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But they failed.
In a one-goal game in which they had four power play opportunities and the opposition had none.
So it’s kind of easy to see where the blame goes, here.
They really did try, though
Falling behind 2-0 early is never a recipe for success, and to be sure, Vladimir Tarasenko and Colton Parayko embarrassed the Flames to start. Worse yet, they embarrassed the Flames’ best players, as their top pairing – and T.J. Brodie in particular – were out-duelled twice in just the first four minutes.
This is what happens when you have a slow start, though. Calgary was lucky it didn’t fall behind by much when Nashville and Dallas both outplayed them to start the first two road trip games. The Blues, a team they’ve had issues with for a while now, though, were nowhere near as merciful and/or incompetent.
But that’s not to say the Flames ultimately deserved the loss they were handed. They ended up outshooting the Blues 38-22, and out-corised them 65-49. Sure, some of that falls under score effects, and some under special teams, but the Flames were legitimately trying to get back into the game, and were doing a good job of getting chances.
Johnny Gaudreau had six shots, Mark Giordano had five, Dennis Wideman had four, and another five players had three. Only four players – Brodie, David Jones, Markus Granlund, and Sam Bennett – failed to actually register a shot on net, but Granlund and Bennett were both involved in a handful of chances.
They fell behind. They worked their way back in it. Part of that involved forcing the Blues to take a bunch of penalties, and there’s where you can really point the blame: because if the Flames had so much as a quarter-competent power play, they would have at least gotten a point out of tying the game.
Four power plays, zero goals.
The Flames have scored 10 power play goals – last in the league; second last are the Anaheim Ducks with 14 – over 97 opportunities. That is a success rate of 10.3%, and I have full confidence they will fall to single digits next game.
We are well past the point of ridiculousness here. We are seeing an effort so hilariously futile, we’re at the point where the Flames would probably genuinely be better served to commit an infraction the second their power play starts and get two minutes of four-on-four play instead. Just dive or something on the call so you have to go off for two minutes as well.
Gaudreau led the way with 4:51 of power play time, and that’s nice to see, because he is not, and never will be the problem when it comes to the Flames’ offensive futility.
Second and third for forwards were Mason Raymond (4:34) and Joe Colborne (3:55).
Let me rephrase: second and third for forwards were Mason “former perpetual healthy scratch” Raymond and Joe “fourth liner at best” Colborne.
Just because Gaudreau is the team’s top offensive talent does not mean he is literally a wizard. He cannot actually drag up those who have struggles and deficiencies of their own and magically bring them up to his level. Playing him with anybody but the Flames’ best serves no purpose but to kill time, and when you’re on the power play, you aren’t supposed to be doing the other team’s job for them.
Then, there’s the defence. Kris Russell (4:23) led the way. Russell getting some power play time is fine, whatever; Russell getting the most is inexplicable. Brodie, who is the team’s top defenceman – both defensively and offensively – played just 2:39. Only Dougie Hamilton of regular power play goers played less, clocking in at 2:20.
So you have the Flames’ two youngest defencemen, the guys who are likely going to be leading the defence core for the foreseeable future, both with offensive flair, and they’re deemed less worthy to a hopeless power play’s cause than an impending free agent who is going to cost way too much to re-sign and will likely not be worth his future contract, Dennis Wideman (who, surprisingly enough, has thus far failed to replicate the career high 8.7% shooting percentage he had last season; who could have ever seen that coming. Also he’ll be 33 years old by the time the season is over), and Mark Giordano (fair enough, he actually scored yesterday).
One last nail in the coffin. There were three players who got zero power play time. The first was Deryk Engelland, which I’m sure we can all agree was an obvious and sensible conclusion to draw. The second was Josh Jooris who, okay, he was oft a healthy scratch and now he plays on the top line so evidently we have no clue what he’s supposed to be or do or what his role is.
And the third guy was Sam Bennett.
Colour me shocked that a power play with completely inexplicable, asinine player usage can’t score, even when they’re given four chances.
All it would have taken was one goal to tie the game. The Flames had eight minutes that are, in theory, supposed to work strictly in favour for this cause and they did absolutely nothing with them.
That’s 13% of an entire NHL game telling Calgary, “Hey, you guys, score now!” and they couldn’t.