5 Things: Is it safe?

1. The comeback

The entire confluence of events that led to Calgary’s comeback on Tuesday night encapsulated everything weird about this season for the Flames. Everything goes their way all the time, even when they don’t deserve it.

And make no mistake, they didn’t deserve to win on Tuesday. The confluence of circumstances that came together for the team’s third and fourth goals were outlandish to say the least. 

The circumstances are these:

  • Matt Stajan straight-up runs Frederik Andersen, and is shoved to the ice by Simon Despres. This happens all the time in the NHL and usually it’s the guy who ran the goalie getting the penalty. But because it was less than two minutes to go in a one-goal game in which there had already been controversy, the officials matched up the penalties and created a 4-on-4 situation.
  • Calgary pulls the goalie to effectively give the Flames a power play.
  • Less than a minute later, Sami Vatanen tries to knock down an airborne puck and swats it over the glass instead. This too happens all the time, except for the over-the-glass part. The referees, of course, had to call the infraction. It’s now 5-on-3 for Calgary.
  • Johnny Gaudreau scores on a ludicrously high-skill shot, placing the puck in a part of the net where he could have fit the puck and maybe one or two additional hairs.
  • Referees ignore a Flames hold as the Ducks attack early in overtime. That’s letting them play, and it’s right in line with how every other series has been called. Fair enough for all observers.
  • Referees then decide to call a Ducks infraction in front of the net, which is odd given what they just let go, and that allows Calgary to pull the goalie. Anaheim never came close to controlling it on the ensuing extra-attacker play, and Mikael Backlund put it through approximately 600 bodies to secure the win.

Again, this is all luck. The Flames won a game they had no real business winning. War on Ice had them at a very, very slim chance of winning before they got that penalty. Which makes a lot of sense.

2015-05-05 ANA-CGY

Again, counting on these fluke things to keep winning games has to not-work at some point. Especially if they get so easily handled by the Ducks in the first 57 minutes of the game. Nice comeback and everything, but man everyone on this team has about a dozen horseshoes each up their asses.

2. Was it a goal?

No. Save the conspiracy theories and everything else: The rules here are that there has to be definitive evidence to overturn a referee’s decision. The league isn’t holding back footage and it’s not using one angle. It has angles fans and media alike never saw, and ruled that people back in Toronto couldn’t overrule the referees in Calgary. Pretty simple.

But it does bring up an interesting issue for the NHL. Not only about puck-tracking technology that really ought to be implemented (though doing so would more difficult than most people think), but also about the transparency of the process. In recent years, the league has taken to explaining decisions like this on an official blog, sometimes even releasing video that includes those not-for-public-consumption angles to make the point.

But in the aftermath of this decision, there was only a few sentences explaining the situation, and that’s it. More needs to be done here, especially if these decisions end up mattering. The league dodged a bullet with Calgary winning that game, that’s for sure.

3. Roster mismanagement

I’ve long said that Bob Hartley is not a good coach, and this series has done little to dissuade me from that feeling. Sure, you’re going to start trying to shake things up when your team is getting throttled as badly as Hartley’s in the first two games, but there’s no excuse for any decision in which David Wolf got first-line minutes for literally even one second. It’s idiotic 

Hartley mixes up lines regularly to little effect. Often, given how shallow the roster is, you literally have to have Wolf playing with Hudler or whatever, because you just can’t get swap in anyone else actually worth playing there. You make do with what you have, and Hartley doesn’t have much.

Then there’s the minutes distribution among defensemen: Three guys — TJ Brodie, Dennis Wideman, and Kris Russell — regularly pull 26 or 27 minutes, Deryk Engelland usually pushes 20 or 21, and the rest are in the 17-and-less range. Hartley says it doesn’t matter, and maybe he’s right insofar as they’re not winning this series anyway, so he can run whoever he wants into the ground at his leisure. Certainly, his hand is forced to some extent by the continued absence of Mark Giordano, but there are better ways to do it. Like not letting Engelland play that much.

You can say it’s working, but only because they won last night. It was very profoundly not-working in Games 1 and 2, and performances like those are more the norm than Tuesday’s when you play a team as dominant as the Ducks.

4. Something wrong with Monahan

Speaking of mismanaging the roster, I’m 100000 percent convinced that Sean Monahan is playing with at least one injury that limits his physical abilities. His shots are weak, he can’t handle passes, he’s getting murdered at the dot.

And so at some point you have to think to yourself, if you’re Bob Hartley, that maybe playing him 20-plus minutes isn’t a good idea. I don’t know. The Flames have really been good in this series so it’s clearly working just kidding it’s not.

I love how the team swears up and down that he’s healthy. “Oh yeah remember when he looked great earlier this season? Hmm well yes he’s still exactly that healthy and as to why he looks like garbage, I don’t know but he’s definitely feeling perfectly fit.”

Very credible.

5. Burning a year

Finally, here’s some roster mismanagement that is out of Hartley’s hands: The team allowing Sam Bennett to torch a year of his ELC on, at most, five playoff games. Has he been good? Yes, he has, but that’s not the issue, much like performance wasn’t the issue for Sean Monahan last season.

It’s about making sure your roster stays as affordable as possible for as long as possible. The Flames are nowhere near Cup contention but they’ve got some nice pieces in place, Bennett included, who might one day push them to that level (it’s hard to imagine watching the proceedings in this round, between this series and the one between Chicago and Minnesota; Calgary’s not even at the Wild’s level and Chicago is feeding them their lunch).

And as we see time and again, you need actual contributors on their ELCs or close to it to actually be Cup-competitive. Therefore, the longer the Flames pushed out both Monahan and Bennett (at least within reason), the more likely they would be to actually keep player costs down. Now, both will be reaching unrestricted free agency right around the time the team is likely to be at or near the height of its powers. That’s going to be very costly.

And the funny thing is players don’t even get paid for the playoffs, so really, they’re saying Bennett playing 15 minutes a night in the postseason after a single regular-season game is enough to warrant burning that year. I don’t get it. At best, I’d say he hasn’t-not earned it.

  • Scary Gary

    Entertaining as always.

    1. Anything the Flames do right is luck and anything the Ducks do right is because they’re the better team, got it. I think the ducks are the better team over seven games but you have to give the flames credit where it’s due, this comeback isn’t an isolated incident.

    2. It was a goal. http://globalnews.ca/video/1986743/was-the-goal-in-video-recreates-no-goal/

    3. There are some things Hartley could do better, but to say someone who will likely win coach of the year isn’t a good coach is ludacris (you presume to know better than all of the other voters?).

    4. He is injured and his minutes should be reduced; at some point if he’s hurting more than he’s helping he needs to sit.

    5. It isn’t ideal but had he not been injured I have no doubt he would have burned his ELC in October so settle down.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    This article is awful.

    Lambert keeps trying to pass off his opinions as facts.

    Terrible.

    You’ve done a lot better than this recently Lambert.

    • BurningSensation

      Given how the NDP just crushed the popular vote, and how Lambert cant get even 5 people to agree with his ‘5 things’ your analogy is a total failure.

      Lambert is Prentice; convinced he’s right, too cute by half, and deeply unpopular.

      Good thing that this place isn’t a democracy.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    I mean come on. Lambert is saying on #5 that burning a year is ideologically wrong.

    But I can just easily say that isnt providing your players with opportunities based on merit more important. By increasing their developmemt you are better utilizing development time before a player peaks.

    Just sayin.. many different ways you can look at it. Or I guess you can blindly follow a philosophy based entirely on one dimensional thinking and salary management.

  • Jeremy

    3. ROSTER MISMANAGEMENT

    I’ve long said that Bob Hartley is not a good coach

    And I’ve long said that you’re a TROLL.

    Get a Life and Troll the Oilers next year Ryan

  • Southern_Point

    it’s amazing that this article rankled enough people to comment on it 75 times, and most of those 75 comments demonstrate personal offense and entitlement at Lambert ruining something. The funny thing is that its not like Lambert’s articles have been a regular feature of this website basically since it’s inception… Oh wait.

  • Greg

    “The league isn’t holding back footage and it’s not using one angle. It has angles fans and media alike never saw…”

    First of all, that’s obviously incorrect. Either they don’t have angles no else saw, or they do have angles no else saw and by definition are holding them back.

    Secondly, i can see how it could be ruled inconclusive (even if I think it was in), but that’s what bugs me the most… If they have other footage, SHOW IT!!!

    Also, for crying out loud, how can we be having controversies like this still? We can land a spacecraft on an asteroid a kajillion miles away while it travels a bajillion miles a minute, but we can’t put a few chips inside a puck and some sensors inside some station metal poles and just KNOW conclusively if it’s in the net or not? Good grief… It’s almost like the league WANTS the ability to decide incidents like that based on its own whims instead of facts.

    If tennis broadcasts can recalculate the exact placement of the ball landing after a rally, surely hockey can find a way to do better for figuring out where the damn pucks are (offsides, goal lines, etc).

  • Burnward

    Kudos to the Calgary Flames.I am an Oiler’s fan, but believe in giving credit where credit is due, and that goes to the flames for working their butts off, persevering and never giving up. It’s simple…I just enjoy watching exciting hockey. To the Flames a simple thank you and keep it going. GO FLAMES GO!!!!!!!

  • JumpJet

    Good points lambert,

    I disagree on one, I believe hartleys a good coach.

    I definitely think we got lucky with “coincidental” minors,, we got lucky admit it. Even though we’re flames fans stajan hit the goalie. But the ref evened it up

    Your right though, it definitely wasn’t a goal. Nhl doesn’t get it wrong and quit the conspiracy theories and deal with tough situations like men……stuff happens!

  • RKD

    If you are going to criticize the Flames, how about criticizing the ducks for sitting on a one goal lead and taking too many penalties. Ryan Kesler was on the ice for both the tying goal and the game winning goal, some second line defensive center he is. The Flames deserved to win because Bennett tied the game earlier, the puck was in and it crossed the line. Hartley not a good coach? Are you living under a rock? This guy was just nominated for Jack Adams trophy. Eat turd Lambert, better yet why don’t you vomit it up and then eat it again!

  • DoubleDIon

    What I really don’t like about these article’s is what they do to the advanced stats movement.

    Like many of you, I am an advocate for advanced stats. You chat with people on a forum or at the bar. You talk about what advanced stats actually are (and what they aren’t.) Maybe you manage to get someone interested.

    So they come here to learn a little more. And they read this garbage. They leave immediately to return to the forum and talk about how ridiculous advanced stats really are.

    Lambert is the poster child of why people hate advanced stats. And Flames Nation provides him with his soap box. To generate a few hits. Way to sell out.

  • scoopz

    Haha this troll Lambert is still employed here? What a blackmark on this website, shame on the people making these calls, absolutely embarrassing, zero credibility here on FN when decision makers allow this to continue, zero concern/priority around journalistic integrity here, it’s a shame

  • Lambert you’re such a hater. I mean your whole premise about how lucky the Flames are had some weight in the first half of the season, but there’s a point where luck only gets you so far. To an extent and albeit favorable bounces their way, this group as a whole knows how to win and that includes Hartley doing whatever coaching he’s doing with them. Fact is, if I coached this team they probably wouldn’t have made it to the playoffs and I might have been fired during the season…and I would be what one could consider to be not a good hockey coach. So Hartley is not “not a good coach” as you said. Give it up homie. The one valid point I will give you in addition to Monny being injured is the fact this org blew Bennett’s year. That is a huge error that more than likely will cost the team at the wrong time. Its odd to me that Treliving stays the course at the trade deadline yet blows a year of this kid’s deal for what will amount to one regular season game. Afterall, Brian Burke is an archaic hockey exec who is rapidly entering the Don Cherry stratosphere in terms of expertise and relevance…and I still believe he has major say so on what this team does especially for such decisions as this one….so it has to make you wonder whether it is a smart decision or not. Only way it makes sense to burn this contract year is if the Flames win the Cup or make it to the WCF or SCF…then the kid is getting valuable experience (while it could happen the odds are not in favor of any of those scenarios happening). Anyways…quit hating bro…I don’t feel like trolling your ass on Twitter…