Post-Game: Tanked By Sharks

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!”

Nope.

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.

THE RUNDOWN

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.

USATSI_8959574
(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.

THE NUMBERS

(All Situations) CorsiFor% OZStart%
Gaudreau 48.98% 88.24%
Colborne 65.62% 87.5%
Hudler 63.89% 86.67%
Wideman 57.5% 77.78%
Monahan 62.96% 72.73%
Brodie 57.14% 66.67%
Stajan 43.9% 66.67%
Hamilton 55.81% 62.29%
Jones 44.74% 60%
Giordano 57.14% 58.33%
Jooris 73.33% 50%
Granlund 61.9% 50%
Russell 45.71% 45.45%
Engelland 43.33% 33.33%
Bennett 60% 33.33%
Frolik 45.16% 22.22%
Backlund 40% 12.5%
Ferland 61.11% 0%

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.

RED WARRIOR

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.

UP NEXT

The Flames return home and begin preparations for their next contest, a Tuesday night showdown at the Saddledome against the Dallas Stars.

  • TurkeyLips

    What good is this centerman named Backlund who has 1 goal on the season, the same as Bollig, or Stajan, or Granlund, or Ferland. (I am not counting Johnny banking it off him and in for the OT winner) Scoring on 5.9% of his shots? What did he have that 3 game hot streak and nothing before or since? So sick of it, package him off already with Russell

  • Skuehler

    Good effort from Granlund, Jooris, Bennet, Jones. Hudler doesnt look right. It was men against boys tonight. San Jose was dominant and had strong puck support leading to dangerous rushes. Flames were either dump and chase or kept along the perimiter all night.

    Thought Hiller looked disinterested. Is something going on in the room that has killed this team’s swagger?

  • Skuehler

    Jonas Hiller’s numbers after tonight:

    2 wins in 8 games, 3.85 GAA, .856 SV%

    That’s the league worst SV% right there for goalies with > 5GP.

    Unacceptable, not remotely NHL calibre by any measure, time to snip the cord and move on from this trainwreck.

    • TurkeyLips

      I think we know who our #1 starter is going forward. Ramo might take this confidence and run with it…

      Hiller better enjoy life as a backup before he’s tossed.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      If not for the score the game-play itself was fairly close. League average goaltending may have been enough for the Flames to win this one.

      The difference between this season and last is that average vs. league worst goaltending. Last year, I can barely remember any blowouts, this year it happens every week or two.

      It’s not entirely on the goalies IMHO, the defensive coverage has been giving up grade A chances all season, so far. On the other hand, it would be nice to see a Flames goalie bailout his team every once a while.

  • RKD

    Bob Hartley won the Stanley Cup in Colorado with a talented laden roster with guys like Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Patrick Roy, Adam Foote, Ray Bourque, Rob Blake, Alex Tanguay I could go on and on. He got the Atlanta Thrashers into the playoffs and then the next season was fired after six games. It seems he has a good year maybe two then fizzles. He did a lot with the Flames but this season he has not made the necessary adjustments that all the other teams have made playing us. Jack Adams winner to unemployment line.

    • Trevy

      I have to agree. Hartley’s system is not working anymore. Teams have figured this out and found ways to nullify it. Unfortunately, you combine that with poor goaltending and now your left scrambling. The players seem to realize they lost the magic from last season. They keep trying to reignite that passion, but they lost that confidence in each other. They look like they’re just waiting for something to happen, whether that’s a trade or someone else calling the shots. Maybe last year was just a cindarella run, after all, they are just in year two of a rebuild and have a bright future with a good core and hopefully some savvy transactions, not to mention a shot at Auston Matthews!

    • Trevy

      I have to agree. Hartley’s system is not working anymore. Teams have figured this out and found ways to nullify it. Unfortunately, you combine that with poor goaltending and now your left scrambling. The players seem to realize they lost the magic from last season. They keep trying to reignite that passion, but they lost that confidence in each other. They look like they’re just waiting for something to happen, whether that’s a trade or someone else calling the shots. Maybe last year was just a cindarella run, after all, they are just in year two of a rebuild and have a bright future with a good core and hopefully some savvy transactions, not to mention a shot at Auston Matthews!

  • Skuehler

    It’s killing me seeing Granlund on the 4th line. He may never break into the NHL, but at least be diligent and give him a chance before moving on from that potential asset. We really don’t have anything left to lose right now anyway.

  • RedMan

    An undersized team, that is short on NHL caliber talent and has the worst goaltenders in the league, will never get to the promise land. The struggles this team has endured for many years now starts with Ken “Paper Boy” King. The problems are further compounded by a bad P of HO and a rank amateur GM. It’s exasperated even more by the “good-old boys” coaching staff that upper management have assembled. If that sad-sack crew is allowed to continue “disorganizing” the “rebuild” this team won’t sniff a Cup for many years to come.

  • BigRig91

    I’m I the only guy that see Granlund and the LW we need . The guy has good puck skills and a good shot. But he is just not big enough for centre on the west. There not afraid to but Bennett there but won’t try Grandland there. I just have a hard time understanding the coaching calls .

  • supra steve

    Bunch of babies! What did you think the rebuild was going to be all about? If the Flames fire Hartley today, then actually improve, O boy we finished 19th (in a 30 team league) instead of 28th…and your prize for that accomplishment…you get to draft 12th instead of top 5 (and no, you do not get to participate in the playoffs).

    Bunch of snivelling babies. Man-up and take your medicine. The cure may not work as fast as you’d like, but it is the ONLY cure for what ails this club.

    • Stud Puffin

      Totally agree. In fact one could argue our rebuild was set back last year. In the long run we would have benefitted more with a top 5 pick last year. As enjoyable as last season was. We wouldbe further ahead with an Eichel or Strome.

      • supra steve

        I understand what you are saying about last season, but I wouldn’t trade last year for Strome or Eichel. That playoff run as well as getting Hamilton and the 2 D-men in the second round more than makes up for that loss. Was just perfect as a palate cleanser in the midst of the rebuild years.

        My hope is that by this time next season we will be seeing a significant turn in fortune.

  • Derzie

    The Corsi is better and we are dead last. Tell me again about what possession tells you about a team? Time for a massive shakeup. I have no idea what will work as everyone in the organization is under-performing from the top to the bottom. Anyone who is complacent about our predicament should be the first to go. If you see anyone smiling when the cameras are on, be suspicious. Last year the losses were acceptable because of the effort and pushback. This year, even the wins are weak. No spark. Figure it out Treliving. You know what the difference is. Fix it.

    • The Flames are second last in the league by score adjusted corsi. Only the Avalanche are worse. The Flames possession game hasn’t meaningfully improved.

      At the same time, the sky high SH% has tanked, the goalies can’t stop a beach ball and the special teams are abysmal.

      • RedMan

        Kent..sounds like Hartley has lost the room….would like to hear your views on any coaching change either now or in the offseason. My views are that Jacques Cloutier takes the hit now and Flames bring in a defensive coach with defensive experience…not an ex goaltender….

      • Trevy

        Except for the (lack of) goalies, every other problem sounds like something that can be affected by coaching. Powerplay issues? Practice with a 4th forward and stop using Russell or Wideman on either unit. PK issues? Try using an active kill instead of just trying to keep the shots to the outside. Shooting % is low? Keep the players on the ice for practice shooting drills. One timers and getting point shots on net.

        And buy Gio some different sticks. He is putting too much pressure on one area and they are snapping like balsa wood. Maybe there isn’t enough flex in them.