The Calgary Flames entered tonight with an opportunity to beat the National Hockey League’s worst team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, and bump themselves somewhat closer to the slim hope of a playoff spot.
Instead, they played 60 minutes of inconsistent hockey along the perimeter (for the most part), made iffy decisions with the puck all game and gave up a couple goals on odd-man rushes caused by defenders pinching too deep. As a result? They lost 2-1 to the NHL’s worst team and have placed themselves in a six-way tie for dead-last in the NHL.
It was a loss that they totally earned by playing down to their opposition; the NHL’s worst team, who had played a night before in a different city.
The first period was a fairly low-event affair, with both teams doing a good job keeping each other to the outside and six scoring chances split between the two clubs. Midway through the period Boone Jenner was sprung on breakaway, but that was met with glove save from Karri Ramo. A rush went down the other way, ending with Jiri Hudler going top-corner on Joonas Korpisalo for the 1-0 lead. Shots 11-7 Flames and shot attempts 23-14 Flames. The Flames did have some trouble throughout the period managing the puck, losing it quickly in the offensive zone and having some trouble clearing their own zone.
The second period was not a good period of hockey. There wasn’t much flow to it at all. There were a ton of icings and off-sides, so it was very much a stop-start stretch, and the crowd was pin-drop quiet for much of it. The Flames tried to generate offense, but they continued to make iffy decisions with the puck. On one such occasion, Ladislav Smid got caught pinching and the Blue Jackets came back with the puck on a 3-on-2, ending with the trailing man William Karlsson putting a back-door one-timer past Ramo to tie the game. Shots were 10-7 for the Flames, and shot attempts were 20-12 for the hosts as well, but scoring chances were rather sparse and most of the shooting was from the outside.
The Jackets finally broke through with another tough one to give up early in the third period. The Flames had three carry-ins broken up the Jackets blueline, including Dougie Hamilton’s pinch leading to Kris Russell being left all alone on an odd-man rush and Karlsson scoring his second of the game on a far-post tap-in. The Flames pressed late but the Jackets defended well and the locals never got a scary scoring chance, and so the game ended at 2-1 for the visitors. Shots were 10-4 Calgary and attempts were a scary 32-8, but the Flames just couldn’t find the net enough to beat Korpisalo.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Their execution wasn’t great early, and it got worse from there.
Don’t get me wrong, they were buzzing around quite a bit and had a ton of zone time. But they failed to convert that zone time into high-value scoring chances, and their inability to do that early cost them later on when they had to press to generate high-value chances and instead gave up odd-man rushes the other way.
I don’t care who you’re playing against, you’ll lose if you do that too often. And the Flames did.
Micheal Ferland was trucking around all game, throwing hits and trying his damnedest to generate some offense. He was a constant source of energy whenever he was on the ice. And for somebody coming off of a concussion, it was nice not to see him play tentatively.
Sam Bennett was also very strong tonight. In net, Karri Ramo was fine. The score not reflective of his play, and he made a few nice saves to keep things close.
The Flames jump on a plane and head to Vancouver for the late game on Hockey Night in Canada tomorrow evening against Sven Baertschi and the Canucks.