Post-Game: That’s More Like It

The Calgary Flames trailed tonight after 20 minutes. They were utterly owned in the opening frame by the Detroit Red Wings’ power-play.

And then last year’s Calgary Flames showed up in the second period, and they took the game over. What 40 minutes of strong play resulted in was a game that was, at times, wildly exciting, culminating in a 3-2 overtime victory for the Flames, their second such win of the campaign.

The Flames doubled their win total on the year, but they also seemed to find their missing swagger.

THE RUNDOWN

The home side wasn’t amazing in the first period, nor were they awful. They were actually pretty decent at even-strength, but got stung (twice) by a lack of urgency on the penalty kill. With Deryk Engelland in the box for a holding call – generated because the Flames failed to clear their zone – Gustav Nyquist sniped one past Jonas Hiller on a dandy around-the-horn passing play. The Flames answered back, though, with Mark Giordano’s point shot with traffic out front beat Jimmy Howard to make it 1-1. However, Giordano almost immediately afterwards took a delay of game penalty, and the Red Wings again made the Flames pay, with Brendan Smith’s point shot (with traffic out front) beating Hiller to reinstate their one-goal lead at 2-1. The Red Wings were better in the first: 6-3 in chances, 13-8 in shots, 25-13 in shot attempts and 13-6 in face-off.

But hey, this also happened.

However, the Flames responded the way you’d hope they would: by playing better. Nobody scored in the second period, but it was easily the Flames’ best 20 minutes of hockey this season. The Flames skated. They hit, even after losing Michael Ferland early in the period. They were more effective at clearing their zone and gaining entry into the offensive zone. They drew multiple penalties. Scoring chances were even at 2-2, but the Flames led 16-4 in shots (12-2 at even-strength), 31-10 in shot attempts and were even (10-10) at the face-off dot.

The Flames kept pressing in the final frame of regulation. There was lot of push on both ends, and the Flames left themselves open to big chances the other way. Thankfully for them, Jonas Hiller was up to the task. He robbed Dylan Larkin on a 2-on-1 with a gorgeous arm save, and then he stopped another point-blank chance after a point-shot ricocheted off the end-boards and right to a Wings forward. The Flames pulled Hiller late for the extra attacker, and managed to beat Jimmy Howard as Mark Giordano’s initial point shot was tipped by Joe Colborne to send the game to overtime. The Flames led in chances (7-2), shots (13-9), attempts (21-19) and face-offs (12-9) in the third.

Overtime was also crazy, a nice back-and-forth affair with another gorgeous Jonas Hiller robbery on a Red Wings chance mid-way through the period. However, the trio of Mark Giordano, Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau played some give-and-go, and Howard was beaten by a nifty deke by Giordano, who beat him with a back-handed shot to win the game. The Flames narrowly out-chanced the Wings in OT by about a 4-2 margin, but otherwise shots (3-3) and attempts (4-4) were about even. The Flames won both face-offs in overtime.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

Well, they won because they were better than the Detroit Red Wings. Granted, the Red Wings were about as good in the first period as the Flames were – and their power-play prowess was the difference in that frame – but the Flames finally kicked it into another gear in the second period and basically kept the the pedal down until the very end of the game.

Were there some hiccups? Oh sure. They still have some issues managing the puck, but their skating, tenacity and fore-checking more than made up for that tonight.

RED WARRIOR

Jonas Hiller was the best Calgary Flame tonight, by far. He made 27 saves, including three absolutely game-saving stops – two in the third period with the Flames trailing by a goal and one in overtime to keep the game dead-locked.

Honourable mentions? There are many of them. Mark Giordano was good. Johnny Gaudreau was good. Josh Jooris was good. Jiri Hudler was good. Joe Colborne was good. Dougie Hamilton was better than he’s ever been wearing a red sweater.

Lots to like tonight. Let’s hope they can build on it.

QUOTABLE

“I think everybody was on their toes there, everybody wanted the puck to make plays, before our problem has been in second period we’ve been sitting back, being passive maybe, shying from making plays, and I thought it was totally opposite this second period and that turned the game around, we got the momentum and kept going in the third.” – Mikael Backlund, on the Flames’ big second period

“The second and third period, that was probably the best periods this season, with not giving up a whole lot in our end. That’s what our game’s based on, and that gave us confidence to be able to play in their zone. I thought we had plenty of chances to score the tying goal, the winning goal earlier, but in the end you take the two points and that’s something we can build on.” – Jonas Hiller

“Everyone stepped up. We have some really gutsy efforts out there, and it was great to see.” – Bob Hartley

ELSEWHERE

UP NEXT

The Calgary Flames hit the road after tonight. They hit the Big Apple for a game against the New York Rangers on Sunday, then visit Brooklyn on Monday for a tilt with the New York Islanders, and then head to Ottawa to play the Senators on Wednesday night.

  • RKD

    Hiller was solid, we need him to keep playing like this. Gio was great, he really stepped it up and took over. The whole team played their hearts out, they are were much better in all areas and they kept with it despite hitting 3 posts. I don’t know why it took a 1-5 record to get going though, they need to keep playing hard and peppering other teams with shots.

  • DestroDertell

    The flames went 4/23 on transition pass attempts; lowest completion% so far this year but the key is that they also had the fewest attempts; 2nd game they won the Corsi and scoreboard battle.

    Less transition zone passes, more carries = better results.

  • beloch

    Wideman-Giordano actually worked pretty well together as a pair, although that was probably because the captain went into frenzied-hulk-mode. I liked a lot of what I saw from Hamilton-Russel once that pair was formed. Smid was on the ice for just over 8 minutes and had the worst possession stats on the team. I really like the idea of an AHL conditioning stint for him. Nakladal should replace Smid on Sunday if Brodie isn’t ready.

    While this game did come down to a sphincter clenching equalizer in the last minute of the third, the Flames played well enough that it took a fantastic performance from Howard and some pretty bad puck luck to keep the Flames behind for that long.

    Here’s hoping we see more games like this one!

  • Joe Flames

    Gino was the best player on the ice.

    Both goalies made great saves to keep their team in it.

    It felt like we were watching last years team again the way they came back.

  • Captain Ron

    Oilers fan first, any other Canadian team second. Probably Vancouver last out of the Canadian teams though… lol

    tonight Oilers got a beating… bad, I guess one positive is McDavid is now tied for scoring for Rookies… (three way tie)

    Now for the Flames… this was a huge win for them in so many ways. they looked like the team from last year in this one. This win will be great for them. Lets hope they take this and move forward stronger. Huge win!!! Just because of how they won.

    For me it would be great to have it again where the rest of the league is scared for road trips when they have to face the Alberta teams back to back like back in the day.. and they know it is very likely they will at least gain a lost in the middle of it.

    Plus personally can’t wait for the next time the Oilers and Flames are vs in the playoffs.

    • everton fc

      Great post. McDavid looks “for real”. Yakupov is getting assists. Thy look like they believe they can win any night. Good for the Oilers.

      And yes, someday I, too, hope teams traveling to Alberta leave “lame”!

      Flames needed this one. Obviously. With Ferland out, I wonder if Hathaway gets a look? Or perhaps Agostino??

  • The GREAT Walter White

    So glad baseball is over, now maybe my peeps can get some work done….

    Is it me, or is Hamilton getting worse?!

    Great game by Gio once he is away from Hamilton.

    The kid looks like a 21 year old D man…..

    WW

    • ChinookArchYYC

      The Russell/Hamilton pairing was okay, and I thought Hamilton got better as the game went on, including hitting a post in the third that could have easily went in.

      • EhPierre

        I really think spending the first half of the game with Smid helped Hamilton calm down and simplify (which allowed Hartley to move him back up into the top four when he was contributing). Hamilton still had a rough first period, but even then there were signs of life.

        The kid’s gonna be fine. I’m really interested to see what he could do possibly playing with Brodie. Giordano and Wideman seems like it could potentially work for the time being.

  • Nighteyes

    Great game. Even when they were trailing there in the second, they were playing their hearts out. You could tell everyone on the ice really cared about getting the win tonight. I thought Giordano showed great leadership by pretty much turning it up into beast mode. Him and Wideman looked a lot better than him and Hamilton. I think moving Hamilton away from the first unit also helped him relax a little and get back to his game.

    On another note, I thought Colborne looked great out there today. I have never been a huge fan of him, but I noticed him all over the ice today. Not even considering that late goal, he was strong on the puck, won a bunch of board battles and created a lot of scoring chances.

  • EhPierre

    This may be a bit off topic and I know almost everyone will down vote this but I really don’t like the way Monahan plays. Compared to JH and Huds, he’s like a giant but he’s not that strong on the boards and he’s not that creative with the puck. It just seems to me the play always dies when the pucks on his stick after JH or Huds does a great move to get the puck to him.

    I know he got a 31 goal season and everything but half those goals are because of his linemates. He doesn’t really contribute much, imo. I know I’m in the minority here so I’d love to hear why some of you think he’s so good because I’d love to trade Monahan for Stamkos. And yes I know it’s a rumour and a pretty bad one but still, nice to know treliving is active.

    For me, I’d love to have a JH-Bennet-Huds line cuz it’d be dynamic, creative, and tenacious

    • Tomas Oppolzer

      He scored those goals (and 20+ in his rookie year) because he knows where to be on the ice. Also, you’re forgetting that Monahan had 31 assists last year. He’s not as flashy as Gaudreau, but Monahan is absolutely a supreme talent. I’ll admit he’s had a rough start to the year, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a core piece and key contributor.

    • OKG

      It’s funny, because Tampa Bay fans think the puck dies on Stamkos’ stick. I’m not kidding either.

      You’re right that Monahan is not Toews or Bergeron, but he’s a good player who’s going through a funk right now. He probably scores 40+ goals this season though, it’s just a matter of time. He’s more Eric Staal than Elite #1C, but Eric Staal is pretty good too.

    • The GREAT Walter White

      Ummm… did you see the OT goal?

      That goal doesn’t happen if Monahan doesn’t dominate with the puck in the offensive zone for an extended period – letting Wideman go off on a change, so Gio could come in and clean up.

    • MonsterPod

      I kind of get your point but here’s a few things to consider.

      First off, 95% of the NHL are going to look giant and uncreative compared to JH an Hudler. Those two are dynamite, special talents.

      Secondly, you are correct, Monohan isn’t going to deke and jive past you, that’s not his thing, though he seems to be getting more comfortable and trying some moves the further in his career he gets. He is a shooter, an excellent scorer, he is sound positionally, he’s got great hockey IQ, and he seems to be a great leader. He also seems to be a sponge in terms of soaking up coach’s advice and plays pretty well defensively. He has stepped up every year and produced like few others in the NHL, period.

      This is a team game, you need different players with different skills, and he is great for what he does. We don’t need a team full of skilled surfs, we need a good balance. Hey, Monohan already has proven himself as the best (results-wise) from his draft class as a #6 overall pick behind several exceptionally-talented players, and he’s still just 21 years old. I’d be keeping him on my team.

      As for Stamkos, I like him too, he’s relatively young and perhaps looking for a change of scenery? No one knows for sure, but with a no-move, no-trade clause and UFA after this season he is totally in the driver’s seat so he will go, or not if he wants to. The thing is is at $10mm a season he’s very pricey and I’d want to know for sure he fit in at that price, and not be giving up to many key assets to try and get him. And I’d give up next to no assets if he wasn’t signed first or a guarantee given that he would sign. It would be a huge risk and gamble otherwise.

      We all think Bennett will be great, I believe he will, and that he is playing pretty solid right now but not getting results. It will come, and will provide a different style of attackonce fully settled in than the Monohan line gives. That’s a good thing.

  • Burnward

    So many important improvements tonight. Hiller was excellent–no chance on either pp goals that beat him. Gio returned to beast mode. Wideman played 31 minutes and the two worked well together. Colborne used his size–won several board battles–unusual for Flames’ a cycle with him on the ice. Jooris was physical and had a breakaway. Mony showed some good flashes in OT. Geaudreau had two assists. Flames outshot Wings 16/4 in second period and 40/29 overall. Hamilton had some good flashes tonight. Lower pairing seemed to relax him although he played 18 minutes. So lots of positives. Hopefully Flames can win 1 or 2 on the road and begin to climb back toward .500.

    GFG!!

  • Greg

    That game was enjoyable to watch. Even when they were down 2-1, I wasn’t as concerned with whether they came back as I was just glad to watch a game that wasn’t a train wreck finally. The win was just icing on the cake.

    • 2112

      Had the same thoughts during that point in the game. I was happy watching the little things… like Engelland not letting bodies stand around the front of the net. A great game to build on!

  • DestroDertell

    This game was huge in so many ways. Not only to get out of the L column, but to have Gio get back to playing like he can. When Brodie returns, it should take a ton of pressure off Hamilton, and allow him to start on either the 2nd or even the 3rd pairing until he finds his game. A great second period hopefully snaps the bad second period trend moving forward. Also, Hiller’s play last night should help give the team confidence in front of him. It’s only 1 win, but a huge step forward. Hopefully more steps forward to come.

  • EhPierre

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Mony isn’t good. And yes his OT shift last night was great, he was too exhausted to even celebrate after.

    I’m just saying, and I know everyone on here would love to read this, him and Janko are similiar players. Ofc Mony is like 20 times better but they both are big bodies that can’t play a mean game and they both have decent hands (which I think Janko has better hands, although he is in the NCAA)

    Idk if its because of his quick linemates or just the tv I watch the games through, but Mony seems kinda slow out there for a 2-way defender. He may be our 1C now but I def don’t see him there in the future.

    I just think Bennet has more untapped potential and will work better with JG

    • Cfan in Vic

      No offence, but Monahan is not a 2-way defender.

      If you didn’t notice his pivotal role (pun intended) driving offence last year, I don’t think you watched many games. He’s had a rough start this season, seems to be getting back to his former self, but he’s had a VERY steady upward curve in his development since the very first game he played in the NHL. Not just goal scoring, but face-offs and D-coverage as well. I have no idea how you don’t project Monahan to be our #1 center unless it has something to do with Bennett blowing the doors off and usurping him.

      Again, I don’t mean any offence, but I don’t think you could be more wrong in your assessment. Unless you’re basing your take on only the first few games of the season.

      • EhPierre

        I’ve been watching the Flames for years now and I’m definitely not basing it off on the first few games of the season as the team was doing poorly, minus a few players.

        I just don’t see him as a power forward. He’s got a great shot but to call him a sniper doesn’t really fit. In my eyes he is a 2-way defender. In his draft year, everyone was applauding him as having a great 2-way game too.

        No offence taken. I knew my opinion wasn’t popular, I just wanted to voice my doubt and see what others viewed about Mony that I apparently can’t see.

        • Cfan in Vic

          Fair enough, to each their own observations, but…

          To call him a defender is weird. He’s a forward, and pretty good at the 2-way game, if that’s what you mean. I interpret what you’re getting at is “he’s not fast enough to be a power forward”. I can understand that he may appear slow in comparison to Gaudreau, but he’s by no means slow. Iginla was a great power forward with medium speed. Not comparing their style, but both are very effective at their respective offensive rolls, and to play center you need more D responsibility. He’s got that. Also, you say you don’t see Monahan as a sniper. Maybe not purely, but he has sniped some amazing goals with his quick release, and accomplishes just as many assists as goals.

          He’s a first line center, full stop.

    • Burnward

      Dude, I go the games. Last Mony was absolute money. Many high end players in their sophomore years get that famous sophomore jinx, in other words, they hit brick walls. Mony only sniped 31 goals & looked absolutely lethal doing it. His intensity on his face reminds me of Messier. This kid is on my team all day long & twice on Sunday. Don’t cherry pick these last 6 games. The whole team has sucked. I was getting cramps about 6 more years of Gio after those first 6 games. Last night made that go away/ & yes you can’t have a team of Johnny Hockeys. You need the smart sure handed snipers & Mony is a sniper. He’ll be in our top 4 scoring on the Flames for years to come. He’s 21.

      & speaking of another 22 year old, the critics of Hamilton have to let this kid get his game back. Playing 2nd pairing & 18-20 minutes is exactly what the doctor ordered. He’ll find his way back up to the top pairing & 25 minutes a night before the season is over. Huge expectation lumped on him & he is trying to do too much rather than play his game. & I have watched him at these games, he skates like JBO but he has shown me a way more mean streak than JBO ever had. Last thing I want from him is winning a Lady Byng award, That may mean he takes some stupid penalties, but if that is in the name of nastiness, I’ll be happy to kill off those penalties.

      Stamkos will want 10 mill a year, screw up our cap & I do not believe he can single handily win the Cup for us. We will win the Cup with high end talent on ELC & second contracts. Ask Glencross, this is becoming a young man’s game. The more high end young players you have the better chance you have to win it all. If you get Stamkos, you will be giving up most of your high end young guys. No thanks.

    • MonsterPod

      Mony is more of a north/south player than Hudler or Johnny. But you need that to be effective. They only formed as a line last January, so there will be some growing pains. Johnny/Hudler has been the main pair since last October.

      At some point, Bennett could pass Monahan to be the offensive center we are looking for, but let’s just take a breath. It only 7 games into the new season.

  • Burnward

    Not only did they show up, but so did Ball and Hrudey!!!!

    Blood pressure down by at least half watching that one.

    Four points out. Keep it going.

    Go Flames Go!!!!

  • Burnward

    Smid gets lots of love from me for that performance. After being off for so long, he really was solid last night.

    Hamilton was steady too. Just has to make a quicker transition at times to get back on D after a rush, but looked much more comfortable.

    Backlund also showed a little something. That was nice, still need more though.

    All in all, great effort!

  • Cfan in Vic

    Wow, what pleasant surprise that game was. Nice to see a come back win that they truly earned, not one that can be belittled by the counting stats.

    Too bad about Ferland. With him and Bouma gone I’m sure we’ll see somebody with a tenacious game get called up, but I can’t help but think it just means a whole lot of Bollig. Hopefully Ferly’s back soon.

    Gaudreau and Gio had more than enough swagger to share tonight, I wouldn’t be surprised if Johnny looks for the Captain more often during his extended dangle moments (of which there are plenty).

    Backs had some great chances tonight, I just wish he could finish a few of them. Grade-A opportunities.

    3on3 was super entertaining again! I continue to like the Flames potential in this format, as long as they can make it that far.

  • Burnward

    Why did the Flames win? Because at least two thirds of their roster played their best games of the season.

    My pick for red warrior is Joe Colborne. With all respect to Hiller (who was great) this was the best performance I’ve ever seen from Big Joe. Full stop.

    Is it just me, or is Monahan starting to find himself space more often? It seemed to me he had more opportunities to shoot in this one (though he passed up several prime chances for passes, which is maddening. Shoot the damn puck!)

  • MonsterPod

    Monny is a tricky study because he’s not flashy. Can’t really compare him to Crosby, ManKinnon, Toews. He’s more like Kopitar, who sometimes seems lumbering, but he’s strong and smart and has great finish.

    Monny is an elite finisher. Give him a look and he slips the puck into small spots. Remember his rookie season shoot outs?

    He just turned 21. Still has so much room to grow. One of the most important things is for him to rise above 50% in the dot.

    Personally, I think criticising this kid is being a spoiled fan. No one expected him to be this good this soon. We are really lucky to have him. Thank you Carolina, Florida, Tampa…