Ducks 5, Flames 3 post-game embers: The Flames are bad and they should feel bad

ayy lmao

I believe that image speaks for itself.

Zone entries, or: were you even trying

Want to watch something nice? Of course you do, you just watched the Flames lose in Anaheim for the eight billionth time in a row (this time in particularly aggravating fashion). Here is something nice:

That, friends, is an absolutely gorgeous zone entry by 19-year-old Sam Bennett. His line combined for all three Flames goals, as well as five points on the night, and were, often times, the only ones that looked even borderline competent.

From what I saw last night – and I don’t have numbers to back this up, so I freely admit this could be pure eye test or confirmation bias nonsense from me – it looked like Bennett’s line, along with occasionally T.J. Brodie and Dougie Hamilton, were the only Flames that didn’t have problems cleanly entering the Ducks’ zone. 

To contrast that, it didn’t look like a single player on the Flames even so much as tried to challenge the Ducks when they came into the Flames’ end. Rather, they skated back with them, each and every single one of them, and as you can tell from the corsi graphic above, the Ducks ran roughshod all over them.

This includes the Ducks’ two even strength goals, both by Rickard Rakell. In the first one, Sami Vatanen cleanly skates the puck into the offensive zone, facing zero obstruction as Kris Russell gives him all the time and space in the world, and Bennett is too far behind to properly check him. Vatanen passes the puck to a wide open Rakell, Dougie Hamilton fails to separate him from the puck, and it’s in the back of the Flames’ net.

On the second goal, Corey Perry skates the puck into the zone, with Mark Giordano skating back against him; by the time Giordano even so much as attempts to challenge him, Perry has already back passed to Ryan Getzlaf, who enters the zone full at full speed. When Giordano goes to try to stop him, Perry has already slipped in behind everyone else, and it’s easy enough for Getzlaf to chip the puck forward to him. The Ducks have just gotten deep into the Flames end with no real obstruction, and it allows Perry, who everybody lost, to deftly slip the puck over to Rakell for another quick snipe, allowing the Ducks to tie the game.

The Flames barely even tried to stop the Ducks from entering their zone, apparently instead opting to attempt to deal with them once they were already there and cycling. On the same note, most of the Flames couldn’t exactly enter the Ducks’ zone themselves more often than not, despite that pretty nifty Bennett GIF up above.

It reflected in the Ducks having far more scoring chances, and ultimately, in their overall dominating play.

Dear special teams: what

The Flames took two penalties last night. They gave up two power play goals. At 72.1%, they officially have the worst penalty kill in the league.

So, that went well. Perry had both power play goals: the first, a quick snipe nine seconds into the kill that nobody, including Karri Ramo, was ready for; the second, Perry once again sneaking behind all Flames undetected after Josh Jooris wiped out (and remember earlier when noted he’s one of the Flames’ better penalty killers? I was thinking just that before he lost control) for a breakaway goal you just knew was going to go in the second you saw it forming.

The Flames couldn’t stop there, though; they also had to make the Ducks look even more dangerous during their own power plays. The Flames weren’t exactly threatening during their time with the man advantage (which, in part, goes right back to their struggles regarding zone entries).

Also, here’s a question: why did it take until the very end of the game to even consider putting Michael Frolik on the power play? Did Bob Hartley simply think he wasn’t going to score that night?

Frolik played the final 50 seconds of the Flames’ final power play. Players who had more time with the man advantage than he did:

  • Dennis Wideman
  • Johnny Gaudreau
  • Sean Monahan
  • Sam Bennett
  • T.J. Brodie
  • Mark Giordano
  • Joe Colborne
  • David Jones
  • Mason Raymond
  • Dougie Hamilton

Players who scored more than Frolik:

The last time Frolik had power play time was six seconds against the Washington Capitals on Nov. 13. The last time Frolik had actually meaningful power play time (i.e. more than a handful of seconds) was when he played 2:15 against the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 13. You know, the third game of the season. But it’s not like Frolik is the team’s highest paid forward or third on the Flames with 14 points, so you know… whatever.

Brandon “Why?” Bollig

Another day, another game where I am desperately struggling to determine the purpose of Brandon Bollig.

His biggest impact of the night were his seven penalty minutes. The first five were harmless enough, a totally inane fight against Chris Stewart that really only served to ensure Bollig wouldn’t be on the ice for five minutes.

The next two were pretty disastrous, though: a neutral zone hooking penalty on Ryan Kesler that resulted in Perry scoring nine seconds later on the power play, cutting the Flames’ 2-0 lead in half.

There was no reason for the Ducks to get going with the man advantage. Bollig ensured that they did.

Bollig played a grand total of 6:24. He had one 13 second shift in the third period. He spent the remaining 18:08 hanging out on the bench doing approximately nothing (although he didn’t take any penalties from there, so that was good).

Bollig was an active detriment to the Flames last night, as he has been throughout the season. And he wasn’t even gritty; he had no hits, no blocked shots, no shots of his own, and an 11.11% ES CF over his extremely limited ice time. 

His entire impact boiled down to getting the opposing team back in it.

What is Mason Raymond?

Mason Raymond has played 11 games this season. He has also been a healthy scratch for 11 more. He has a goal and an assist over the 11 times he’s been in the lineup.

Here’s the thing: he looked friggin’ great alongside Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau against the Chicago Blackhawks. He filled in for Jiri Hudler on the Flames’ top line, and looked better there than Hudler had in ages. Then, last night, he started off again in the same spot, only the magic wasn’t working, so he was eventually demoted. (Although he still played 1:45 on the power play – and the Flames had zero power plays until the third period, well after his demotion.)

Only Bollig had worse possession stats than Raymond, who finished at 13.33% ES CF over 12:10 (10:25 ES). Gaudreau saw a 20% increase in even strength corsi values when separated from Raymond, while Monahan’s values more than doubled.

Raymond has seen a lot of ice time fluctuation over the 11 games he’s been in, but for the most part, he tends to hover around the 12-minute mark. So that, along with the frequent healthy scratches, would imply he is not a top six forward (even though he regularly gets power play time when in the lineup – moreso than actual top six forward Michael Frolik). 

Does that mean Raymond’s role is to just be a healthy scratch? Well, no; considering how there are only 13 forwards on this team, and one of them is Bollig, he should be in the lineup by default. His play may be lacklustre, but at least he isn’t taking stupid penalties.

Top six forward Micheal Ferland?

Micheal Ferland replaced Raymond on the top line. He ended up playing about six and a half even strength minutes with Monahan and Gaudreau. With them, he was a 61.54% ES CF; without, 40.00%. So he had a very noticeable boost when separated from Jooris and Bollig, although starting 100% of his shifts in the offensive zone vs. 66.67% probably played a role in that.

What about Gaudreau and Monahan, though? They went up to 61.54% ES CF with Ferland, and were both below 30% without him. 

This was only over the course of six and a half minutes, but the early returns were pretty good, and that’s in a game over which the Flames got completely destroyed. If Raymond is officially out of the top six and Jiri Hudler isn’t immediately gifted a spot back on the first line, it could be worth exploring further. Hell, if Hudler ends up back on the top line right away and falters, Hartley can always tap Ferland in for him and see how it goes.

There’s really nothing left to lose in trying new players out in the top six at this point. And how awesome would it be if 23-year-old big physical Micheal Ferland really did have top six talent? He does have a history of scoring talent from lower leagues.

  • ville de champignons

    I’m starting to hope Gio is playing with an injury because then he will probably get better. If not, that contract will be a boat anchor. Either way, Bennett will likely be the next captain sooner rather than later. He’s earning it most every night.

    This season has been so bad the only way to salvage anything from it is to finish with a high lottery pick. The universe is aligning to make that happen so don’t fight it. Screw the playoff dreams, guys, it ain’t happening.

    Given the contracts on the books and the number of serious upgrades needed the Flames won’t have a legitimate shot at the playoffs until 2017-18 at the earliest. And thats being optimistic.

    Major changes comin’.

    • Oil City Roller

      Serious tank talk in Flames Nation today! I seem to remember a lot of comments about how “shameful” tanking was when other teams drafted high. All of a sudden the old tank doesn’t look too bad. Of course when Calgary does it it won’t be tanking but a strategic rebuild. Welcome to the lottery club.

      • Kevin R

        Yes you are spot on. There is a difference between tanking and a strategic rebuild.

        The Flames genuinely came into this season with the intention of being a playoff team but if that is not in the cards it only makes sense for the long term to trade away players not in the future plans to properly manage the assets.

        In Edmonton it seemed there was an actual intention of finishing last for 3-4 years. Thus a culture of losing developed. The oilers are trying to fight out of that culture still years later.

        The flames are trying to build a winning culture but logically will have to make those “rebuild moves” and build around the young core.

  • ville de champignons

    Does anybody else think we’ve seen this exact same scenario before? I mean a couple hundred miles north of here.

    Honestly, this team reminds me more and more of the oilers a couple years ago – a few good (very good, actually) players whose efforts are frustrated by a whole sh!t load of expensive hot garbage. The only way out of that quagmire just might be to draft very high for more than 1 season.

    Bomb-trash away. I’m so frustrated I don’t care.

    Still optimistic though.

  • Burnward

    Well worst start in franchise history should hopefully result in highest draft pick in franchise history. I guess the june draft will be the next time we can get exited about this team again.

    Less than a minute left and down by a goal and Wideman is the desired defenceman to have out. Let Hartley maybe endure the rest of this joke of a season but he’s got to go. Take away last season from Hartley and its been more negative than anything.

    One positive is that our best players our also our youngest, which I think are good pieces to build around going forward.

    • knappsacked

      Why? Hes exactly the player we need in out top six. A milan lucic -esque player. We saw him produce in the playoffs. Hes. The prrfect age to build a top six with. He doesnt have to lead the team in scoring. 35 -45 points would be all the is needed. 15-20 goals. Conroy and hartley have both said that it is possible for him to surpass those expectations. If ferland can rediscover his scoring touch, he can be a big part of this team. In three years we could have:

      Johnny-sam/mony-poirer/ferland/klimchuk
      Klimchuk/ferland/poirier- sam/mony- frolik

      Assuming all players reach their potential…that could be a lethal top 6

  • piscera.infada

    Seriously, when the analytics community was saying that the Flames were due to regress from last season, every one was up in arms. The Flames do regress, and people are up in arms.

    The analytics community didn’t speak of regression because “they hate the Flames”. They talked about it, so people wouldn’t start falling over themselves to jump off the Calgary Tower when things didn’t go as well as last year.

    As logic indicates, “rebuilding” is a process. The saving grace here is that management realized that. It’s like everyone wanted a “rebuild” without any of the growing pains–that, my friends is a trash take.

    Don’t hurt yourself falling off the bandwagon everyone.

    • Burnward

      Also a trash take: giving players a pass due to analytics. That’s why they got Frolik and Hamilton, right?

      These guys have been so horrible some nights it’s impossible to compare to last season.

      This is on them. They can play better. Many of them, much.

      That’s what’s been most frustrating…is that it’s not bad luck. It’s lack of effort/attention to detail that’s derailing them over and over.

      • piscera.infada

        Hamilton is getting a pass?

        I’ll go ahead and call BS on that. In fact, the kid makes the same mistakes that you see from Russell, Wideman, and (even) Gio (this season) make numerous times each game, and suddenly “he’s overrated”, or “he’s soft”, or “he was a bad acquisition”. Look, I’m not sure what people expected out of a 22 year old defenseman. I’m really not.

        Frolik is getting a pass? He has been the Flames most consistent player, bar none. He’s been exactly as advertised.

        You get no argument from me that the Flames’ players can play better, but don’t give me this hackneyed, trite, garbage that this team is worlds worse from last year’s team because of “compete”, “effort”, or whatever other ‘buzzword’ you want to use. You know what’s not happening this year? They aren’t scoring 2 goals every time the goalie is pulled, they aren’t scoring an inordinate number of goals given their number of shots, they don’t have Hiller or Ramo steal games where their getting absolutely massacred at even strength.

        Last year was fun, this year hasn’t been. It’s not all bad though, there are still some positives in the organization, regardless of if the vultures will stop picking at the carcass long enough for you to see them. The problem is, people got that taste last year, and they assumed they could blow it out their ass all offseason about how the Flames had rebuilt, and shown the Oilers, Canucks, everyone else how it’s done. That wasn’t the truth. That’s not how you “rebuild”.

        And no, tanking is not the answer.

        • Burnward

          You mean those trite, hackneyed things that championship teams bring most nights?

          The kind of trite, hackneyed thing that separates an effort like the one against Chicago from the one last night?

          When Gio an TJ evacuate their own zone during a PK when tied 3-3, that wasn’t analytics.

          • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

            Exactly, there was no f-ing way Gio should have been busting to get in on that. Brodie already beat him to the punch, Gio was selfish on that play and jumped up when common sense dictates that he stay back.

            #readonesownpressmuch

  • Rock

    The only reason Russell wasn’t a plus 2 last night was because of a soft embarrassing play by his defense partner and he had two assist to boot. But in your article you run Russell down and brag Hamilton up go figure hmmm

  • Rock

    I can’t understand why the top line gets a forward who has been scratched 11 times, instead of the “Swiss Army Knife” Frolik. Maybe the line wouldn’t have been shut down.

    And maybe it’s time to start Bennett as a center, you know, the position he is best suited for. Put Backlund on the wing and Hudler on his other wing.

    The team has serious issues when dressing Bollig for

  • Burnward

    Fire Hartley. He’s officially out of touch and his lime combinations and player choice in key situations is mind boggling.

    Smid should never return from the AHL.

    Ramo is useless and will never, ever amount to anything other than a replacement level, below average backup goalie on a bad team.

    Bollig should never lace up a pair of skates again, and should have played his last game as a Calgary Flame many moons ago.

    Raymond is pure hot garbage, buy out his contract, lazy spoiled rich kids.

    And… for the love of God, Giordano isn’t even the same player anymore. Not sure what to do with him. Trade while his value is high.

    Auston Matthews, we’re coming baby

      • piscera.infada

        I’ll play. I trashed it only because Auston Matthews is nowhere near a certainty. I’d argue that the Flames, as bad as they’ve been, are nowhere near the worst team in the NHL. Even if they are (and finish there), there’s a very high chance that with the new lottery rules they’ll end up picking fourth, simply because that would be a very Flames thing to do.

  • Kevin R

    That was an ugly game. It all started with that horrible putrid 1st stinking goal Ramo let in. You can see the wilt right there. I gotta say, I never would have dreamed both Ramo & Hiller & Ortio could be such garbage all at the same time. Yeah Ramo had some good games here, but he isnt that number 1, he’s a backup at best & a way overpaid one to boot.

    Jooris needs to go into a dark room & watch film from last year & start imagining do that again. I don’t know what to say about Gio. Something is wrong & no one is privy to it. Ortio needs to go to Stockton, the kid needs to play some games. His last game was a tire fire & Hartley has managed to ice the kid & let him dwell on it. That’s always good for the mental game of a goalie.

    There are no short term solutions. No trades, most our players we want to move have Walmart pricing values. Gonna be a long f@*#*^g year.

  • piscera.infada

    When Gio an TJ evacuate their own zone during a PK when tied 3-3, that wasn’t analytics.

    Sure, that’s an issue. No argument there. That’s not a “lack of compete” argument though.

    Look, those mistakes were made all last season, but the fact that the Flames could seemingly claw back at will, masked a lot of those deficiencies. This year, not so much. You see that play, and that’s it, right?

    I never said those traits weren’t important, just that they have been over-stressed to the n’th degree. If Giordano scored on that glorious chance with 2 minutes left, tied the game, and the Flames won is overtime, what would be the gist of the majority of the comments here? “Gutsy win”, or “wow the Flames got outplayed, might as well tank”? I think you know the answer to that one.

    I know, I know, I’m being extremely “trash”-worthy in my comments today. Is it strange though, that I mean all of this in the most constructive way possible? I might, in fact, be the most positive Flames fan in all of Calgary this morning. Strange that.

    • Burnward

      Gio looks horrible, Hamilton has been maddening, Hudler has been invisible, goaltending has been something you can’t trust, compete level is about 85 percent of last year, worst special teams in the league,

      My optimism has left me today.

      I don’t really remember plays like the one Gio and TJ made last night happening in crunch time last season all that often though.

  • ville de champignons

    @ Oil City Roller

    No. I am not advocating a deliberate “tank”, because the oilers have copyrighted that word as both a noun and verb for their exclusive use and enjoyment. Where do you think the term “oil tanker” originated?

    I happen to think that a marginal playoff appearance is the worst thing that could happen to the Flames, as it was last year.

    The Flames will always play to win but the hockey gods apparently dictate otherwise. Not to worry! In compensation, they are offering an opportunity to improve the team with a high draft pick and ELC.

    Strategic rebuild? Hell yes.

  • T&A4Flames

    I’m tired of reading all this negativity. Worst thing about last year is that it made so many fans think we are so far ahead in the rebuild. Reality check, we’re seeing now, we’re right in the thick of it still. Last year was fun for everyone and it was a great learning experience for the kids; the future of the team.

    On Giordano: he had a major injury in the last 1/3 of the last year and missed lots of time. It is completely normal for a top player to have a very mediocre season following a major injury. I expect we start seeing Gio round back into form near the end of the season and be in Norris conversation again next season.

    On Hamilton: he was (just turned) 22 year old NHL impactful D when we got him. We all hoped he’d be that impactful guy right away. However, he is still an imidiate upgrade and more importantly, he’s got several more development years and will eventually be that top pairing replacement when Gio starts needing 2nd pair minutes.

    On Hartley: his loyalty to the vets is both honourable and stupid. But if we didn’t have the magical season from last year, the pressure wouldn’t be as high. No point in dumping him now. In fact, I believe his contract is up at the same time as Quenville’s is in CHI. how nice of a replacement would that be?

    It’s still a rebuild people. Remind yourselves of that and you’ll start feeling better.

  • T&A4Flames

    Couple more thing. Let it be a lesson that when in a rebuild, or maybe anytime, when you have depreciating assets that just finished their best seasons ever, you trade them! Shop them, get a bidding war going and get your best return possible. Like slots at a casino, if you just hit a jack pot or a very high pay out, cash out and go home because you’re not likely hitting a 2nd jackpot. Hudler, Wideman and Russeell should have all been moved in the summer. Too late now. All they can do is try to build their value back up and we hopefully get good payments at the deadline. Note: Jones should be getting shopped HARD right now.

  • Kevin R

    Here’s what I find amusing, other than the anti-analytics crowd crawling under a rock:

    Last year, the answer was the vets. The Oilers were doing it all wrong because they had too many top picks and kids with no gritty, truculent vets showing them the way. “You don’t burn it to the ground!” was the emphatic slogan. “Lambert wanting to tank is an idiot!”

    This year, the emphatic slogan is that all of the vets suck and we need to move them all and we need more youth and bring on Auston Matthews and Gio who was practically a god last season stinks and is soft and should be moved and to hell with anyone who suggested moving him last season, but this season he needs to go and so much for his captaincy, leadership, intangibles, and Harltey ruled then, but now he can’t coach his way out of a wet paper bag, blah, blah, blah…

    The average Flames fan is sounding more and more like the average TO fan with each passing day. Year. 3. Rebuild. Deal with it.