Flames 5, Bruins 4 (OT): That was also fun

Photo Credit: Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sports

There’s a lot to complain about when the team you cheer for has just three regulation wins through 26 games. That team just so happens to be the Calgary Flames, though, who have been stupidly fun to watch these past couple of games.

So sure, complain. But when this team decides they want to be worth watching, they’re worth it.

The Flames had a 52.21% corsi

They were good from start to finish, and controlled the game. Score effects can’t even come into play here, because they either led the game or were playing tied for all but one minute and four seconds. 

It wasn’t like the comeback game against the Dallas Stars, where the Flames were a 54.55% team, but in a score-adjusted count, the Stars actually led the way (although not by much). The Flames didn’t have to press to come back from down 3-0; the Bruins couldn’t coast thinking they had a safe lead. The Flames came out ready to play from the beginning, and the Bruins did not.

And that 52.21% is in all situations, so it even includes the Flames’ terrible power play! (They were 52.59% at even strength only.)

0 for 12, 1 for 30

That would be the Flames’ power play over the last little while. It’s clocking in at 12.2%, tied for dead last in the league (the Carolina Hurricanes are apparently just as bad – which is incredible; didn’t know that was possible).

The Flames came close this game, particularly in regards to Mark Giordano and Jiri Hudler’s goals which came 23 and 15 seconds after the minor infractions expired. Close doesn’t count, though. The power play remains a horrid, futile effort – one they’ve been outscored on as of late, thanks to Brad Marchand.

The Flames haven’t scored a power play goal since Giordano’s tally in Glendale just over a week ago. Before then, they hadn’t scored since their game in Tampa Bay all the way back on Nov. 12. They have one successful conversion in their last 30 tries, and that’s just not acceptable.

They controlled the pace of the game, and had four power play chances to the Bruins’ one. A quarter-competent power play would have put the game away in regulation, but that’s not something the Flames are capable of right now, apparently.

Hopefully this fixes Jiri Hudler

Hudler has, to put it lightly, been very bad this season. He’s not the Hudler of 2014-15; he’s not even the Hudler of 2013-14. He often looks lost out there, floating around mindlessly, hesitant to do much of anything. He was demoted, and rightfully so, as David Jones was outplaying him.

But Jones got hurt, and while Hudler may not have technically been the next best option to put on the top line – especially with a number of kids outplaying him as of late – he was the most seamless way to do it, so up he went. 

And how frustrating was it to watch him go on a two-on-one with Mason Raymond late enough in the game for it to potentially be the winner, and pass it when he had the shot? And to watch that pass get harmlessly deflected aside?

But he made up for it in the game’s dying seconds. It was an easy goal, a tap-in literally anybody in his position would have scored. But he was the one in that position, so he was the one to get his first goal since Oct. 30.

He had four assists all of November, and that’s it. That’s pretty bad, especially for someone who’s surely hoping to get a payday come July 1. So hopefully that goal, which both he and his team really, really, really needed gets him going again; especially if Jones ends up missing more time and the Flames need someone to compliment the rest of the top line.

(Side note: what happened to Jones is exactly why you don’t dress Brandon Bollig. Had he been in, the Flames would have essentially been down to 10 forwards in a close game. Instead, the healthy forward who played the least was Markus Granlund with 11:20, and he was pretty good out there.)

Dougie Narratives

Everyone knew this game was going to be about Dougie Hamilton in some capacity, but man, he really made the game about him in the end.

Hamilton played 20:16, fourth most out of all Flames defencemen, and just behind the top line in ice time. His ES CF of 59.18% was second on the team out of all defenders, behind just Ladislav Smid, who was a 68.42% over 10:25. (Smid played 11:23 in total; Engelland, 10:30.) (Also, holy crap, does this mean Smid can actually play again? He and Engelland were both north of 55% CF, and that’s with 0% zone starts. And they even had 10 shifts apiece in the third period.) He did not have a bad game, even tying with Giordano with three shots from the blueline.

But he’s going to be remembered primarily for that gaffe with just over a minute to go, unable to handle the puck on the power play and surrendering it, as well as position, to Marchand. Slashing the stick out of Marchand’s hands, leading to the penalty shot he scored on to give the Bruins their first lead of the game.

That was the narrative. In his first game facing his old team, any and all good he may have done was going to be erased, because he played a direct hand in the game winner.

Except the Flames somehow managed to tie it, and Bob Hartley, not phased by his defenceman’s mistake, gave him two shifts in overtime. (Giordano and Dennis Wideman had two shifts as well; T.J. Brodie had three. Brodie also played 30:58, by the by.) 

Brodie intercepted Chara’s blind pass, and he and Hamilton took off, two defencemen leading the rush with the forward trailing behind. Brodie immediately passed it up to Hamilton, who waited for Gaudreau to join them with a wide open path to the net – he passed it as soon as Chara flopped uselessly to the ice, effectively taking himself out of the play, while Brodie dragged David Krejci away, and Loui Eriksson was behind everyone – and then Gaudreau got to do his magic, and Hamilton bent down to Gaudreau’s level in celebration, probably both stoked and beyond relieved all at once.

The puck went off him as he was a touch too aggressive around his own net, giving the Stars their second goal of the game; he blasted it to score the game-tying goal to force overtime. He committed the desperate penalty, a result of his own inability to get a handle on the puck; he set up the game winner. Dougie taketh away, but then Dougie giveth back.

We could really, really do without that takething away, though.

Johnny Hat Trick. Johnny Overtime. Johnny Hockey. Johnny Gaudreau

He’s 5-foot-9, and has more names than most. He scored his second career hat trick, his first career four-point game. He has nine goals, the most on the Flames, and 17 assists, the most on the Flames. He has 26 points in 26 games, a point per game player again. He’s in a tie for eighth in overall NHL scoring, and quite probably the best player in all of hockey to have on the ice in three-on-three situations, bar none.

Brodie led the way with three overtime shifts, but Gaudreau was right up there with him, and the only forward to get more than two. He played 23:37 over the entire game, with five shots on net, second to Monahan in both categories (23:42, six). He led the way with 5:11 on the power play, and while it’s been established the Flames with an extra man are a special kind of terrible, Gaudreau is the last person to blame that on.

Without Gaudreau, the Flames aren’t in it. He had a direct had in all five goals Calgary scored, even if he only had four points to show for it. Following Marchand’s penalty shot goal, the Bruins cleared the puck from their zone three times over the course of a minute. It was nearly four times, except Gaudreau just stopped it from clearing with only eight seconds to go, and that’s what led to the game winner. If quinary assists were given out, he would have had more direct recognition for his efforts.

The Flames had 28 corsi events for at even strength when Gaudreau was on the ice (only Hamilton had more with 29), and 35 to lead the team in all situations. He was a 58.33% ES CF player; 60.34% in all situations. He led the way with three high danger scoring chances, four individual ones (tied with Monahan and Sam Bennett), and was one of several Flames to come in second with five individual corsi events apiece (Granlund led the way with six). He even finished a +4 player, if that’s your thing.

And he, you know, scored a hat trick, had an assist, was responsible for keeping the puck onside for one last gasp of hope, and is just kind of amazing in general, a budding generational talent who stands at 5-foot-9 and helped succeed in making a 6-foot-9 player look like an idiot at the start of and end of the night.

Johnny Gaudreau has 91 points in 107 games. The countdown to 100 is officially on.

The Flames are already at the bottom of the league; where the hell would they be without Gaudreau? Between him and T.J. Brodie, the Flames have cornered the market on franchise-altering fourth round picks.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    “The Flames are already at the bottom of the league; where the hell would they be without Gaudreau? Between him and T.J. Brodie, the Flames have cornered the market on franchise-altering fourth round picks.”

    And to boot, converted a player never drafted into a top-pairing defenseman, and the captain of the team.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Does anyone know of a site tracking zone entries? The Flames looked better at carrying the puck in last night, unless of course they had the man advantage (which is just plain weird).

    • No site is publicly tracking and publishing it regularly to my knowledge. Ryan *should* have an update on his tracking hopefully soon as we’re approaching 30GP this season.

      The entry problem of last season is slowly but surely being eliminated thankfully.

  • BurningSensation

    Dougie Hamilton is going to make that trade with Boston look ridiculously good for us.

    Is he flawless? No. The 2nd coming of Pronger? No. But his flaws are things he can iron out, and his assets (speed, scoring ability, size, possession, etc), are just being tapped.

    He’s going to be a cornerstone for the next decade for the Flames, a 6’5″, fast skating, powerplay running, behemoth.

    And Johnny Hockey? Players like him come once in a long, long, while. Revel in this time.

  • Canrock 78

    On a positive note. Did you see the excellent play Dougie made on the 2 on 1 early in the game.

    Also imagin if TJ did not get hurt and we had league average goal tending.We could be leading our division.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Date night with my wife and another couple. Didn’t watch the game…. sigh

    However it was on in the restaurant and I had to fight awful hard to keep interested in the conversation at the table and not appear distracted. Left just before Marchand’s penalty shot. Checked my phone later and saw we won 5-4 and realized just what a great game I missed.

    • MontanaMan

      I’ve been to plenty of social outings including weddings, out with couples or family reunions and have dug deep into my bag of tricks to disappear to a lounge to catch the game. Most of the crowd don’t miss you but my wife is onto my tricks. Still married.

  • MontanaMan

    Russell was not missed. Corsi was better without him. Nice to see Smid play well. If we keep trending into positive numbers there is less need for players with shot blocking skills.

    • MontanaMan

      Nice to see Smid have a good game but it’s a bit premature to name him a quality top 6 defenceman. I’m not sold on him as he is too erratic, lacks consistency, and is too slow for the new NHL. I personally would have kept Schlemko over him but that contract is an albatross.

  • FlamesRule

    “The puck went off him as he was a touch too aggressive around his own net, giving the Stars their second goal of the game; he blasted it to score the game-tying goal to force overtime.”

    Huh? Recycling old articles?

  • FlamesRule

    Wow what a game….definitely a blast from the past (last year). We seemed in control, then started to let the game slide and when it looked like all was lost out came the comeback kids. I loved the battle between Johnny and the little ball of hate (Marchand). Boston must be cringing knowing Johnny was in their backyard and they could have had him. Boston would be a scary team with both these dynamic players. It would have been a tough way to lose and even tougher to have Marchand win the game for Boston.

  • cgyokgn

    I was thinking the same that perhaps Hudler’s clutch game-tying goal with less than two seconds left will get him going again. Confidence seems to be a big part of goal scoring and there have been more goals recently, from Johnny (of course) and Monny, so maybe the original top line from last year can catch fire again.

  • KiLLKiND

    I just want to point out that the Flames are 5 points out of a playoff spot and have been playing much better hockey since Brodie got back. This team with Brodie is a playoff team, and the playoffs are not impossible yet a strong December unlike last years and 5 points can be made up.

    We all expected Calgary to be a fundamentally better team this year and they are. Many people even predicted Calgary to make the playoffs. If a goalie can provide average or at least not disastrous goal tending for the rest of the year This team can attempt to make a comeback.

    Forget having a “lost season” I want a season like last years not in the unsustainable wins way. But in the way the Flames showed up to play every night and at least provided entertaining games. Playing in tough games is how the team will improve in the long and short term.

    Look at Edmonton that’s what tanking does, sure there are of cases of tanking working Chicago. Take a look at Pittsburgh they have Malkin and Crosby and 1 cup and no signs of being able to win another. We have our Kane in Gaudreau and I don’t think Monahan or Bennett resemble Toews that well but they are still really good. Seabrook and Keith we got Brodie and Hamilton. We have plenty of prospects that are on the cusp of being full-time NHL players like Granlund. We don’t need another year to tank to fill out our prospect ranks. Matthews would be nice but what will be nicer is winning the cup without any 1st overall picks and showing Edmonton that losing for 10 years doesn’t mean you anything except you were the worst hockey team in the NHL for the last 10 years.

    ———- FN MODERATOR: I cleaned up your language and approved your comment, as it was pushed into the FN Sin Bin. Please clean up your language or next time I’ll just leave it in there.

  • amaninvan

    I think its high time to see some new blood on the PP. Bennett is most deserving. Jones should be seeing some minutes. Granlund has been good since his recall. Why not park Ferland out there in the slot? There are others that could be experimented with. Clearly, the same old, same old is obviously not working.

    I personally think all the talk on this site about jettisoning Hartley has been awfly premature. But his PP deployment choices during this special teams funk is simply confusing, and indefensible at this point.

    Time to shake it up.