Post-Game: A Sunday Spectacle In Manhattan

photo courtesy vagueonthehow

Just over 24 hours after their triumph in Buffalo, the Calgary Flames attempted to sweep the first two games of their five-game Eastern road trip in New York City. Facing a Rangers club that has a similar record, but isn’t “rebuilding,” the Flames aimed to make their return to Broadway one to remember.

While the result on the standings probably wasn’t what the team hoped for (with just a point to show for their trip to Madison Square Garden), we were treated to quite the entertaining spectacle on Sunday evening.

THE RUNDOWN

The first period was good, both in the sense that it was fun to watch and that the Flames played quite well. After a pretty back and forth few minutes, the Flames found the scoreboard first on the power-play. With Chris Kreider off for interference, the Flames won a face-off, Mark Giordano fed Kris Russell at the point. Mikael Backlund tipped the shot past Henrik Lundqvist. The entire play took five seconds of PP time and the Flames led 1-0.

The Flames had even more chances after the Backlund goal, including Lance Bouma biffing a breakaway chance set up by a gorgeous Shane O’Brien outlet pass and Curtis Glencross clanging a shot off the post after a great Jiri Hudler feed in the slot. The visitors briefly went up by a pair, as Jiri Hudler blocked a lazy Rangers clearing attempt on the board, stick-handled past a few Rangers D-men and then fed Curtis Glencross cross-crease for a tap-in goal past Lundqvist for a 2-0. That lead lasted 25 seconds, as Derek Stepan scored right after to put the Rangers on the board. Karri Ramo played the puck properly, it just found the very outside corner of the far post. The Flames took a 2-1 lead into the dressing room, leading in shots 11-6, but trailing in shot attempts 21-15 and face-offs 12-11.

The first few minutes of the second period were rather even, but the New York Rangers found their legs and soon took over the period, for the most part. At about the half-way mark, the locals tied it. Karri Ramo made the first save, but then Carl Hagelin skated the puck around the net and beat Ramo on the wrap-around on the far post to even things up at 2-2. The rest of the period featured the Rangers carrying the play, aside from a brief 4-on-3 power-play for Calgary and a fight between Brian McGrattan and rookie Dylan McIlrath. The Rangers led the way in shots (12-3), attempts (25-11) and face-offs (12-8) in the second period.

The third period was another featuring some back-and-forth action. The Flames edged again via some nice board work and tema play. The Hudler/Glencross/Monahan line out-manned the Rangers defenders down low, then drove to the net. Monahan got his tenth of the year on the drive, chipping a puck over Lundqvist and giving Calgary a 3-2 lead. However, the lead would not last. After a Rangers penalty kill, the Flames lapsed a bit in their own zone, failing to clear the puck out of Ramo’s crease. Chris Kreider took advantage of this lapse and banged a rebound home to tie the game at 3-3.

And then we got the weirdest four minutes of hockey so far this year. Mike Cammalleri took a penalty behind his own net to put the Flames down a man with 3:56 left. Then Karri Ramo batted the puck out of the air after save, unintentionally sending the puck over the glass and puttng the Flames down a pair for 1:21. Mikael Backlund, Chris Butler and Mark Giordano killed 1:20 of that 5-on-3, and then Chris Butler got clipped in the face by a Rangers stick, earning a four-minute penalty for the home squad and negating the remainder of the Rangers power-play. We ended regulation knotted at 3-3. The Rangers led in shots 10-6, in attempts 26-11 and in face-offs 13-7.

Overtime was back and forth, with the Flames unfortunately failing to take advantage of the lengthy 4-on-3 power-play. In the extra five minutes, the Rangers actually out-shot Calgary 4-1 and had more shot attempts by a 6-4 margin. Face-offs were even at 2-2.

The shootout went to seven rounds, with the Ranges scoring first and the Flames battling back on three occasions. Mats Zucarello’s goal was met by Joe Colborne’s. Mike Richards’ goal was matched by Lee Stempniak’s. Dominic Moore’s was met by Paul Byron’s. But Benoit Pouliot’s slow mis-direction shot trickled past Karri Ramo in Round 7, and Mikael Backlund couldn’t beat Lundqvist, so the Rangers skated away with the shootout win.

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

We’ve heard it time and time again, but the Flames are having a heck of a time holding onto leads. In this case, they seemed to lose steam in the second and let the Rangers take over the game. And when they did get leads, they seemed content with leading the game and didn’t lock things down.

And once again, while the Flames penalty kill was full marks, the power-play was given many chances to decide the game for the visitors, and they couldn’t capitalize.

RED WARRIOR

Mikael Backlund had a goal on the power-play, won 10 of the 21 face-offs he took (leading the team in both categories) and was part of that epic 1:21 5-on-3 kill. Honourable mention (and some ice packs) to Lance Bouma, who blocked four shots in the first period alone.

SUM IT UP

The Flames drop their record to 13-15-5, which is still strangely good considering this team is rebuilding. Calgary has now eked their way out of the “lottery bunch” (Buffalo, the Islanders, Edmonton and Florida) and are now actually just four points behind Dallas for 17th overall in the NHL. If this team didn’t blow so many leads, they’d probably be firmly snuggled in amongst the NHL’s mushy middle.

But the fact that they blow so many leads is probably why everyone (including team management) admits the team’s rebuilding. And why the club still has a pretty decent chance at a good pick in June’s Entry Draft.

The Flames get back in action on Tuesday night at the TD Garden, where they visit the Boston Bruins. The puck drops at 5pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan. So you have options if you can’t skip out of work early.

  • RedMan

    Backlund and Monney… loving it.

    we do have some darn good vets who have really had a chance to show off a bit now that we are sans Iginla and Tangs and J Boumeester.

    Ya, you know… stemps and hudler and glencross.and Mr. Bean.

    Bouma… love what he brings and the price he pays.

    And Gratts… so lovingly tutoring the other teams face puncher so they can stop the sport for 44 seconds of a Colosseum style gladiator bout. Ever the pro (gladiator).

    all in all not a bad game. Shootout was funny and nerve racking and a bit exciting.

    I’m really not sure what to think of us edging out of lottery territory… not part of the plan I would have thought.

    anyway, see you guys later: same bat-time, same bat-channel.

  • Burnward

    Ramo was just okay in this one. A young team really needs above average goaltending on a nightly basis.

    Backlund getting over twenty minutes of ice should make the nation happy. At the very least he is raising his stock if indeed management doesn’t like him. He seems like a perfect second line centre. Monny at two and a hole at one. (the Janko dream is fading for me… Not dead but losing confidence).

    I like said but he was having to do far too much diving out there for my liking. Much like Berra Diving around can sometimes mean bad position or in Smids case slow feet.

    Not sure how long it will last but gotta feel good for the underdog Byron. He’s working his tail off for a shot at his dream,

    Fun to watch!

    • Burnward

      Meant Backs at three. Don’t know how to edit.

      I know that the nation likes questions so here is one. Is Monahan showing early signs of being a legit one center or a solid two? What are the comparadbles etc…

    • RedMan

      they need to do something quick… it’s getting ridiculous. I think they need to trade off one of their previous first overalls and a 1st round draft for a stud deferenceman to build the backend around. sell of the yak. anyway, he’s russian, so you know…

  • Didn’t see the game, but Backlund’s possession numbers are out of this world again while the Monhahan line got absolutely stomped from that perspective. Even though that was the only line getting more starts on the offensive zone.

    Monahan + Glencross is a combo that is getting murdered since it was put together. I don’t know if one or both of them is still hurt or something, but holy cow.

    • mattyc

      Backlund was all over the ice. Hartley also played him a ton including lots of PP and PK.

      Glencross had some good forecheks, but he’s a pretty poor defensive player (imo), and Hudler or Monahan aren’t really equipped to pick up the slack the same way Stempniak and/or Stajan are.

      • loudogYYC

        I unfortunately have to agree on your Glencross statement, but he’s turned into a poor defensive player. He became a regular NHLer by playing an intense forechecking and defensive game, but that nice shot of his has him thinking he’s a 1st liner.

        I’m gonna sound negative, but I think Glencross is a veteran the Flames can afford to lose. I just hope they sell high. Like to Philly for Brayden Schenn or something.

  • aloudoun

    I would have to agree I am souring on GlenX… and quickly.
    There were rumours last year that Glenx was being sought after by Chicago and Ottawa (if I remember correctly). But I am pretty sure he signed the low cost contract and added a NTC because he loves the area. Who knows?

    And yah Backlund! Hows Sven doing in Abby?

    • piscera.infada

      “But I am pretty sure he signed the low cost contract and added a NTC because he loves the area.”

      That’s exactly what happened – hometown discount and all. Plus, he really likes riding horses. So, you know there’s that… While he’s definitely a sought-after player, I assume trading him is going to be next to impossible, unless he’s soured to playing on a bad team – which is entirely possible.

      I think if he does want out though, he could net a very solid return. There were also those rumors that Philly really wanted him about a month ago. In my mind, he seems like the kind of player that a playoff team could be very interested in. Cross our fingers and hope Burke can figure something out.

      @redricardo

      You beat me to it. I agree fully, he is the kind of player every team wants, he can play through the lineup, penalty kills, powerplay. Which makes me think he may be worth keeping. But with his term and dollars, he’s likely very valuable as a trade asset to this team – so it wouldn’t be “unloading” him, it would be “selling” him – which is different, and very rare for this team.

  • redricardo

    A scout from the Chicago Blackhawks told me last year, that GlenX was the one player on the Flames every team would love to have, because he has “grit”. I make fun of #GRITCHART, but I’m not making that up, those are his words.

    If he wanted to move, I doubt unloading him would be much of a problem.

  • Michael

    ‘The Flames drop their record to 13-15-5, which is still strangely good considering this team is rebuilding’

    Its likely status quo for the remainder of the season, but the ousting of Feaster signals that the rebuild is essentially over. Burke and the new GM are going to follow Edwards mandate next season, requiring a competitive team challenging for a playoff spot. They might use the trade deadline to sell ‘unwanted pieces’ but this team is going to be aggressively buying and signing free agents in the off season.

    • RedMan

      I’m pretty sure this team will need to sign people just to get to the floor.

      Is it not jumping the gun a bit to declare with such certainty what Burke will do?. Sure, we all have some concerns, but we don’t know yet.

    • piscera.infada

      Is that an inherently bad thing?

      I was musing about this with a friend last night. It comes down to signing the ‘right’ players that fit the mold. I agree, if you go wild and sign a bunch of mediocre talent, then you end up with a mediocre team (see, Florida a few years back). However, if you can finagle some talent, then perhaps it’s not such a horrible situation. That said, if talent isn’t there, then you remain status quo (as it pertains to here and now). The point being, if you have opportunity (which this team does have, at least in terms of cap-space and real dollars), and the players are there, then you should for all intents and purposes go about “rebuilding” in that way. Let us not forget that rebuilding through several high picks isn’t the only way.

      We have had a few solid drafts, and we should be set up well for another solid draft by way of picks in 2014. The goal here should be to make the team competitive while still keeping in the mold of drafting well – and thusly valuing draft-picks. I know Burke spent two first rounders on Kessel, but I’m not sure that’s something you can sell here. If you can get competitive, while still keeping enough picks to build your prospect pool, then that is rebuilding – it’s not the “end of the rebuild”.

      But that’s just me. I’ve always been of the mind that simply dragging your feet, drafting, and hoping against hope that everything turns up Chicago or Pittsburgh is playing with fire (no pun intended). For example, how would Chicago look right now if Pittsburgh has used it’s 2006 second overall on Toews instead of Staal (to say nothing of St. Louis picking Johnson first overall)? How would Pittsburgh look? It’s kind of scary to think about…

      • piscera.infada

        When Burke took over Toronto, Ferguson Jr ran that team down even worse than Sutter. I don’t think Burke had anything to start a rebuild around & took a pretty huge risk to get the first building piece. Cant really fault him for that. If you think about it, look at the Islanders. They gave up a 1st & 2nd & Moulson for Vanek. How would Snow have known that if you put Vanek & Tavares together they would still suck big time. Now Buffalo have a very very good chance of picking both Ekblad & Reinhart. Not a bad 1-2.

        In Calgary, we have some pretty good pieces that make a Kessel type of move unlikely. Everyone seems to think for sure Burke is going to give our next 2 first rounders in a similar deal. If you really look at it from a new management perspective, Flames have 4 pieces you can say will be the foundation/building blocks for this organization going forward. Brodie/Monahan/Gilles/Gaudreau

        Any of those 4 would be coveted by any team.

        Burke needs to add to those 4. Now, we have some selling to do & hopefully we get a few more extra 1st rounders to go with our top 10 pick. This year more than last year, it is really important to move up to the top 5 to get a relevant player. We also have lots of $$$ to perhaps buy 1 more piece without handcuffing us cap wise. I think this team needs to shift gears in how we are approaching this rebuild, waiting for 3 1st overalls is not the answer. I liked Feaster, but he was not someone I trusted to change gears & pick up speed on this rebuild. I thought last year when we sold Iggy & JBO was a huge time for this franchise, the next 6-7 months seem to be just a critical.

        • piscera.infada

          That’s actually exactly what I was getting at. At some point a team needs to move past the “rebuilding through drafting” stage, and move into the “building a team” stage. We can argue all day about when exactly that point is, but if anyone thinks a team can fill-out six top-six forwards and four top-four defensemen through the draft, they’re kidding themselves.

          The crucial thing for this team in the long run, is to not fall back into the Sutter-go-for-it mode. Make the team competitive if there are moves to be made, but keep in mind that drafting is always of importance.

          I agree with you as well on Burke. Calgary and Toronto are/were two completely different situations. His hands were tied there – horrible contracts, with a lot of term, for old, slow players. Here, there is a clean slate. That is exactly why the new GM hiring is so intriguing. Any candidate worth his salt will know that they can come in here and put together a team in his and Burke’s mold, from the ground up. We can actually thank Feaster for that – he fell on his sword as a function of cleaning everything up, as Burke said “now it’s time for the thoroughbreds”.

          It’s actually very exciting. But I do think that the biggest mistake this organization can make is sit on their hands and hope to strike it rich at the draft year-after-year. Could it happen? Yes. We could win the lottery and draft McDavid, but it’s not pragmatic to sit around and assume that everything will work out, and we’ll soon be Chicago/Pittsburgh. That’s exactly how you get into the cycle of futility – not necessarily the “losing culture”, although that is a definite by-product.

    • Purple Hazze

      There are no good free agents next summer worth aggressively buying and signing. We’ll have to make some signings just to get to cap floor, but don’t look to the UFA market to turn this team around.

  • loudogYYC

    I think Glencross is one of the best 3rd line wingers in the NHL. If you have enough depth to be able to play Glencross as 3LW, then you’re golden.

    If you don’t have enough depth though, he’s not as effective. When he ends playing top 6 he’s useful but he’s not consistent enough to stay there. Put him back on the 3rd and his attitude can somewhat get in the way.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like having him on the team but he almost doesn’t fit anymore. He would be the perfect playoff addition to a team in contention.

    • loudogYYC

      I agree that he is one of the best 3LW and is probably best suited there.

      But considering Stajan, Cammalleri and Stempniak all seem to be upcoming trade bait I still think there is room for him on this team.

      He is an extremely frustrating player due to his inconsistent play and constant injury problems every year so it may be worth trading him. However, considering he has a no-trade which limits the return it might not be optimal to move him. Yet.

      Next years trade deadline or this offseason might be the best time to do it.