The Flames probably could have used some of those power play goals their previous game, eh?
It was a game. Nobody was particularly spectacular – although Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett were doing their best to create offence, with Gaudreau actually succeeding – but the Flames were never really out of it.
Except it did feel like they were at the start of the second period, when the Devils scored two quick goals – and really, if you can point to any moment of the game, that’s when the Flames were sunk. (The game winning goal was scored in that sequence and all, so.)
The second started with Michael Frolik suddenly on the top line, and he pretty much immediately turned the puck over. Suddenly all three forwards were caught in the neutral zone, the Devils had no problems walking into the offensive zone, and bam: a two-on-one with only Kris Russell back. Russell fell to the ice to try to block the pass, as he is wont to do; it failed, and Jonas Hiller let in kind of a weak one from Lee Stempniak. It was a disastrous start to the period, only compounded by the Devils scoring again just 17 seconds later.
You can debate the merits of whether the goal should have been overturned, but they don’t really matter. It counted, and the Flames had a hole to dig themselves out of early in the second, and they didn’t.
The Devils scored two quick goals to start the period; the Flames had all of three shot attempts through the first half of the period. They didn’t respond. They couldn’t really respond, except on the power play.
Also, in the game’s final 10 minutes, the Flames had five shot attempts, total. Three of them came after the empty netter. That’s not good enough by any standards, least of all when you’re down just a goal.
Power play goals…?
So, after going zero-for-five against the Edmonton Oilers, including a five-on-three and four-on-three in overtime, the Flames went ahead and went two-for-four against the New Jersey Devils. That was unexpected.
But they didn’t go four-for-four, so let’s complain anyway.
Not really – it’s difficult to complain about last night’s power play – but there are still two issues that might need addressing.
The first being: when Russell stepped onto the ice, my first thought was, “Really, Russell?” It’s not anything against him; I was just mentally checking off the boxes of who the power play defencemen should be. Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, T.J. Brodie, and… oh yeah, him. Dennis Wideman.
And just like that, I was perfectly fine with Russell being out there. He scored a goal soon after, so it all worked out.
But then, on the next power play, it was Giordano and Wideman out there on the first unit, and Wideman was a mess. His shots couldn’t get through, he was turning the puck over, and the Flames were losing valuable time due to having to go back in their own zone and retrieve it. I’m not entirely sure what it was Hamilton did that deserved being taken off of the unit for Wideman, but it didn’t work out.
The memories of Wideman’s career season are faint. Yes, he has a below average shooting percentage this year of 2.9%, but the 8.7% he posted last year probably wasn’t going to repeat itself, anyway.
Wideman is on pace for 35 points this season. He is an offensive defenceman of questionable defensive ability on the third pairing who will be 33 years old by the season’s end. He carries a cap hit of $5.25 million, and will until the end of the 2016-17 season. He is virtually untradable by merit of bloated contract and questionable play, and it’s all rather unfortunate, to say the least.
Point number two: Frolik is apparently good enough to randomly be placed on the top line, but not good enough to get power play time? I… don’t get it. Frolik played more even strength minutes than any other forward. He had 10 shifts in the third period, when the Flames were rallying to tie the game up. He’s obviously trusted.
Furthermore, I’m not entirely sure what it was Micheal Ferland did to get booted off the top line to begin with, but okay – Frolik is a good player, it’s not like he was being replaced with a scrub. But again: Ferland remained on a power play unit with Monahan and Gaudreau. Frolik played 14 seconds. There’s very little about this that makes sense.
Look at all these former Flames
Mike Cammalleri and David Schlemko went straight from Calgary to New Jersey, and the Flames had nothing to show for their departures. Brian Burke was unable to get anything of value from Cammalleri at the trade deadline back in 2014, and so, he left the Flames with nothing; the Flames were unable to re-sign Schlemko because of the bulk of terrible blueliner contracts, and so, he, too, departed with nothing but fond memories left behind in his stead. (Schlemko’s loss hurts a little less because he cost nothing to acquire, but dang if he wouldn’t be awesome on the bottom pairing once again.)
The Flames did actually get something for Lee Stempniak, though: a third round pick that they flipped for Brandon Bollig. Stempniak has 33 points in 47 games so far this season. Bollig is Bollig. So that really… turned out to not be a super great trade, overall.
All three former Flames had good performances, too. Stempniak had a goal and an assist, Cammalleri had an assist, and Schlemko played 18:43, which is more ice time than he ever got as a Flame (garbage regular season finale against Winnipeg aside).
Good for them to continue their success, at least.
RIP Matt Stajan
Credit to joecolborne8 on Tumblr for the GIF! So graceful. So majestic.
The last time the Flames were in New Jersey, Giordano tore his biceps tendon defending a one-goal lead. The Flames may have lost in New Jersey this time around, but at least they leave with a fully healthy captain. That part is good.