There is a Classic Simpson’s episode where Bart misses a school field trip to the chocolate factory. To keep him busy, Skinner puts him to work licking envelopes in the office. Tongue raw and mind numb, Bart inevitably glances in desperation at the clock on the wall, which ticks slowly for a few seconds and then actually reverses. Bart groans in despair.
Tonight was the NHL equivalent of licking envelopes. The Blue Jackets and Flames met and battled to see which team could ice the puck more, chip it off the glass with greater aplomb and sit back in the neutral zone harder. It was a snorefest, and that’s being kind. The Flames lost in OT to boot.
It’s not accurate to say nothing happened. At least the first period gave us this:
(gif via @clib52)
Berra’s old school Hasek-like pad-stack helped keep things close in the first since the Flames came out pancake flat to start the game. Shots were 7-6 in favor of the Flames, but the Columbus mostly controlled play, outchancing Calgary 7-2. Nick Foligno opened the scoring when his shot from the top of the circles glanced off of Brodie’s ankle and found the top corner.
The second period wasn’t much better. With the lead in hand, the Blue Jackets were satisfied with establishing a neutral zone shell and making life difficult for the Flames. Calgary had a lot of problems transitioning through the neutral zone as a result and even in the rare moments they gained the offensive zone, they almost never established meaningful possession. Shots ended 8-7 for the Flames and chances were 2-2 in the middle frame. The first 10 minutes of the period were played without either garnering a single useful scoring attempt.
The shell began to collapse (collapse being a relative term in this contest) in the third for Columbus as Calgary finally managed to gain some traction. Cammalleri and Baertschi managed back-to-back chances to open the period before Colborne finally broke through with a backhand break-away goal. The Flames were the only team to generate chances in the third (4-0), but it wasn’t quite enough to avoid extra time.
In OT, Calgary carried that momentum forward and bumped their unbroken chance run to 5-0 with a Cammalleri near strike, but he couldn’t beat Bobrovsky. The Jackets ended things soon after on a goal mouth scramble after a 3on2 break resulted in flailing bodies, multiple blocked shots and then a yawning cage and easy tap-in for Nikitin.
Why the Flames Lost
Because it took them more than half the game to get their legs under them. For at least 30 of the 63 odd minutes, Calgary mostly just stood around in the neutral zone, missing passes, dumping the puck off the boards and generally doing nothing in particular. The Blue Jackets was the team that played last night, but you would have never have known it by watching the first couple of periods.
He didn’t score or anything, but let’s give it to Mike Cammalleri. Calgary wasn’t dangerous in general, but Cammalleri still managed 5 shots on net and was on the ice for a team high 5 scoring chances at even strength.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Sum It Up
Another one that could have gone the Flames way with a few more bounces, but it’s hard to argue they deserved it as well. Calgary’s even strength play has grossly regressed since their surprisingly competent first 10-games or so and they are starting to approach league worst territory by this metric.
That isn’t a shock given expectations heading into this season, but it makes watching and enjoying the club’s play difficult right now.