Pic via tico_manudo
There has been a lot of darkness surrounding the Flames as of late, a lot of glum discussions about offensive futility, frustrations at the makeup of the roster, and wringing of hands regarding the lack of roster movements. A win or loss in any one game doesn’t alleviate these concerns in any real sense but a win like tonight’s in Raleigh just feels nice.
Sure the Hurricanes didn’t play great and the Flames were bound to start scoring eventually after an unprecedented stretch of impotence but tonight’s 2-0 win over Carolina was a nice glass of warm milk compared to the waking nightmare of the past few games.
The Flames got strong efforts from Backlund, Brodie, Monahan, Byron, (Backlund and Monahan scoring the goals) and carried the play throughout the whole game, wholly deserving this victory. Also, Karri Ramo earned his first career shutout which was nice to see as well.
Of note to start this game, Mikael Backlund donned an ‘A’ with Cammalleri going down with a concussion. I can get used to seeing that. Hopefully, this is an indicator that Backlund is viewed as an integral part of the club moving forward in this rebuild.
The Flames started off with a lot of life in their legs, getting a few good scoring chances in the first few minutes. The line of Monahan, Colborne, and Byron started the game with a lot of jump and Byron almost buried a chance from on a nice feed from Monahan. That line also drew a penalty in the first five minutes and on the powerplay the Flames had some good possession for the first minute but after losing the zone once, they were largely unable to mount sustained pressure again. At the end of the power play, Byron took an interference penalty which the Flames were able to kill off.
As far as the decision to move Colborne to the wing, I don’t mind it at all. As Kent mentioned in the comments of the FGD post, I like the idea of sheltering him with Monahan rather than allowing him to continue to get drowned playing against top-six or languishing with the goon squad. This decision is contradictory to Burke’s statements regarding Colborne’s "religious conversion" to a tough minutes centre, but perhaps it is better to give him a break from those hard minutes as they are not going so great so far. As far as his play in this game, I thought he was okay though he seems to try and make too many skilled plays in tight spaces, some of which led to turnovers
The Flames had a very good first period, largely dominating the Hurricanes. T.J Brodie, Monahan, Byron and Hudler had great opening frames though the Flames were unable to convert on any of their chances. The Flames outshot the Hurricanes 14-5 (yes, that is correct, do not adjust your computer machines) in the first period. Chances were curiously 4-4 after one, with the majority of Flames shots coming from the point or outside prime scoring areas.
The Flames started the second with a couple good chances including a golden chance for Brodie who couldn’t hit the net to save his soul in the first two periods. Brodie had three scoring chances in the first 30 minutes of the game which is awesome. Because he is awesome.
Ramo, who was solid through the first 30 minutes, was tested five minutes into the period on a two-on-one chance from Nathan "Theo" Gerbe. The Hurricanes had a glorious chance to take the lead with Rutuu missing a wide-open net off of a shift from the thug-line. It is remarkable how bad those two (Brevin McGarth) are with the puck and how much of a black-hole they are possession-wise. I feel badly for Street who skated well tonight but ultimately didn’t have much of a chance centring those two.
With about five minutes left in the second, the Hurricanes took a lazy penalty and sent the Flames to the power play. Of late, that would have simply meant that you would be treated to two minutes of missed passes and shots into shin pads but on this most special of power plays, Backlund banged home a flukey goal off a failed cross crease pass from Hudler. Perhaps the hockey gods showed a little pity for this hapless team for a change.
The goal seemed to spark the ‘Canes into action as for the remainder of the second they took the play to the Flames hard. The Flames were able to make it to the room up 1-0 after two but with the shot margin being a lot closer than after the first. The Flames were outshooting Carolina 20-17 after two and outchanced the Hurricanes 11-9 through 40 minutes.
The Hurricanes started the third by taking the play to the Flames early on. The Flames didn’t have a shot for the first six minutes of play and iced the puck a number of times. Ramo had to be very sharp in the first half of the third stanza, especially on a two-shot sequence from Jordan Staal mid-way through the third. Then, at the 10:24 mark of the third, T.J Galiardi made a very nice play to Paul Byron who froze Khudobin and fed the puck to Monahan who had an empty net to make it 2-0 Flames. An excellent play by Byron who continues to impress playing in the top-six.
After the Monahan goal, the Flames were able to do a reasonably good job defending the lead and forcing the Hurricanes to the outside. Even when the Hurricanes were making their final push in the final three minutes, the Flames denied Carolina any clean entries and played very strong throughout the third. The game ended 2-0 with the Flames outshooting the canes 29-22.
Overall, it was a very strong 60 minute effort from the Flames, one of their best of the season to be sure and with a depleted roster.
Also, Lee Stempniak needs to consider voodoo counsel.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
THE RED WARRIOR
Though Backlund had a great game again, scoring the first and eventual winning goal and playing very well throughout and Paul Byron played another strong game, setting up the insurance marker in the third, the illustrious Red Warrior distinction has to be given to Karri Ramo.
With tonight’s win, Ramo earned his first career shutout in his 68th career game with this 22 save effort. As Thomas Drance pointed out, Ramo narrowly avoided a rather dubious list of goalies with 70 career starts and no shutouts. Ramo, and Berra as well to some extent, has played well over the past few games and was given no help from his team so this one has to feel extra nice for him. In his last outing against St. Louis, Ramo was shelled for five goals on 29 shots and had a shot at exactly one of them so the Flames owed him a good night.
SUM IT UP
Though the win does little for the Flames in terms of the standings, it was good to see some of their forwards have good games including Backlund and Monahan who both scored in this one. Clearly, it was Backlund’s fearless leadership, sparked by his new letter that caused him to climb on a table in the dressing room and invite his teamates to climb on his back to victory. Or perhaps Backlund has been pretty good all season and he is finally starting to score which means it is a lot easier to say he has transformed his game.
The Flames, who improve their record to 16-24-6 (27th overall in the NHL, three points ahead of Edmonton) are back in action again tomorrow against Nashville, the puck drops at 6pm MT.