Post-Game: The Devil’s Hands Are Idle Play Things

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(Ed Mulholland / USA Today Sports)

Already smarting from a shootout loss in Edmonton on the weekend, the Calgary Flames got out to an 0-1-1 start on their five-game road trip by virtue of a 4-2 loss in Newark to the New Jersey Devils.

The Flames never led the game and weren’t amazing at even-strength, relying on their special teams to keep the game close. Their attempted third period comeback never quite got where it needed to go against a composed Devils squad, and so the Flames failed to gain any points in the Western Conference playoff race.

THE RUNDOWN

The opening frame was characterized by wild swings and chances both ways. The Devils had momentum early and could’ve buried Calgary in the first chunk of the game, but a few goal posts (and Jonas Hiller) kept things close. Adam Larsson opened the scoring five minutes into the period after he snuck in from the point and one-timed a Reid Boucher pass past Hiller. The Flames responded back on the power-play (thankfully), as Sean Monahan put a Johnny Gaudreau feed in the net behind Cory Schneider. Shots were 10-9 for the Devils, while shot attempts were 19-17 for the home side as well.

Man, the wheels nearly fell off in the first couple minutes of the second period. The Devils went after them early, with Mike Cammalleri finding Lee Stempniak for the go-ahead goal just 57 seconds in. Then they scored again on a weird play, involving Mark Giordano getting shoved into Hiller and then Boucher scoring to make it 3-1. The Flames protested but the goal was upheld. The Flames weathered a storm for awhile, but soon got a succession of power-plays – they had three right after the other, including a brief 5-on-3 – allowing Kris Russell to score from the point to make it 3-2. Shots were 11-8 for the Devils, while the home club also had a 16-12 shot attempt edge.

The Flames pushed hard in the third, but the Devils defended pretty well and didn’t give up too many good chances. Shots were 11-4 Calgary and attempts were 16-14 for the Flames, but they just couldn’t get anything on the board. Andy Greene scored on the empty net to ice it.

To cheer you up from this loss, here’s a Futurama clip:

THE NUMBERS

(All situations) CorsiFor% OZStart%
Gaudreau 55.56% 75%
Raymond 57.14% 75%
Hudler 64.71% 75%
Hamilton 50% 72.73%
Monahan 58.82% 70.59%
Ferland 57.58% 61.54%
Russell 43.9% 54.55%
Frolik 34.48% 54.55%
Giordano 48.72% 52.38%
Smid 53.33% 50%
Granlund 55% 50%
Wideman 46.88% 42.86%
Backlund 32.26% 37.5%
Bennett 32.14% 37.5%
Brodie 43.59% 35.29%
Jones 41.18% 16.67%
Colborne 52.63% 0%
Stajan 30.77% 0%

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

Well, despite the Flames getting bailed out by their power-play to some extent, they just weren’t all that good at even-strength. The Devils generated enough chances 5-on-5 to get a lead, and then played smart defensive hockey to hold on.

It helps that they managed to key in on Bennett and Gaudreau and negate them to some extent.

RED WARRIOR

While he wasn’t amazing at even-strength, Johnny Gaudreau had a pair of primary assists on the power-play and was buzzing whenever he got the puck. So let’s give it to him.

Other than Gaudreau, nobody was particularly terrible, but nobody was good enough to be a difference-maker either.

UP NEXT

The Flames (20-21-3) are off to Ohio for a visit with Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night!

Here’s a fond Columbus memory, gang:

  • RedMan

    Maybe not a great result, but I am hoping that other GMs have noticed that Russell scored and, um, Colborne had positive corsi with 0% o-zone starts I guess.

    Silver linings

  • RedMan

    Working late. .ah very good a nice close loss. Gracefully back into that High juicy lottery talent we desperately need. No sense fooling ourselves. Great game again Backlund. .at what point do we openly mock him for his shooting %? He should dip below 6 for the yeat next game..

  • cgyokgn

    Well, I wasn’t able to follow the game tonight which is just as well. Of course, former teammates come back to haunt us. Stempniak has been a good fit with the Devils and I believe Cammy leads them in scoring. I didn’t think that Hiller was to blame for any of the goals. The first one, Larsson was left all alone in the slot, the second was a really nice passing play from Cammy to Stempniak (after a Flames turnover) and the third, Gio got pushed into the net, not allowing Hiller to make a save.

    So, along with the Oilers and Ducks, the Flames have only won six games on the road! They need to turn it around in Columbus and Carolina.

    • RedMan

      “They need to turn it around on the road..”

      Or do they??? Now that Nugey is crippled up you just know the Coil faithful are licking their chops seeing that as a good enough reason to complete Tank 2016 under the guise of “injuries”

      • cgyokgn

        But McDavid is returning after the All Star break to save them.

        Honestly, I think we’re already too far behind San Jose/Arizona but I just want to see them play hard and win more games than they lose.

        • KACaribou

          I get what you’re saying man, I do. I’m just so weary and tired of it. Always middle of the pack, never good enough to make the playoffs, never horrendous enough to glean that big talent oly found at the top levels of a draft. Sure we’ve had relative success but this middle of the road is getting tough to take. I am ready to concede..especially as we need to clear some garbage contracts off the books before there is a real chance of anything. 2 more off seasons to go and I think we will be hitting our window

          • McRib

            One only has to watch Chicago, Washington, LA, Dallas, etc to realize how far off we are from actually being competitive to win the Stanley Cup. Anyone who thinks differently is in major denial, we are talking about having to have the depth to get through four best of seven playoff series. The Top. 5 of the Draft this year is shaping up to be great, I don’t want to watch Edmonton land another top pick and us miss out on one of the highly talented forwards available. I’m glad our goaltending has come back down to earth from last season. How many years did Kipper make us mediocrely competitive when we should have been drafting Top. 5 (I take solace in the fact that Vancouver’s goaltending is doing it to them this year)? People can blame our goaltending all they want this year, fact of the matter is this team wouldn’t win more than a playoff round with the best goaltender in the world. Not with a 4-6 defensive core of Russell, Wideman, Engelland and no legit long term offensive talent outside of three forwards who just started shaving.

          • Kevin R

            I think this road trip is going to sway us over to the seller’s market if Tre hasn’t already decided we are sellers & is just waiting for peak prices closer to the TDL. Carolina & Columbus are the exact teams that we should be able to win & pick up the valuable points but instead we see a performance like tonight. Maybe that’s why Hiller is starting to get auditioned, to me clearly, Ramo should have started to night.

  • aflame13

    The Flames just need smarter players. Russel should’ve seen that play coming from a mile away on the first goal. I do it all the time on NHL 09. It’s sad.

    • RedMan

      totally agree, Russell was puck watching and the guy came right up behind him… I actually credit Russell with two goals against for his coverage breakdowns.

  • Victoria Flames Fan

    First game I’ve missed watching this year. Was the third goal legit? They seem to think so on the sportsnet replay but looks like goalie interference to me?

    No?

    • CofRed4Life

      No, it wasn’t. Gio was shoved into Hiller and the puck was kicked, no sorry, “guided” into the net without the aid of a stick. Yes, I am going to go there, being in NJ, the goal stood.

  • KACaribou

    Many players out of sync tonight; Jones, Frolik, Brodie, Hudler, Raymond. I wouldn’t blame the coach, when he started changing up lines, that’s when the team started coming on. You can blame him and Russel all you want, but those 5 just could not get it going tonight.

  • cgyokgn

    The only thing that’s gonna piss me off more this year than this teams inconsistent play this year is when we finish lower in the standings than the oilers and they still get to pick before the flames at the draft

    • cgyokgn

      Haha. This. So much this.

      I love the flames BECAUSE they are a “blue collar” team. Always grinding, smart drafting and development, very little drama. Classy franchise.

      But seriously if the Oilers draft higher than us this year I won’t even know what to do with myself.

  • cgyokgn

    So the PP was good tonight… it sure has been up and down… terrible against the Oilers and good tonight against the Devils who are 82% on the PK (10th in the league) so going two for four on the PP was good. Unfortunately, our five on five play left something to be desired.

  • Truculence

    Oh no, the sky is falling! Cigarettes raped my mother and killed my father! The apocalypse is nigh!!

    Some of the comments on this site remind me of Oilernation for, well, the last ten years.

    Chill, this is year 3 and a high draft pick will aid in the rebuild. Our goaltending and coaching sunk us at times this year, but there has been positive development from all of our young guns. I fully expect Bennett, Gaudereau, Monahan, and Hamilton to be better next year, as none of them are even 23 yet!!!!!!!!!!

    Hopefully, a high draft pick this year and the addition of a top 6 RW via a trade or free agency, as well as the addition of an average goaltender, will put us over the top next year.

    We got nowhere to go but up, and our gradually improving corsi and fenwick over the last 3 years attests to this fact.

    We do need better coaching and systems, though, as we cede the neutral and defensive zones far too easily on a nightly basis.

    • piscera.infada

      Exactly correct. Any sober-minded Flames fan knew the short-comings and perceived strengths of this team coming into the season. A young (and somewhat incomplete) core is exactly what we are watching–marked by inconsistency game-to-game and period-to-period, a team that can lose leads, play down to their opponents, and play up to their opponents, a team that is still trying to figure out how to win on a consistent basis.

      The point is, yes, the organization was sunk in some ways by a horrible start, and as such, are plagued by these inconsistencies. The positive is, with how bad the division is, they can still play meaningful games into March, and still be in a position to draft high in order to address some of their deficiencies.

      The single biggest positive for me though, is that we have a management team that I feel fully confident in their ability to address organizational deficiencies–this will be huge moving forward. Take last offseason for example. Everyone, everywhere said one thing about the Flames team: “they need to address defensive depth moving forward (young, skilled defensemen who can grow into valuable players)”. What did management do? They were able to bring in Hamilton, Andersson, and Kylington, and immediately bolstered that area into the future. Sure, they haven’t paid immediate dividends (in terms of on-ice success), but we can safely say it shows a very calculated decision to address exactly what is incomplete with the organization.

      This season? Impact wingers and goaltenders. Now, I’m under no illusions that addressing all that will be easy (or even possible) in one offseason, but I also have no doubt that like last year’s defensemen, the organization knows exactly what it needs. Now, whether it comes through trade or the draft is a matter of debate, but at this time last year when everyone was saying we need a “Dougie Hamilton type player in our system”, I’m not sure many thought we’d actually end up with that player in our system.

      This was my biggest issue with the “rebuild” tag. Fans always like to say “we’ll rebuild, we’ll be good”, but I’m not sure how many fans are actually ready for the up-and-down nature of rebuilding a professional franchise. There is no formula, there is no exact science. The biggest thing you need is a management team that is able to diagnose on the fly, and not rely on one means of accumulating talent–whether that be trades, free agency, or the draft. Again, it’s so easy to say “rebuild: draft high”, but it’s not that easy in practice, when you have young players trying to establish themselves, and veterans trying to protect their professional careers.

      I really like the direction of this team right now (heartbreaking and downright irritating losses, or not). It will take some time though–the relatively meteoric rise of the Blackhawks is not the norm, whereas the toiling and tinkering of the Kings, Blues, Lightening, et al. is. There will need to be some changes for the Flames to be one of those success stories, but that goes with the territory. It pains me when I read these comments, and some paint this team as if they should be competing for a cup, while others paint a picture that the only thing that will save us from years of mediocrity is a sole high pick. Just be honest with what you’re watching night-in, night-out: a young team with a long way to go, and an organization trying to guide everything through its infancy.

    • Kevin R

      Some fans are, but I wouldn’t trash on disappointed fans too much. We did go to round 2 in the playoffs, we did make a huge trade acquisition & free agent signing that was to address the regression thing, we are spending up close to the cap compared to last year & the players, management & coaches undoubtably had much higher expectations this year. So I think your first sentence in your post is about as drama oriented as the disappointed fans.

      But, we have had a lot of positives to look at & yes our glaring weaknesses have also been exposed. That’s OK. I totally support the Flames efforts last summer to speed up this rebuild & I think they have despite where we currently placing in the standings. We have some contract management to purge & the need to get some of our young future core to get locked up into decent contracts. This type of maintenance will probably be more of a priority than being able to acquire an impact forward via trade.

      I’m not a hockey executive, but when I look at this team, I know I would do the following:

      1/Trade the UFA contracts for best value possible of picks/youth

      2/ Use some of our current assets we already have a pretty good grasp on that may not be fitting or need a chance in another team’s situation & move them with some contracts we need to get rid of.

      3/ I would be prepared to move some significant assets to try & get 2 top 5 picks (hoping we have 1 already) & Burke can pull some magic on scoring the Fin forwards the way he did the Sedins. Now that would be fun to watch.

  • EvanW

    I think we are reaching that point where the Flames should start thinking about tanking for a better draft pick, even if we make the playoffs it will be a quick exit, we are not winning the Stanley Cup this year

    Top 3 right now are Matthews, Puljujarvi and Laine, all 3 would look good in red

    I think the Flames should try and trade Hudler, Colborne and Russell, maybe Jones and get some picks and bring up some kids to get some experience, lets’ see what Arnold, Agostino, Hathaway, Grant,Kulak, etc. have, besides its not like Stockton is lighting it up these days

  • Craig

    The best thing that could happen for this team is to pick up a top flight right winger in the upcoming draft. But even then it’ll be a couple of years before that player is truly ready. I think it’s Laine that’s the right wing? Hopefully we can luck out and get him, since he’s been playing in a men’s league he may be a bit more NHL ready.

    I’m not saying we’re going to for sure miss the playoffs, I just think that would be the best thing to happen for this team. We’re very close to being competitive, one more elite top 6, and a bit more serviceable 4th defenceman and were there.

  • cgyokgn

    In case anyone was watching Kerby Rychel scored his first goal for Columbus last night. I was hoping that there would be some trade movement while we were in Columbus. It is likely, Columbus is going to keep playing him to see if he can continue to contribute offensively or build up his trade value. He is scoring at slightly less than 0.5 per game which is not horribe but he wants out.

    I am not sure if he has any better offensive upside than the others we have tried on our top line….but I think he woud be a good acquisition for the right price. The right price should be Granlund and Colbourne (second rounder and first rounder respectively in their draft years) for Rychel and 4th rounder.

    Granlund is still young with an unknown ceiling. If he ever plays wing instead of Center he may surprise a lot of people. Colbourne was a first rounder who is still young, likely has reached his ceiling but is dependable with a big frame and good skating. Both players can be used on the PK effectively and the PP in moderation. Rychel has not accomplished more than Granlund or Colbourn at the NHL level and Rychel and Granlund have similar stats at the AHL level slightly under a point per game).

    The big question is, would Columbus management like Granlund and Colbourne who are not soft but not considered gritty…while we know that the Flames would like Rychel’s grittiness but not at the price of overpaying.

    Neither GM would be overly scrutinized for the trade and both have the opportunity to hit a home run if their young 21/22 yr olds pan out. Thursday’s game will be a good preview of Rychel for enquiring Flames fans.

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