Post-Game: I Hate Winnipeg

Teams don’t win too many games where they get out-shot. Teams don’t win too many games where they don’t play a full 60 minutes. Teams don’t win too many games where they give up bad goals, especially when the games are low-scoring.

These factors collided tonight in the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, as the Calgary Flames had a good first period and then drifted. A solid game from the Jets and an ugly goal against Karri Ramo late spelled the third Flames loss of the season, as they drop to 1-3-0 on the season after a disappointing 3-1 loss in Winnipeg.

THE RUNDOWN

The Flames played a pretty even-keel first period, taking it to the Jets in various stages and actually generating shots off the rush. One of their offensive forays actually bore fruit, as a Sam Bennett wrap-around attempt bonked out in front and was buried by Mikael Backlund for a 1-0 lead. The Jets and Flames went back and forth a bit for the rest of the period, with the visitors leading in shots (11-8), the hosts leading in shot attempts slightly (19-16) and the Flames winning more face-offs (13-11). Not bad for a first period on the road.

The wheels began to fall off in the second. As they have in previous games, the Flames came out a bit flat. Because they’re good, the Jets pressed. Eventually, they broke through via a Bryan Little redirection goal to tie it up. The Flames couldn’t battle back, and basically just white-knuckled it until the intermission. Winnipeg led Calgary in everything: shots (9-4), attempts (19-15) and face-offs (11-8).

Calgary seemed content to white-knuckle it again in the third and hope they could pull out some punch-counterpunch, third period magic. Spoiler: It didn’t work. Despite standing on his head for much of the game, a Dustin Byfuglien “shot” – the puck drifted off his stick towards the net – bonked in off Ramo’s right pad as he didn’t seal it up against the goal post with 88 seconds left in regulation.

The Flames called for a coach’s challenge on a possible off-sides. It didn’t work. Blake Wheeler added an empty-netter. Winnipeg again led in shots (13-5), attempts (19-9) and face-offs (9-7).

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

Winnipeg had the puck more often. Winnipeg did more with the puck. Winnipeg couldn’t really solve Ramo with good shots, so they just chucked whatever they could at him and something trickled through, really.

But to be blunt: Calgary lost because they weren’t nearly as good as Winnipeg. The Jets seemed to have a game plan and made tweaks to adjust. Calgary either didn’t have much of a plan or failed to execute it.

And again: not much offensive punch from the depth lines, and the power-play couldn’t generate much.

RED WARRIOR

Mikael Backlund had a goal and managed to have the best face-off percentage for the Flames at 59%, so let’s go with him.

And let’s tip our hats to Karri Ramo. He’ll wear the goat horns tonight for letting that stinker in, but he also made 27 saves and had to flop around a lot because his defense let a lot of good chances get at him.

UP NEXT

Connor McDavid makes his Battle of Alberta debut tomorrow evening as part of Hockey Night in Canada. The 0-4 Edmonton Oilers visit the 1-3 Calgary Flames in a clash of teams who really want to accumulate some points.

    • ClayBort

      Reposting for convenience from the game day thread. The onside call was the right one according to the NHL rule book (See the last sentence).

      It’s Ramo we need to sharpen our pitchforks for, not the linesmen sadly.

      “Rule 83 – Off-side 83.1 Off-side – Players of the attacking team must not precede the puck into the attacking zone. The position of the player’s skates and not that of his stick shall be the determining factor in all instances in deciding an off-side. A player is off-side when both skates are completely over the leading edge of the blue line involved in the play. A player is on-side when either of his skates are in contact with, or on his own side of the line, at the instant the puck completely crosses the leading edge of the blue line regardless of the position of his stick. However, a player actually controlling the puck who shall cross the line ahead of the puck shall not be considered “off-side,” provided he had possession and control of the puck prior to his skates crossing the blue line. “

      • The GREAT Walter White

        Are you telling me a player controlling the puck can’t put himself off side?

        I have seen that called hundreds of times in the NHL…

        WW

          • The GREAT Walter White

            No offence to you mr. ClayBort; but that sounds like a steaming bag of crap to me……

            How many times have I not heard: “….but he put himself off side…”?
            Never have I heard: “…he put himself off side but had possession of the puck…”
            Not once….until today.

            The curse from 2004 continues: we never get a call going our way……

            WW

  • The GREAT Walter White

    On the positive Byfuglien 2 points for the goal, 4 for a game winner and a point for being +1 means 8 points for the hockey pool. Whoop! Whoop!

    #brightside

  • everton fc

    We lost because we can’t score goals. From what I’ve read and heard thus far, Ramo played a good game. We simply have no offence, outside the first line.

    Stockton lost 4-1. Gilles 4 goals on 25 shots. Grant scores again. Kylington wore the “A”, along w/Elson.

    • MattyFranchise

      No offence? Right. I guess Winnipeg has no offence either, or perhaps a lucky skate deflection of a shot going way wide or a poor goaltender error counts?

      Winnipeg got more clear shots on net and overall controlled the puck more than us, but really it was a close game that easily could have gone either way.

  • mentioned this on twitter but remember when we had an insanely high PDO last year. well.. welcome to reality.

    Hartley is actually going to have to coach this year. .. so we shall see how that goes. First of all, he sucks at match ups. Juding by the fact that he insists on sticking Hudler Gaudreau and Monahan up against the Sedins every game against the knuckle heads.

    Does anyone know what Russell and Widemans zone starts are? Curious. by the eye test It seems to me Hartley relies on them for D-Zone faceoffs way too much == scary.

    The fact they’re even together still even more scary. How I can’t wait for Brodie to come back and hopefully mix that up.

    • Wideman had 7 OZ starts, 9 DZ starts tonight. Russell had 7 OZ, 7 DZ. These numbers are from WOI and are even strength starts. Wideman’s season zone start totals so far: 52.54% OZ starts, Russell the same per Natural Stat Trick.

    • RexLibris

      Per Hockeystats.com

      Russell had 50% ZS with a Corsi rating of 36.36%.

      Wideman’s was 45% with a Corsi of 48.84%.

      The ZSs are really the most important thing, possession metrics aren’t very useful tools in and of themselves for evaluating defensemen.

      • MontanaMan

        Wideman is a trainwreck in his own end. Throws the puck away blind, slow to the puck (AKA soft) and can a power skating professional be brought in to teach him to pivot to his right? Can’t believe how many times he gets beat to the puck when it should be his. I will take Russell over Wideman any day, despite Corsi voodoo.

        • ChinookArchYYC

          I’d be most happy replacing both Wideman and Russell. Russel will soon command more money and Wideman is already wildly overpaid with too much term. Frankly, this pairing is a tire fire on a nightly basis. I’m hoping and praying that Brodie’s return wil push Hartly to break the tandem apart.

          After Hamilton was acquired, the TV experts ere talking about how the Flames have one of the best D-corps in the league. Aside from the obvious hyperbole, it was a sentiment that many fans also agreed with. At the time, I said the Flames defense had improved, but was hardly a league wide best. The only difference between last season and this is that the Flames aren’t burying the very few chances the generate.

    • McRib

      Remember when Edmonton signed Andrej Sekera (-5 in 4 Games) this offseason and everyone in the hockey world collectively thought that was enough to make up for having four other AHL caliber defenders on the roster…. That was cute!!!

      How much of Andrej Sekera’s new (6 YEAR!!!! $33 MILLION!!!) contract went to Justin Faulk in Carolina do you suppose??? Remember when Sekera’s play tanked in LA, but the Oilers chose to ignore that….

      • I’m not sure how using plus/minus in four games proves or signifies any point. Not only that, but I’m not sure how Sekera’s play “tanked”. Dude was used primarily in a second pairing role with Brayden McNabb (3.03% frequency at even strength) and with Regehr (2.41%).

        %’s come from total frequency of the LA Kings’ defensemen pairings for entire season. To go even further, 49.34% of Sekera’s EV time with LA came with McNabb as his partner. 39.21% of his time at EV came with Regehr. I don’t have his forward combos yet but it would also yield and add more context.

        Beyond that, he was a positive possession guy despite the small sample and was still not bad. Going from top pairing minutes and role in Carolina to second pairing doesn’t mean he tanked.

      • The GREAT Walter White

        I agree completely. May be a terrible signing. But, after Saturday, the Flames will be behind the Oilers, in the running for Matthews and wondering where the rebuild is really at.

  • MonsterPod

    That’s just Ramo, entices you with some good play and then blows it by letting in some absolute garbage.

    I was really weirded out when they re-signed him in the summer. Now it’s time to let him go and get the goaltending in order. Ramo is winless. Ortio needs to start tomorrow. Hiller has always been a stop gap. Let’s wake up and play youth. That’s the way of the modern NHL.

  • RexLibris

    Walter white. I’m glad your not a ref. and I’m glad you flood all your emotions on here like a child after 4 games. What if the oilers and flames actually figured out how to use their assets? It’s 4 fricking games. A lot of top caliber teams are still adjusting

  • febreze

    I’m not panicking yet. Don’t forget that the Flames are a team who at one point last season lost 8 in a row and still made the playoffs without Gio for that last quarter of the season.

  • Burnward

    They look like they’re playing on eggshells.

    Lack of goalie confidence?

    This is my biggest concern. If you don’t know who it will be on a nightly basis or if you can rely on the big man behind you, it’s damn near impossible to play your game.

    • piscera.infada

      The biggest issue I have with the Flames’ game is exactly the same problem I had with them at times last year. They need a better way of getting the puck through the neutral zone than the stretch pass. It seems like sometimes, they get caught using this for 60 full minutes even after the opposition has figured out how to take it away. This is pretty much why they generated very little last night.

      I’m not sure if that’s a coaching thing, or an issue between the defense and forwards, but they need to work it out. The Flames have the players that should be able to carry the puck effectively in the neutral zone.

      • Cfan in Vic

        I agree on all points.

        We can’t be a one-trick pony with the stretch pass, no matter how successful it was last season. If their trying to up their possession game, that won’t cut it over 82 games where the opposition know what you’re up to. Last night, the Jets just killed the rush in the neutral zone. Over and over.

        Ramo. So frustrating. I like the guy, he has some great moments. But man, every stinker he lets in seems to be of the uber-stink variety. No in between. Can’t blame the guy for the tip-ins and fluke goals he’s seen, but that GWG was horrible.

        Oh well, nothing like the Oil to spark an up-swing. Here’s hoping.

  • MattyFranchise

    The Flames now have the same record as the Kings and the Penguins and more wins than Anaheim in as many games.

    It is not even close to panicking time.

  • piscera.infada

    On Ramo, he played well for the majority of the game last night. That said, you can’t (absolutely can’t) give up that second goal last night. It was an absolute back breaker.

    Interesting stat from last night. The Flames got destroyed in the corsi battle last night. However, they had one less scoring chance, and one more high-danger scoring chance at evens (per War-on-Ice). The difference between the first four games this year, and the majority of last year, is that they aren’t burying these chances.

    As many have said though, it’s not panic time yet, but the Flames need to figure out how to generate goals on a consistent basis. They’ve had their dangerous times in every game so far, but they haven’t been able to convert with any consistency.

    I think Kulak also needs a shout-out here. I hope when Brodie returns, he isn’t scapegoated for the slow start. Kid plays a very mature game.

    Does anyone else think Ferland looks a little bit over his head at times? Not saying he shouldn’t be here, but he makes some very strange plays in the defensive zone.

    • MontanaMan

      Agree on Ferland. He’s trying to play a finesse game and is clearly struggling. Interesting to me that he is being used on the PP and with the goalie pulled last night (it was his non forced giveaway that led to the empty net goal). My take is that he needs to remember what got him here, the power forward style of play, and while he has decent hands, he will never be a finesse player.

      • piscera.infada

        I think Hartley has done a good job of not pigeonholing Ferland (Sutter would have made sure he was nothing more than a fourth line grinder). He should be given powerplay time and a variety of offensive opportunity. That said, I think they need to try and limit his defensive responsibilities until he can figure that side of the game out, because he hasn’t been very good in his own zone.

  • I think we need to talk about Sean Monanhan’s start to the season.

    He’s been bad. He’s getting absolutely beat up in his own end. He commits at least two maddening give aways per game. He’s not scoring but he is being scored on. A lot of plays seem to die on his stick. Last night was a nightmare for him.

    This could got for the whole “first line”, but to my eye Monahan has been the main problem of the trio. If you take Gaudreau out of that unit, I don’t think Monahan has a point this year, because Johnny’s the straw that stirs the drink so far.

    Having your top line get beat up even while you are burying other units to give them the high ground is a major problem. Monahan has to figure his game out or Hartley has to find a new unit.

    • MattyFranchise

      To speak to this:

      Gaudreau – 1g 4a -1 13 shots.
      Monahan – 0g 1a -4 2 shots.
      Hudler – 1g 2a -1 6 shots.

      Monahan scored 31 goals last season. Why isn’t he shooting more?

      Pacioretty has as many shots himself as that entire line does. Something weird is going on here.

      • piscera.infada

        Where are you getting those stats? Monahan scored the tying goal against Vancouver in the win, and Hudler has two, not one. They also have five and eight shots respectively, not two and six.

        Personally, I think the main problem with Monahan (that is, he’s not scoring and not shooting) is because he’s fighting through double coverage in every game. Everyone was afraid that opposing teams would “figure out how to check” Gaudreau this year and inhibit the line’s ability to score. I was more afraid that they’d key into Monahan’s shot. Which they did. He’s getting double-teamed in every game. The only time he found himself with the puck with less than two defenders in his face he scored.

        I’m not saying Monahan has been perfect aside from his coverage problem (because he hasn’t) but I think that’s a great deal of what the problem is.

        Bottom line: moving Bennett to the wing is a mistake right now, with every other center on the team (except perhaps Stajan) struggling.

        • MattyFranchise

          Gonna go ahead and trash my own post since I looked at the stat line for this week and not season to date like I should have. Early Saturday morning after a bad Flames game, you understand right?

          I still stand by post #27 though.

        • piscera.infada

          I think what is happening to the top line is a symptom. If Monahan is being double teamed, someone has to be open. Last year, our D were so involved in our offence we were taking the NHL by storm. We were losing the possession wars but this team was dangerous & fun to watch. The creativity from the blue line was contagious & filtered down to even Russell & Wideman. Something is different. I don’t see that creativity, that jump from the backend & virtually fourth forward creating a premium scoring chance. We all thought with the acquisition of Hamilton that we would not only be as good but even more lethal than last year. I don’t know if missing Brodie has had that profound effect of what is happening, but the MSM & all their mega hype about our D is looking awful foolish. By the time Brodie gets back & gets his legs back we may very well be written off by the MSM & finally that’s when this team is going to relax & play some of the hockey we saw last year. Goes to show we just weren’t ready to contend this year. Kinda sounds the same as Justin Trudeau. But most of our young Flames have nice hair 🙂

          • MattyFranchise

            Well MSM is the crux of your argument and a lot of fans buy into it as well. Too much pressure has been put onto a young Flames team too early in the season. Hamilton after all is only 22 years old and he’s already the next big thing for Calgary’s defense.

            I liken it to the McDavid vs Eichel situation. McDavid has all of the pressure and Eichel has none of it. Guess who’s performing better?

            MSM screws over a lot of careers with their constant hype and attention to individual players, most of which are 18-21 years old.

            It can have a profound effect on young players and young teams.

    • MattyFranchise

      I agree Monahan has been off.

      To be fair no one on the Flames has been great this year except Gaudreau and Frolik. I wonder if Hartley shouldn’t try to really shake things up:

      Gaudreau – Bennett – Hudler

      Ferland – Monahan – Frolik

      Bollig – Stajan – Jones

      Raymond – Granlund – Jooris

    • Cfan in Vic

      Absolutely. I think he was OK in the game they took against Vancouver, but he’s been completely off in the other 3. I was starting to wonder last night if he was fighting through an injury.

      One of his strengths has always been winning the close-in, offensive puck battles and either squeeking out a quick shot or making a quick accurate pass. He’s losing all of those now, and his line can’t feed off of it. Hudler appears to be in all the usual areas, but the puck doesn’t get to him. Additionally, Johnny is tending to make his own chances (as great as he is, he needs some support).

      • piscera.infada

        Or, you know, he’s young. Maybe we should be willing to give Monahan some time to work himself through his early struggles. If I remember correctly, he wasn’t very good to start the season last year either.

        I’ll agree he hasn’t been getting his normal quick wrister through to the net like he usually does. But I think we have to give him some time. It’s not always going to be easy for a 21 year-old first line centre, especially considering teams are going to be targeting that line more than ever before.

        I think that some of the comments we’ve seen to start the season seem to overlook how young the core of this team actually is. Yes, we should expect greatness–I’m sure they do in the dressing room. We have to be realistic about what we have though. No, the start to this season hasn’t been very good and it needs to be much, much better. We still have to keep in mind that the core players on this team are still growing–Gaudreau, Monahan, Bennett, yes, even Hamilton.

        • Cfan in Vic

          Not really a knee jerk reaction, it’s just one of the few consistent things that has surprised me pretty much every game (other than stinker goals against). He’s still very young and I’m sure he’ll get things straightened out, but since he’s been on the team his development been a constant up-hill grade with very few lapses. It’s pretty easy to get used to expecting that.

          No doom and gloom here, just hoping he figures it out sooner rather than later. After all, his line is ‘only’ 80% of the teams offense.

          • piscera.infada

            Totally. Not saying it was a knee jerk reaction, just saying many people I’ve talked to, or seen posting recently (not necessarily you) forget how young this team is.

            I was expecting more in the first 4 games of the season, but I do think we still need to view this as a growing team.

            I completely agree with this statement:

            but since he’s been on the team his development been a constant up-hill grade with very few lapses. It’s pretty easy to get used to expecting that.

            How true it is, not only for Monahan, but for many of the young players on this team.

  • MattyFranchise

    Well…… I guess things could be worse, here are 5 things that could make you reach for the Maalox:

    1/We haven’t lost to the Oilers this year……yet

    2/You could be a Columbus fan & watch Bobrovsky let in easier goals than Ramo did & get hammered by the Leafs.

    3/You could be a Pit fan & watch Crosby & Malkin, 2 guys you are paying about 30% of your cap to with 1 point in 4 games.

    4/You could be a Duck fan who everyone has as the favourite to win the Cup not be able to score a goal in the last 2 games

    5/You could be an Arizona fan desperate to land Matthews & winning games you know are not going to get you into the playoffs later in the season, just wrecking your chances at your #1 objective.

    Like could be worse, until maybe tonight. 🙁