The way things were going, I honestly didn’t think the Flames would shut anybody out this season. It was a pretty good effort by Karri Ramo, too, keeping it a one-goal game until his team was able to bust out the offensive support in the second period.
And that’s a performance that will help out the goal differential! The Flames now have a goal differential of -20, tied for fourth worst in the NHL with Anaheim; Columbus, Philadelphia, and Edmonton are all below them. So that’s nice.
Really, what a nice little game to help showcase some of what’s on the horizon for Calgary.
Give Dougie Hamilton all the power play minutes
For the last little while, we’ve seen Dennis Wideman essentially be the king of the Flames’ power play. Not through anything he really did, just by default of him getting the most minutes and the entire game plan seemingly based on getting him to shoot.
It hasn’t worked.
When you have six power plays in a game, though, you have time to experiment. And while Wideman still got big minutes – 4:45 – he was fourth out of Flames defencemen with the man advantage. Mark Giordano led the way with 6:17, Dougie Hamilton was second with 5:50, and T.J. Brodie with 5:32. (Kris Russell got in 2:04, because why not?)
And Hamilton was easily, bar none, the best defenceman on the power play. Maybe the best Flame, period (although Micheal Ferland definitely deserves some love, more on that shortly). He scored the only goal on the power play. He set up Ferland for what would have been a sure goal had he been able to deflect it in properly. He was active from the point, leading all Flames with six individual corsi for attempts with the man advantage, and he was dangerous. Much more dangerous than Wideman has appeared this season.
Hamilton was Boston’s leading power play scorer last year for a reason. Now it’s time to start passing over the mantle of #1 power play quarterback to Hamilton – and it’s one he should hold for years with the Flames.
This is a great situation all around.
Micheal Ferland continues to prove himself
Johnny Gaudreau led the way with 7:33 in power play time, total. Joe Colborne was second for forwards with 5:50, Mikael Backlund was third with 5:18, and Ferland was fourth with 5:08, and probably the most dangerous forward out there. He led the way with four individual high danger scoring chances. He had six shots on net in total. And he led the way for the Flames with a nice 69.23% ES CF – and that’s with a 22.22% offensive zone start.
Backlund was up there with him, too. The two nearly combined for a goal against the Los Angeles Kings when Backlund found Ferland in the slot but Jonathan Quick was just a touch better; this time, it was Ferland intercepting the puck, cleanly carrying it in, and finding Backlund in the slot to chase Semyon Varlamov.
There’s the idea of making Ferland a top-six forward; there can also be the idea of him being a part of a shutdown line. It sounds silly, but a Micheal – Mikael – Michael line could actually end up being really, really awesome. We already know Mikael and Michael work well together, and some budding chemistry is evident between Micheal and Mikael, so why not?
With each passing game Ferland is definitely looking like more than just a fourth liner who hits people, though. He should develop into a force for a while yet.
No reason to scratch Josh Jooris again
It was confusing to see him scratched to begin with. At worst, Jooris is a solid depth player who tends to at least drive the puck forward, and be a valuable asset on the penalty kill. That’s not a bad thing to have in one’s bottom six at all.
In his return to the lineup, Jooris played 13:54, which was actually the third least amount out of all non-injured forwards on the Flames (that’s another thing dressing Jooris helps enable: the Flames were able to roll their lines, despite Jiri Hudler’s injury, because the remaining forwards could all be trusted to take a regular shift). He was the beneficiary of a little power play time with 1:48, and more importantly, a prominent penalty killer with 1:24 played.
That 1:24 was actually fourth on the Flames for forwards (behind Lance Bouma, Backlund, and Matt Stajan), but he was sent out regularly enough, and was good at either obstructing the Avalanche’s lanes or clearing the puck. Consider how Bouma and Backlund had corsi differentials of -6 when shorthanded; Jooris had a differential of -1. These are extremely small sample sizes, and I wouldn’t advocate taking Backlund off the kill (though I do think there’s something to be said for replacing Bouma with Granlund), but it’s always good to see someone who just got back into the lineup make an immediate positive impact. (Stajan’s differential was an even 0, for the curious.)
He also had a goal and an assist, which is nice if you’re into that sort of thing I guess.
Joe Colborne played so much
Looking at the box score after the game really surprised me, because I definitely wasn’t expecting to see Colborne be the only Flames forward to play over 20 minutes (20:29, to be exact). He wasn’t particularly noticeable even with all that time he had; off the top of my head I recall one instance of him giving the puck away in the offensive zone and hauling ass back into his own end to correct his mistake, but that’s about it.
One shot on net over all that time. And again, so much time spent on the power play (he has now played 63:16 on the power play this season, ninth out of all Flames players. He has zero power play points. The eight guys ahead of him all have at least three. Backlund, who has played 37:18 on the power play, also has three. I’m not quite sure why we keep trying this so hard, but at least Bob Hartley could afford to experiment this game, so whatever).
It’s just weird. To quote Mean Girls: “Stop trying to make Joe Colborne happen. He’s not going to happen,” at least not in such a prominent role. I mean, Ferland played about six fewer minutes and was a constantly visible force out there.
(Total speculation on my part, but Colborne is an RFA after this season. Is he someone the Flames try to deal? I genuinely don’t have a clue what the plan might be with him – this is a team that has a lot of depth forward options, and Colborne has probably gotten more chances than anyone to prove himself a top-six guy and hasn’t really done much with it.)
I will love you forever Jarome
Alex Tanguay had that nice feed to Jarome Iginla late in the first period and I was convinced that was going to be #600 and it would have been beautiful and perfect but then Wideman got in the way really excellently (reminded me of Lucic on Brodie the other game, actually) and stopped it and that let Ramo keep the shutout in what was still a 1-0 game so it was an important block but DANG if that wasn’t a conflicting moment for me internally.
I know this has nothing to do with the Flames but dangit Iggy is special and 600 goals is special. Though this reminded me of when he was chasing #500 way back when the World Juniors were in Calgary, so the Flames were on a long road trip that ended with Boston beating them 9-0, and you were just like, “… Please don’t get #500 in this worst game ever,” and instead he got it the very next game back at home.
The Avalanche don’t play in Calgary again until March 18, so he’s probably not scoring his 600th goal here. But they do play the Lightning in five games, and I guess that would be fitting.
… OR, if the Flames are still looking for top six forward options, maybe Iggy is the answer?? I’m sorry. I know he’s not. Games against him are emotional and I am accordingly getting carried away. He is still beautiful. I really enjoyed this story. Have a good Sunday, friends.