Post-Game: Flames Cap Off Worst-Ever Start With 6-2 Loss

The Calgary Flames came into the sixth game of the season, tonight’s contest with the visiting Washington Capitals, probably thinking one thing: At least it couldn’t get much worse. They had been embarrassed on Saturday by their rival, the Edmonton Oilers. They had been poor in most of their games and had yet to play a sixty minute game of ice hockey. There’s no way they could sink further.

Well, then tonight happened.

After a perfectly fine first period – sullied somewhat by a Dennis Wideman turnover leading to a goal – the Flames saw Karri Ramo let in a bad goal at the hands of Alex Ovechkin 30 seconds into the second. After that? The team collapsed in on themselves (defensively) like a dying star and lost a one-sided 6-2 game.

The 1-5-0 start is the worst by the Flames after six games in franchise history.

THE RUNDOWN

So let’s look at the good and bad.

The good? Well, the first period was fairly poised and mature by the Flames. They showed confidence with the puck, and they did a good job of carrying the puck and using their speed (in the first). And when they got down a bunch in the third, Bob Hartley finally broke up the two defensive pairings that weren’t working (Giordano/Hamilton and Russell/Wideman) and kept Engelland and Kulak together. And the defense activated in the third and rather than relying on the ugly, overly-telegraphed outlet passes through the neutral zone.

Then, Karri Ramo left a soft goal in off Alex Ovechkin 30 seconds into the second period, and the wheels fell off. Seemingly every player double-clutched with the puck, second-guessing their ability to take chances because of the bad goal. And that rippled through the entire line-up, and suddenly a team that looked decent in the first completely fell apart.

Here’s a dramatic reenactment of Calgary’s second period defensive zone play:

By the third period, Washington stopped really caring and let the Flames carry the puck in as much as they wanted – they just defended five feet into the zone rather than right at the blueline. The Flames couldn’t generate much, and Washington actually scored twice generating turnovers on Calgary defensive pinches – one by Dougie Hamilton and one by Brett Kulak. Calgary lost 6-2 and were out-shot 30-19. Sean Monahan and Mark Giordano scored, and both goals were off pretty nice plays. It’s a shame they were wasted in a game like this one.

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

Because they allowed one bad goal to completely shatter whatever confidence they had from the first period. In one crashing wave, all their bad habits came back. Even changing goalies didn’t help things as Jonas Hiller came in halfway through the game. Neither goalie was amazing, but it’s the effect of Ramo’s bad goal that’s the most alarming thing here, not the poor quality of the goal itself.

(That said, the goal was pretty soft; he made the initial save and had absolutely no rebound control despite the shot being fairly straight-on.)

Oh, and Dougie Hamilton was particularly bad tonight. He was one of several Flames standing around flat-footed on Ovechkin’s goal, he bounced off T.J. Oshie on the fourth goal, and his weak pinch into the offensive zone got him caught up-ice and left Kris Russell alone on a 2-on-1 on the fifth goal.

RED WARRIOR

If I can’t say nobody, I’ll go with Mikael Backlund because he won some face-offs.

UP NEXT

The Flames are in for some soul-searching for a couple days, and then they host the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.

  • #97TRAIN

    Engelland/Kulak has been our most responsible D pair, I cannot recall a single game this season thus far where poor play on their part lead to bad goals against. They have been steady, reliable and done their job.

    The other two pairs…not even close.

    Yet, the writers here obsessed with advanced stats will not call a spade a spade, especially with Hamilton as they already annointed him as the best young Dman in the game and the 2nd coming of Christ…because well…he had good Corsi numbers last year. Doesn’t look good when u christen someone as the greatest thing since sliced bread based on one measure and then come to realize the rest of his game has glaring holes. Could you imagine if it was Engelleland’s last name stapled onto that # 27 jersey…it would be “trade him, he’s horrible, he can’t play the game, he’s useless, he adds no value” and every other negative thing under the sun we’ve seen thrown at Engelland over the past year.

    Accountability doesn’t stop with your hand selected favorites, it applies to everyone. Hopefully Bob pulls some strings and sits a few players right now to make the team aware everyone is accountable and no one is beyond being sat.

    Ortio in net for the next game is stating the obvious at this point.

  • Cfan in Vic

    Major problems with the Flames!!!! First, why all the love for Ferland???? He can’t score. Gets way too much ice time. Should never be on the PP until he proves that he is a legitimate NHLer. He is a 4th liner getting 8-10 minutes max. Hamilton reminds me of Boumeister. SOFT!!! Gio needs to tune him in on how to play Flames hockey. Russell shouldn’t be on the PP. Drives me crazy when they pass it around, no one shoots, passes out to Russell, he shoots and can’t put it on net. How many did he score last year???? Has he ever been a scorer??? Engelland/ Kulac pairing should never be on the ice when Monahan line is out. They inhibit them. 4 other defensemen could be out there when they are on that would make them way more lethal. Where is Hudler?? I only saw him once last night!! He had 17 minutes of ice??? Where was he!!! The Flames need a goalie NOW. Give Ortio a shot, trade for Tokarski!! I can’t decide which one should go, Ramo or Hller, they both stink!!! We miss Brodie and Bouma bad!!!

    • KACaribou

      I agree with a lot of your frustration.

      In defence of Ferland, he got just over 10 min. last night. He gets chances but nobody on his line ever seems to be in scoring position. Coach Bob gives him a sniff here and there but never any consistancy playing significant minutes with skilled players. Only a shift or two here or there. It’s obvious Ferly takes a little time to get comfortable and adapt, which I think he would do if they’d give him a few games with top talent getting some big minutes. Because he is always on the third/fourth line he also gets the O-talent of Engelland and Kulak a lot to help out it seems.

      Ferly was nearly 100 pts in Jr. and over a point a game at times in the AHL around his injury problems.

      Hamilton is doing his own thing and it is screwing up the rest of the team. Notice how Gio did so much better when he finally got that freestylist off his pairing?

      Bingo! Brodie is so important to this team. Hamilton was given a free pass to the first line with just about everyone here and with the coaches and management but he is obviously too selfish to play the Flames’ defensive system.

  • Cfan in Vic

    These 1rst periods are killing me. I get through the first thinking, “they’ve finally broken through, and are playing their game!” Every time, I’m amped going into the second, just waiting for them to keep applying pressure and winning battles, and NOPE.

    Such a fragile team right now, it’s the exact opposite from last year, where they seemingly weren’t deterred by anything until the game was over. One crappy goal against and the whole team died.

    Oilers Trolls: Waita feast on low hanging fruit. I wouldn’t expect anything less. Maybe someday you’ll grow up a bit. Someday.

    • Cfan in Vic

      Just to add a bit more:

      From this point on, I’ve got zero expectations for this team other than incremental improvement from the basement where they stand. That was my take last year and I was blown away by the resulting upswing, but this team is still growing. I’ve seen what most of these guys are capable of, regardless of coaching style or high shooting %. Some really good players, with good potential, I’m just no longer expecting instant results. A bit of a reality check, really, but I think they’ll eventually get straightened out.

      A new mindset will certainly make it easier to watch. I gotta save myself some grief here, and stop pulling my hair out.

  • Cfan in Vic

    Wow, another painful game to be at last night. I am so looking forward to these guys going on the road. For the record, Backlund the Red Warrior for winning a few lousy face-offs is wrong. Gaudreau was one of the few players, in the first particularly, where he actually carried the puck in, set up & created decent scoring chances. He by far was the Red Warrior. But the rest of the tribe was back in their campground smoking peace pipes.

    Many posters have referred to something not right & it’s true. Sacrificing body & playing with playoff urgency was a trademark of this team last year. Years out of the playoffs & so many young players with so much to prove made last year nothing less than magical. With the success, with the juicy contracts BT has given out over summer, the huge praise & expectation the MSM has heaped on this team are the sure fire ingredients to witness what we have to date. This team is playing soft, almost to the point where I truly believe they are saving themselves for playoffs. I loved last year, it rekindled my sagging passion & desire to have a winning team again, but it created a monster. I don’t regret the Hamilton deal, but we need to bring him in like any other high end prospect & shelter him, just like Bennett. We don’t have that option for 2 reasons, the biggest is the Brodie injury & the 2nd reason is by carrying 3 bloody goalies, we can’t carry 7 defence-men. Thus Hartley has few options. They played with a bit of urgency in that 3rd period & Hartley needs to stick with Hamilton Russell & Gio-Wideman until Brodie gets back. Hiller-Ramo are both decent placeholder goalie options on a rebuilding team, especially when you want to see what you have with a 24 year old like Ortio. As it is, the combo of these two is a mental crusher on both goalies hence the .800 save %. Cant tell which one is in net because they both suck. BT created this situation, he has to solve it, the longer he waits, the more likely we become sellers by US Thanksgiving.

    When the final buzzer went, we just sat there knowing there is an ugly monster lurking with no immediate solution but one. Losing. Losing is going to be the bucket of reality that may finally start getting these players to play with urgency. Leadership has got to be questioned. Who is going to step up their game & make a difference, Im sure the others will follow. Maybe some Badger Bob tactics may be in order. Maybe the current Bob should take these guys out to Banff & watch the Indiana Jones series over & over again.

  • KACaribou

    Watching this game on TV, I was quite, well, appalled by Hamilton’s play, especially considering the hype that surrounded him getting acquired. Ovy’s goal was 2 on 2, he left Ovy to help check Giordano’s guy. Oshie’s goal, he weakly let himself get taken out of position, leaving Oshie with a 4 footer. An easy 4 footer. Then he took a weak penalty. Then in the intermission, MacClean and Sutter were saying exactly the same things I had been thinking. He ended up minus 3 I believe. So tell me, what are Flames fans thinking about him? He’s adjusting? Everything will be better when Brodie gets back? He’s bad? He was a mistake? I’m not a Flames fan, but I think I wouldn’t be too happy with him right now if I was.