Post-Game: Losing Streak Hits Four

After going nearly the first third of the regular season without racking up consecutive regulation losses, the Calgary Flames have strung together four of them to kick off the middle third of the schedule. Their latest set-back was tonight, by way of a 3-1 decision in Pittsburgh at the hands of a Sidney Crosby-less Penguins club.

They fall to 17-12-2 on the season. The road trip ends on Sunday in Chicago.

The culprit tonight? A slow start and shoddy defensive zone play that put the team behind the eight-ball before much of the clock had ticked away. Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

THE RUNDOWN

Before anyone really had a time to get their seat warm, the Flames were down a goal. On a bad pinch by Mark Giordano, Blake Comeau went in on a two-on-one with Evgeni Malkin and beat Jonas Hiller off the first shot Hiller faced all game. The Flames went down after 48 seconds and never drew even for the rest of the game. Kris Letang scored again off a tip a few minutes later, ending a five-minute span of play where the Flames seemed anything but the structured, confident defensive group they were last month, or even last week. Johnny Gaudreau answered back, burying a rebound off a Markus Granlund shot to make it 2-1. Shots were 8-8 after 20.

The Penguins seemed like a group that didn’t want to let the Flames back in from then on out. They out-shot the Flames 11-6 in the second and did their best to control the pace of the game, despite the Flames winning more of the face-offs in the middle period. There was no scoring in the second.

Calgary kept pressing in the third. They out-shot the Penguins 13-3. They probably should’ve scored one. They didn’t, because that’s how things are going nowadays. To make matters worse, Ladislav Smid got hurt early off a nasty hit by Simon Despres early in the period and didn’t return. It should be noted that there was no noteworthy physical retribution taken against Despres in the remaining 17+ minutes of the game. Lethbridge native Rob Klinkhammer scored late to put the game out of hand.

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

You’ve got to hold a team accountable to their wins. Forget the back-to-backs and the travel and the fatigue: the Flames need to play a structured defensive game to be successful. That’s how they were successful against good teams when they won games.

They were not good at all in their own zone early-on, and it got them down two goals, and that was it. On the road, on the back end of a back-to-back, against Pittsburgh, you cannot spot them two goals early and expect to win. Full-stop.

RED WARRIOR

Johnny Gaudreau had the lone goal, four shots and buzzed around all night.

SCORING CHANCES

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 11.46.44 PM

Team Period Time Note Home Away State
Home 1 19:13 Comeau goal 10 17 29 41 59 71 1 5 7 8 13 23 5v5
Home 1 17:22 Malkin 10 17 29 41 59 71 1 7 15 18 25 32 5v5
Home 1 17:20 Megna 10 17 29 41 59 71 1 7 15 18 25 32 5v5
Home 1 17:14 Megna tip 10 17 29 41 59 71 1 7 15 18 25 32 5v5
Home 1 17:08 Sutter 10 16 29 41 72 1 4 6 8 23 4v4
Home 1 15:18 Letang goal 13 25 29 47 58 1 4 6 20 21 4v4
Home 1 13:31 72 7 13 16 29 58 72 1 5 7 8 21 23 5v5
Home 1 12:51 Comeau 10 17 29 41 59 71 1 4 6 19 20 86 5v5
Home 1 12:39 Comeau 10 17 29 41 59 71 1 4 6 19 20 86 5v5
Home 1 11:01 47 10 17 23 29 47 57 1 8 15 23 29 5v4
Home 1 8:29 Letang deflection 7 20 25 27 29 58 1 8 15 21 23 29 5v5
Away 1 7:47 Granlund 10 17 29 41 59 71 1 5 7 13 24 60 5v5
Away 1 7:46 Gaudreau goal 10 17 29 41 59 71 1 5 7 13 24 60 5v5
Away 1 6:10 Hudler 7 27 29 57 58 1 4 6 13 24 60 4v5
Away 1 5:10 Brodie 7 27 29 57 58 1 5 7 20 21 24 4v5
Away 1 5:09 Raymond 7 27 29 57 58 1 5 7 20 21 24 4v5
Home 2 19:04 Malkin 7 17 29 58 59 71 1 5 7 21 32 60 5v5
Home 2 19:01 Comeau 7 17 29 58 59 71 1 5 7 21 32 60 5v5
Home 2 14:20 72 10 13 16 29 41 72 1 4 6 21 23 32 5v5
Home 2 9:15 72 10 23 29 57 58 72 1 6 15 23 86 5v4
Home 2 8:20 13 4 13 25 29 41 72 1 4 6 7 18 32 5v5
Away 2 7:48 Jooris tip 4 13 29 41 59 71 1 15 19 20 29 86 5v5
Away 2 7:38 Jones 4 13 29 41 59 71 1 15 19 20 29 86 5v5
Home 2 6:35 72 7 20 29 58 71 72 1 4 7 13 24 60 5v5
Away 2 4:16 Hudler 7 16 29 57 58 1 5 6 13 20 24 4v5
Home 2 1:35 Malkin 7 17 29 58 71 1 5 7 13 24 4v4
Away 3 18:41 Hudler 7 27 29 57 58 1 4 6 13 19 24 4v5
Away 3 17:25 Raymond 4 10 16 25 29 1 5 7 20 21 23 4v5
Away 3 16:26 Jones 7 17 20 29 58 71 1 4 6 19 32 60 5v5
Home 3 15:34 7 7 16 29 58 71 72 1 5 7 18 32 5v4
Away 3 11:34 Jones tip 4 23 25 29 47 57 1 4 19 21 29 86 5v5
Away 3 7:56 Granlund 7 13 16 17 29 58 1 5 7 13 24 60 5v5
Away 3 7:33 Glencross 7 13 17 29 41 71 1 5 7 19 20 86 5v5
Away 3 7:28 Jooris 7 13 17 29 41 71 1 5 7 19 20 86 5v5
Home 3 5:53 Deflection 4 23 25 29 47 57 1 5 13 25 29 60 5v5
Away 3 3:42 Gaudreau 7 23 27 29 57 58 1 4 5 13 24 60 5v5
Home 3 2:47 Klinkhammer goal 10 17 20 29 41 71 1 4 5 8 23 32 5v5
# Player EV PP SH
1 HILLER, JONAS   10 18   6 0   0 3
4 RUSSELL, KRIS 17:16 3 8 02:58 2 0 01:27 0 0
5 GIORDANO, MARK 18:02 6 7 06:04 4 0 05:04 0 1
6 WIDEMAN, DENNIS 15:53 1 6 05:06 3 0 02:44 0 1
7 BRODIE, TJ 18:24 5 10 03:56 3 0 03:01 0 1
8 COLBORNE, JOE 10:14 0 5 00:32 0 0 02:51 0 1
13 GAUDREAU, JOHNNY 12:24 4 4 05:01 3 0 00:12 0 0
15 SMID, LADISLAV 06:02 2 4 00:00 0 0 02:31 0 2
18 STAJAN, MATT 05:56 0 4 00:00 0 0 03:22 0 1
19 JONES, DAVID 10:19 6 2 01:58 1 0 00:00 0 0
20 GLENCROSS, CURTIS 08:39 4 3 04:52 4 0 00:00 0 0
21 RAYMOND, MASON 11:16 1 6 04:01 3 0 00:00 0 0
23 MONAHAN, SEAN 14:06 0 6 03:41 1 0 02:40 0 2
24 HUDLER, JIRI 11:40 4 2 05:21 5 0 00:00 0 0
25 BOLLIG, BRANDON 06:29 0 4 00:00 0 0 00:00 0 0
29 ENGELLAND, DERYK 09:02 3 2 00:00 0 0 03:17 0 1
32 BYRON, PAUL 10:53 1 8 00:00 0 0 03:38 0 1
60 GRANLUND, MARKUS 11:03 5 4 01:40 1 0 02:13 0 0
86 JOORIS, JOSH 09:40 5 2 00:00 0 0 03:08 0 1
Period Totals EV PP 5v3 PP SH 5v3 SH
1 5 11 2 10 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
2 3 7 2 6 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
3 8 3 6 2 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0

ZONE ENTRIES

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 11.53.18 PM

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 11.53.30 PM

SUM IT UP

The Flames have lost four in a row. They deserved better fates on other nights, but this was a game that Calgary played poorly enough that a loss was probably warranted.

They’re back in action against Chicago on Sunday. The Blackhawks have won eight straight. Puck drops at 6pm on City TV as part of Hometown Hockey.

  • ssamze

    Don’t know if this has anything to do with anything, but I really disagree with the Flames not holding a practice/morning skate today. I know they played yesterday, but they lost — and the coaches didn’t feel the need to say anything to them after the game. Fast-forward to tonight and less than a minute in they are down a goal. I don’t think teams should take “off days” unless they are playing a string of games at home and have several days between them. I always held it akin to when the CFL gave the best teams from each conference a ‘bye’ into the Finals; sure, you get an extra week to prepare, but wouldn’t you rather choose to play, to keep things going as opposed to sitting around and being complacent?

    In my opinion the Flames played well enough to win any of the last four games they’ve played. Just because no one expected us to go on the run we did, and then subsequently expect us to regress, doesn’t mean the players should be let off so easy. We are good enough — the players are good enough — we just need to stop with the mental mistakes.

    And for the love of Lanny’s mustache, find us a functional third pairing on the back end.

    • MattyFranchise

      I have to disagree with you. Playing back to back, travelling and then having a practice inbetween sounds pretty unreasonable. Maybe if were back to back home games it might make sense but what you are suggesting is akin to playing three games in two days. Especially considering the flames famously intense practices.

  • MattyFranchise

    Johnny mony huds

    Baer backs grany

    Colby jooris Jones

    Ferland Bouma Byron

    Extra stajan bollig Raymond

    Trade-sourface for 2nd round pick mcG for 6th

    Brodie gio

    Russell Tspoon

    Smid cundari

    Extra Diaz engelland

    Trade-Wideman for 2nd round pick(1mill retained)

    Ramo

    Ortio

    Trade-Hiller for 2nd round pick(1mill retained)

  • FeyWest

    This could also be a bit of the reason why they lost 4. They had to face teams that were all on a bit of a win streak at the time (whether it was because of good goaltending, puck luck, or simply that they’re a good team): San Jose – 6-2-2 in the last 10, Toronto – 7-2-1, Buffalo – 7-3-0, Pittsburgh – 6-3-0, and now to face Chicago – 9-1-0.

  • FeyWest

    This next game in Chicago game is the perfect statement game, finally catching a rock after sliding down this slippery slope. We can do it, just gotta prove it and take down Chi-Town in the process!

  • FeyWest

    As a Flames fan I will be taking a deep breath and look optimistically at the rest of the season and the future. The foundation that this team has built in 2 short years is going to provide Flames fans with excitement for years.

    Yes it would be great to make the playoffs this year but even better if our young players/prospects continue to develop properly! As well I have full confidence in BB/BT managing this team going forward. Moving veteran assets respectfully and at the right time to ensure support and make room for the young stars will be critical and ensure the best return possible.

  • FeyWest

    I think this is actually a good test. The room is supposed to be tight so let’s just see how it hangs together through this. A little adversity will may help temper the steel of this team. If it breaks, it wasn’t ready for anything.

  • Burnward

    As previously stated by the great Walter White; there seems to be a negative correlation between advanced stats and the scoreboard for the Flames this year.

    I guess some of it can be explained by “playing from behind”, but looking at the big picture; there appears to be a disconnect here……

    Can one of you advanced stats experts be so kind as to look at all the games played by the Flames this year and figure out in how many games the advanced stats were in line with the outcome of the game, and in how many games they conflicted with the outcome of the game?

    I have a feeling this will be quite an eye opener…..
    Thank you in advance!

    WW

    • flaming_mess

      Very good point here Walter. I think what we’re going to see is that our record starts to come in line with our advanced stats in general.
      You may be right that to this point on a game to game basis things haven’t lined up, but we should be ready for a world of hurt in the coming games if we keep our crappy, low possession/high PDO style up.

      Honestly, we’re one elbow to Gaudreau’s face (which is elbow level to most in the league) from being a celler-dweller team).
      I truly wish it weren’t so.

  • FeyWest

    These are excellent tests for the boys and they are showing well, albeit losing. I still marvel that a team like this can dominate much better clubs for parts or entire games. Of course, we’re disappointed in the losses and there’s plenty of room for improvement but did anyone expect the team to go from their 2013/2014 record to top five in the league? Steady progress boys. Prudent trades and great drafting is what this process is about.

  • Derzie

    The “bad pinch” by Gio on the 1st goal was actually Colborne floating through center missing the assignment of covering for Gio. Left side remained wide open and we gave up a chance and goal. Perfect storm of hitting hot teams and getting rusty players back. I though Stajan was a healthy scratch again until I heard his name called once (!) late in the 3rd. With Sven & Ferland we win at least 1 of the last 4 losses.

    • Burnward

      Good call.

      The old boys are having a hard time matching the energy of the kids.

      Raymond was definitely a step behind out there. Gotta get his game legs back. Hopefully within five games or so, he and Colborne can recover their early season form.

  • Burnward

    What you guys think of a guy like Patrick Sharp?

    If the Hawks need to shed salary, I think he’d fit nicely alongside Gio in that room as a veteran leader for the boys.

    I’d be all over this one.

  • Burnward

    If the boys come out and just push Chicago, grind out a great win…that’s when you give Hartley his extension.

    It’s probably coming and that would be a nice statement to him and the team.

    • Burnward

      I’m supportive of extending Hartley’s contract but make no mistake, the next head coach wil be the hire of BT and BB and who knows what they have in mind. BT has extensive history with Tippett and a Babcock still doesn’t have a contract for next year and might love the challenge of a young, fast and skilled team to develop for a few years. Either would be great hires in my books. On another note, I was shocked reading some of the comments of Burke regarding Phaneuf and his apparent love affair with the d-man. The last thing this team needs is an egocentric pylon trying to take over the dressing room. The room is fine under Gio and a few vets so Mr. Burke, keep your bromance but don’t even think about bringing Dion back to Calgary.

      • Burnward

        I dunno. They have a good thing going here. Why mess around?

        There will always be a good coach or two available. Chemistry is tough to manufacture though and Hartley sure seems to have it with this crew.

      • ssamze

        Not to be a jerk, but…

        Babcock is currently coaching a “young, fast and skilled team.” They’re currently tied for first in the Eastern Conference. Young talent: Nyquist (14 goals so far), Tatar (12 goals so far), Sheahan, Jurco, Glendening, Mantha, Pulkkinen, Mrazek, DeKeyser, Smith, Ouellet, Sproul, Marchenko. Plus: two of the best hockey players on earth in Datsyuk and Zetterberg, who remain point-per-game players. Plus: Babcock’s on record as saying 1) this is the best team he’s had since ’09 and it’s only going to get better, and 2) he’s happy in Detroit and imagines he’ll probably stay put because “the grass is rarely greener on the other side.” All this, and people still think he’s dying to coach the Leafs. The Leafs! A team whose best player is Phil Kessel and best defenseman (and captain!) is Dion Phaneuf. A team that has maybe one top-end prospect in William Nylander. A team that’s at least a few years from being where the Wings are now, because they haven’t drafted and developed well and are therefore counting on “really good” but not Great players to somehow win them the Cup.

        Babcock will re-sign in Detroit. Book it.

        [/rant]

        • RKD

          Hey that’s not being a jerk – it’s good discussion and I agree with many of your points includng that Babcock will likely re-sign with Detroit. The fact that he isn’t signed yet (and for that matter that Hartley isn’t signed yet) just makes it intriguing. Despite the success that Hartley has has with the team, if the Flames were ever able to land Babcock, they’d do it in a second. He brings a wealth of experience and success (Detroit, Olympics) and might be a good change for the next phase of the team. At the end of the day, maybe Babcock needs a change of scenary and a new challenge or maybe there’s a relationship we are not aware of with BT or BB. Time will tell.

  • Burnward

    Any news on any disciplinary action for Despres? I don’t know which is more frustrating, the fact that there wasn’t any penalty on the play or the fact that Despres didn’t have to answer the bell to anyone, with Bollig being on the ice at the time.

    • Burnward

      To be fair, it looked clean at the time.

      Once they saw the replay, they made sure Despres knew what was up. Letang could have used a straightening out though…

      • Burnward

        It looked as if Despres targeted Smid’s head, Smid’s mouth was bleeding and he looked a little wonky as he was going off the ice. I fully agree with Letang getting some attention, non-stop crosschecks on JG’s back, you could see him wincing and holding his back on the bench.

  • Burnward

    Same old, same old.

    But at least this repeated sequence has our team in every game until the bitter end. The effort deserved a tied game in the 3rd, and that speaks volumes considering the opposition. Sure playoffs would be cool, but it would be one series and out. Staying the course is 10 times more important than post-season this year.

    Time to try out Wotherspoon for a few games?

  • RedMan

    BRODANO have both had a tough week, and we lose 4 in a row. shows just how much this team leans on these two for the wins.

    I am not trying to pile on these two defensemen, everyone has their ups and downs, but as these two go, so go the Flames.

    • Kevin R

      Was discussing this over beers last night & BT really needs to bring in a decent 3-4 dman if he wants to have any aspirations of success this year. You can’t burn out Brodano playing them 25 minutes a game & maybe we are starting to see some of the effects of this. Same goes for Russell/Wideman. too many minutes over the long course of the year. Problem is that bottom pairing is such a liability & Wideman is a 3rd pairing dman with PP specialist ability. Kinda like what Feaster had hoped when he reupped Babchuk to that contract that didn’t work out.

      Too bad we couldn’t have sent Stajan, Colborne & Raymond down to Addy for conditioning stints & brought them back at different stages to lessen the impact of the change of chemistry the young guys had going. We were in total agreement we have too many forwards & this has to be addressed to organizational needs, especially on that blue line. I have been preaching this for so long that Im getting sicking of posting them, but this is sooooo obvious.

      Look at it this way, we are keeping our Oiler brothers company now & you know how much misery loves company.

        • flaming_mess

          So true Kevin. Oiler fans have it way worse. They actually outshoot the opponent and typically out chance them and STILL lose. hahahaha. We must be getting much better chances then them to be able to score on fewer chances and fewer shots. What a bunch of numb-nuts.
          Let keep it up, eh? Am i right?

  • RedMan

    These comments verbatim from Ryan Wilson, Penguins blogger.

    Simon Despres was guilty of a dirty hit on Ladislav Smid. Despres leaps into Smid’s head area with no intent other than to blow him up. Blowing a guy up is fine if you don’t get up too high, Despres did. He did not drive through the chest area, he literally jumped into contact. To avoid risking the potential of getting up too high, perhaps focusing on the puck while using tactical physicality would be a better solution for both player safety and effectiveness. Smid was hurt on the play so there is a chance of supplemental discipline.

  • RedMan

    I guess we can put the “nuclear deterent” theory to bed once and for all. Gaudreau is now being targeted with cheapshots every game with no reponse.

    Bollig did try to start a fight with the guy that elbowed Smid though, but instead of a fight he got a penalty, the other guy skates off laughing.

    Either this team is trululant or it isn’t. what’s the use of all these guys who bring toughness but can’t play a regular shift w/o getting owned if they don’t even bring the toughness?

    Bring Ferland back and sit Bollig. Bring Wothetspoon and sit Engalland. What happened to Glencross? he has really struggled this year. is it time for him to sit out a game or three?

    • Burnward

      Gaudreau will always be targeted because he is damn good and can change a game in one shift. Kid is proving he can hang though as he’s being tested.

      The way he takes it in stride and keeps playing hard has to be earning respect around the league.

  • RKD

    They are still 5 games above .500, they haven’t played terrible in these losses. They need to have better starts and are too dependent on Giordano and Brodie both defensively and offensively. Gio and Brodie are only human and they will make the odd lapse from time to time. The injured guys that came back need to get back to the way they were producing before they went down. Raymond and Colborne can and will be better. The other teams are playing better, it will only get tougher as teams keep raising their level to try and get to the playoffs.