Post-Game: Backslide

The past few games have seemingly given everyone a bit of optimism regarding the Calgary Flames. They were good against New Jersey. They were really good against Chicago. They hit the road tonight in Anaheim looking at a three-game trip that could put them smack-dab back in the playoff hunt, despite their back start.

Well, just when you think they’re back to their old (2014-15 season) ways, they slip back into their old (October 2015) habits and rather than an up-tempo, aggressive game, the Flames were disjointed and on their heels all night in a 5-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Given how much of the time they spent in their own end, it’s like they never really showed up at all. (But hey, there’s their steaming cup of coffee…)

These Flames once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and now sit with a disappointing 8-13-1 record through 22 regular season contests.

THE RUNDOWN

The Ducks dominated the first period, possession-wise. Yet, the Flames were seemingly pretty strategic in their attack – when they got the puck long enough to actually attack. Starter Anton Khudobin kicked out a lot of rebounds early and that seemed to become a target for the Flames. Micheal Ferland jumped on an Anaheim turnover in their end and passed it to Kris Russell, who shot it from Khudobin’s right. The goalie kicked a rebound out to his left, right to Michael Frolik for a tap-in and a 1-0 lead. The Flames made it 2-0 on a nearly identical play: Backlund’s shot from Khudobin’s right got kicked out to Sam Bennett for the tap-in. (That ended Khudobin’s night, and John Gibson stepped in.) However, the Flames’ Brandon Bollig took a dumb hooking call and the Ducks needed all of eight seconds to take advantage of Calgary’s bad defensive coverage on the PK and get a tap-in goal from Corey Perry that squeaked through Karri Ramo. And the Flames blew the lead entirely late in the period, as Dougie Hamilton failed to take the body (or the puck) and Rickard Rakell went top-shelf on Ramo from in-close. Shots were 10-9 Flames, while shot attempts were 30-13 for the Ducks.

The Ducks maintained their dominance in the second period, and the Flames were extremely lucky to escape the period with their lives – let alone a one-goal lead somehow. Shots were 13-4 and shot attempts were 22-8, all for the Ducks. About two-thirds of the period was spent in the Flames end. However, Karri Ramo was sharp and on one of their rare forays into the Ducks zone – late in the period – Sam Bennett was under the red line and found Michael Frolik at the side of the net for a quick tap-in goal to make it 3-2.

The Ducks kept pressing in the early third and got the tying goal when the Flames defensive group forgot to cover Rakell in the slot, allowing him a tap-in for his second of the game, making it 3-3. And the collapse was completed mid-way through the period, as Dennis Wideman took a dumb boarding penalty in the defensive zone and Corey Perry, of course, came in on a partial break-away and beat Ramo to make it 4-3. The Flames had two third period power-plays and generated two shots on goal, neither of them dangerous, and the Ducks added an empty-netter (from Ryan Kesler) to ice it at 5-3. Shots were 11-10 Calgary, but shot attempts were 21-15 Anaheim.

THE NUMBERS

(All situations) CorsiFor% OZStart%
Wideman 41.67% 80%
Bennett 40% 80%
Engelland 23.81% 75%
Frolik 38.46% 75%
Gaudreau 43.24% 73.33%
Monahan 42.11% 73.33%
Backlund 36.67% 66.67%
Hamilton 39.13% 57.14%
Raymond 20% 50%
Jooris 25% 42.86%
Russell 35.42% 33.33%
Brodie 23.53% 33.33%
Colborne 23.33% 33.33%
Bollig 11.11% 33.33%
Ferland 52.17% 33.33%
Giordano 27.27% 23.08%
Stajan 15.38% 9.09%
Jones 21.43% 9.09%

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

They lost because the Anaheim Ducks were allowed to dictate where the game was played. And man, a lot of it was played in the Flames end. Credit where it’s due, the Ducks did a smart job of line-matching. But man, the Flames had a lot of missed passes, failed zone exits, wonky zone entries, and were in general a team that looked out of sync and largely lost during the 60 minutes.

And they got spotted a two-goal lead, on the road, in a hostile building, and managed to forget how to play smart defensive hockey. Instead? We got the same clown show in the defensive end that we got throughout October.

One step forward, two steps back.

RED WARRIOR

Michael Frolik gets the nod via his two goals on four shots. He was pretty good tonight.

Honourable mention to 19-year-old Sam Bennett, who had a goal and an assist (and four shots), and to Micheal Ferland for being the only 50+% Corsi performer tonight despite being buried in terms of zone starts.

UP NEXT

The Flames have a couple days off in Phoenix, then suit up on Friday night against the Arizona Coyotes in the first half of a back-to-back (they play in San Jose on Saturday night).

SUM IT UP

  • The Last Big Bear

    Somebody needs to send Giordano and Hamilton for a quick refresher class at Chris Chelios’ School For Defencemen Who Can’t Make Good Decisions Under Pressure, And Want to Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too.

    I think the hate against these guys has been a bit exaggerated so far this season, and I think both of them have been pretty good the last few games. Maybe one or two notable lapses each.

    But tonight they were pretty poor.

    Here’s hoping they get back in the game soon.

    • The Last Big Bear

      Changes have got to be made, not as BT put it “making trades for the sake of making trades.” but making changes because they are definitely needed.

      • Franko J

        I am not sure how BT will go about making any trades either. Right now if I was another GM in this league I would be a little leery trading for any of the players who BT is offering. Besides, right now the Flames would have no leverage in any trades what so ever.

        Like many FN bloggers mentioned, the Flames shouldn’t have made their moves back in June when the value for some of the players on this team were at their highest.

        Going forward I think it is time for the team to seriously start auditioning some younger players from the AHL to see what potential they actually have.

        Obviously what the Flames have in their lineup (especially on D) is just not getting the job done.

  • TurkeyLips

    Just an embarrassing performance from our defensive corps. Wideman was beyond awful in the third. He was also on the ice for the last minute of play. A pivotal game for the season no less. Quite disappointed with this one.

  • Cfan in Vic

    I hated seeing Wideman out at the end of the game — he’s lost even his PP ability. But in fairness to Hartley, there’s not a lot he can do with the defense when only Brodie and intermittently Hamilton are playing well and there’s no depth in the organization. He’s responsible only to the extent that his breakout systems aren’t working.

    But the forwards! Bollig made his usual “contribution” — stupid game-changing penalty, pointless fight, nothing else. No good organization would play him in 2015. Any Raymond! I don’t see how a guy can be a healthy scratch half the time and then start on the first line and then be sent out to almost singlehandedly screw up a key PP late in the 3rd period. The Flames do have depth up front — what are a goon and an old, one dimensional offensive player with no offense doing in the lineup, with the latter playing in key spots?

  • Craig

    How far do we have to slide until Bob Hartley gets fired? The PK is objectively awful, and that is a direct result of the system he implements. His player usage is garbage. I know it’s reactionary of me, but he’s not the guy for this rebuild, he’s instilling all the wrong habits into our young players. Defensive system based on blocking shots is not an effective defence.

    The Flames are slump busters and it’s embarrassing.

  • Craig

    This is what drives me crazy about Hartley. Last year, if guys like Baertschi or Backlund took a dumb penalty, they’d be sitting in the press box for a week. The Bollig penalty changed the momentum, yet I almost guarantee you he will be playing next game.

  • Ari Yanover

    The Disney curse continues. That might have been the worst loss out of the 21. The Young Guns era was better.

    This team should be better than last year. “Best D in the NHL”… is the worst actually, very dysfunctional at the moment.

    All (apart from T.J. and Johnny) played way above their heads. Something is very wrong.

  • Craig

    No defenceman on this team cares to hit. Some lumber has to be laid on at the end of each play around our goal tender.

    We need some meanness even if the guy is not a ‘smooth’ skater. Leave the stick checking to Johnny. Gad, he even takes the body when he has to!

    I would rather use a bruising defenceman paired with a better skater in case he gets beaten, than 6 prima donnas. What happened to Engelland? Hamilton ‘blowing tires’ or just falling in the corner??? Bollig, stop wasting our time with BS and hit somebody when it counts and then defend yourself when it counts.

    Take a real penalty if you’re going to take a phantom hooking call anyway. Enough with the men against the boys.

    For what he contributes; the sooner Smid is back, the better.