So, how’s everyone doing?
Tonight, the Calgary Flames polished off their four-game road trip tonight in Chicago. Despite playing a Blackhawks team that suited up last night, in a different city, and played a tough, emotional game against St. Louis, the Flames lost 4-1. Aside from a brief stretch of the early second period when they had a 1-0 lead, the Flames weren’t ever really in this game.
With the loss, the Flames head home with a 6-12-1 record through 19 games.
One of two things happened tonight. Heck, maybe both.
If you’re a pessimist about this team, you’re probably thinking that the Chicago Blackhawks are just better then the Calgary Flames. If you’re in this camp, then here’s what happened: Chicago out-shot and out-attempted Calgary in all three periods and beat them despite being tired.
Shots? 10-4 in the first, 15-12 in the second and 16-10 in the third, all in favour of Chicago. Attempts? 23-8 Hawks in the first, 25-22 Flames in the second and 24-22 Hawks in the third.
If you’re an optimist, you’re thinking that the Flames completely blew a golden opportunity tonight. Recall Pittsburgh’s visit to Calgary, where the Penguins had played the night before and were probably exhausted and Calgary did what they could to push the pace and keep the Penguins out of their comfort zone.
Tonight, the Flames instead didn’t do much to make Chicago’s life difficult, especially early. Look again at the shot attempts in the first: 23-8 for Chicago. Hardly a big push from the visitors. David Jones scored on a nice effort from the fourth line to get the puck deep and then the third line to score early in the second. After that, it appears that Chicago woke up, went “Oh crap, we’re losing to the Flames” and flipped the switch. The Blackhawks scored three times in 1:55 in the second period.
- Deryk Engelland and Dennis Wideman completely lost the puck after an initial shot, with Patrick Kane bearing down on them. Kane chipped the loose puck over a sprawling Karri Ramo to tie the game.
- On the very next shift, Marian Hossa wristed the puck just over top of Ramo’s reach, top-corner, after a Dougie Hamilton giveaway.
- And to cap it off, the Flames stood around watching Kane and Artemi Panarin stick-handle, ending with Panarin beating Ramo handily to make it 3-1.
From this point? Our old friend score effects visited, with the Blackhawks defending the center of the ice and basically letting the Flames wander into their zone and tire themselves out running around the perimeter of the ice. Jonathan Toews added an empty netter to make it 4-1.
Whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist, the Flames were not good tonight, and Chicago made them pay.
|(All situations)||Corsi For%||OZStart%|
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Ultimately, the Flames’ shoddy defensive-zone play cost them tonight. Granted, Chicago is probably the better team overall, but the Flames (a) didn’t do nearly enough to take control of the game early in the offensive zone and then (b) were woeful in the defensive zone for just long enough for Chicago to bury a few goals and then coast to victory.
On both sides – both Calgary and Chicago – it appears the phrase “they are who we thought they were” applies here.
T.J. Brodie was skating well, did his best to inject the final 40 minutes with energy by leading the rush, and basically was running around like a lunatic trying to spark his team. His possession stats are awful tonight, but that’s the way things seemed to go for just about everybody.
Honourable mention to Sean Monahan for his face-off work and David Jones for scoring Calgary’s only goal. And Karri Ramo did make 37 saves and was generally sharp, even though he probably wants the Hossa goal back. (That said, he’s definitely not the reason that Calgary lost this game.)
The last time the Calgary Flames had a record this bad after 19 games, it was 1997-98 (and they were 3-12-4). Now? They’re a little bit better, but not that much better, and it might be time to start thinking about making serious fundamental changes to this team or to start thinking about Auston Matthews.
The Flames are back in action on Tuesday night when they host the New Jersey Devils.