Devils 4, Flames 2 post-game embers: Oh, well

The Flames probably could have used some of those power play goals their previous game, eh?

Don’t flatline

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.

chart

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.

Silver linings

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.

  • everton fc

    The 3rd goal should of been goalie interference, BS that it wasn’t.

    When we pulled our goalie we had all four forwards behind their net and sure enough they chipped it up the boards and scored shortly after, also thought it was a little early to pull the goalie.

    Hartley kept Wideman off the PP and we scored a few times, then when we were looking to tie it, we got a PP and who does Hartly put out but Wideman and of course we didn’t score.

    The way Hartley is utilizing this line up is maddening, to many mediocre players getting way to much ice time.

  • Kevin R

    Ari, you made it look like Burke didn’t try to get anything for Cammi. Circumstances really gutted any kind of return for him with his injuries & how he played when he returned just before the TDL. It could be way worse & some GM’s get caught in a screwed if you do & screwed if you don’t & either way the optics look bad. Yzerman right now is in a rock & hard place with Stamkos. Does he handicap his team with a monster contract some struggling team in need of an identity will gladly give Stamkos or do you let him walk for pennies on the dollar or for free. Depending what offers are, Stamkos may have more value to Tampa by helping them in the playoffs versus some conditional picks & prospects.
    Cammi is no Stamkos, so I would just keep the Cammi situation we had in perspective.

  • everton fc

    Are we simply nothing more than a .500 hockey team?

    Look at Shclemko’s #s. What was the salary/term the Devils signed him for? He seems to be doing better than some of our d-men.

    Stajan/Jones – love them both, but could Grant and Hamilton or Poirier give us more offence??

    How did the 4th line look??

    • everton fc

      Schlemko is on a 1 year/625,000 deal. Flames made a huge mistake not signing him. But I guess they figured Wideman and Russell (who are both garbage) were good enough.

      We’re a .500 team in one of the worst divisions ever. Nobody should have any delusions of playoffs at this point because it is painfully obvious how far away this team is from being a legit contender. They need, not want, NEED more high end skill and that starts by getting another high draft pick or two, continuing to develop your kids, and getting rid of the all the dead weight garbage that is currently on this team.

      Is it June yet?

      • everton fc

        Agreed. But if we go on a run, we may slip under the radar. We shall see.

        Schlemko was someone I think they should have penned for 2 years. And I’m also beginning to question our farm system, and development in general. Guys seem to be taking steps backwards. Troy G. was another I wish we’d have kept around.

        • piscera.infada

          The AHL argument is tired and overplayed. We can dispatch with that narrative.

          Yes, that team is last in their division. Yes, players on that team aren’t meteorically rising like elite blue-chip players (which none of them are). Yes, there needs to be more skilled prospects brought in. If you look at the AHL situation with discerning eyes, as opposed to simply “poor results, poor development”, there are a multitude of reasons why that team isn’t great that extend far beyond Huska’s ability to develop talent.

          But sure, keep running that tired argument out again, and again. How many AHL games have you seen with your eyes this year? How much do you know about the intricacies of the AHL game (versus junior, versus the NHL)? **[Trust me, I hate throwing out those kinds of arguments, but they’re actually relevant in this discussion. It doesn’t behove anybody to simply look at wins and losses, and some cursory points production and scream “failure”, especially when we’re dealing with very, very young talent.]

        • everton fc

          The problem with comparing the Adirondack team with Stockton is that Troy G coached to win hockey games, while Huska was asked to coach the Flames way of playing hockey.

      • piscera.infada

        While I agree signing Schlemko would have been nice. It would have surely placed the Flames in a nearly un-tenable contract situation. The biggest issue is that they currently have Wideman, Engelland, and Smid all under contract until the end of next year. All bad contracts, yes. That however, means some decent replacements for those players (like Schlemko) are going to fall through the cracks. I have no doubt that Treliving would have loved to re-sign Schlemko as a bottom-2 defenseman, but when you have three such defensemen on horrible contracts with term remaining, you can’t make it work. The last thing the Flames can afford is to have another $3+ million defenseman sitting in the pressbox every game (in Engelland or Wideman). You can’t look at those kinds of signings/non-signings in a vacuum.

  • Derzie

    The NJ visit was a reminder that current management got nothing for Cammi, Stempniak, Shlemko (and Byron). Also, further proof that we firmly in a rebuild. Time for some callups, trades and jettisons. It is looking more and more like last year was the result of Feaster and co and the Burke/Treliving effects are trending negative, including the farm team.

    • piscera.infada

      Time for some callups, trades and jettisons.

      It is looking more and more like last year was the result of Feaster and co and the Burke/Treliving effects are trending negative, including the farm team.

      It’s funny that this is the distinction you’re making. Who would be the best two players to jettison off the current roster? Wideman and Smid? Both Feaster acquisitions.

      Yes, moves are necessary, but to place a step back that we all knew was coming, squarely on the shoulders of Treliving/Burke is laughable. Some people are always going to make one-to-one correlations based off little to no evidence, because it’s easy. I’ve consistently shown why I think the current management team has proven very adept at this stage of the rebuild.

      I also remember how vehemently you were gunning to get Feaster out of town during the end of his time here.

      • supra steve

        I can sit this one out, cause you’re pretty much hitting them all out of the park.

        Add Schlemko to our current crowded (and expensive) blue line? Yeah, that’s really what this team needs.

    • Tomas Oppolzer

      Treliving wasn’t here for Cammi nor the Stempniak trade, the Bollig trade was so early in his tenure that it was almost certainly more Burke than Treliving, and Calgary couldn’t have gotten anything for Schlemko, they got him off waivers basically at the TDL last year.

      What Treliving has done though is:

      aqcuire Hamilton, sign Frolik, get 2nd and 3rd rd. picks for a player that couldn’t even get a contract this year, got a 2nd from a divisional rival for a player who couldn’t crack the roster and had requested a trade, signed Brodie to one of the best deals in the NHL, signed Giordano for 1.5 million less than he would’ve gotten on the open market, and drafted Andersson, Kylington, Mangiapane, and Karnahkov.

  • Nick24

    The power play was fine last night, but at what point do they try running a forward on the blue line? Wideman has been terrible this year, and seems to be getting worse by the day. His inability to get shots past defenders, get shots on net, or even chase down loose pucks is cringe worthy at this point.

    Russel seems to have a decent skill set for the PP. He can skate well enough and he’s, dare I say, capable of passing the puck. As long as he’s not in our zone he doesn’t appear to be that bad, but he’s definantly not ideal.

    I’d be interested to see how a defense unit of Gio – Brodie, Hamilton – Frolik would work.

    Dmitri Filipovic had Arik Parnass on the Hockey PDOcast yesterday to talk about special teams and Arik was saying that PP systems that run four forwards are objectively more effective than systems that only run three. With how our PP has been clicking this year I don’t think that it would hurt to try running a forward on one of the units, and who knows, it might actually help.