After fighting back from a disastrous first period, the Flames gave themselves a shot to win the game. At least, that was the case before a bad penalty, and questionable biases and habits came in to cement the loss.
At some point, things will have to change. For now, the team is 5-11-1.
Karri Ramo’s redemption
The Lightning dominated the first period. Their CF was 65.79%, and they outshot the Flames 11-8, a number that seriously flatters the Flames. It seemed as though Calgary would never escape their zone, doomed to flail around helplessly and pray the puck wouldn’t go in the net.
The puck did not go in the net.
Despite being thoroughly outplayed, Karri Ramo kept his team in the game. It was most dramatic during the first period, but he was on point throughout the night.
In direct contrast to the other game in Florida, none of the Lightning’s goals can really be blamed on Ramo. He was the victim of defensive breakdowns all night, from Ladislav Smid and Dennis Wideman deciding to cover the same guy, leaving Brian Boyle free to take his shot to leaving Steven frickin’ Stamkos wide open on the powerplay to Wideman’s turnover extinguishing all hope once and for all, there was nothing the goaltender could really do.
Still, it was something for him to build off of considering his disastrous game in Florida.
And that’s why you don’t go after a new goalie that’s going to cost in a season already lost. Ramo had a terrible game. Then he had a great one. It happens. And even a goalie playing well couldn’t save this team.
Speaking of Dennis Wideman
Wideman is still a top four defenceman.
The Flames are currently rolling with defence pairings of Giordano with Brodie, Russell with Hamilton, and Smid/Engelland with Wideman, but make no mistake about it: Wideman may technically be on the bottom pairing, but he is firmly entrenched in the top four.
Four defencemen played over 20 minutes, and you can probably guess which ones they were: the same guys you could usually count on to lead the way last season. Nevermind that the Flames have upgraded their personnel at the position; it’s still Giordano, Brodie, Russell, and Wideman.
There is a caveat to that, though: of Wideman’s 22:52 played, 6:20 of it came on the powerplay. The Flames had 7:42 of total powerplay time, and Wideman was on it 82% of the time. To be fair, the Flames’ lone goal came on the powerplay, and Wideman did get the secondary assist on it, but you’d think the powerplay would be doing slightly better if you felt one guy was so good on it he should be out there 82% of the time.
This doesn’t address his problems at even strength, either. Such as receiving 70% offensive zone starts – the fourth highest on the Flames – and posting a 40.00% CF – the third lowest on the Flames. Or his being reunited with Russell for the end of the game, pretty much the worst defensive pairing possible with this team, just in time for him to give the puck away for the backbreaking goal.
Why no Dougie Hamilton?
Dougie Hamilton was the only Flames defenceman to get zero special teams time.
Wideman had a ludicrous amount of powerplay time. Brodie followed it up with 4:14, while Giordano and Russell got just under two minutes each.
On the penalty kill, Russell, Giordano, and Wideman had just over a minute, Brodie 28 seconds, and even Ladislav Smid played 45 seconds on the kill. Smid. Who hasn’t played since Oct. 26. Who hasn’t played regularly since early December 2014. Who had a 20% CF, by far the lowest on the team. Smid was trusted to kill penalties more than Hamilton was.
What does Hamilton have to do at this point to work himself back into the coach’s good graces? It’s hard to imagine anybody performing worse than Russell and Wideman at the moment; certainly not Hamilton, who should be getting powerplay time ahead of Russell and penalty kill time ahead of Wideman at absolute minimum.
(Seriously, Russell is 28 years old and has a career high of 34 points; Hamilton is 22 years old and has a career high of 42. What are we doing here?)
He shows more defensive acumen than to simply flop down to the ice every time an opposing player comes near, even if he doesn’t block seven shots on the night (which isn’t actually something to admire, as it’s an indication the play is going against you more than anything else). But old personal biases apparently never die.
Mikael Backlund and Sam Bennett have serious chemistry
Together, at even strength, they had a CF of 57.89%; in all situations, 61.90%. They played great together on the powerplay, scoring the Flames’ lone goal. Mikael Backlund was the guy who got the puck in the zone to begin with, and Sam Bennett was in perfect place to redirect his pass in the net. It was beautiful.
— Terra (@Puckstar_) November 13, 2015
As much as some may want Bennett playing down the middle, there’s nothing wrong with Bennett on Backlund’s wing. They were stellar together in the playoffs, and they, along with Michael Frolik, have been clicking once again in the regular season. It’s a good line, and it’s no coincidence the two have been putting up points as of late now that they’re playing alongside one another.
I really hope Derek Grant gets his first NHL goal
Derek Grant is the ideal call up. He only played 7:15 last night, and he’s averaging below 10 minutes a night when in the lineup. He’s decent enough to actually play reasonable minutes throughout a game, but old enough you know he’s probably not a legitimate prospect, more likely to spend his career in the AHL than the NHL, so he’s not taking meaningful minutes away from anybody else.
But right now, he’s outplayed some of the NHLers. Brandon Bollig and Mason Raymond are taking seats in part thanks to him; Bennett is on the wing in part because Grant can handle fourth line centre duties. He’s been serviceable, and seems to be good for a scoring chance every game or so.
So right now, Grant is the guy I’m rooting for. There’s no telling how much longer he sticks in the NHL, which is what would make his first NHL goal all the more special. We all knew Bennett was going to score, but Grant? There’s no telling if he ever will.
This season is going down the toilet, and fast. Its only potential for salvation is due to how terrible the Pacific Division is, but even then, the Flames are still at the bottom of the barrel. If you’re going to stick with them, you need something to cheer for. Grant getting his first NHL goal is my something.