Post-Game: Stars, Fallen

The Calgary Flames went into the Lone Star State tonight hoping for two points in the back half of a back-to-back (with both games on the road).

Sixty minutes of hockey – and a few lucky breaks later – the Calgary Flames edged the Dallas Stars by a 5-3 score, effectively ending the playoff hopes of their hosts and putting themselves one step closer to a post-season berth.

THE RUNDOWN

The Flames made life tough for themselves in the first period. They gave up a goal to Jason Spezza in the first minute of the period (on the first shot on Jonas Hiller of the game), and another on the power-play to Tyler Seguin in the final minute of the period. In-between, Dennis Wideman temporarily made the game 1-1 on the power-play. Shots were 10-5 for the Stars, who deluged the Flames at even-strength.

The second period was where Calgary came alive, at least temporarily. The Flames scored three times over a seven-minute span to take the lead. Jiri Hudler tied it up at the half-way mark of the period. Raphael Diaz scored on a nifty wrap-around to give the team a lead. Johnny Gaudreau scored a few minutes later to give Calgary a two-goal lead heading into the intermission. Shots were 16-11 for Calgary in the second.

With their playoff lives on the line, Dallas scored early in the third to draw closer. Jason Demers deflected in a Jamie Benn shot three minutes into the third to make it 4-3. From there, the Stars just deluged the Flames with shots and chances, but the Flames (and Jonas Hiller) did their best to defend. Unfortunately for the hometown fans, Mikael Backlund scored an empty-netter late to make it 5-3 and extinguish the Stars’ playoff hopes. Shots were 15-4 in the final period.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

Calgary’s been opportunistic all season long, making the absolute most of what chances they were given. Unfortunately for the Stars, the chances Calgary got were from the team’s dynamite top line of Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler – who hit the 70-point mark tonight – and if you give those guys opportunities, they will hurt you.

And while Jonas Hiller was not good early – he’ll want that Jason Spezza goal from early-on back – he was superb late in the game with two points on the line.

RED WARRIOR

Let’s give it to Jiri Hudler, who has been the proud Papa Bear to the young pups on his line this season. He had a goal, an assist and was plus-three this evening in 17 minutes of work.

And a stick-tap to Deryk Engelland and Dennis Wideman, who combined for 13 blocked shots between them.

SCORING CHANCES

Coming soon!

ZONE ENTRIES

Coming soon!

SUM IT UP

The Flames have improved to 42-28-7 on the season, good enough for 91 points. They sit tentatively in third place in the Pacific Division. Their magic number on the Los Angeles Kings – per Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet – is down to just 5 games.

Any combination of five Flames wins and/or Kings losses, and we see playoff hockey on April 15.

  • Skuehler

    Gutsy clutch win

    Love the character of this team.
    They are planning on making the playoffs or die trying. If they get in and steal a round, this could get really fun.

  • Captain Ron

    This looks to me like a group of men who are so close they won’t allow themselves to be denied a playoff berth no matter what.

    Where does Hudler rank among best free agent signings ever in Flames franchise history? Is he number one? I can’t think of anyone off the top who was better than he has been.

  • Skuehler

    Mr. Pike,

    Are you sure the Flames did not win because the Stars were “tired”, much like the Preds.

    But, of course, as you mention in the opening, they were lucky.

    I tell ya, sometimes I wonder if you folks deserve this team. and this franchise.

    Many times I come to the conclusion that you simply do not.

    • Derzie

      Why no props for this? It is simply stating that the norm around here for posters is to list the reasons why we shouldn’t be winning rather than why we are.

    • Avalain

      Hey FlameinATL, I absolutely love the passion and unwavering dedication that you have to the team. I also understand how frustrated you’re getting with some of the negative views of other Flames fans. However this game, and this thread in particular, do not deserve that. In fact, I’d say Ryan Pike was particularly positive after that game. Nothing he said could be taken as bad, or at least no worse than the reality of that game.

      Let me put it this way; the game was painful to watch. The 15-4 shot clock in the 3rd period actually flatters the Flames. It’s not that the Flames played awful, but they were on the 2nd night of a back-to-back, are missing their best D-man, and were playing against a very strong offensive team that was absolutely desperate to win. It was very exciting to watch and the Flames did everything that they could to hold the lead. I’m super proud of our team leaving everything they had out there.

    • prendrefeu

      Meh. Writers need something to write about, it brings in the clicks, they get paid, the economy continues to roll on.

      I see it this way:
      If the Flames make the playoffs, it’s a virtual “IN YO FACE, LAMBERT!”
      and if they don’t make the playoffs, it’s still a virtual “IN YO FACE, LAMBERT!”

      Let’s say they do make the playoffs – how awesome is that? 2nd/3rd year of rebuild and they’re in the playoffs after a season where they never ‘regressed’ and overall the advanced stats did not have consistent correlations: neither with the Flames nor many of the other top teams in the league.

      1st round exit? Honestly who would be surprised if it happened that way? That said, it will surely be a hell of a fun series to watch and the Flames will not be pushovers.

  • Either the Flames entirely run out of gas in the first round because playing from behind and spending 2/3s of a game in your own zone are a terrible, terrible way to play… or they win the Stanley Cup.

  • DoubleDIon

    If we do make the playoffs I sure hope we get the canucks 1st round. They are the only team in the west that doesn’t scare me at all. I actually think we could beat them. I don’t like our chances against anyone else.

    • RedMan

      And guess what they are saying in Canuckland? That their best chances would be against the Flames! …It would be a heck of a series in my books and Flames would win!

  • JohnyR

    1) It’ll be a crime if Gaudreau doesn’t win the Calder.

    2) Why is it the anti-analytics crowd who seem to be sucking the life out of the Flames’ wins now?

    Is it really so difficult to accept that Calgary can be a statistical outlier this season AND still enjoy their success?

    • playastation

      Those analytics writers that don’t take anything else into account really need to take a step back and ACTUALLY analyze games. I can use my fancy finance formulas to value a stock or option right down to the very cent they should be valued at. And guess what, there’s more going on to suggest those numbers are always wrong. And then what does my boss make me do? Analyze what is happening to better explain whats happening.

      Seriously. That goal by Raffa Diaz, was that his only shot of the game? So his shooting percentage was 100%? Thats like.. 91% above the league average. /sarcasm

  • MWflames

    2nd night of a back to back. Take way too many penalties. Yup that defence is gonna be exhausted. Thats what happened in the 3rd. Regardless, they never gave up and slid past a desperate team with elite skill. Good for them.

    So do teams come after jiri hudler in the summer as a discount (cap hit) first liner?

  • RedMan

    Dallas, a very good hockey team, just got bumped out of the race in spite of the fact that they poured it on and made every effort to win this game for the entire 60. By the rebuilding FLAMES!!! Our Flames!!!

    This team has been exciting all year and never let us down even in the losses. what a great and unexpected year!!

    Lets be positive here!!!

    GO FLAMES!!!

  • RedMan

    from Flames at 80:

    Jiri Hudler is not winning the NHL scoring race, but he is in the top 10. As of Tueday morning, he’s tied for seventh with 71 points. That, in itself, is quite the accomplishment.

    However it gets more impressive from there.

    Look strictly at even-strength scoring — and it could be argued five-on-five play is most important of all, and there is Hudler alone in top spot in the league with 55 points. That’s right — Sidney Crosby, John Tavares, Jakub Voracek, Alex Ovechkin — none of them have as many even-strength points as Hudler. In fact, the closest of that group is Crosby with 48.

  • mattyc

    They played downright excellent against Nashville, but last night, not so much. 2nd game of b2b, playing a d shell in the thirds, whatever, I don’t think anyone can rationally argue how they played last night is a sustainable way to win. We’ll take it though, and get the heck outta texas.

    Re: potential matchups. If the Flames make the playoffs, it’s highly likely they’ll end up 3rd in the Pacific, and play the Canucks. Most probable way this doesn’t happen is if both LA and CGY make the playoffs, and LA finishes ahead. Then we get the wildcard spot and play the Ducks.

  • RedMan

    didn’t get a chance to watch the game live, so watched the fast forward version this morning, and two things stood out to me:

    1) Gaudreaus goal was the result of an excellent hit by Ferland on Seguin that turned a rush by the star back the other way.

    2) the hit to Monahan’s head. if the NHL is serious about stopping head shots as they claim in their defense against the lawsuit pending, then they need to review this one and give Ritchie a 4 game for intentional head-shot with intent to injure. that was such a blatant hit to the head – he should be ashamed.

  • mk

    This is going to sound ridiculous – but the Flames should make a push to sign Jagr this summer. Really. He’s made a huge difference with Huberdeau & Barkov in Florida -> he could be an amazing veteran presence to bring along the young talent. We would actually have 2 real RWs that are suited to a scoring line.

    Plus, the man (or should I say, machine) seemingly doesn’t age. I hope he plays for another 7 seasons like he says he will. He could conceivably leave the league as the 2nd leading goal & point producer in history, behind only Gretzky.

  • RedMan

    Seriously for the past 15 games I have been yelling at my TV ( Diaz ) to stop shooting the puck from the blue line. “You either miss the net or it gets blocked, but it never gets through. Take the puck and pass it to someone else or skate in with it and do something”. I couldn’t believe what I saw last night on his goal — I am not worthy of such a wish, and fell on the floor in front of my TV and laughed with joy.

  • RedMan

    Otto,

    I was expecting such a comment.

    Rest assured, my family and I went to hundreds of Flames games from ’72 – ’80. I have been a fan of the team for 43 years. . .older than you have been alive I will guess.

    And, since my city did not deserve the team they had, it lost the team.

    Get your head out of your proverbial ass.

    But myself and my family certainly deserved, and deserve, the team and the franchise.

    If the goofball “writers” and “fans” who infect this site want to rag on the Flames game after game, year after year, so be it. Be careful, however. . .having a team is not guaranteed, not matter how deep their pockets.

  • RedMan

    Avalain,

    Your points are well-founded and taken.

    Yes, surviving that 3rd period was excruciating; but awesomely enjoyable as well. Just like this team and this game.

    Your points are well-founded and noted. But this site, will I used to enjoy it immensely, has become a well of negativity and half-baked statistical analysis.

    I have never seen a team with such low expectations have such a remarkable season-long run. It has been fun, exciting, unbelievable, depressing and infuriating. . .all the things sport is supposed to be.

    And I come here expecting the commune with fellow travelers and am met with charts and graphs and player-bashing beyond compare.

    I have never seen a team more deserving of fans’ support and respect treated so poorly, even if this is only the internet.

    Perhaps I owe Mr. Pike an apology. If so, consider it delivered. His comments after the Nashville game still lingered.

    So, your points are well taken and I apologize if I am in the wrong.

    Be well.

    Go Flames. . .one more nemesis to topple in St. Louis.

    • RedMan

      It’s the internet thing that brings out the negativeity and makes people feel free to be rude.

      When you look at the city of Calgary, this place is loving this team and their is nothing but glee over the team.

      If you want to look at the support, just look at all the jerseys in the crowd – about 90% of the fans are wearing jerseys that are the real thing, bought and paid for, not the cheap t-shirts or freebies some teams give out to make it look like fan support.

      then there is the red mile – nowhere have I seen fans with such demonstrable expressions of support, and there is plenty of photographic evidence of this support available online. 😉 there.

      This site got off on a wrong path this year with the whole stats thing, but I hope and trust things will come around soon.

      Always like to see you around – don’t be a stranger! 🙂

  • RedMan

    @flameinATL

    To be fair, this site prides itself on a realistic assessment of the current iteration of the team through statistical analysis. I applaud them for that. That said, this year has proven especially difficult to asses due to the intangibles. I for one think the biggest one being their ability to ride the waves of emotions. In the past we were far too accustomed to losing the lead in the dying seconds, honestly, it happened EVERY time for a number of years. This year we are on the other side of the fence and it feels damn good. But to explain that through analytics is nearly impossible and probably frustrating as hell so I understand the writers positions (even lambert). Personally I don’t want go back to the days of blindly following one persons (d. sutter) opinion, having blind faith is commendable however usually only adopted by the less informed.

    Alternative opinions are great for a balanced approach, but I agree, this fancy stat guy vs the rest of us shit that permiates the site needs to stop. We are all flames fans, we appreciate them and only want the best for the team, I think we can all agree on that.