we have selected Monahan(whom I think will be great for this team) or might we have selected someone else; us having control versus waiting. Ideally I would love to see us have 2 first round draft picks this year and next and BB is as good as his supporters believe that should be possible without moving our own high end prospects.

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#29 Baalzamon
December 24 2013, 01:04PM
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@coachedpotatoe

http://flames.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=697324

So apparently Blair Jones is injured... Hands up if you knew.

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#30 SeanCharles
December 24 2013, 01:20PM
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BurningSensation wrote:

All of which sounds logical on its face. I think more highly of Jokinen than you do (he's been Malkin's winger for long stretches this year to great effect. But that could just be Malkin).

I was curious if the math exists anywhere on what shootout guys contribute in the way of 'wins'.

Recall that the Flames for several years barely missed the playoffs, and were nothing short of horrific in the shooutout. A guy like Colborne, whatever his actual gameplay is like, might be able to make an outsized contribution to the team simply by being awesome in the shootout.

So while I agree that Colborne will have a long career if he can play 12min a night and be 50% in the shooutout, I wonder if that is the cutoff for retaining him even if he is no better than a dancing bear while on the ice.

I don't understand how some people cannot see Colborne's value, even not including the SO.

He is quite effective at protecting the puck with this size and reach. He has strong board play, he can shoot the puck and is rather skilled at handling it.

He has faults but he is young.

I like the idea of having players like Colborne, Knight and Arnold as guys who can be bottom six centers for us moving forward.

Colborne has met expectations IMO, perhaps exceeding them due to his SO skills.

What does everyone have against a young skilled 6'5" center who can skate and contribute??

Why is he such a whipping boy?

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#31 BurningSensation
December 24 2013, 03:21PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Dellow dealt with this in the past:

http://www.mc79hockey.com/?p=3128

Summary - a replacement level 4th line guy who is above average in the shoot-out is probably worth it.

Determing if a guy is above average is the tough part. Takes a lot of shots to separate noise from ability.

I'd say that means we can cut Colborne extra slack so long as he can keep his shoot-out specialist' tag, he's worth keeping around.

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#32 BJ
December 24 2013, 05:20PM
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SeanCharles wrote:

I don't understand how some people cannot see Colborne's value, even not including the SO.

He is quite effective at protecting the puck with this size and reach. He has strong board play, he can shoot the puck and is rather skilled at handling it.

He has faults but he is young.

I like the idea of having players like Colborne, Knight and Arnold as guys who can be bottom six centers for us moving forward.

Colborne has met expectations IMO, perhaps exceeding them due to his SO skills.

What does everyone have against a young skilled 6'5" center who can skate and contribute??

Why is he such a whipping boy?

Def potential to be a 35 point guy

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#33 Burnward
December 24 2013, 05:51PM
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"Peak" for every player can differ. Let's just be happy Colborne keeps improving.

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