The Calgary Flames began this road trip about a week ago. There was hope. They had played a bunch of good games in a row, and were coming off pretty strong home wins against New Jersey and Chicago. With three games ahead of them against Pacific Division opponents, the optimists were thinking “Hey, they might be able to close the gap between them and the playoff teams!”
The Flames closed out their road trip with a 5-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks tonight, concluding a road trip where they gave their opponents six of a possible six points and captured just one for themselves.
If you missed this game, congratulations. The Flames got down early and didn’t generate much until the third period and the Sharks played pretty effective defensive hockey until the third period, when they just went into “Is the game over yet?” mode. Outside of chunks of the third, it was not an entertaining hockey game.
To make up for that, here’s the best photo I could find.
(Neville E. Guard/USA Today Sports)
San Jose scored twice at even-strength in the first. Their first goal, tipped in by Tommy Wingles, came from the point after the Flames failed two or three times to clear the zone, got hemmed in for over a minute, and collapsed their coverage – inadvertently screening Jonas Hiller on the shot. Whoops. On the second goal, a little while later, they gave way too much time and space to Tomas Hertl, who went top shelf. Shots were 11-10 San Jose and attempts were 26-19 San Jose.
In the second, the Sharks scored twice on the same extended power-play. A frustrated Deryk Engelland shoved down a Shark who was too close to Hiller after a whistle, and got sent to the box. And Dennis Wideman took a high-sticking penalty during that kill, giving the Sharks 25 seconds of a two-man advantage. Because Calgary’s PK is really bad, they gave up a goal 13 seconds into the 5-on-3 from Joel Ward (not covering the pass at all) and then gave up another goal before the second penalty expired from Patrick Marleau. Shots were 12-7 San Jose and attempts were 23-20 Calgary.
The third was mostly Calgary pushing back, because score effects happen – Calgary got off their duffs and tried, while the Sharks just tried to run out the clock. Markus Granlund and Micheal Ferland scored “too little, too late” goals – though both were good all night long – while Marc-Edouard Vlasic added one for the Sharks. The game’s result was not in question. Shots were 9-5 Calgary and attempts were 24-11 Calgary.
Live look at the Calgary Flames. pic.twitter.com/nIYCe84CkY
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) November 29, 2015
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Where to start?
Well, they were lousy early-on in their own end. They graduated from “lousy” to “shaky” as the game progressed and San Jose seemed content to stick to the outside. And their special teams were terrible. They gave up two power-play goals to give their opponents a four-goal lead. It’s difficult to come back from that.
In general? Their defensive game in their own end lacks structure. Because it lacks structure, they run around a lot and end up getting into the wrong lanes – the goalie’s eye-line usually – and create problems for themselves. It’s not a recipe for success and causes them to expend a ton of effort trying to get out of their own end.
Let’s give it to Micheal Ferland. He was throwing his body around, scored a goal, and was generally playing a smart, efficient physical game while his teammates were doing…I don’t know what.
And a stick-tap to Markus Granlund, who was also pretty noticeable for good reasons.
The Flames return home and begin preparations for their next contest, a Tuesday night showdown at the Saddledome against the Dallas Stars.