Wild 5, Flames 3 post-game embers: But not for lack of trying

Another game, another loss. The loss of a player in Ladislav Smid upped all the remaining defencemen’s ice times, while the loss of the actual game further pushed the Flames behind the .500 record, and further pushed them out of reach of the playoffs.

The Flames have five games to go until the trade deadline, and every single one of their opponents is ahead of them in the standings. At this point, all that’s left to do is wait – and hopefully reap the rewards of some trade deadline rentals.

Raise a glass to the defencemen’s efforts

With Smid lost so early into the game – his night was over with just over five minutes remaining in the first period – the Flames’ remaining five defencemen saw boosts in ice time. 

Jakub Nakladal played 16:04, including 4:03 on the power play. He was at fault for Jason Zucker’s shorthanded goal, but with Bob Hartley reluctant to try four forwards on the power play, he’s really been the only other option to put on the man advantage: neither Deryk Engelland nor a healthy Smid are the kind of players you ever really expect to score. 

Speaking of – Engelland played 16:49, with 1:53 played on the penalty kill. But more to the point, it’s always awesome to see a guy like that get on the board. There wasn’t a single Wild player covering him when he received the pass from Johnny Gaudreau, which makes sense because, well, he’s Deryk Engelland. But he made the Wild pay for it.

The 16+ minutes were a lot for Nakladal and Engelland, but they don’t really compare to what Mark Giordano (29:01), T.J. Brodie (26:59), and Dougie Hamilton (26:02) played. Brodie was Nakladal’s most frequent defence partner, and he gave him a boost of 33.93% CF at even strength; Brodie didn’t miss a step without Giordano, though Giordano did drop off somewhat without Brodie.

With no Kris Russell nor Dennis Wideman in the lineup and a shortened bench, Hamilton got minutes he hasn’t seen since early October, when Brodie was still out with injury. While Brodie was the star on the backend, both in terms of points (two assists) and possession (leading the Flames with a 76.92% CF at even strength), Hamilton was actually a leader in 5v5 individual corsi events for with five, tied with Sam Bennett. He had 10 individual corsi events for in all situations, so that’s another five to come on the power play alone.

Remember that: Hamilton should be on the first unit power play for years to come, and he’s good at it. Though he failed to score in this game, it should be noted that he’s second on the team in power play points with 11.

Speaking of the power play

It’s taken a while to get Hamilton on there, but he’s a regular now, and that’s how it has to stay.

The Flames did get one power play goal in the game – but over the course of five opportunities, and gave up a shorthanded goal in the process. It’s great to see Hamilton and Giordano as regulars, but the forward power play time was a little messed up, as it has been throughout the year.

Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Jiri Hudler led the way with nearly six minutes apiece. Nothing wrong with that – that’s the top line, and Gaudreau’s 13 points with the man advantage have him being the one guy ahead of Hamilton in scoring. 

Following that trio was Mikael Backlund, with 4:03 – but he did score, so it’s hard to complain. 

Then Joe Colborne with 3:23, which… we’ve been through this so, so many times this season. Colborne has played 74:37 on the power play: 10th on the Flames, and the most ice time given to a player who has yet to score a single power play point. Stop trying to make Colborne happen; he’s not going to happen. Backlund has played 3:50 more than Colborne on the power play throughout the year and he’s scored seven points. It’s ridiculous.

Following up Colborne was Markus Granlund, with 2:31 on the man advantage.

What’s wrong with this picture? No Michael Frolik, even though he’s ninth in team scoring. And only 1:21 for Sam Bennett, who’s sixth in team scoring. And hey – once he got on the ice, the Flames scored, surprisingly enough.

With a 15.7% success rate, the Flames are tied for the second worst power play in the NHL. And things like playing Wideman over Hamilton, or Colborne over Bennett, have definitely played a role in that. Put your best players out there – and for the love of god, please stop trying to force the square peg that is Colborne through the round hole that is the power play. He can have a role on this team, but with a grand total of nine power play points in his entire career, being on the man advantage shouldn’t be a part of that.

Moral victories

Even when you take score effects into account, the Wild were just plain bad in the third period. They had a mere six corsi events for throughout the final frame. And true, when a team has a two-goal lead, there’s a tendency to sit back a little – but just six pucks directed in the vicinity of the Flames’ net over the course of 20 minutes is still really, really bad.

Every single Flame was a positive possession player. In all situations, Micheal Ferland was at the bottom with a 52.38% CF; at even strength, it was Nakladal at the bottom at 53.33% CF.

This team likely isn’t going anywhere this season, but if they can continue to put together positive puck performances, it’s at least a step in the right direction. Something to build on for next season, hopefully. They hit a number of goal posts; Jonas Hiller had a .826 save percentage. Bad bounces and breaks happen.

We’re in the time for moral victories now, though, and this game was one of them.

This and that

  • Gaudreau, with 55 points in 55 games, is currently seventh in NHL scoring. Five of the six players ahead of him have played at least more three games than he has. It’s his second NHL season. We already know Gaudreau is going to get paid; he might as well put together some insane numbers en route towards his next contract.
  • Brodie, chilling with 33 points over 47 games, fourth in team scoring. If you go by a point per game basis, he’s roughly on par with Monahan. So basically: a healthy Brodie throughout the season would be second on the Flames in scoring, and destined to approach the 60-point mark. Before the season started, I said we could reasonably expect Brodie to be a .70 point per game player, and that’s exactly what he is right now.
  • wot96

    @ Nick – Nakladal wasn’t terrible, for his second real appearance at that level. Maybe he doesn’t make it but declaring that experiment at an end because of his play last night or even if you include all of the 14 minutes he has had in NHL regular season games prior to last night is a tad premature IMO.

    Hartley’s deployment is, yet again, confounding. Bennett and Frolik should be playing more on the power play in preference to Colborne, for sure. Replacing “Big Joe” with Bennett doesn’t lose you any board work or soft hands and adds a whole lot of tenaciousness – which I hear is a good thing.

    On Gaudreau, the Flames need to lock this kid up for as long as they can. He was buzzing all night long and while I like Mony as well, it’s Gaudreau that stirs the drink on that team and without him the last two seasons would have been a (more) complete disaster.

  • Jake the Snail

    Yes, the team played reasonably well BUT Hiller was not awesome….his tendency to flop on the ice as soon as the play enters the Flames zone keeps costing the team. The team looked deflated after the 4th goal went in – again on a Hiller flop which put him out of position to move to his left and make a save.

  • RedMan

    without some kind of special help, it would be impossible to be get lower in the standings than the Oilers, who are experts at sucking and do it better then any other team in NHL history –

    BUT it looks like we are getting that help in the form of Hiller, who is able to let in all these softies and make it look like an accident.

    Keep it up guys, it sounds impossible, but maybe, just maybe, the Flames can pick higher than the Oilers for once!

    I know, it’s a stretch given how committed the Oilers and the Leafs are to being the worst, but with HILLERS help it is at least a possible!

  • Jake the Snail

    If you look at the way Hartley utilizes his players you would think he is intentionally helping the team tank!

    I know that this is definitely not the case. I was a big Hartley supporter but it may be time to look for a new face behind the bench next season.

    • SoCalFlamesFan

      I agree Hartley seems unable to connect with this team.

      I do think some of his questionable deployments might be based on synergy or some jump in practice. He has said he values the practice and gym work as much as the game play. Colbourne might be a beast in the gym and skilled in practice but cant put it together in the game. (is that not what his draft ranking suggests.)

    • CDB

      Haha That was my thought initially too, which I loved, but his utilization all year has left me wondering.

      I’m hard on Bob, probably too hard. He has done some excellent things with the team. But I just can’t rationalize some of his decisions. It’s time for someone new.

  • Cfan in Vic

    I thought Nakladal looked really good, apart from the failed poke check goal. He made quick decisions in his own zone, and looked like quite an offensive weapon on the point.

    For only a handful of shifts in the NHL, I thought he was very composed and effective. I’d like to see him get a spot on this team next year (somehow).

    Hiller bad. Goaltending and hitting 5 posts definitely sunk the team. Oh well, as long as they keep losing while looking like they should win, I’m not complaining.

  • Captain Ron

    Please start Hiller in every game we have left this season. Then our dream of picking top 3 can become a reality. I sure hope the management team firmly believes this team needs a lot of work to become a contender. NO point trying everything just to sneak into the playoffs and get obliterated in the first round. To start with the goaltending is no where near good enough as it stands. The season is over. Only thing left to do is move certain players for the best future assets we can get and draft as high as possible. No point in fighting against the inevitable outcome. Give it up now and look hard to the future.

    • Kevin R

      After watching Ortio against Anaheim, I don’t think it much matters. He really wasn’t any better.**Mod: Yeah, don’t really need that here**. The season is over, the math says we need to win 20 or 21 games of the remaining 26 to finish at 93-95 points & who knows if even that will be enough to making it. Put fork in this one.

        • Kevin R

          Seriously!!!!!!!! Uh! Just wow. Have you considered perhaps the reference was to Ortio on his knees comparable to alter boys kneeling praying at a church service. I guess I am just a gullible Catholic that remembers alter boys kneeling during a Church service during prayers. How sad this world is when this is immediately painted with the brush you just slammed me with. Not sure at what point where I referenced pedophilia or any horrible action within the Church. Kneeling is kneeling is kneeling, whether you are playing net Ortio or Hiller style or kneeling praying. Whatever, sorry you misinterpreted my post & unfortunately the Mod agreed with your interpretation. What does that say about the church.

          • piscera.infada

            Fair enough. If that’s what you meant, that’s what you meant. As the mod who “modded” your comment, I feel it necessary to defend the action.

            The idiom you wrote definitely is in the popular lexicon, however it is in reference to the exact act that @thprop1 eludes to–hence why there is typically a negative connotation. No one is insinuating anything against the church, or anything of that kind. No one is insinuating anything negative about you. I modded the statement because I felt it was over the line.

            Sorry if that offended you in any way, that was not my intention.

          • supra steve

            Kevin R has been a regular contributor for as long as I’ve been visiting FN (and sadly, that’s years :)), can’t remember him ever posting anything inappropriate. He’s one of the good ones, and I for one, believe that no offence was intended, though I didn’t read his post before it was modified.

          • Captain Ron

            Wow am I ever sorry I came back late for all of this. As a fellow Catholic I can visualize exactly what you were talking about.

            Kevin R has been an excellent contributor to this forum for a long time and one of my favorite people to communicate with here.

            I completely understand the need to moderate this site but a guy like Kevin is not going to suddenly go way out of character in a manner like this. Interpretation of a comment is certainly up to the reader but that does not make Kevin guilty of anything. None of us have any control over how others interpret what we say. On the other hand readers can give someone like Kevin the benefit of the doubt and not be so quick to judge him in that manner.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    I love Marty Gelinas. He is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about hockey and the Flames; however, while listening to him last night during the post-game show, I fell asleep. I wasn’t especially tired, but his same old-same old about coming to the rink prepared to play, playing a full 60 and leaving nothing on the ice sent me asnoozing. If he had this effect on me, imagine what is must be for the players under him. I reckon the entire coaching staff is so bereft of fresh ideas and approaches that the player have long tuned them out. Solution is very simple: bring in a new coaching staff or a wholesale change of players who aren’t familiar with what Hartley and crew have to say and do.

    Firing the goalie coach and that’s all is not the solution.

  • piscera.infada

    The comments code here states “NO POSTING ANYTHING SEXIST, RACIST, HOMOPHOBIC, XENOPHOBIC, LIBELOUS OR OTHERWISE HATEFUL IN NATURE

    We won’t tolerate any of this.”

    Yet I regularly see homophobic, racist and sexist comments on these boards. I’ve commented a number of times on the fact that they have been left in place. Moderators refuse to let those comments even appear.

    FN is a quality hockey blog but it also allows for a scummy group of commenters to dirty the waters.

    I hope this changes, I won’t be back until it does.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    I regularly see discriminatory remarks on these boards. I’ve mentioned a number of times that they have been left in place. Sadly, the site refuses to let those complaints even appear but leaves the offending ones up.

    FN is a quality hockey blog but it also allows for a scummy group of individuals to dirty the waters. It makes for an awful environment.

    I hope this changes, I won’t be back until it does.

    • supra steve

      AKA:Determined, etc.

      It’s also annoying how posters are able to make multiple posts, changing their username with each new post, attempting to create the illusion of support for their opinions. Be a man (or woman, don’t want to offend you…actually I really don’t care if you are offended) create your “brand” and stick with it, for better or worse. Or just go away.

      Coward.

  • MattyFranchise

    We are now 8 seven game segments in to the season. The Flames have won 3 of them, all three coming during the massive home winning streak earlier in the season. The combined records of those segments are 13-7-1. They’ve handily lost the other five with a record of 12-21-2.

    Anyone talking about making the playoffs in that organization is crazy. Time to start calling kids up to see what they got before the trade deadline and a roster freeze comes into effect.