Post-Game: Underwhelming

The Calgary Flames hit the road tonight in the first game of their three-game road trip, facing off against the New York Rangers.

After an early first period goal, the Flames did their best to keep pace with the Rangers. Unfortunately, a series of second period chances resulted in zero goals and the Rangers soon kicked it into gear. The Flames couldn’t come close to matching their hosts, and they ended up losing 4-1 to the Rangers.

For those hoping for a consistent 60 minute effort from the Flames, the result was a tad underwhelming.

THE RUNDOWN

The Flames opened the game with an early penalty, but managed to gain some momentum with a good penalty kill and then turned that momentum into an early goal off the rush. Gaudreau, Monahan and Hudler carried the puck into the zone and Gaudreau found Hudler with a really nice pass for a tap-in goal for the veteran, giving the Flames a 1-0 lead. From then on, the Rangers really pressed but the Flames did their best to keep the Rangers attackers to the outside with some nice structure. The Flames were lucky, though, as Kevin Hayes had a gorgeous chance on their power-play and couldn’t bury it. Shots were 8-8 in the first, with the Rangers having a 22-10 shot attempt lead. The Flames went 10-7 at the face-off dot.

If there was one period that best represented this game for the Flames, it was the second. They had tons of chances and lots of pressure, including an early power-play that could’ve made their lead 2-0. However, despite tons of zone time they couldn’t capitalize, and the Rangers scored off the rush – taking advantage of some chaos in Calgary’s defensive coverage, allowing Oscar Lindberg to slide through the slot and tap in a really nice Kevin Hayes feed to tie it. Four minutes later, more nice passing amidst the Flames running around their own end allowed Dan Girardi to beat Jonas Hiller to give the Rangers the 2-1 lead. Calgary led in shots (10-5) and shot attempts (22-14) in the second, but the Rangers won more face-offs (9-7) and goals, which was all that mattered.

The Flames seemed very gun-shy in the third, seemingly worried about biffing on more nice chances like they did in the second. The Rangers kept pressing, and after Jonas Hiller kicked out a gigantic rebound off an initial shot, Kevin Klein took advantage of the D-zone chaos – notice a trend? – and beat a flailing Hiller on the second or third chance the Rangers had following the initial shot. Derrick Brassard later made it 4-1 off a wrister with four players – two of them Flames defensemen – screening Hiller. Joni Ortio came in late in the game and got some work in, making five saves. Shots were 13-5 Rangers in the third, shot attempts were close to even (18-17 Rangers) and face-offs were even. Granted, much of that was score effect, as the Rangers coasted to victory after scoring that third goal.

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

Two major reasons.

They couldn’t take advantage of the chances they were given, often just missing passes or double-clutching at the last minute, despite getting a tremendous amount of zone time in the first 40 minutes. And after that, the Rangers stepped up their defensive coverage and didn’t give them many more chances.

And oddly, despite their defensive depth being considered their big strength organizationally, the Flames were often a clown show in their own zone. We’re talking big rim-around passes/dump-outs around the zone getting intercepted frequently. We’re talking about lots of lazy chip-out attempts. The Flames were their own worst enemy in this game, as not only did they not bury their own chances, they seemed to spend an awful lot of time hell-bent on creating chances for the Rangers.

In that sense, they were successful, as basically all four goals were a result of the Flames being woeful in their own end. They weren’t awful, but they also were particularly good overall.

RED WARRIOR

Sam Bennett was full of piss and vinegar all evening, and I thought that his line with Derek Grant and Josh Jooris was Calgary’s best overall. Bennett was physical, really worked in the corners and tried to generate chances, and it was easily his best game as a pro.

And a stick-tap to Johnny Gaudreau, who was good for the first two periods and then faded in the third.

ELSEWHERE

Mason McDonald made 30 saves in Charlottetown’s 4-3 overtime win over Acadie-Bathurst.

Andrew Mangiapane had a hat-trick in Barrie’s 5-3 win over Oshawa.

UP NEXT

The Flames better get their act together, gang, as they’re back in action across the East River tomorrow night as they visit the New York Islanders in Brooklyn. Puck drop is 5pm MT on Sportsnet West.

    • Frank Miron

      I’m pretty sure it would’t cost a lot to trade for Cam Ward or Jonathan Bernier… they are surely better than Hiller, while waiting for Ortio and Gillies to be ready. Anyways this team needs a shakeup.

      • ClayBort

        Cam Ward isn’t good and hasn’t been for quite some time.

        Carolina nearly gave the Flames a 1st in the Bennett draft just to take Cam Ward’s contract.

    • Frank Miron

      It’s tough to say. He’s young, flames fans all over FN were calling McDavid a bust. Now, look. They ate their words hard. I hate when people call young players a bust. Look how they are after 5 years in the league then make that analysis. Bennett will be fine I’m sure, he’s just struggling right now.

        • Frank Miron

          I think bennett is going to be good, it just seems like the last few years he hasn’t been 100% healthy at any time. hopefully he can get. Its tough fighting an uphill battle against injuries, especially when he’s a rookie.

          as for dougie, he’s good he’s just struggling hard right now…….

  • Dan the Drunk

    PS – Johnny Hockey was hurt in the third. I think it was off a play late in the second, but they were playing “just for laughs@ on the other TV.

    Pretty sure it was something with his wrist.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Jeff from Lethbridge on ON again… Trolling. Tomorrow he will tell the mods that trolling needs to end. Book it. Classic Jeff

    FN Moderator: take this complaint to ON.

  • Frank Miron

    Hiller was horrible again…one good start (last game vs Detroit) this year and that’s it. Not acceptable, weak goals at times where it absolutely killed us, especially tonight when the boys played well against a very good team and deserved a better fate. A few timely saves on a few of those weak goals would have made the difference in the game.

    Looking forward to seeing Ortio tomorrow, if he looks good you ride him go-forward and keep Hiller where he belongs (i.e. stapled to the bench).

  • loudogYYC

    What’s with all the Coiler fans yapping on FN? You’re 1-9 in the past 10 B of As. Get a grip already.

    I don’t really think Hiller was terrible tonight, the ‘rebound’ that led to the 3rd goal was actually a bad pass/clearance by Monahan that ended up on Kleins tape. Mistakes happen to the best of em, but there’s way too much happening from the top players on the team.

    Hamilton isn’t sharp at all right now, Mony’s defense isn’t yet stellar and Bennett tries to make unnecessarily big plays at the wrong time (sequence that led to 4th goal started with Benny). Couple that with Widemans defensive limitations, Backlunds scoring limitations and Colborne and Bolligs hockey limitations and you’re left relying too much on Gaudreau and 4 other players currently pulling their weight.

    There’s too many passengers it seems, and it’s all on Hartley to break this streak or slump or whatever you wanna call it. Complacency has somehow snuck onto the ice and these next 4 games can very well shape our entire season.

    • loudogYYC

      Head over to ON and you’ll see the exact same thing..

      ——– FN Moderator: coming to FN to stir the pot and troll is not acceptable behaviour. Take you issue at OilersNation to responsible parties there. If you continue to troll, goad FN commenters and hijack threads, the Mods will take further steps.

  • loudogYYC

    Just a thought but – Instead of half the team hocking cars, houses, insurance etc for the gluttonous ad polluting hogs at the FAN 960, how about they concentrate on hockey?

  • YFC Prez

    I come down here maybe once a year to check up on things. Posted 2 times on FN over the last 5 years I’ve been a citizen up at ON. I was curious to see if Jeff from Leftbridgr was ever posting on his own teams fan site.

    I guess not. He sure loves ours.

    I’m also very surprised by the amount of oiler fan trolling down here. What’s the point of this ON people? It’s a fan site. Fan being derived from “fanatic”. We all show an unreasonable passion for our team that defies logic, it cannot be changed by any amount of trolling so why set out to anger other fans?Why get into arguments over this?

    Looks like almost 40% of the traffic here is oiler fans. Can’t complain about Jeff, Walter and Ziggy with this happening down here. We’ve got lots to talk about At ON. Leave these guys be.

  • Zarny

    Hiller needs to be waived, outside of one game (Detroit) he is not providing NHL caliber goaltending this season…and at age 34 he isn’t getting any better (or younger) either

      • Cfan in Vic

        Andre “Red Light” Raciot, Hardy Hastram, John Garrett, Darren Pang…literally anyone would be an upgrade over that plug Hiller. He does have nice pads tho

      • Cfan in Vic

        Factually incorrect on saying Ramo was even worse this year.

        The eye test said they were about the same altho if u watched the games you clearly saw poorer defensive efforts in front of Ramo, leaving him completely out to dry.

        The stats (GAA, SV%) say Ramo’s numbers, albeit awful like Hiller’s, were actually slightly better at the time of Ramo’s demotion. Get your facts straight before you start going off next time.

        At age 29, I’d rather have Ramo as the gap-stop/buffer for the next few years until Gillies and Ortio are transitioned as the future starting pair.

  • loudogYYC

    It was all Defensive gaffs last night that killed the Flames. Brutal.

    Sam Bennett was awesome, if that’s a little preview of how good he will be then the Flames would be crazy to trade him for Stamkos imo.

    Johnny Gaudreau is amazing as well. His positives far out weigh his negatives if he has any at all.

    • Cfan in Vic

      Yep. D-zone lapses cost them the later half of the game. I was actually really happy with their game going into the 3rd, they seemed to carry most of play. I was positive Bennett was going to score in the second, he was beasting hard. Charging in front of the net like he was in the playoffs. That’s where he’ll be successful and it’s great to see.

      I can’t WAIT till Brodie’s back, but I think Smid needs Stockton or pressbox, like yesterday. Kulak is a gigantic improvement, Naks cannot be worse than Smid, only better.

  • YFC Prez

    Hamilton’s own-zone troubles continue somewhat, but oddly he drove play a little in this one. ~52% Corsi playing with Smid (with 25% zone starts!).

    Baby steps. He’s certainly looked more comfortable the last two games. Really want to see him with a defenseman who can actually play in all three zones (Brodie) and see what happens.

    Also, I’ve more or less liked the Giordano – Wideman pairing. Wideman’s lack of speed caused some issues last night, but for the most part they were solid again. Russell and Engelland got killed though.

  • Pit Martin

    1-I think that Johnny was injured from a spear from Kreider late in the second period coming our of the Rangers zone at the blueline. I am surprised that no one noticed it. Johnny was doubled over in pain from the spear and went right to the bench. Kreider is a dirty bastard and I hope that he gets his just reward soon.
    2-Stop criticizing Bennett. He has only played a handful of NHL games total in his career. Unbelieveable how quick some of our so called Flames fans are to be so negative to our future core players. Stop it, we will be fine.
    3-As we know we do not have quality goaltending at all at this point and it is costing us dearly. I think that we need to deal and bring in a proven veteran goalie or we will be in the Matthews hunt.
    4-I can’t wait for Brodie to come back, we miss him big time. Hamilton is only 22, getting used to his new teammates and systems here. He like Bennett is going to be fine in the not distant future. Stop ragging on him, our whole defensive zone play is just bad right now and it will be corrected. Our coaching staff know what is wrong and they will fix it.

    GO FLAMES GO!!

    • Cfan in Vic

      Fair assessment, and I too was worried about Johnny after that spear. It would be devastating to see him lose any time.

      As for Bennett bashing, I think the trolls from ON are the only ones being hard on him, anyone who watched this game saw that he was one of the best players for the Flames. He’ll do great if he keeps doing the same thing he did last night.