Post-Game: Lightning (Trapped) In A Bottle

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(Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports)

On Saturday night, the Calgary Flames played a smart, structured road game. On Tuesday night, the venue and opponent changed, but the script remained more or less the same. And three more periods of smart ice hockey, the Flames skated to their second straight win by a 3-1 score over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Once again, Johnny Gaudreau was held off the scoresheet. And just like on Saturday, it wasn’t an obstacle for the Flames getting two points.

THE RUNDOWN

We were treated to perhaps the most calm, composed first period of Flames hockey this season. They avoided getting hemmed into their own zone, carried the puck into the offensive end consistently and generated chances, and managed to create turnovers with smart forechecking. And they scored a goal off the rush, as T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano and Matt Stajan wandered in on an odd-man sequence, made a few nice passes, and then Stajan tapped it in to finish it off and give them the 1-0 lead. They had a few additional nice chances – notably Markus Granlund grabbed a turnover all alone but couldn’t bury it – but didn’t score any other times in the opener. Shots were 13-8 Flames, and attempts were 28-17 Flames.

Tampa pushed back a bit in the second, by which I mean they generated shots from the outside and had some decent puck possession, but the Flames did their level-best to keep them to the perimeter and really minimized gold-star scoring chances. The game opened up a bit mid-period, and the Flames took advantage with some zone time of their own. Off a Tampa turnover, they cycled the puck a bit and Giordano found David Jones at the front of the net for a nifty tip-in to make it 2-0. (Jones barely missed the net on a first-period tip-in play, so gold star for him for staying persistent.) Shots were 14-7 Tampa in the period, with attempts also going to the visitors by a 21-16 margin.

And to complete the game, we were treated to some defensive hockey. And by “hockey,” I mean the Flames went full-shell. They spent lots of time in their own zone, but never really got white-knuckle/scrambley they way they do when the play badly in their own end. Tampa was kept largely to the outside, and while the Flames pressed here and there and had some chances, you could tell that they were content to merely run out the clock. Steven Stamkos knocked in a rebound off the end-boards with a minute and a half left, but it wasn’t nearly enough and Lance Bouma scored with the net empty to ice it. Shots were 9-4 for Tampa and attempts were 21-14 for Tampa.

THE NUMBERS

(All Situations) CorsiFor% OZStart%
Bennett 37.93% 60%
Raymond 37.04% 55.56%
Wideman 45.16% 50%
Gaudreau 66.67% 50%
Smid 31.58% 50%
Monahan 66.67% 50%
Granlund 36% 50%
Colborne 65.79% 44.44%
Giordano 62% 41.67%
Hamilton 45.71% 41.67%
Backlund 48.39% 36.36%
Ferland 50% 36.36%
Russell 39.53% 33.33%
Brodie 57.14% 33.33%
Jones 53.12% 30%
Jooris 26.32% 20%
Stajan 36.36% 20%
Bouma 36.36% 16.67%

WHY THE FLAMES WON

For the second straight game, they refused to play river hockey and instead played an intelligent defensive game with a good forecheck. And when they got hemmed in late, they didn’t get all panicky like they have in the past – allowing Karri Ramo clean looks at shots rather than having a body or three in the way.

And they got goals from non-Gaudreau sources, something which seems to result in wins this season.

RED WARRIOR

Let’s go with Mark Giordano, with two primary assists on the goals Calgary scored with a goalie in the opposing net. He and T.J. Brodie were both really, really good tonight.

And let’s give the goalie credit: Karri Ramo wasn’t tested a ton, but he was good, particularly in the third period.

QUOTES

“The two guys leading the rush were our two defensemen. Sometimes we kind of play backwards, but that’s when we’re at our best. The D-men, they have the green light to jump, to create a second wave, and they’re doing a great job.” – head coach Bob Hartley discussing the first Flames goal.

“He’s an easy guy to play with. He plays hard in all areas and does everything well. He hits, he blocks shots, he plays hard. I’ve definitely taken a lot from him playing with him the last couple years, both offensively and defensively. There’s still things that I’d like to get better at, as far as getting pucks through like he does and stuff, but definitely a great role model.” – defenseman T.J. Brodie discussing playing with Mark Giordano.

UP NEXT

The Flames are back in action on Thursday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome when they host their division rivals from the desert, the Arizona Coyotes. It’s a game with playoff implications, words I didn’t think I’d be typing this season after Calgary’s abysmal October.

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A Flames win can potentially push them into a home-ice playoff spot, which just sounds insane to me.

  • everton fc

    This team, and the coaching staff – heck, the whole organization seems to have some serious, positive chemistry. Some of us question Hartley’s lineups, Colborne on the 1st line, Jooris on the bench, and so on. But we’re winning. Ramo is looking like Kipper. If he goes down, I say we run w/Ortio. If we keep playing like we did the last little while, we’ll get home ice advantage in the playoffs, for nobody else seems to want it. We do, and with a better start, we’d be in nipping at the Kings heels.

    Kudos to Arizona. Everyone thinks they double-over. Like us, they keep moving forward, though they are one team I really don’t like (Canucks and the Ducks are two others!)

  • everton fc

    So the best way to keep Johnny and Monny’s next contracts at a reasonable level is continue to play them with Colbourn for the rest of the season. How do you reward the player of the month…yup Colbourn. It is not working and it is killing the entertainment value.

  • cgyokgn

    I was nervous before this game knowing that the Flames haven’t done well against the Lightning recently. The Flames played an excellent first period, got the all-important first goal and then continued to play a smart, solid game. They didn’t take any penalties and didn’t give up a goal until the Lightning pulled their goalie. Ramo was very good as well and it was nice to get lots more secondary scoring.

    Speaking of Arizona, that is going to be a huge game. If we can win in regulation, we will tie them for second (not sure who breaks the tie).

    • MattyFranchise

      Agreed. I would love to see why Ryan Pike continually gives Ramo next to no credit game after game after game.

      The only time I’ve seen Ramo get Red Warrior is when Mike Fail did the post game blog. Ramo got a damn shut out last game and not even a mention! What more must he do?!

    • cgyokgn

      Ramo made the saves that he should and some that he shouldn’t … Which is all we ca ask. He should be commended for re-inventing himself. I thought in the last game despite the shutout a few pucks eluded him but went off the post. Tonight he jumped on the pucks in the crease and refused to let TB in the game.
      Hartley needs to throw Bennett a bone and give him some time on the top line.

  • DestroDertell

    Loved the way the game went tonight. This team is awesome to watch at home but we have to start finding ways to steal games on the road if were gonna establish ourselves in a playoff spot. Heres to a 9 game road win streak in 2016….i can wish

  • RKD

    Gio definitely looks to be back in form, nice to see the Flames play a solid 60 minutes so composed and calm and defending intelligently. Love seeing us in a playoff spot and the Oilers sitting dead last.

  • Captain Ron

    So here we are half way through the season and in a playoff spot. Back in November I had written them off for this season and conceded that last year was an anomaly (which it was to some extent). Just goes to show that as a rule some of us have a tendency to give up on them long before they give up on themselves. Even if they don’t get in to the playoffs in the end at least the hockey will be more fun to watch in the second half of the season. Much better than getting excited about the Austin Matthews sweepstakes.

    Thursdays game against the Yotes should be a good one. Have a good feeling that the Flames bring their A game to the table for that one. Would be nice if they use that game as a launching pad to gain and hold second place in the division for the rest of the year.

  • MattyFranchise

    Also, I’ve been tracking this for most of the season but here are the records to date for the Flames seven game segments:

    2-5-0
    2-4-1
    4-3-0
    4-2-1
    5-2-0
    2-2-0

    • RealMcHockeyReturns

      Thanks , I have been wondering about that since Hartley is still doing that…I think it provides value and goal-setting up well for the team to keep them pacing to a playoff spot. Basically you can never lose 3 in a row and hope to “win” a series, just like real playoffs.

  • cgyokgn

    Wes Gilbertson had an interesting article about Ramo in the Calgary Sun on January 4 and he quotes Ramo: “I think I’ve gotten my positioning way better,” Ramo said. “I think I see the puck a bit better now. I kind of think the game a little bit different, a little bit more calm. In a way, I’m a little more aggressive too, but it’s kind of different — I’m not all over the place all the time. I just try to calm things down — everything is getting a little bit slower — and try to find a balance there in when to be aggressive and when to just relax.”

    I thought it was interesting to hear that Ramo has made changes to his game that have helped him to be more successful. He’s calmer in net and is picking his spots to be aggressive. It seems to be working!

    • MattyFranchise

      Ramo has played better simply because he is the team’s number one guy. There’s no one ready to chase him out of the net right now so he’s playing with confidence and it shows.

      I truly believe that the three headed goalie monster thing is what put this team behind the eight ball at the beginning of the season.

  • MattyFranchise

    The three headed goalie monster failed on all levels. It alienated Ortio and was not handled well from the onset. Hiller played his worst hockey of his career and Ramos was punted to the minors. Ramos is playing as well as he has since coming to NHL. Ortio is hot and cold and Hiller is waiting for a trade. I bet Tree would take a do-over.

  • cgyokgn

    So now that Ramo has found his groove, how can they help Hiller to find his? He will have to play a few games as Ramo can’t play 43 in a row. It reminds me of the way it was when Kipper was still playing… his backups almost never played and the team didn’t play well in front of them.

  • Ari Yanover

    TJ Brodie. Scary scary dude. What Gaudreau is to the offence Brodie is to our D. Everything is just easy for him. To think his ceiling is miles ahead. When he wins his first Norris he may not give it back for a few years. I remember when Geo used to skate his way into grade A scoring chances and was just missing the mark… I’m thinking if this guy can start clipping the posts he’d will be a force. Enter 2014. That said, when Brodie starts understanding his manlyness he will be a God. Thank-you for our 1-2 Darryl. Much love.

    To think what that would look like if they had Bouwmeester and Hamilton as your 3-4. Meh. I’m a Poirier fan. Just not big on Cundari and Berra. I digress. Can only look ahead. Oh Feaster. Anyways.

    Go Flames Go

  • Craig

    Ramp has been good lately, but isn’t it a weird councidence that the Defense has been much better lately too? Little bit of chicken and egg, but I think a lot of it has to do with the top pairing finding its game, and Hamilton progressing as well. Also to the person that saidGio is maybe the best defenceman in the league right now, if argue that it’s Brodie! That’s a good problem to have.

    • The Fall

      As stated in the post-game show on the Fan 960, the Flames players now trust each other. This was lacking in the month of October with TJ out, Gio recovering from injury and a new Hamilton on the team.

      Give Siglet, the goalie coach kudos for convincing Ramo to move back towards the net. He sees the play in front of him better and is now more confident in the way he plays.