Post-Game: Mission Accomplished

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(Sergei Belski – USA Today Sports)

The Calgary Flames came into tonight’s game with a golden opportunity. They hosted the Philadelphia Flyers, a team that’s not particularly deep or particularly good, and who were both (a) in the midst of a five-game skid and (b) forced to start their back-up due to an illness to Steve Mason.

Was there going to be a better time for the Flames to pick up two points? Nope.

And they did it, playing a poised, composed and strangely mature (for these guys) 2-1 overtime victory.

THE RUNDOWN

The Flames did something they haven’t done a lot of this season: they struck first. Josh Jooris took a penalty, and the Flames did a good job of killing it. An errant Flyers pass into the neutral zone coincided with Jooris stepping out of the box, leading to a breakaway chance. Michal Neuvirth made the initial stop, but Mikael Backlund passed the rebound back out front to set up Jooris for a spin-around goal to make it 1-0. That was the difference in a relatively quiet, pretty even first period, as both teams seemed content to feel each other out. Shots were 8-8.

The locals probably deserved better than they got in the second. They generated a bit more than Philadephia but couldn’t bury their chances, and they continue to not be good on the power-play – not capitalizing on a too many men call on the visitors. And after playing a pretty solid second period, the Flyers scored late – off a Michael Raffl shot – to send it to the locker rooms all tied up. This is something the Flames have done a lot this season and many fans probably felt nervous, as this has been an element in games they’ve lost many times this season. Shots were 10-9 Calgary.

Nobody scored in the third, while the Flames generated slightly more chances than Philadelphia. We went to overtime and after Karri Ramo made a sharp save on an early Flyers chance, the Flames went the other way and Johnny Gaudreau’s initial chance got potted home by Backlund for a 2-1 overtime win.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

Well, they were better than the Flyers. They didn’t give up a ton and they kept at it even when they weren’t burying their chances. The game wasn’t perfect, but for a team that needs confidence and things to build upon, the Flames got what they needed tonight.

RED WARRIOR

Mikael Backlund had the game-winning goal, set up the game-opening goal, and generally was good all over the place.

And hey, Karri Ramo was Calgary’s best penalty-killer, making 4 saves on the PK and 22 overall on the night.

UP NEXT

The Flames (4-9-1) host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.

  • MattyFranchise

    The goaltenders were waiting for a performance like this tonight. Hopefully Ramo keeps it up on Saturday vs the Pens.

    Hiller getting injured finally gets another tender several starts in a row and Ramo needs that time to establish his presence in the crease.

    I feel that Ramo was resigned to play as the starter this season and there are rumors of a Hiller trade falling through at the last minute to support this. Ortio may just be a place holder until Gilles is ready but he deserves to break into the league as a back up playing maybe 30 games at most.

    With no established starters this doesn’t happen. Here’s hoping Ramo can make Hiller, who is arguably on the decline, redundant. It may not get us to the play offs but it will certainly make our future in the crease a lot more clear.

  • Cofred24

    Let’s go boys! Way to play a full game of hockey and come out with a win against a good team! We generated many chances! Let’s hope this sparks something to ignite the fire the flames played with last year! Time to make history boys!

  • slapshot444

    While Hamilton is only looking like a good passer, not a great passer yet on this team he IS showing amazing skating skills and a quick and powerful wrister. Tonight was a better night for him.
    Bennett is looking amazing two games in a row.
    Now if the team collectively could just pass the puck well, as in tape to tape as opposed to “blade to bade” as in skate blade, we will start seeing a few more W’s
    All in all an entertaining game.

  • slapshot444

    I ws at the game tonight on the side where the Flames defended twice. Ramo looked way more composed and the D weren’t giving a lot of second chances.

    However, neither team looked all that composed. The Flames had trouble making passes in the neutral zone and a few times passed directly to a Philly player when trying to clear their own zone. Fortunately Ramo stopped those.

    Not a great game, but at this point of the season I’ll take baby steps. It would be great if we could beat Pittsburgh and string two in a row at home!

    GFG!!

    • MontanaMan

      At the game last night as well and agree with your assessment. Neither team played well and it wasn’t a classic game but two points are two points. Also agree with the call on JG – way too many turnovers notably at the oppositions blue line which typically leads to 2 on 1 the other way. Monahan looks lost out there. Jooris looked good. Brodie was steady. This isn’t the same team as last year – wish someone could figure out why.

  • RKD

    A much better defensive effort, the Flames can’t afford to run again despite the return of Brodie. They need to play a very controlled game. If they need to win games 2-1 or 1-0 I will take that instead of them giving up 4 or more goals in a game.

  • MattyFranchise

    Other positives from tonight:

    0.963 from Ramo

    Russell didn’t lead all defensemen in minutes, finally, playing 21:28 while Gio had 25:37 and Brodie led all skaters with 27:17 as it should be.

    Gaudreau led all forwards with 18:51.

    Backlund had a goal, an assist, and 2 shots finishing +1 in 17:33 of time.

    Jooris had a goal and 5 shots in 13:20 and was generally wreaking havoc on the Flyers every time he stepped on the ice.

    Honorable mentions to Jones who looked dangerous all night with 3 shots in 13:56 and Grant for winning 10/11 faceoffs for 91%(!) on the night.

  • OKG

    Surprisingly, the Flyers are the 6th best Scoring Chances per 60 team in the NHL (28.8 per game) and third best high-danger scoring chances per 60 team in the NHL (13.0 per game)

    We kept them to 4 High danger scoring chances and 22 scoring chances overall in a game that even went around 35 seconds 3 on 3 OT.

    That is what they call a Defensive Clinic.

    Offensively we had 12 high danger scoring chances and 24 scoring chances overall so while it wasn’t an exciting game, we were the better team in terms of creating meaningful chances.

  • Danomitee

    Gaudreau and his turnovers, man! When he makes a drop pass or a quick deke and it works it looks amazing but when he misses its a break away in the other direction. Still learning but there are those times when I just wish he’d shoot the puck on net and take fewer chances

    • piscera.infada

      Gaudreau is the type of player that you’re going to have to learn to live with those turnovers. I get it, they make me cringe sometimes, but the guy is an offensive catalyst for this team, and as much as I’m sure he’ll learn to pick his spots better, you don’t want to stifle his creativity and ability by telling him to tone it down. Gaudreau is who he is in the offensive zone, and that’s one hell of player. He’s also very, very solid on the backcheck. His few gaffes are simply a product of his trying to make good things happen, and I’ll happily take that trade-off.

      Patrick Kane had very similar issues at times in his first couple of years in the league.

      • MontanaMan

        Agree that you don’t want to stifle his creativity and you are correct that every time JG’s on the ice, he makes something happen. Having said that, dangerous turnovers at the opposition’s blueline can be corrected. Creativity is encouraged deep in the offensive zone but good decisions are required everywhere else on the ice.

        • piscera.infada

          I don’t disagree with that. The kid has played a whopping 95 NHL games. The decision making will come, just as it did for Patrick Kane.

          Like I said, I shake my head sometimes, but I’ll gladly take the trade-off at this moment.

  • Burnward

    Pretty solid game from the boys defensively.

    Thank you Ramo. If that was important for my confidence and sanity, can’t imagine how that team feels.

    Now do it again tomorrow.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Great to see Backlund with an assist and goal, a few more games like this and his trade value should increase! (no one will remember that both his assist and goal were complete garbage, the guy has zero touch around the net).

    WW

    • OKG

      Russell / Hamilton was a dominant pairing last night. 13-7 corsi for, 9-5 fenwick for, and 8-2 shots for in just under 15 minutes of even strength icetime.

      Russell / Wideman was still a tire fire. just over 2 minutes of even strength ice time and out-corsi’d 0-5.

      Also scary was Engelland-Wideman. In 10:56 even strength icetime the two got outcorsi’d 6-18. They were however, even in shots 5-5 somehow.

      Suffice to say, Wideman as a whole was out-corsi’d 6-to-23… or 20.69% Corsi-For. If that isn’t a momentum killer then I don’t know what is. If Wideman is going to be on the bottom pair let’s get Brett Kulak up here, Wideman needs a good skater with him.

  • RickT

    Kris Russel played his best game of the year last night, so that’s good.

    Bennett and Hamilton keep getting better.

    Ramo only let in one softy.

    Monahan had a terrible game last night, looked out of place, and very awkward in the offensive zone. He hasn’t been the same since his injury in the playoffs.

    • Cfan in Vic

      Agreed about Monahan. Besides Russel being horrible, Sean has been my most consistent concern so far this season. Sure, goal tending has sucked, but that is relatively temporary. We need Money back to his old form, as he’s a pretty crucial part of the future.

      I’d be fine if this was just him being young, growing pains, adjustments etc. I can’t help but think it’s a nagging long-term injury. If it didn’t heal over the off-season, it doesn’t bode well over the course of the regular season.

  • Cfan in Vic

    I’d like to give a stick tap to Derek Grant.

    He can go ahead and keep the 4th line center role in my opinion. All over the ice, crashing, banging, and causing all sorts of havoc. I didn’t even notice his 10/11 in face-offs till it was mentioned above. A very nice showing for him last night, and most nights, for that matter.

    • OKG

      He’s the same Monahan he’s always been. Except now he’s getting his stick lifted and hitting cross-bars instead of scoring goals like he’s Stamkos – and all of a sudden the other deficiencies in his game are more glaring.

      Monahan is one-dimensional even if his one dimension is pretty good.