Post-Game: House of Horrors

On the night before Halloween, the Calgary Flames unleashed an effort that’s bound to give their fans nightmares. Facing a Montreal Canadiens club that blew a 3-0 lead 24 hours prior up in Edmonton, the Flames lost by a 6-2 score in a game that they never led – despite them playing some pretty decent hockey through the first two periods.

In a weird game that saw the Flames out-shoot the Habs handily in the second, a Paul Byron breakaway goal and a Dale Weise hat-trick – complete with hats raining down from the Saddledome crowd – the Flames managed to repeatedly and consistently snatch defeat from the jaws of… well, not the jaws of victory, but defeat from the jaws of not defeat.

In short? It was a defensive horror show down at the old barn tonight.

THE RUNDOWN

It was a fairly even, back-and-forth first period, punctuated by a shift that exemplified everything that is the 2015-16 Calgary Flames. Mason Raymond had an excellent shift in the offensive zone, deking Mike Condon out of his skates and onto his butt. With a wide-open net, Raymond went the long way around and couldn’t physically tuck the puck in. The play went the other way, and Dale Weise beat Joni Ortio five-hole from the top of the face-off circle – with no tip or interference of any kind (though I’m told Russell partially screened Ortio). It’s been that kind of year. The Flames had a small edge in shots (15-13) and shot attempts (24-17) in the first, but the Habs had a face-off edge (12-10).

The Flames drew a penalty late in the first period and didn’t do much before that buzzer with the extra-man. But they generate some energy off the opening draw (with 22 seconds left on their power-play) and managed to score 27 seconds into the period. Sean Monahan chased down a loose puck on an errant pass and found Jiri Hudler with a nice pass to tie the game up 1-1. Johnny Gaudreau subsequently took an offensive zone holding call trying to chase down the puck, and after T.J. Brodie broke his stick on the penalty kill, Nathan Beaulieu lasered a slap-shot past Ortio to restore the Montreal lead at 2-1. The Flames kept battling, though, and a trio of young Flames combined for a nice tying goal. Sam Bennett chased down a puck in the Montreal end, then found Johnny Gaudreau (also skating hard into the zone) near the net for the initial shot. Mike Condon made the save but couldn’t corral the rebound, and Josh Jooris (going hard to the net) knocked in the rebound. However, the game wouldn’t stay tied up, as Dale Weise’s shot from just inside the Flames blueline – with Kris Russell partially screening Ortio – beat the Flames netminder juuuust inside the post glove-side to make it 3-2. Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell subsequently handled the puck like it was a live grenade on another Habs forecheck, coughing up the puck to former Flame Paul Byron, who fed Devante Smith-Pelly out front for a tap-in to make it 4-2 Montreal after two periods. The fact that Calgary gave up three goals in the period is perplexing, as the Flames led in shots (11-7), even-strength shots (11-2), shot attempts (20-16) and face-off wins (15-10), yet somehow gave up more goals than they allowed even-strength shots.

The wheels absolutely fell off in the final frame. With a chance to get back into the game, the Flames went on an early third-period power-play. Paul Byron scored on a short-handed breakaway to make lead 5-2. On a nightmare shift, both Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie blew tires trying to get the puck out of their own end. On the Brodie turnover, David Desharnais, Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise combined on a really nice power-play, with Weise finishing it off for the hat trick. And to add insult to injury, many Montreal fans in the Saddledome threw hats onto the ice for Weise’s hattie, to the point where the Flames had to sit on the ice, down four goals in their own barn, watching attendants collect hats for a hat-trick scored against them. (Is this rock bottom? Can they possibly feel any lower than that?) The Flames were out-done in shots (10-5), even-strength shots (8-4), shot attempts (21-13), face-offs (11-10) and goals (2-0) by the visitors in the third.

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

Take your pick, the shoddy goaltending or the shoddy defense. The team played well in the Montreal end for two periods and generated quite a few chances through 40 minutes. However, the team continues to play like the puck is a live hand grenade inside their own blueline, to the point where they could’ve buried the majority of chances and Montreal would’ve had a good chance to win.

Joni Ortio never made the big save the Flames needed to get a boost and stay in the game. But his defenders constantly and consistently – especially in the second half of the game – made mistake after mistake, necessitating Ortio make some heroic save. So do you blame him for not making the big saves, or blame the team around him for making them something that could swing the game? No matter how you slice it, Ortio gave up six goals and didn’t look great.

It’s yet another disappointing result and another head-shaker of a game.

RED WARRIOR

Let’s go with Sam Bennett, who had an assist and buzzed around the net quite a bit. His line with Johnny Gaudreau and Josh Jooris was easily the team’s best grouping tonight.

QUOTABLE

“We’re giving up too much in the slot and scoring chances and It starts
with myself, for sure. We’re still in the game there and a couple bad
mistakes and puck’s in the back of our net. We’ve got to stay positive,
we’re going through a tough time. It seems like every bad thing that
happens, it seems like we’re not finding a way to come out of it.”
– Mark Giordano

“It comes down to individual efforts. I got to be better, I don’t look
past that. I’m on for way too many goals. I’m not helping my team. I
think a lot of us have to just look in the mirror, especially myself,
and we’ve got to be better.”
– Kris Russell

“It seems that every time I play a former team, I get a big goal like that. It was pretty good, for sure, to get the first one against these guys.” – Paul Byron, on where his breakaway goal against the Flames ranks

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before in a road rink.” – Paul Byron, on hats raining down for a Montreal hat trick in the Saddledome

“We miss two unbelievable scoring chances in the first that could’ve been a game-changer for us. I really like how we skated in the first and even the second period, but that third and fourth goal really hurt us, and then in the third period we didn’t generate anything. We tried, but we didn’t try the right way, it was counter-productive.” – head coach Bob Hartley assesses the game

ELSEWHERE

Providence College put an absolute beating on Colgate by a 7-2 score. Legendary late-round pick Tim (Who?) Harrison had a goal and an assist, while Mark Jankowski and John Gilmour each had assists for the Friars in the win. Boston University lost to Merrimack by a 4-3 score, with Brandon Hickey scoring a goal in an unsuccessful third-period comeback bid.

UP NEXT

The 2-8-1 Calgary Flames limp up the QE2 tonight and head to Edmonton for a date with Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall.

  • Burnward

    Stop this loser mentality Flames fans.

    You’re better than that.

    Sometimes things get rocky but you fight and figure out how to fix it. In this case, it’s pretty obvious. If you are out-chancing a team, not in attempts but scoring chances, 25-11 through two periods but trail 4-2…you know where to start.

    And Oiler fans, save your condolences for the end of the year. Long road ahead.

  • MontanaMan

    No excuses and plenty of blame to go around. The turnovers in the Flames end by veterans (Frolik, Wideman) that directly led to goals are inexcuseable. Having said that, you need NHL goaltending to be competitive. The Flames tenders are letting in weak goals or goals following long periods of Flame domination in the game. The goalies haven’t stolen a game yet, but more importantly, have shifted the momentum in almost every game this year. The team clearly lacks confidence in any of the three goaltenders and when this is the case, once that first goal goes in, the bench says “here we go again.” Unless a goalie can get on a run, the Flames either need to call up a youngster or trade for a band aid solution until one of their youngsters is ready. The current crop needs to go.

  • RedMan

    there is a lot of character in the room, and I can guarantee these guys want to win, and hate to lose. These guys won’t quit, they will fight through it.

    Treliving had to move bodies and chose to waive Byron. I firmly believe that they thought he would clear, and there was zero desire to see him go. Did you catch Byron’s interview on 960? Highlights the tough reality of pro sports – this move really has shaken his family, and has been difficult, as it would for any of us if we found out with a couple days notice that we needed to move to a new province, pay out a lease, new schools, wife’s job… I feel for the guy, and am glad he was able to rub salt in the wound a bit.

    Let’s face it, this team is still solidly in rebuild mode, and there’s lots of progress to make before we get to excited.

    All most of us want is to see compete every night.

    #1 problem – goal-tending

    #2 problem – second D pairing getting killed

    3# Coach plays slow vets over youth (although he finally scratched Bollig, but it took 2 selfish penalties two games in a row, while his crappy play got a free pass. Bollig, Smid & Engelland can’t be better than replacement level players)

    #4 problem – the stretch pass is not working.

  • MontanaMan

    Let’ skip the Byron discussion as it has nothing to do with the Flames current situation. Byron is a journeyman forward who will be in and out of any lineup in the NHL and likely won’t score another goal this year. Yes, he can play the PK but anyone who thinks he’s the reason (or a major part of the reason) the Flames can’t win, is sadly mistaken.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      As you said on an earlier comment, there’s lots of blame to go around. That blame shoud include the coach’s preference to play ineffective players like Bollig and the executives mistake to keep bad hockey players in favour of effective journeymem like Byron.

      • TRAIN#97

        Bollig is not the reason they are 2-8-1, nor is Engellend or any of the typical scapegoats people here like to pile on. Not having Byron in the lineup isn’t the issue either unless he can all of a sudden stop pucks and keep 5 goals out of the net per night.

        There are many things factoring into the current slump, the positive is they’re actual play the last few games has been good until poorly timed goals against have absolutely deflated the team and swung the momentum the other way.

        We’re also fortunate we play in the Pacific, as poor as our start has been we’re likely in the only division in hockey where this much ground can still be made up.

        It starts tonight with a win against Edmonton

  • The Bennett line is fun to watch. The Habs have a pretty solid D group (although not very physical) and they had their hands full with those water bugs flying around the offensive zone.

    Given the Oilers D and assuming Hartley leaves the line together they should have another good night tonight.

    • RedMan

      this may be the turn around game, where the Flames light the Oilers up 7-1. Hopefully Hartley leaves bollig out, and the Oilers dress Gizdick, who will run around ineffectually, making a fool of himself and his team.

      • piscera.infada

        Hopefully Hartley leaves bollig out, and the Oilers dress Gizdick, who will run around ineffectually, making a fool of himself and his team.

        The problem with that is that Mclellan is an effective NHL coach. Hartley (having to submit his lineup first) will, no doubt, play Bollig tonight, and Mclellan with not play Gazdic.

        • RedMan

          you could be right, hoping you’re not. I actually thought Grant played a decent game, hope he stays in.

          If I could choose between playing Bollig or breaking up the wideman/russell pair, I’d playing Bollig and break up the 2nd pairing. Wondering how long Hartley goes with this insanity before conceding to reality.

          Hartley is going to have to drop his “always earned” motto if he doesn’t do something with the atrocious second paring.

  • Oilersphan

    I watched a bit of the game last night, hoping for a close one. Too bad!

    I will say this, the flames have a number of interesting players to watch. I didn’t pay too much attention last year, but was stunned to see Gaudreau score so many points. He has some sick hands!

    I also have not noticed much talk of Hamilton so far this year. Has he been our Sekera? Big name, but not playing one so far?

    Should be a good game tonight. I am hoping we don’t get the flames biased announcers and instead get Edmonton’s ‘know it all’ ones.

    • Burnward

      Johnny has been unreal all year. Just a marvel out there.

      Dougie started out like a lost puppy. Coming around fairly well though as they’ve eased his load after the rough start. Looks like he’ll be fine. Just another fun little disappointment to start the year.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        I agree on Hamilton, he looks more comfortable now. Time to elevate him to 2nd pairing minutes. The Flames have to separate Wideman and Russell. They are terrible together.

  • Craig

    Look, I may have drank a little last night and screamed into the Twitter abyss about Kris Russell a bit too much, but the most frustrating thing, is that the Flames have outplayed the other team in each of their last four games dating back to the Rangers. But what has been the difference maker each time? Goaltending, and Kris Russell.

    So answer me this, how does a professional hockey organization not recognize Russell as the biggest problem on this team, before a bunch of bloggers do? Why pay these people all the money that they’re getting if they’re unable to recognize how bad Russell is?. Hartley should have benched him by now, and should be fired for STILL PLAYING HIM THE THIRD MOST MINUTES LAST NOGHT!.

    Fire Bob Hartley.

    Fire Kris Russell into the sun.

  • piscera.infada

    Add Jeff in Lethbridge to that list also. He may be posting on OilersNation more than anyone. Very immature and inflammatory. Disrupts the conversation with childish insults on a daily basis. The boy ain’t right.

    Don’t be surprised or indignant when Oiler fans come here to return the insults.

    • RedMan

      anyone who is a regular on any of the Nations site realizes that the guy using my name to post trash is a fake (and is likely you), who posts under different names.

      As you can see, my user name is in RED, indicating a regular, verified account, as apposed to yours, which is black, and which changes names (but not IP addresses). look at the “Jeff from Lethbrdge” troll activity on ON and you will see I haven’t even commented more than a couple times in a month.

      It’s clearly you

      Thanks for outing yourself; The only one who would want to draw attention to the fake “Jeff from Lethbridge” troll is the guy doing it, as he/you obviously has need for attention.

  • Burnward

    Nope. Your mistake.
    If you read my posts here, (and regularly on OilersNation) you will see that I have not taken a single jab at anything Calgary. I stand behind all posts under my name.

    I actually posted here to commend the moderators for taking out the trash.

    Good luck tonight.

  • YWC

    Don’t need to panic.

    I don’t think we are that bad as the record suggests. Yes, the first 4-5 games we were terrible, but last 4 games I thought we did pretty well. I see the improvement in many areas (except goal-tending and powerplay). Even in defence, we are much better in getting the puck out.

    Goaltending and bad bounces are the two main factors for this slump. Even goaltending, we know Hiller and Ramo are not this bad. Look at the career numbers. And Ortio just has started playing in NHL.

    I think if we reset our expectation, there is something to look for for this season. We may not be in the playoff, but we can use this season to become better as a team. We are still in rebuilding, no? So please no knee jerking trade or dismissal and let’s focus on improving for the many years to come.

  • TRAIN#97

    I guess we will see who the better team is tonight! Looking forward to this game .Calgary should bring it good tonight after last night.
    They might be a little tired though. This will be 3 games in 4 nights.

  • EhPierre

    Hey hey hey hey hey hey

    Train#97 isn’t that bad. I mean he was god damn awful around the preseason time but he’s been getting better, not as troll~ish anymore.

    I personally don’t mind him and his trolls every now and then. It gets boring if we don’t have some Oiler fans trolling away at our demise.

    It’s only fair since the past decade or so the Oilers were a basement team; we’ve had our fair of fun, now the tides have turned..for now anyway

    • piscera.infada

      That’s a trash argument. The Flames need(ed) defenseman that can actually play the game (Hamilton). If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have to run out a Wideman/Rusell pairing all the damn time–although some of that is on the coach.

      Also, anyone with eyes, and a cursory knowledge of the stats can see Hamilton’s rebounding quite nicely from his absolutely horrible start (while he’s playing with Engelland–who, I’ll admit, has played pretty well so far this year). I very much believe that in a month or two, regardless of if the Flames find success or not, all of those who were ready to proclaim that a lost trade, will be eating their words.

  • TRAIN#97

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Hartley will be let go if they lose to Edmonton on national tv tonight. If not he will stay on for the whole season but if they have any thoughts of doing it , it will happen tonight.

    • piscera.infada

      I think the Flames organization will give him (Hartley) every chance to get this corrected. As I mentioned earlier (and I’m sure you’ll disagree with me on, but whatever…) this team has played substantially better over the last 4 or 5 games. I’m not a Hartley supporter, but there are two factors that play into a decision to give him time: 1) they signed him to an extension not too long ago, and 2) there isn’t a no-brainer replacement for him.

      The Flames will, in all likelihood, need a better tactical coach eventually, but it’s not necessarily something they need to rush into at this particular juncture.

        • piscera.infada

          They’ll likely give him the season, unless things get so bad that it forces their hand. Treliving is a pretty smart and well thought-out executive. He knows that last year’s results were not in and of themselves a truly accurate representation of what this team is (or else he wouldn’t have brought-in long term assets like Frolik and Hamilton), but in the same vein he’ll likely know that this horrible start is not an accurate reflection of what this team is (and that includes goaltenders sporting an aggregate ~.860 SV%).

          As I eluded to above, you need to have more foresight in this situation than many of the doomsday-ers want management to have. In the same way that unexpected success (like last year) can cause you to ruin a re-build (which unequivocally didn’t happen this offseason), unexpected rough patches can cause the temptation to drastically divert course. Treliving is (or at least seems, to this point) smarter than that.

          • Train#97

            Agree that wide pendulum swings can distort reality and tempt one to veer off course, but not sure how BT unequivocally “Ruined a re-build” last summer?

            Actually I’d say its just the opposite. He only brought in two very specific pieces, both key ones that fit our re-build and are LT pieces. The only dubious thing BT did was re-sign Ramo but I think its pretty apparent he had a trade deal worked out for Hiller that fell through at the last minute then he got stuck. Outside of that he re-signed Giordano, and signed Nakladal and Morrison. If you consider THAT ruining the re-build then I guess we’ll have to totally disagree. Bringing in and signing great players/leaders is what a re-build is all about, while at the same time giving the younger guys time to develop.

            The fact that things haven’t worked out to date doesn’t change that. We still have a ton of talent, lots of promising and developing prospects and good leadership on the team and management. It will come.

          • piscera.infada

            Agree that wide pendulum swings can distort reality and tempt one to veer off course, but not sure how BT unequivocally “Ruined a re-build” last summer?

            Wow. That was a horrible typo. I meant “which unequivocally didn’t happen this offseason”. My bad, my baaaaaad. I fixed it in the original.

            I agree with you. He targeted assets that would be in best interest of the long-term success of the franchise.

        • everton fc

          Sounds like you are a proponent of the Oiler style of changing coaches on an annual basis. Your team has faired well with that strategy. Hartley will get this year & into next year. If next year has this kind of start, then the Hartley watch will be on. Typical misery loves company comments by you. Whats next, should we be throwing our jerseys on the ice?

          • piscera.infada

            This is part of the troll problem right here. Look, as Flames fans right now, we aren’t really in a place to start taking jabs at the Oilers or their fans. The Flames aren’t playing well right now, we really need to just own it. Giving them ammunition isn’t helping anything.

  • TRAIN#97

    The problem with the constant trolling is that it becomes the focus of a thread/site and not good conversation/discussion about real issues and events.

    I got it that some want the rivalry banter, gloating and braggadocio but really, I’m not interested.

    I applaud the FN MODS they have been doing a great job so far, but still the trolling remains. That to me is killing this site as a place of interest re: Flames news and commentary.

        • piscera.infada

          I’m not attacking his spouse. I’m “attacking” him. He’s bad–and, I would argue, shouldn’t be a “respected sports personality” because he’s wrong about everything (as the initial post seemed to point out).

          Plus, aside from the odd joke at the expense of someone I don’t like, I actually contribute to Flames-related discourse.

          Also, in general, a question mark [?] follows a question… What a joke.

          • piscera.infada

            How is your comment speaking to the discourse of the flames when you call Mr Spector a tool? And how is it referring to the Flames when you say his wife knows? Riddle me this

          • piscera.infada

            Reading comprehension is golden.

            I said:

            …aside from the odd joke at the expense of someone I don’t like, I actually contribute to Flames-related discourse.

            Read any of my other 10+ posts on this thread. All of them, except the one you decided to focus on, speak to Flames-related discourse–not the trolls, not taking the bait (until now).

            Now to the comment. A commentor, who I’m assuming is an Oilers’ fan made this comment:

            I wonder if Mark Spector et al. still think the rebuild is complete?

            It was a backhanded jab at the Flames. I made a comment that “No one takes Mark Spector seriously, not even his wife”, because it’s largely true–aside from the obvious comic hyperbole that “no one takes him seriously” and “his wife doesn’t take him seriously”. I ensure you, that both some people (hopefully, a small number), and the lovely Mrs. Spector, take him very seriously (when he [Mark] wants them to, of course).

            Now, to my personal taste, if you’re taking the words of Mark Spector as gospel, or even as you put it, “a respected sports personality”, then you probably shouldn’t be taking jabs at anyone else’s credibility.

            But, alas, I guess you’re right. It may have been a little untuored of me to rag on a “journalist” of Spector’s calibre. Let me thank you, however, for showing me the err of my ways. I’m only surprised that you didn’t ask the MODs about banning me when I wrote this insulting sentence about Bollig yesterday:

            He’s like a vampire… That which you cannot kill.

            The horror!

            I guess it is Halloween…

        • Cfan in Vic

          Um, because PI was responding to a question, and your comment was purely to egg on a response.

          If you read your own post before you asked that question, I bet you would have figured it out yourself. Man.

  • everton fc

    Yeah great idea waiving byron, its not like hes better than bollig or raymond who defenetly shouldnt have been shipped to stocton because theyre really good usefull hockey players. Its not like byron could actually generate offence or anything, bollig is totally the better option. Its not like the flames would keep useless players just because theyre big, however echl level theyre play is

    That didnt come back to bite us in the ass…

    Last season was fun, im excited for our next playoff run 2024!!!

    Can we rebuild the rebuild or nah

    GFG :/