Bruins 2, Flames 1 post-game embers: Nothing crazy this time around

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.

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.
  • freethe flames

    So what is to be done. Many suggest firing BH and I often agree with this sentiment but what I don’t want to see is the revolving door of coaches that Oiler’s have had in which the coach is blamed for everything and the star players are left off the hook.

      • cberg

        Just had a write-up on a fairly good game, with the team clearly out of the payoffs and evaluating many players, and the best you have to say is fire BH?

        The guys are doing just fine. We’ve moved out some UFAs. The new guys are playing pretty well. BH seems to be doing just fine. More changes will come. Firing BH, or even discussing firing BH at this time is useless, unwarranted and unnecessary…

    • Parallex

      But at this point it should be obvious that Bob isn’t the guy.

      I mean, look at what the team has… at center we have a star level scoring center, a future franchise center, and a possession driving 3C (and we have a star LW)… at Defense we Have a legit elite top pair, and another guy on that level on the second pairing. In net we had two guys with career sv% of .915 and .906. I removed the names because if you just look at the descriptions what it describes is a team that to any neutral observer should at least be in the playoff conversation (even if just as a bubble team) not a team that has legit dreams of Auston Matthews.

      So why then is that what we are? I think it’s fair to say that with the exception of the .915 goaltender (That’s Hiller) that the players described above lived up to their descriptions. To me that says that there is a systematic issue with the team and that’s on the coaching staff. Our special teams stink (that’s on the coaches), our line-up construction is not optimal (that’s on the coaches), our ice-time allotment is not optimal (that’s on the coaches).

      You’re right in that players shouldn’t be “left off the hook” but in this case they shouldn’t be put on the hook. It’s very clear that the players are doing exactly what they’ve been instructed to do, it’s just that what the’re being instructed to do isn’t a very good idea (that’s on the coaches).

      Bob’s gotta go (don’t worry about him he’ll have a job in la belle province before 2016 is out… seriously is there any doubt that the Habs will have a coaching change-over and that a witty franco-canadian with a recent Jack Adams award would be their ideal hire?). Sure, you don’t want a revolving door of coaches but you don’t stick with the wrong guy for the sake of it. You change coaches until you get the right coach. Period.

      • It’s funny because I was just watching the Boston game thinking, how the hell does Boston and teams like Philly seem to be up there in the standing year after year when they don’t have teams that are that stacked? Yeah they have their very good players but the GMs make mistake after mistake and STILL they are a good team. Imagine if either of those teams had an elite first pairing D.

        We have some real good players and yet we are near the bottom of the league. There is never one reason for it but Bob has to play a good sized role in this in my mind.

  • Muffin

    One positive to take away from these last games is how the deficiencies of this club are glaring, as are the positives. It is incredibly easy to identify what works for us and what doesn’t, and I’m sure that makes BB and BT job easy.

    Also, say we luck out and get the #1, would it be wise to pick up pullijarvi or laine over Matthews to shore up our wingers? We have quite a few assets down the middle already, and those Finnish kids can play…

    • Greg

      You still go with the best player. Pretty easy to shift a C to wing if you really need to.

      And if you decide to pass on Matthews, you trade down and get something for that, not keep the first and pass over him.

    • CofRed4Life

      If that happens and they’re set on one of the Finnish wingers, BT should call up whoever got 2nd overall and see what they can get for trading 1st and 2nd overall. If the deal is palatable (because Matthews is definitely the best player in this draft) then pull the trigger. If not, draft Matthews

      • wot96

        It depends entirely on who picks second, or third. Assuming you think that you would rather have a winger than a centre, you cannot flip a number 1 overall within the conference even for value.

  • Id assume they keep BH on as coach for the remaider of this season and then decide whether to fire or keep him in the off season. Is there another coach available with a better track record working with young Europeans? Are they looking at promoting Martin Gelinas from assistant coach to head coach?

    • Parallex

      “Are they looking at promoting Martin Gelinas from assistant coach to head coach?”

      The guy in charge of the worst special teams in the NHL? Gawd, I hope not.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    For once I’m not going to complain about Colburne in a top 6 role. I’d be reluctant to breakup forward pairings of Monahan/Gaudreau and Backlund/Frolik. Also, it’s time to leave Bennett at centre and give him reps at that position. After those 5 players, it’s slim pickings for high end forward depth.

  • Steve-o

    whatever happened to “never given, always earned?” Rings hollow this year. Favourites abound..all started with waiving Byron over Bolig….wrong message from day one. too bad

  • PrairieStew

    It’s not about Engelland being better in the coaches mind – the primary reason Hamiltons minutes are lower is that he plays the right side. TJ Brodie plays the right side and played 29:30, nearly 4 more minutes than his partner Giordano. Some of this was made up on the third pair as the left guy Jokipakka played 1:44 more than Nakladal.

    This will continue as long as Brodie continues to play on the right side. Ideally I’d like to see him switch back to the left side and play with Hamilton – and give them all the tough minutes. I’d have Gio and Nakladal ( until Wideman returns) as the second pair, and move Engelland back to 3rd pair with Jokipakka.

  • cjc

    Has Bob Hartley been called out for his player usage by anyone other than this site? Just curious if anyone has asked him directly to defend the usage of Colborne over others etc.

    Maybe Hartley is just helping the tank along? I don’t really buy that because the usage has been confusing all season. That said, I think there are more fundamental issues than Colborne on the PP or Hamilton not being the de facto 3rd D. The top PP ice time guys – Gaudreau, Monahan, Giordano – they need to shoulder some blame for the horrible PP too, or at least the coach responsible for special teams does for having such terrible structure. Ditto for the PK.

    I doubt he gets fired in the offseason. More likely that he’ll get fired next season when things go pear shaped again.

  • brodiegio4life

    how about this crazy idea… if the flames win the lottery and get matthews, his coach in Switzerland marc crawford comes over and coaches the flames

  • RedMan

    that “too many men” penalty by Hartly with 4 minutes left in the tied game was a brilliant.

    Flames were playing great, and were in danger of getting at least one point, but if it went OT, they were likely to get stuck with two points! great move Harltey, protecting the teams chances for a great draft pick!

  • Parallex

    What would folk think of Guy Boucher?

    Yeah, there was the whole fiasco with the 1-3-1 in Tampa… but it worked and I don’t think he’s always coached like that. He has a winning record everywhere he’s coached IIRC with a great record in the Q and in the AHL… that tells me he ought to be really good with a young team.

    • piscera.infada

      If he doesn’t play that trap garbage, it would be something to look into.

      Honestly, I think Treliving has his own guy in mind. Probably someone relatively unknown, but some who will match what his philosophy is for the organization.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        He does and he could very well be our Ryan Huska. Recall the Flames chose not to renew the contract of their Abbotsford coach after Tre took over despite his having a pretty good reputation as a teacher of young talent.

        • Baalzamon

          Huska isn’t ready yet, though. The Flames are developing a coach in him, which I fully support, but it’s too soon to bandy his name about as a potential NHLer at this time.

        • piscera.infada

          In reponse to your thinly veiled dig at both Treliving and Huska aside, I ask you: what has Troy G Ward (this supposed bastion of player development) accomplished since he was relieved by Treliving?

          Right, nothing, except not getting an AHL job after being let go (which a supposed “good AHL coach” probably would), then getting fired by the WHL’s Vancouver Giants 29 games into his tenure (after putting up a solid 9 wins).

          Face it, most of Ward’s Heat teams were replete with young talent. They were veteran laden groups, with very few prospects of note.

  • Primo

    Many are calling for BH to get fired….I would think his shelf life in Calgary is indeed about to expire but it must be said he did not bring in Bolig, Engeland, Hiller, Ramo or sign Raymond and Stajan to long term extensions….that accountability is elsewhere. Regardless a change is needed in the summer.

  • Pizzaman

    The coaching discussion and whether Hartley is any good boils down to two points: Player deployment (and related is “is always earned never given” still true),and secondly if PP and PK are mostly a coaching responsibility why are they so bad?
    We haven’t discussed Hartley et fils in terms of overall systems, game strategy, training and accountability which seems to not be a problem. Or is it?