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.
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.
If I can’t say nobody, I’ll go with Mikael Backlund because he won some face-offs.
The Flames are in for some soul-searching for a couple days, and then they host the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.