Post-Game: Flames Lose To Stanley Cup Champions

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.

THE RUNDOWN

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.

THE NUMBERS

(All situations) Corsi For% OZStart%
Gaudreau 50% 81.25%
Hudler 52.63% 75%
Monahan 44.68% 70%
Brodie 39.22% 59.09%
Wideman 46% 53.85%
Giordano 44.68% 52.63%
Backlund 48.15% 50%
Engelland 17.39% 50%
Frolik 50% 50%
Bennett 51.35% 50%
Hamilton 52.78% 40%
Russell 51.11% 33.33%
Bollig 23.53% 33.33%
Colborne 39.02% 30.77%
Jones 38.71% 25%
Ferland 30% 25%
Stajan 41.18% 20%
Grant 36.84% 20%

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.

RED WARRIOR

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.)

UP NEXT

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.

  • OKG

    Would rather think about Auston Matthews than think about this team making an end-of-season run to 17th place. Would rather the Oilers have the false hope run and we add a bonafide top 6 talent.

  • OKG

    I don’t believe the flames currently have the talent in the system to be a legitimate Stanley cup contender. They look great down the middle, but outside JG, the wingers are not inspiring. Another top draft pick would do this team good in a few years when they’re actually going to contend.

  • OKG

    Anyways the problems with this team are numerous:

    1) A system that doesn’t promote shot suppression (AKA the stand around defense) or shot generation, instead it promotes shot blocking which in turn means it promotes letting the opponent make plays with the puck.

    2) A lack of grinders willing to win races to pucks and push tempo. Last year we had Bouma, Byron, and Jooris this year we have no one because Jooris doesn’t get ice time, “Wizard” Treliving waived Byron for no reason, and Bouma is out for months. Brutal.

    3) A coach who has built too much trust in Dennis Wideman when clearly Dougie Hamilton is a better hockey player.

    4) Defenseman who are supposed to, but are clearly hesitant to jump into the play

    5) A crappy “first line”. Sorry, but that’s what Gaudreau-Monahan-Hudler is. It would be the third line on the Blackhawks quite frankly. Gaudreau is a gem, the other two need to be split up and sheltered.

    We’re 6-12-1. It’s time to play Ortio, it’s time to move Bennett back to center, it’s time to call Kulak back up. The 2016 draft is top-heavy so I’m not too optimistic, but we do have some forward prospects who might be able to find their game. Jankowski, Granlund, Klimchuk, Poirier, Mangiapane.

    • Christian Roatis

      Lance Bouma and Paul Byron’s absence from the lineup are definitely not leading reasons they’ve been so bad in the early going.

      Agree with all the other points, except for the last one, Monahan has turned things around recently. Hudler has been baaad though.

  • OKG

    So I know its a bit off topic, at least from the game thread but its relevant to tonight and the Blackhawks so I figured I’d see what peoples thoughts were on the topic.

    I got blocked by Ari on twitter tonight. She had tweeted numerous, numerous times about how she was pissed that the TV announcers kept talking up Patrick Kane, who she referred to as a “garbage human being” and other similar insults.

    I wasn’t sure why she’d have such a strong opinion on the matter so I tried to engage in a polite inquiry about the matter, and quickly found myself blocked.

    I followed the proceedings of the Kane case quite closely, and from everything I read about it, from the evidence kit not having any of Kanes DNA, to the accuser’s mother potentially trying to tamper with evidence, to the lawyer dropping the client, to the final verdict of the case, it sounded to me like it was fairly certain that Kane was innocent (if I am mistaken, someone please correct me because it is entirely possible I overlooked something). This would mean that the accuser would have been accusing him in order to try and personally profit from the situation, which is a very, very serious issue that is often overlooked in society. Many innocent men have their lives ruined due to shit like this.

    THAT BEING SAID, I am not going to go post all over social media about how she is a “garbage human being”. Why? Well its simple. I do not know if she fabricated everything, I do not know if she was a victim. I have NO WAY of knowing either way. I am not privy to all the details of the case, I am not a judge, I am not a jury. All I know are the details that were released to the public about the case (as stated above) and the fact that Kane was found to be not guilty, both of which would appear to line up (again, please correct me if im mistaken).

    I therefore see no reason to call him a “garbage human being” (other then the fact that he scores lots against the Flames), so could someone please enlighten me? Am I missing something here? Feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

  • Christian Roatis

    Flames eating it hard in the first season of the NHL’s new lottery system which determines the top THREE spots via lottery is also a pretty Flamesy thing to happen.

    May work out in their favour considering the team’s historical knack of winning their way out of Top 3 draft positions in the final 10 or so games of the season, though.

  • RKD

    Even though they had a 1-0 lead, they were lucky to escape the first period without giving up a goal. They were under siege right from the start of the game. After scoring 1 they give up 3 goals in less than 2 minutes and couldn’t capitalize when they had the man advantage. Wideman was brutal again, Hudler looks completely invisible out there. Where is this guy? In a contract year he plays like this, if he keeps it up his trade value will plummet and he won’t hit the jackpot on July 1st.

  • Truculence

    At least the Bennett line had great jump all night. They generated some dangerous scoring chances, despite not having the high OZ starts given to our first line.

  • OKG

    I love TJ Brodie. I am absolutely forgiving of the gaffes he makes because they are seriously outweighed by all the good he does. He is a beautiful player to watch.

    That said, I would absolutely not have considered him for the Red Warrior tonight. By his standards, I thought his play bordered on poor. Again, by his standards.

    How about some love for Kris Russell? In a season of terrible, it was the first night that I thought he actually stepped up offensively and displayed some 2014-15 creativity.

    And Gio…oh boy. I really can’t wait for him to get back to form.

    • Greg

      Anyone else a bit nervous Gio is already going “post-apex” and that shiny new contract is going to start looking iffy by the end of year 1? I don’t mean he’ll be terrible, or even not earning the $6M+. But that it won’t look like a below market value deal that soon, with 5 more years of slowly depreciating play to go…

      • piscera.infada

        Honestly…yes. But I’m trying to keep it to myself to balance out the segment of the fanbase I hear screaming for a trade and regretting an “albatross contract”. I think it’s way too early to be hitting the panic button although it’s hard not to notice that he looks like a shadow of his former self.

        Maybe it’ll just take some time for him to regain form, and maybe that form never reaches Norris-level again. I would be perfectly happy with a very good Gio for a few more years, followed by a graceful decline.

        I’m curious though. Is this the result of coming back from a major injury? Is he nursing some other injury? Is it due to the overall poor team play affecting his confidence and thereby his decision-making…because to my eye, he looks slow. He is often a half step behind where he needs to be, a fraction of a second slower to react…just seems to be coming up short a lot and as a consequence, making an abnormal number of mistakes.

        Fortunately, we’re not even 1/4 into the season yet so for now, I’m just going to trust that he’ll work the kinks out.

      • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

        Unfortunately this is the last year of his old contract and the new one is 6 years starting NEXT season.
        If there ever has been someone to capitalize on, it was Gio. Undrafted, went to Russia, had his best years as a 30 year old, even though he missed significant time the last 2 years and others through injury. He is not an “easy” skater but choppy which I feel are the sort of players who will be undone by the fact that the NHL is a young mans league and getting faster every year.
        We should have capitalized on him when we had the chance. JMO

        • Derzie

          What made trading Gio taboo was less his play and more his identity and leadership. All 3 of those things seem to be a problem right now. I don’t think anyone saw this coming.

          • piscera.infada

            I was in the “trade Gio” group, but I one-million percent understood it wasn’t happening, and why it didn’t happen. We can all be principled in the “trade your best player before they lose all value” stance, but it rarely works in practice.

            Even if Gio has a rough season, for the entire season, I highly doubt he’s going to be a boat-anchor for the entirety of that contract. His play will rebound at some point, even if it’s on the second pairing.

            In all seriousness though; can we get a Hamilton-Brodie experiment at some point?

          • piscera.infada

            Brodie-Hamilton? You mean like we had in OT in Washington? Played one shift and won the game? Naw, that pair wouldn’t work. You need to play Russell with Hamilton (to justify not using Hammy), then play Russell with Wideman (to recapture the “magic” of last season), and then play Wideman with Gio (because that worked so so well).

            Russell looks like he is playing over his head again. Between him and Wideman, they are the worst Flames at clearing the zone.

      • The GREAT Walter White

        Yup, that Gio contract could become a real anchor!

        We should have made that Gio-Drouin trade when people still thought Gio was Norris calibre…….. Like WW suggested!!!

        ( and we also should have done the Backlund-Abdelkader trade when people still thought Backlund was top 6………like WW suggested……..)

        WW

        • Tomas Oppolzer

          Backlund for Abdelkader??? Are you kidding?.. That would be an awful trade. Here are some career numbers for those two.

          Backlund: 317 GP, 135 pts., .43 PPG, and is only 26.

          Abdelkader: 415 GP, 140 points, .38 PPG, and is 28.

          Add on to that the fact that Backlund’s deal is only 3.75 until the 17/18 season and it looks way better. Abdelkader, the older player with a much worse PPG, just signed a 7 year deal worth 4.25 million.

  • Greg

    Outside the 2-9 start, the flames have been .500 in the last 8 games. Assuming they continue hovering around that, but never recovering from the bad start, would put them around 75 points.

    You go back 1 year ago today and they had 26 points in their first 20 games. Even assuming we win game #20, we’d be 11 points off that pace. But the thing to really notice is they only went 4 games over .500 the next 62 games.

    Add it all up, and you start to get a pretty big sample size indicating that this is a roughly .500 hockey team. A good streak and some bounces can make them look like last years world beaters, a rough streak and some bad goaltending can make them look like this years (and every years) Oilers. It’s hard to tell how good or bad they really are in this tale of two seasons, but all signs seem to point to about .500.

    That 75 points, ignoring last season’s blatant tank jobs by a few teams, probably puts them around 5th in the draft. So if that’s what they really are, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to add another Bennett/monahan caliber player to the future core, and we’ll probably end up being thankful for the bad start and avoiding a mid-80s finish and the 10-12th draft spot.

    • OKG

      This team needs high-picked talent still. Specifically Matthews/Puljujarvi/Laine.

      I will say people throwing Gio under the bus are being a bit ridiculous. He was pretty terrible in 2013 too, don’t forget. Doesn’t mean he was done then and it doesn’t mean he’s done now.

  • Cofred24

    We need to realize that we’re 6 points out of a playoff spot! It’s not the end of the damn season yet! We need a solid win streak and bam, we’re right back in the race…

  • OKG

    How direct of a relationship is there between Corsi and OffZoneStart?

    For example, Can we say that Jones and Colborne had a pretty good game last night possession wise because there corsi% was higher than their zone start%? Meaning, they were working their way out of the D zone well?

    Or do we say that they weren’t very good, but they also got buried.

    Conversely, Did Gaudreau and Hudler just lose ground all game and get dominated by a better team even with good ZS circumstances?

    Or did they hold serve well, match the better team, and part of the reason was a favorable starting zone?

    My tendancy is to go down the list and see who’s Corsi is better than zone start and vice-versa, but is that foolish? Am I the only one who does this as shorthand?

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Nice article by Pike on April 29 about Panarin almost becoming a Flame……

    (Great comment by the-wolf to close off the comment section……..!!!)

    He is exactly what we need, skilled top 6 forward, too bad he chose the Hawks; “because the Flames just have too many skilled small forwards already”……?!

    WW

  • EhPierre

    Hindsight is 20/20. Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

    Stop wasting so much time lingering about the past and think of the future. In a few more years, Bennet, Matthews, Monahan are your centers and Johnny Hockey is your Kane with Gillies as your goalie.

    2018 is our year.