Post-Game: Vapour Trail

pic via Roncesvalles_MP

Well folks, here it is. The worst stretch of home losses in club history, seven in a row in regulation. During that stretch, the Flames have been out-scored 22-4 and been shut out four times. Yikes. 

You’ll be able to tell your kids about this bunch of games, presumably cautioning them to not take all of the Flames’ recent consecutive Cup wins, and their stars like Connor McDavid, Sean Day, and Connor McDavid Jr. for granted 😉

The Flames lost 5-2 to the Winnipeg Jets tonight and basically looked ambivalent towards the game of hockey in general. They failed to generate scoring chances, convert on power plays, take advantage of shaky goaltending from Pavelec, get big (or even moderately big) saves from their goalie, and most pointedly, score when it mattered. Well, at least they weren’t shut out.

GAME SUMMARY

pic via seabamirium

I know they are desperate to sell us things (Lord knows I buy it) and this year was a pretty good year for a new marketing technique but the Flames are living in denial by not burning these new sweaters and offering rewards for those who willingly surrender them as penance to hockey’s fashion gods. I believe that there should be an African village somewhere that should receive an ample supply of game-worn Flames jerseys. Or perhaps they could be used as insulation for the new Saddledome. Either way, they are cursed and should be donated or burned. Or donated for burning, I don’t care how it’s done. 

In the first period, the Flames were completely flat and it ended up costing them the game. There wasn’t much going on for the first few minutes except for a fairly nondescript fight between Anthony Peluso and Brian McGrattan. Because fighting always works for every team, the Jets came back the other way and scored mere seconds after the fight. Frolik hurled a harmless backhand on Flames starter, Reto Berra, who coughed an inexcusable rebound right into the slot and on to the tape of Bryan Little who made it 1-0 Jets. 

Then, three minutes and ten seconds later, the Flames got caught puck watching in their own zone and somehow missed the biggest player in the universe, the newly re-converted forward Dustin Byfuglien, who was left alone for a point-blank no-doubter to make it 2-0 Jets. That was basically the game, a mere nine minutes in. The Flames had a power play half-way through the first but predictably came away empty.

The Flames had no life in their legs and showed no push-back after the Jets scored their first goal and were forced into chase mode from the very start of the game. It’s really tough to play from behind for a fully-healthy version of this Flames squad but without Glencross of Cammalleri, the Flames roster is a little scary. The first ended 2-0 for the Jets, with the Jets outshooting the Flames 10-8, though that number flattered the largely lethargic Flames.  

In the first part of the second period, literally nothing important happened. It was quite painful to watch actually. Then, advanced stats darling Brian McGrattan drew a penalty and the Flames went to the power-play. Incidentally, the Flames power play sucks. The most eventful thing that happened was Dennis Wideman hitting Lee Stempniak with a slap-shot, again. 

After the failed PP, thanks to some horrendous play in their own zone, Mark Scheifele was the recipient of a pass that left him with so much open net, he could have given an acceptance speech before scoring. Which he did. 3-0 Jets.

After the goal, McGrattan nullified the good that he did earlier by taking a roughing penalty which the Flames were able to kill off. After the successful kill, the Flames were unable to generate any momentum and ended up taking another penalty, this one by Lance Bouma for tripping. On this power play, Berra attempted to clear the defensive zone himself, but placed the puck on a silver platter for the Jets’ Bryan Little, who fed Andrew Ladd, who went cross-creased to Big Mac Jokinen who had an empty net to make it 4-0. Oy vey. But, man, Jokinen’s hair looks weird on him. The second ended with the Jets out-shooting the flames 6-3. 

However, less than a minute into the third, Paul Byron, who rules, made a nice feed (though possibly accidental) to Mark Jyordano who waited and shelved one on Pavelec to make it 4-1. Hope! Then, Jokinen took a dumb penalty and Mikael Backlund was stopped point-blank early on in the PP. However, Dennis Wideman negated the powerplay and Jacob Trouba went five-hole on Berra to regain the five goal lead and make it 5-1 Winnipeg. Despair! Berra really did have a rough night. 

Oh I forgot, Bob Hartley, that budding comedic genius, he put Kevin Westgarth on a line with Monahan and Hudler at times in this game. Surely this was an ironic critique of the state of the Flames lineup.

With seven minutes left in the third, Lance Bouma won a faceoff to Dennis Wideman who’s shot was tipped by Bouma for his third goal of the season, making the score 5-2. However, the Flames were unable to get any closer to the Jets who won the game by the same 5-2 score.  

Chances

Team Period Time Note Home Away State
Away 1 15:00 butts 5 7 11 22 24 29 5 8 16 18 31 67 5v5
Away 1 12:17 butts 3 17 18 29 39 44 2 7 12 31 33 40 5v5
Away 1 11:50 butts 3 17 18 29 39 44 2 7 12 22 31 33 5v5
Home 1 10:24 butts 5 6 8 23 29 32 5 8 16 18 31   5v4
Home 1 10:14 butts 5 6 8 23 29 32 22 31 33 39 55   5v4
Away 1 2:13 butts 3 7 11 22 29   8 26 31 39 55 67 4v5
Away 2 17:37 butts 3 6 16 17 29 38 5 8 14 17 31 58 5v5
Away 2 17:16 butts 5 7 11 22 24 29 16 18 31 39 44 67 5v5
Home 2 13:16 butts 5 6 22 23 24 29 17 31 39 44 67   5v4
Away 2 10:52 butts 6 11 22 24 29 55 22 26 31 39 44 55 5v5
Away 2 8:43 butts 5 29 32 39 44   8 26 31 44 55 67 4v5
Away 2 2:32 butts 5 18 29 32 44   12 16 18 31 33 39 4v5
Home 3 19:21 butts 5 7 18 22 29 32 5 8 12 31 33 40 5v5
Home 3 17:59 butts 5 6 11 22 24 29 5 8 16 18 31   5v4
Away 3 17:04 butts 3 7 18 29 32   8 26 31 44 55   4v4
Away 3 15:47 butts 3 5 11 22 29   26 31 39 40 44 55 4v5
Home 3 14:44 butts 5 15 23 24 29 55 2 7 12 31 33 67 5v5
Home 3 10:03 butts 5 7 18 22 29 32 7 17 26 31 44 55 5v5
Away 3 5:31 peepee 3 18 22 24 29 44 2 7 12 31 33 40 5v5
Away 3 1:20 butts 5 7 8 17 24 29 8 12 22 31 33 44 5v5
# Player EV     PP     SH    
3 SMID, LADISLAV 18:42 0 5 00:19 0 0 02:05 0 2
5 GIORDANO, MARK 17:01 3 3 03:27 4 0 04:25 0 3
6 WIDEMAN, DENNIS 14:03 0 2 03:22 4 0 01:03 0 0
7 BRODIE, TJ 17:14 2 4 01:22 0 0 02:25 0 1
8 COLBORNE, JOE 12:37 0 1 01:36 2 0 00:22 0 0
11 BACKLUND, MIKAEL 13:42 0 3 02:11 1 0 01:47 0 2
15 WESTGARTH, KEVIN 09:53 1 0 00:00 0 0 00:00 0 0
16 MCGRATTAN, BRIAN 06:56 0 1 00:00 0 0 00:00 0 0
17 BOUMA, LANCE 09:01 0 4 00:00 0 0 02:24 0 0
18 STAJAN, MATT 15:29 2 4 00:52 0 0 03:24 0 1
22 STEMPNIAK, LEE 15:38 2 4 02:54 2 0 02:07 0 2
23 MONAHAN, SEAN 12:03 1 0 01:46 3 0 00:37 0 0
24 HUDLER, JIRI 14:44 1 5 03:17 2 0 00:04 0 0
29 BERRA, RETO   3 9   4 0   0 4
32 BYRON, PAUL 12:55 2 1 01:13 2 0 02:27 0 2
38 STREET, BEN 08:14 0 1 00:19 0 0 00:00 0 0
39 GALIARDI, TJ 11:02 0 2 00:19 0 0 01:18 0 1
44 BUTLER, CHRIS 16:34 0 3 01:08 0 0 04:32 0 2
55 O’BRIEN, SHANE 12:41 1 1 00:00 0 0 00:00 0 0
Period Totals EV PP 5v3 PP SH 5v3 SH
1 2 4 0 3 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
2 1 5 0 3 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0
3 4 4 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0

RED WARRIOR

Man it’s been tough to pick this at times this year. Giordano had a nice goal, though it was way too late. I thought Butler was okay tonight. Or maybe he was just less horrible than fans have been accustomed to. Lance Bouma scored a goal for the first time in like six lunar cycles which is pretty cool. However, this guy gets the honour more for his play in the past month or so even though he was pretty good tonight as well.

pic via Teka England 

It’s Paul Byron. I have been a big fan of his since his transition to top-six minutes. He has been a bright spot in a Flames lineup rife with frustration and disappointment. Also, I approve of the #LordByron tag that has been assigned to him from the Flames twitter. He is certainly mad, bad, and dangerous to know. 

SUM IT UP

Home losses in succession like this are exceptionally difficult to watch for all Flames fans I am sure. It is even more difficult to justify shelling out big money to watch these games play out. However, hopefully later in the season there might be some new faces around to give the locals some reason to keep showing up this season but right now it’s pretty bleak. I am going to print off a copy of Kent’s piece from this morning and carry it around with me as a safety blanket.

Shockingly, and increasingly problematically, the Flames remain second from the bottom in their division, sixth of seven in the Pacific, three points above the remarkably pathetic Oilers with two games at hand at 16-26-6. They are headed to Vancouver for a date with the Canucks who allowed three field goals to Anaheim on Wednesday night. 

Burn the thirds. 

  • cgyokgn

    Six goals given up to the Coyotes and five to the Jets. We’re making bubble teams look like world beaters. It seems in order for us to score goals, we have to give up a handful of goals (with the exception of the Canes game). If we give up two goals or less, we can’t score any. Frustrating.

  • cgyokgn

    I was just looking at the standings… it is really, truly impressive just how bad the Sabres are this year. I don’t care what set of metrics you’re using. They’re the worst team in the league. Period.

    I mean… at some point, you have to sit back, applaud, and bow to the masters, right?

    (83 goals in 46 games? Are you freaking kidding me?)

  • AF

    Berra’s record is 5-13-2 and Ramo’s is 8-9-3. Their goals against average and save percentage are pretty comparable. I’m under the impression that we play better with Ramo in the net. I also think Ramo is the better goaltender overall. That’s my hunch anyway.

    • cgyokgn

      Berra now 5-14-2, GAA 3.13 SV% .894
      Ramo 8-9-3, GAA 2.80 SV% .903

      Agreed, Ramo is the better goalie, and I would not mind seeing an all Finnish tandem with Ortio coming up and Berra going, well, anywhere else, and,as mentioned in a previous blog, the Berra experiment is over.

  • cgyokgn

    I’m puzzled as to why we play so horrifically at home. Our away record isn’t much better but 7-14-3 is abysmal. Only Detroit (!!) has won fewer games at home (6) and no one, no one has lost more in regulation. Even Buffalo’s home record is better (their away is bad however). Is the pressure to win at home that intense? Is it Big Bad Burke watching from on high?

  • Michael

    Without Glencross and Cammi we effectively have four third / fourth lines, and are playing one legit top six forward Hudler. Backlund, Bryon etc wouldn’t be top six forwards anywhere else. The goal tending shows some promise, but both of these guys should be learning the NHL game in the minors, or at best as NHL backups. The back end is largely ineffective. I’m not sure that Hartley has ever impacted this squad, but at best the guys have tuned him out. We don’t have a full time GM, AGM, and likely need a new coaching staff & scouting staff next year.
    As fans, I think we have to be patient and let Burke / GM rebuild this team from the ground up. I’m not sure that Burke is that patient…

  • The Last Big Bear

    Out-sucking the Oilers is not something I feel the need to see the Flames accomplish.

    You don’t NEED to be the worst team in the NHL to rebuild. You can trade off your vets for youth and picks, you can gather reclamation projects, you can make roster space for guys on bad contracts to flip them for picks at the deadline, etc. There are lots of things a rebuilding team can do to improve the future without picking 1st overall.

    So lets just leave the “we have to lose worse than the Oilers” rhetoric at the door.

    If a team is unable to rebuild by picking in the 3rd-6th overall region, then there are systemic problems at work, and picking 1st overall isn’t going to solve that.

    I’m in favour of the Flames winning as many games as possible, even if it means finishing one spot out of the playoffs. I’d rather keep a healthy and competitive atmosphere in the locker room, and make up the difference in draft position by doing the things I mentioned above.

    Especially when the only really “wow” asset at this draft is Ekblad’s beard.

    • Michael

      Actually, speaking of this year’s draft, it sort of occurred to me last night how much it reminds me of the 2011 draft.

      Think about it for a minute… you’ve got the slick playmaking center with elite vision (Reinhart/Nugent-Hopkins), the big all-around defenseman who’s showing slight signs that he might not be all that he was supposed to be (Ekblad/Larsson), the two-way european power forward who has questions about his ultimate offensive upside (Draisaitl/Landeskog), the slick offensive forward rocketing up draft boards everywhere (Bennett/Strome), the lanky center-playing-wing who has fans and scouts alike salivating about his tools (Dal Colle/Huberdeau), the big defenseman who’s showing more than expected (Fleury/Hamilton), and the mobile two-way defender whom no one seems to know where he’ll go in the draft (McKeown/Brodin).

      I mean, it doesn’t guarantee this one will turn out as productive as 2011… but the similarities are interesting, no?

      Or maybe I’m just seeing patterns in a random assortment of stars in the night sky. But who doesn’t like constellations?

    • RedMan

      I have to disagree…I don’t think taking 24 or 25th spot instead of 28, 29 or 30, is going to give the players or team any more confidence.

      On top of that, if one has the first overall pick or the second, they can trade down and get more pics if they don’t “need” the 1st or 2nd.

      nobody wants to lose, but you can leave the confidence argument at the door as well… cause confidence wont soar by finishing a few spots up.

      I am assuming you don’t want to trade our first round pick and several top prospects for a 28 yr old center to challenge for 8 or 9 spot in the west, right? that would really be awesome for confidence, plus, we are trying then to win now. no thanks…

      stay the course and hope for the highest draft pick possible.

      🙂

        • RexLibris

          This has been discussed in Edmonton.

          MacTavish last year spoke glowingly about Darnell Nurse before the draft but people were still debating Monahan, Barkov, or Nichushkin, thinking that his mention of Nurse was just talk.

          Now, MacTavish comes back from the WJCs and raves about Ekblad. That, recent experience, and the absolute circus that is the Oilers’ blueline this year has many believing that if he is available the Oilers would take him, be it 1st, 2nd or 3rd overall.

          That being said, Draisaitl’s name has been rumoured as well, just not to the same extent.

          • RexLibris

            Gagner is going to be traded very soon now and they don’t have anyone in the system who can play 2C in the immediate future.

            Not that drafting a kid and plunking him into the NHL is going to solve that, but in terms of organizational need, it is somewhat of a glaring weakness.

            On D they have a collection of potential players far deeper than they do at center and a lot closer to NHL-ready.

            The Oilers’ needs are essentially a 1D, 2C, and a 3LW. The last can be solved rather easily through free-agency. The first two are going to have to be addressed by trade or patience.

            The Flames’ needs are obviously more significant at this stage, but they have a few pieces in place that will hold for the time being. The most significant deficiency in their organization, as I see it, is in defensive prospects.

            They have Granlund, Knight, and M. Reinhart to battle for the 4C, Backlund for 3C and Monahan for either 1C or 2C. Wing is fluid and a little easier to acquire. Goaltending may settle in time if either Ortio or Gillies can become an NHL netminder. But on defense, aside from Brodie, the Flames have very little by way of “take it to the bank” blueline talent.

            The ideal situation would have been to trade Cammalleri for Simon Despres, but injuries may derail that possibility.

            So for the sake of discussion, imagine that the Oilers are drafting 2nd and the Flames 3rd with Sam Reinhart taken. How would Flames fans feel if Burke traded the 3rd overall for the 2nd knowing that there would be some additional cost not involving draft picks? Without getting into details (names, etc) would you be comfortable with taking that risk or prefer to simply wait and select the player that falls to them knowing that in any case they would be addressing an organizational need (wing, center or defense)?

  • RedMan

    As I said some time ago this is the least talented Flames club in franchise history. They are now in total free fall. What happens next? They have no one to trade, no talented free agent will come to Calgary, and the prospects (even future draft picks) are years away from bearing fruit. Fire the coach? Will Brian Burke stay around to manage the train wreck? Ownership has to take a lot of the blame for this mess.