Post-Game: Live by the Stretch Pass, Die by the Stretch Pass

The Calgary Flames saw their home winning streak come to a crashing halt this evening at the Scotiabank Saddledome, as the Anaheim Ducks clogged up the neutral zone and disrupted the stretch pass – a lot – en route to a 1-0 win.

The Flames never seemed to get out of the starting blocks in this one, and by the time they finally got their legs moving and started generating chances, it was late in the third period and their window of opportunity to tie the game was rapidly closing.

And then that window slammed shut completely, and the Flames were shut out for the second time this season.

THE RUNDOWN

This is gonna be a short one, folks.

Nobody scored in the first or the third period. In the first, the Flames fought the puck and made several ugly giveaways, to the point where Karri Ramo had to make a few nice saves to keep the game dead-locked. Shots were 6-4 Anaheim in the first and they had a narrow 11-10 attempt lead as well.

The second period featured a goal late, as the Flames ran around in their zone a little too often and Rickard Rakell found Shawn Horcoff with a nice pass for a one-timer that Ramo had no chance on. Shots were 11-3 Anaheim and attempts were 26-6 in the second. The Flames were lucky to have only given up that one goal, as many Ducks sojourns into the Flames end ended up with shots going off a foot or just missing the net.

The third saw the Flames push back a bit. They got a few good looks – Sam Bennett had a really good shift that saw him ring a shot off the post – but they couldn’t beat John Gibson, even with the goalie pulled and with an extra man after a late Jiri Sekac puck-over-glass penalty. Alas, the game ended 1-0. Shots were 7-4 for the home side and the Flames also had a 15-7 attempts edge.

For what it’s worth, there was a bit of a scrum at the end of the game, too, as Ryan Kesler shot on an empty net post-buzzer and Dennis Wideman got involved in some fisticuffs. We’ll see if the league says anything about it, as it was generally silly all-around and nobody came out looking particularly good – the team that got shutout after generating only 14 shots or the dum-dum that shot after the buzzer.

THE NUMBERS

(All situations!) CorsiFor% OZStart%
Gaudreau 58.82% 58.82%
Monahan 50% 56.25%
Hudler 60.71% 56.25%
Wideman 36% 50%
Brodie 42.11% 40%
Ferland 62.5% 37.5%
Hamilton 59.38% 36.36%
Giordano 60% 30.77%
Russell 32.26% 30%
Backlund 57.89% 25%
Colborne 47.62% 16.67%
Bouma 6.67% 14.29%
Stajan 8.33% 14.29%
Engelland 4.76% 14.29%
Bollig 16.67% 14.29%
Jones 0% 0%
Granlund 9.09% 0%
Bennett 35.71% 0%

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

The Flames lost because the Ducks smothered their system, completely negating, frustrating and disrupting their stretch passes with some smart neutral zone play, and disrupting their attempts at clean zone entries with some smart positional defense at their own blueline. It took the Flames until mid-way through the final period to come up with an answer for it, and by then it was far too late.

14 shots on goal is a season-low for the Flames, by the way.

RED WARRIOR

Karri Ramo made 20 saves and was really sharp in the first two periods to keep the game close, so let’s give it to him. Sam Bennett is an honourable mention, as he was also strong – especially in the third period.

As for everyone else, they had some energy here and there, but their execution was way, way off. Case in point: they won 59% of their draws but completely mismanaged the puck from there on out.

QUOTABLE

“The game is over, it doesn’t change anything. It gives you guys a few subjects of conversation, but we lost the game one-zip. That’s what it is.” – Bob Hartley on the fracas at the end of the game.

“You just have to come back. At some point we’ve got to come back and start going as a five-man unit from our blueline and chipping with speed. No matter what you do, you can’t carry the puck in when they play like that, they’re standing on their blueline, four guys basically, so you’ve got to chip [with] speed. I thought we did a better job in the third, generating some chances on our power-plays, but we couldn’t find the answer.” – Mark Giordano on how the team needed to adjust to the Ducks’ disruptive play in the neutral zone.

UP NEXT

The Flames polish off their 2015 calendar year with their first meeting of the season with Darryl Sutter and the Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Kings on New Year’s Eve.

  • redhot1

    One of the worst games of ice hockey I have ever seen. If you showed this to a new fan of hockey, they probably would never watch another game.

    And those are some ugly, ugly corsi numbers. It seems Russell was hemmed in his own zone every single shift.

  • I’m super unimpressed with that Kesler stunt at the end. What an unsportsmanlike move. I’m glad the team stood up against him for that garbage.

    Otherwise, the only real positive was Sam Bennett. Let him play more.

  • cgyokgn

    Well I didn’t have a chance to watch or listen to the game (driving back to Canada) so I can only look at the stats. Seven shots over two periods, really? So disappointing they couldn’t get one goal… it’s been a while since they’ve been shut out. Very disappointing, especially playing at home.

    Next up, the Kings, who have flattened both Vancouver and Edmonton, scoring 10 goals in two games! The Flames will need to play much better to win.

  • cgyokgn

    Yeah I got no problem with Wideman giving the classless Kesler a knuckle lunch, I just wish it had happened in the first when Kesler was playing whack-a-mole on JG’s gloves.
    Might have got the teams blood flowing….

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Uuuggghhh…that was painful to watch. I would rather lose a game than win the way Anaheim did. I feel bad for the Anaheim fans, after last year they had heightened expectations.

    At what point does Hartley recognize that the top line needs some grit against the big physical teams. There is no possession without it. Unfortunately, it will be tough to win these types of games when Bennett and Ferland only get 12 minutes in a game. Need to make the change before the LA game.

  • Kevin R

    What a horrible game to be at. We just didn’t have it all night. Pucks bouncing over sticks, passes in the skates or slightly behind, errant passes all over the place. I usually defend Colborne because I think he gets a little too much venom when he shouldn’t but he was horrible. On the power play he just stood there for like 12 seconds, didn’t move, just watched. They never skated until maybe the last 3-4 minutes. If they skated, Aaheim would have been taking penalties left & right. Even Johnny, who usually has that puck on a string had it hopping over his stick. Tough night….. sucks, a win would have been huge.

  • piscera.infada

    Looks like Boudreau has Hartley figured out. The Ducks who have lost to both Carolina and Buffalo this season just seem to dominate Calgary. If people are still on the Hartley bandwagon then it’s games like these that show what kind of coach Hartley really is. If a smaller team like Chicago which purely relies on skill can beat Anaheim in a seven game series, then more grit, size, and truculence are not the answers to improving this team.

    First step in becoming serious contenders…better coaching!

  • MontanaMan

    With the exception of Ramo, the Flames laid an egg. And it hasn’t happened for a very long time, but Gaudreau really struggled last night, turning the puck over several times and making bad decisions. I’m not bothered by it – the team has played well and likely due for a stinker.

    • piscera.infada

      I agree. Even the best teams have other teams that they just don’t match up well against. Honestly, a game like that is where a still rebuilding organization needs one of their veterans to score a big goal.

      Anaheim, for all their problems this year, still remains one of the best defensive clubs in the game. They’ve surrendered the 3rd fewest goals in the entire league. They played a perfect road game. That will happen to every team in the league at some point.

      The Flames simply need to rebound well against the Kings tomorrow. Go Flames.

  • piscera.infada

    On another note, Bennett is about to break out in a big way. The kid has been a juggernaut the last handful of games, and has nothing really to show for it. It’s coming. Mark my words.

    • Kevin R

      I agree. Bennett is going to be a star player for Calgary. He has incredible moves. I think his problem is that he ttys so hard to make these hi-light moves & show he belongs, he is not aware of the other guys on the ice the way he should be & therefore doesn’t use the other guys to elevate his game even further. I think that is why Hartley hasn’t played him on the first PP unit & not given him the ice time many believe he should get. The kid is going to be good, we just need a sidekick for him the way Johnny & Money seemed to have established. Tre needs to get a high end forward for Bennett, what we have isn’t there yet. But I sure do like Ferlands game.
      Bouma seems a little lost out there.

    • MontanaMan

      Agree and to provide a little balance to the anti-Hartley crowd, Bennett is being brought along slowly just like Monahan and Gaudreau. By teaching instead of tossing him into the fire, the Flames coaching staff (Hartley and all assistants) are teaching the NHL game to Bennett, meaning all three zones. It has proven beneficial to other youngsters in the Flame system and will for Bennett as well. Unlike our neighbors to the north who throw first round picks onto the first line, never teach them the game and wonder why they haven’t progressed at the rate expected.

  • Cfan in Vic

    I remember watching a Flames/Devils game with my dad at the dome, when I was a lad. Lemaire coached the most horrendous trap game, I recall being so frustrated with that 1-0 loss that I wanted to punch someone.

    Haven’t seen a worse game until last night. It was just like 90’s Devil hockey. Obviously, the Flames didn’t have their best game (Hudler, Colbourne… Looking at you guys), but man, that was a horrible display of the most entertaining spectator’s sport.