The last time the Bruins and the Flames met, the Flames were on the up-and-up. In the midst of a record streak of wins at home, former Bruin Dougie Hamilton nearly cost the Flames by sending Brad Marchand to a penalty shot on the kill near the end of the game, only for Jiri Hudler to score the game-tying goal with two seconds left, and Hamilton to redeem himself by assisting on the overtime winner.
That was far from the case this time around. The Flames have nothing left to play for, while the Bruins are still fighting for a playoff spot they aren’t guaranteed. The Flames subtracted at the deadline, the Bruins added. These are two teams on opposite ends of the spectrum, and one of them is real bad at special teams.
But at least there were some bright spots, as there will hopefully continue to be over the remaining 19 games that compose this season.
The three European J’s
Not Johnny, Josh, and Joe; rather Jakub, Jyrki, and Joni.
The Flames’ new bottom defence pairing impressed. They were, admittedly, rather sheltered, but they’re a bottom defence pairing: they’re supposed to be, and they’re supposed to at least keep their heads above water while playing in that position.
They succeeded. Jokipakka played a little more than Nakladal, 12:51 to 11:07, 19 shifts to 16, with both of them spending a little over two minutes on special teams: the penalty kill for the former, the power play for the latter.
They also combined for the Flames only offence of the game, an absolute bullet from the top of the circle from Nakladal for his first NHL goal – received via a perfect pass from Jokipakka for his first point as a Flame.
And really, in a season without much left to play for, this is always something.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) March 2, 2016
And then, there’s Ortio. Ortio has played nine games this season – his next marks a career high – and he has yet to win any of them. Occasionally, it’s been his fault; more often as of late, it has not. In three of his past four starts, Ortio has posted pretty good save percentages, including last night’s .920 performance.
It wasn’t the most amazing thing to ever see, but he played well enough to give his team a chance to win, stopping 23 of 25 shots. The two that got past him were both players untouched in the high slot: nothing he can really be faulted for.
Ortio will, hopefully, be placed on a regular recall and continue to get more starting opportunities, even with Jonas Hiller and Niklas Backstrom present.
Garnet Hathaway, top line player?
Garnet Hathaway made his NHL debut alongside Micheal Ferland and Sam Bennett, but for this game, he was bumped up to Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan’s line. With the movement, his ice time was bumped up to 15:01, not really matching Gaudreau and Monahan’s 20+ minute games, even when you account for the time they spent on special teams.
Hathaway was still sheltered zone start-wise, but while he saw the Flyers’ not-so-great players in his NHL debut, against the Bruins he had to face off against Patrice Bergeron’s line. Which seems at least somewhat insane for a kid in his second NHL game, because Bergeron is extraordinarily good.
And small sample sizes, but for the 11:25 even strength minutes he played against Bergeron, he was a 42.11% CF player. For the 3:18 away from him, he was 100%. So… it would seem putting a kid out there against one of the best two-way forwards in the world is not the greatest idea.
Hathaway’s biggest impact on the scoresheet was his hits count, as he led the way with six (as did Deryk Engelland). Add that to the three he put up in his first game, and it’s pretty obvious how he’s being told how to play – but he’ll probably have greater success when a three-time Selke winner isn’t matched up against him.
Meanwhile, when away from Hathaway, it looks like Gaudreau and Monahan’s other linemate was most often Joe Colborne. Which, you’d have thought we’d been through this already, but– What’s that, he was fourth in forward ice time, after Gaudreau, Monahan, and Mikael Backlund? The only guys who played more on the 0-for-4 power play that often saw chances go against them were Gaudreau and Mark Giordano? And there’s no problem here? This is a proper usage of personnel? The excuse of “well they’re thin on depth anyway” holds up because guys like Michael Frolik and Bennett don’t exist? Oh. Awesome. Phew. Okay, nothing wrong here. Carry on. As has been occurring. All season long.
Quirks here and there
- With only 12 forwards available, the Flames have no choice but to dress everybody – and that includes Brandon Bollig. He played 8:56 last night, the only player to not hit double digits. It was basically the same case against the Flyers. The Flames are back to having their designated tough guy, and while he can play more than five minutes, he still can’t keep up with the rest of the lineup, it seems. Hopefully this’ll be changed by next season.
- Deryk Engelland’s ice time: 21:49. Hamilton’s: 19:16. Engelland had 30 shifts; Hamilton, 26. Hamilton should very clearly be this team’s third defenceman – should very clearly have been in that role throughout this season – and yet we live in a world in which it’s possible for Engelland to be used more frequently. This is the third game in a row in which this has happened when you discount special teams. Considering how, in ideal circumstances, Engelland should not be a top four defenceman in the slightest, this is… odd? At absolute best?
- T.J. Brodie played 29:30, marking a new high in ice time this season for games that ended in regulation. That includes 8:05 spent on special teams. Giordano, for comparison, only played 25:38 – almost four fewer minutes.
- His next most common defence partner? Hamilton took up 2:42 of those remaining even strength minutes. They were a 60.00% CF together. Obviously not a meaningful number considering the small sample size – though it was better with worse zone starts than with their regular partners – but potentially something to keep an eye on.