Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports
The Flames played what very well might have been their worst period of the season, and came away with a win.
I mean, obviously that win was in overtime, and without the aid of special teams; but hey, that’s what T.J. Brodie and Johnny Gaudreau are for.
Oh my god that first period was so bad
It took the Flames 8:04 to get their first shot attempt of the game. For eight minutes and four seconds they were so badly hemmed in their own zone, or so badly thwarted on the rush, Pekka Rinne could have done some shots and still not have had to worry about anything.
Seriously, it took the Flames three minutes and five seconds to direct a single puck anywhere remotely near Rinne’s way after Cody Hodgson opened the scoring.
The Flames ramped things up a little towards the period’s end (at least before flatlining when they got their first power play of the game, as they are wont to do), and came out of the first period outshot 12-5, out-corsied 28-8, and trailing by just 1-0, somehow, off only a penalty shot goal.
Karri Ramo managed to stop 21 of 22 on the night, and did some serious work to keep the Flames in the game. I’m not going to deny I still wasn’t occasionally afraid whenever the puck went his way, particularly in the third period, but Pekka Rinne was way more scary with his leaving a wide open net four times or so throughout the night.
Ramo kept his team in the game. Ramo out-dueled Rinne. And the Flames were forunate they were still within striking distance after what may very well have been their worst period of the year.
Oh my god the power play is so bad
The Predators took four penalties.
The first came at the end of the first period, right when the Flames had just been starting to get a bit of momentum going, and completely killed it.
The second and third came simultaneously, giving the Flames a full two-minute five-on-three. They had one shot. And really, they should have had one goal to go with it – that puck crossed the line – but they didn’t. And they absolutely deserve fault for that, because when you have that golden an opportunity to score, just one shot on net isn’t going to cut it.
the flames 5-3 looks like that a 5-4 PP should look like.
— Jess (@mcbellis) December 16, 2015
I will say this, though: the commentators talking about how Sam Bennett didn’t celebrate after what would have been his sixth goal of the season was bizarre. I’m glad he didn’t. Play until the horn or the whistle, and when neither goes off, don’t waste your time looking like an idiot when you could be trying to score. If the NHL thought it was inconclusive, then Bennett’s arms in the air wouldn’t have changed that.
(James Neal is garbage, by the way, and has clearly shown no intentions of ever learning from or reforming his dirty play. He needs a Raffi Torres-sized book thrown at him.)
The fourth power play came at the end of the game, and you just knew it was going to overtime as soon as it happened.
Nashville wouldn’t even let them enter the zone, let alone generate actual chances.
So that’s now 15 straight power plays without a goal, or one for 28, or two for 43. They have a success rate of 11.1% with the extra man. This is beyond absurd.
Oh my god T.J. Brodie and Johnny Gaudreau are so good
The debate for just who is actually the Flames’ best player starts and ends with these two. Absolutely nobody else in a Flames jersey even comes close to the discussion.
Brodie played 23:40. He didn’t lead the Flames in ice time primarily because he isn’t on the power play’s first unit; although, considering the state of the power play and the fact he’s in the running for the Flames’ best player, maybe he should be?
Brodie took away in the beginning by fouling against Hodgson, giving him a penalty shot, but he gave back with his own goal later on – one that only had the chance to happen because he kept the puck in the zone to begin with, and had the presence of mind to go into the wide open slot the Preds left for him.
He’s now very, very quietly on a seven-game point streak, having picked up a bunch of assists that started when the Flames played their dismal game in San Jose, and lasted throughout the entire homestand – and now, then some. With 14 points, he’s tied with Dennis Wideman for the team lead in defencemen scoring, and that’s with nine fewer games played and without a lot of power play time.
He also had an ES CF of 52.63%, just one of four Flames to be a positive possession player at even strength.
Johnny Gaudreau, meanwhile, played 23:04, the most out of all forwards. Even though he got a lot of power play time – 5:33 – he’s far from the problem on the man advantage. Gaudreau was often the only guy who could even enter the offensive zone, and there were a couple of instances where as soon as he had all this space created, he had nobody to give the puck to because his teammates are all inferior to him.
The problem with Johnny Gaudreau is once he draws all the opposition in towards him, whoever he dishes it off to is not Johnny Gaudreau
— Santa Lakovic (@bookofloob) December 16, 2015
it’s a real issue. He’ll create so much space for himself and then pass it off to Kris Russell, which is where hockey goes to die
— Santa Lakovic (@bookofloob) December 16, 2015
Kris Russell totally murdered a couple of plays he was trying to set up earlier in the game. Thank goodness he scored that overtime winner, because flubbing that would have been grounds to just leave him behind at the arena.
(Although it was awesome to see them hug each other, because they’re almost the same size.)
(Also, you know how Gaudreau has had a number of plays so far this season where he’s able to outsmart the opposing defender at the blueline and keep the puck onside? Ryan Ellis, who is also pretty small, forced him offsides. This doesn’t really mean anything, I just thought it was funny.)
Gaudreau has now been directly involved in seven of the Flames’ eight overtime wins. He has 97 career points in 111 games.
Dougie Hamilton is the Flames’ third defenceman and needs to be played as such
Dougie Hamilton led the Flames with a 62.96% ES CF. There were times throughout the night he was the only positive possession Flame at even strength, and by a considerable margin (think 69% near the end of the second period, and Joe Colborne was the runner up at 50%).
He also played 19:23, fourth on the Flames in defencemen for ice time, with just 10 more seconds than Wideman.
Wideman played 5:00 on the power play, for all the good that did them, while Hamilton got in a mere 27 seconds. Wideman also played 1:54 on the penalty kill, a situation Hamilton seemingly is not allowed to partake in, even though there’s reasonable evidence to believe he has the potential to succeed in the role.
Hamilton was quietly one of the Flames’ best players of the night, has been one of the better defenders outside of his disastrous start, and isn’t being played as such. He played better away from Russell (60.00% ES CF with compared to 71.43% without; Russell was 55.56% without).
Russell didn’t have a terrible night, but he’s a worse player than Hamilton, and Hamilton has the much brighter and, hopefully, longer future on the Flames than Russell does, so it’s about time to start playing him in a manner that reflects that. He’s going to have to be used eventually; what’s he going to do on the bench?