Blue Jackets 2, Flames 1 post-game embers: An ideal situation

With that loss, the Calgary Flames stayed at 47 points on the season, while the Columbus Blue Jackets jumped up to 47 points.

The 30th place team in the entire NHL has 47 points. And there are six of them. In addition to Calgary and Columbus, the other teams in a six-way tie for the best odds in the Auston Matthews lottery are Edmonton (of course), Buffalo, Winnipeg, and Toronto.

Games played does play a role in this – and the Flames, with the Leafs, are sitting at the fewest with 50 each – but there are a lot of teams festering right at the bottom of the standings, and now, Calgary is officially one of them.

Not that they didn’t deserve a better fate

For most of the night, the Flames were flying out there. They only had one goal to show for it, but they dominated the first period, and really, Columbus was never in the game – their two goals scored on the rush aside.

And it’s not like we can ignore the two goals on the rush. But in the bigger picture, the Flames out-corsied the Jackets 75-34. If they’d had just marginally more finish to their game, they would have had this one.

Alas, they did not. (Perhaps they could use a bit more Finnish, in the form of a Jesse Puljujarvi or Patrik Laine?) The Flames were often buzzing around the offensive zone, but several missed passes killed high danger scoring chances, and perimeter shots failed to get the job done. It was just two goals off the rush that buried them, but there are two silver lining to them:

  1. The Flames giving two points up to one of the few teams technically below them in the standings is very helpful for lottery purposes.
  2. The missed plays at least provide teachable moments for the still-rebuilding team and its developing prospects.

Part of those teachable moments are learning how to prevent goals against like that – whether they be bad pinches or ineffective back checks – and part is, hopefully, how to learn to deal with a goal against.

Prior to Columbus’ first goal, the Flames were out-corsiing them 36-19. In between the Jackets’ two goals, they Calgary was out-corsied 7-10. Following Columbus’ second goal, the Flames snapped back into it and won the possession battle 32-5.

Calgary was flying, right up until the part they got scored on. They hadn’t built up a big enough lead to handle a goal against though, and seemed to deflate until they fell behind, which – along with a power play – apparently gave them the kick they needed to get going again.

They just couldn’t bury it.

And to the first point: that’s why this game was an ideal situation. The Flames played hard, they played well, and in the end, they just came up short. It’s good to see them trying in the meantime, but the ultimate goal of this season is much closer to a high draft pick than it is to a playoff spot.

Gaudreau – Monahan – Hudler is back

Or at least, in recent games, it sure looks like it.

The line that took the NHL by storm to close out the 2014-15 season was assumed to be the Flames’ de facto top line to start this year. Only there were a couple of problems: while Johnny Gaudreau clearly knew what he was doing all season long, Sean Monahan struggled to keep up, and Jiri Hudler completely fell off the wagon, inviting line demotions and healthy scratch conspiracies.

Gaudreau is still Gaudreau – although, now sitting at 49 points through 50 games this season, he is no longer a point-per-game player, which is a shame – but Monahan has looked better in recent games.

More important for the immediate, though: Hudler has looked great since the All-Star Break. That’s only two games, and that’s really not a ton to go off of, but with the trade deadline a few weeks away and Hudler probably the Flames’ biggest trade chip, we’re on the clock here, and this is an extremely good time for him to get his butt in gear.

And his goal tonight – along with several missed chances – was a good way to start (hopefully) upping his trade value. He’s now up to 27 points through 43 games, which would put him on pace for a 51-point season through a full 82 games. It’s not the year he had last year, but it’s still a pretty good one: and one he can hopefully keep building on while playing alongside Gaudreau and Monahan.

There are two final gifts Jiri can give us: one last ride on a line with the kids, and a decent return in a trade. The better he plays, the more likely he gives us both.

It happened again (and again, and again)

Columbus’ first goal came about when the Flames’ second line – who were some of the most frequent net-drivers all night long for Calgary – got caught on Ladislav Smid’s bad pinch and couldn’t properly get back to do anything about it. 

The broadcast pointed out that Sam Bennett in particular is probably going to have a lot to learn from that moment, which is great: it’s one of those silver linings from this loss that will hopefully help develop him into a better player in the long run.

Columbus’ second goal came about as a result of Dougie Hamilton’s bad turnover. Kris Russell, as the only man back, did as Kris Russell does and went down, effectively taking himself out of the play without actually helping.


To be fair to Russell, Hamilton later did the exact same thing, except the puck didn’t go in the net against him.


(Although I guess his dropping down did prevent it from being an easily received pass across, but that was still a great scoring chance regardless.)

Also, Deryk Engelland on the first goal against.

Please stop dropping down to the ice. Please stop.

And Joe Colborne

Joe Colborne, on the Flames’ fourth line, played the second least out of all Flames last night with just 10:24. (Josh Jooris played 10:39. Lance Bouma was left at the bottom with only 7:46 spent on the ice; he was also the only Flame to finish as a negative possession player.)

In the game’s dying seconds, the Flames had their top line out there in desperate attempt to tie it up. Mark Giordano and Hamilton, the first power play unit, were also out there. Micheal Ferland – who led the Flames with five shots – was the original extra attacker.

Ferland left the ice in the final few seconds, and Colborne, he of the fourth line and therefore, one could reasonably assume, not trusted to be a key player for this team, replaced him in the final seconds for some reason. Colborne entered the offensive zone – which is good! – and proceeded to go on a leisurely stroll behind the net while the seconds were ticking down. Nearly 40 seconds went by without the Flames mustering so much as a shot attempt, until Colborne finally had his blocked with one to go.

Yeah. He’s not the choice I would have gone with.

    • Nick24

      The issue isn’t that Russel is defending a 2 on 1. The issue is his go to move is to block a shot, regardless of whether that shot is even coming. How many times have we seen him flop to the ice, only for the opposing player to skate by him and effortlessly pop one by Ramo.

      If he actually tried to break up plays, or tried to make sure the shot doesn’t get off in the first place he might find more success, but for what ever reason getting in the way of the puck is his only concern, and it’s not working.

  • Pizanno

    Ha!

    Some Flame said earlier yesterday morning that every game from now on is a game 7. Well, you just lost game 7 at home to the league’s worst team. Who played the night before.

    The proverbial fork is stuck.

    • The GREAT Walter White

      You do realize that the Flames loss also put the Oilers in last place in the league again, right?

      A record setting 10 years in a row……

      For as good of a career McDavid will have; he will always be known for playing for the worst team in the history of the NHL….

      WW

      • MontanaMan

        I would agree that their 10 years of futility is epic, but there’s no doubt that they are trending in the right direction and certainly have a brighter future than the team 3 hours south. (Yes it pains me to say it). Talbot appears to have solidified their goaltending situation, their depth at centre is frightening and with savvy trades to bring in one or two d-men, this club will be contending for the playoffs next year. McLellan is a top end coach and with Chia, they finally have a hockey man at the controls.

    • Mullen7

      If your looking for your attractive cousins, they’re on Shelbyville Nation…

      Anyways,

      I’m glad Hudler is scoring again, anything to help his value at the trade deadline at this point.

  • MattyFranchise

    Colborne entered the offensive zone – which is good! – and proceeded to go on a leisurely stroll behind the net while the seconds were ticking down.

    This is what Colbourne does every single time he enters the zone. Which is fine when you’re trying to protect a lead. Not when you’re trying to score the tying goal.

    • cberg

      Colborne should have shot right away, fine. But Ari makes it sound like he frittered away the last 40 seconds. Wrong, he got the puck and entered the zone with about 5 seconds left.

      Flames lost because they got played tough by Columbus and couldn’t generate many quality scoring chances.

      • Kevin R

        Until contracts get moved or cleared & Bennett is freed up to centre his own line & put “top 6 talent” with him, this team will be stuck in neutral.

        BT should not be afraid to move players for picks & prospects & slot some guys from Stockton in the lineup. It’s not about playoffs anymore, we are now in Oil country where the prices are low & playoff hopes are fleeting.

          • Kevin R

            It’s not as hard as you think. If Management are prepared to part with some pieces, I think it can be done.
            We have 3 top 6 young potentially elite forwards & 3 top 4 defence that all would be able to play top pairing on some teams. That is your foundation.

            We are going to get a nice piece of the subfloor with our 2016, probably top 5 pick. My target would be acquiring a 2nd top 5 pick which is really hard to do, or go after one that could be potentially acquired for a discount. Targets, Drouin, Dano, maybe Rychel(not convinced he’s a top 6 but has the tools). But Drouin is my target. We have pieces to deal with, even though many would be upset, I would do it to get a high end young forward like Drouin.

          • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

            Calgary needs to improve at the forward position but another 5’9″ forward is not what Calgary needs.
            I’d also be a little concerned over Drouin’s action this year. I think he is getting bad advice. This is not working out well for Drouin.Tampa is pretty deep up front and him whining about more playing time is not good.earn your ice time in the top six.

          • supra steve

            Man, you have wanted that 2nd top of the draft pick every year for how long? You’re right, they are hard to get, I think the cost would be something that none of us is willing to part with.

          • Kevin R

            :-} Yeah I would do anything for just one lousy 1st overall pick man. Lets face it, the Brodie’s & Gaudreau’s are anomalies & have saved us several years of wandering the suck desert.

          • BlueMoonNigel

            Remember, the Flames could never find a decent centre for Iginla. Hung onto the man for so long, all they got was salt when they finally moved him. The Flames historically are not problem fixers. The Flames let problems fester. And when push comes to shove they make a blockbuster with the Leafs.

            What sack of garbage do you envision the Flames parting with to get Drouin? That coveted 1st Round pick you spoke of is what the Bolts will want. They have cap issues so they won’t want any of Calgary’s overpriced garbage.

            You also failed to mention a goalie. A great goalie who can hide a multitude of sins is not in the Flames’ stable as far as I can see. No, Ramo isn’t the answer. If the Flames are going to either sign a FA goalie or trade for an upgrade, that’s going to cost plenty of salary cap space. In addition, big contracts to Johnny and Sean later this year and Gio’s big extension kicks in.

            Do not expect any big name players to don Flames’ threads either through trades or free agency this year because this team can’t afford it.

            Furthermore, let’s say the Flames draft high and their top pick isn’t quite ready for prime time in 2016. No knock on the kid, but he might need a year or two of seasoning, which is fine by me. The Flames were very lucky with Monahan and Bennett that they made a fast jump into the bigs. That is seldom the case.

  • StarIV

    I think the flames need a few more pieces to be truly competitive for years. In my opinion, we need a top line forward, a second line forward, a #4 defensemen and a goalie. I have no idea how to acquire an elite goalie, but we can hope to draft a top line forward, and look to free agency and trades to fill the other gaps.

    That said though, it’s disheartening to hope for a high draft pick, unless the Flames finish bottom 2. It’s frustrating knowing that the oilers picked up four 1st overall picks over a handful of years, most significantly being McDavid. With the new draft system, to guarantee a high pick, the team has to be the worst in the league, or have good luck. For instance, the team that finishes 4th has 29% chance to move up and 68% chance of moving down, 33% of which is moving down 2 spots. I’d be choked if the Flames finished 4th last and came away with pick #6, knowing that Edmonton drafted McDavid last year.

    I have compiled the draft lottery odds, by chance of each standings position obtaining each draft pick. (Also some interesting graphs that highlight the odds of the previous lottery draft formats)

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1QwJIBhSTogaC3AMxjXLHX2ZqkPdHj1eTCYrbmHGWikQ/pubhtml

    • BlueMoonNigel

      As I noted earlier in the week, the entry draft should be replaced by entry level players being designated free agents, so that all clubs have an equal shot at acquiring the studs. Would Matthews forego the Canadiens’ $5M a year offer to play for his hometown Coyotes for half the price. The action off the ice would be as intense and dramatic as on the ice.

      Under a free agent system, tanks would be for storage and warfare, not a strategy to try and finagle the 1st overall draft pick. (The Oilers have more tanks than there are tanks at CFB Edmonton)

      Supposedly, Canadians favour open business markets, fewer restrictions on the exchange of goods and services and business dealings that are largely free of graft. The current entry level system goes against all these principles.

      As for tinkering with the odds of the balls to try and minimize or eliminate tanking, it is yet another oddball scheme concocted by Bettman. My advice to the commish would be to stop fiddling with his balls and let the open market decide where the young talent is headed.

  • MontanaMan

    The Flames are who we thought they are. Last year was a miracle year but it shows what happens when teams with limited talent get on a roll. Not going to happen two years in a row with arguably a better team. Start shipping out deadwood, identify who you want to sign as free agents and prepare for the draft.

  • Franko J

    A season of regression continues. While not officially eliminated from the playoffs, at this point the season should be considered done and Treliviling should be planning and preparing for next year.

    To start the message to the players for the rest of the season should not be “treat ever game left like game 7”, but “audition to play on this team next year”.

    Hopefully not only the players, but the coaches as well should be on alert.

  • Franko J

    Lack of killer instinct, if we could of made it 2-0 we would of won. Seems like there has been lots of games this year were we let teams hang around and can’t bury them.

  • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

    Edmonton will finish about 22nd overall and it would be cool if Calgary won the lottery and got Mathews.He is not McDavid but it would be cool to see these teams go head to head for the next 10 years.

        • MontanaMan

          Every comment on here about high picks is from Oilers fans.

          I highly doubt the Flames will win the draft lottery, sure, it would be nice.

          But why worry about the draft right now? There is still half of a season left to play, not to mention the trade deadline.

          I get that Oilers fans are used to looking forward to the draft every year, but as you know, it doesn’t solve all your problems.

          • BlueMoonNigel

            I don’t think you are off, Train.
            Some people get upset over the loser mentality of talking draft this early. I don’t see this team as a contender right now and hoping for a high pick and taking losses to get a few of our young guys playing seems better than a short playoff run.

          • BlueMoonNigel

            I’m sure the Flames will get a decent pick, but that’s still about 5 months away.

            Yes, the thought of a line of Gaudreau, Bennett and Matthews is pretty exciting, but the Oilers have just as good of a chance if not better, to win the draft lottery, what else is new?

            Giordano was not drafted, Gaudreau and Brodie are both 4 round picks.. you need more than high picks to rebuild a team.

            It looks like the Oilers have fallen back down to earth after the game tonight, I’m sure we won’t have the pleasure of your company on here for while, until next time.

      • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

        They are only 5 points out of 22nd spot and with one of the best player back on the team they should definitely have a better 2nd half of the year.