Flames 4, Jets 1 post-game embers: St. Mikael’s Day

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Photo credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports

There’s been a fair amount of fuss regarding Johnny Gaudreau scoring the majority of his points at home this season. But as we’d have it, throughout this final major home stand, it isn’t so much Gaudreau showing off – it’s Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik.

They are, evidently, still going at it.

Collections of points

Backlund is now riding a four-game point streak, while Frolik is on three. Throughout this homestand so far, Backlund has picked up five points, and Frolik, seven.

They’ve been dominating the ice, though that’s kind of what they do anyway; out of all regular Flames players, they’re the top 5v5 corsi players, with Mark Giordano being the only other guy to sit above 50%.

Backlund has tied a career high in points with 39, now, and Frolik would be on-pace for the same number had he been healthy all year (which would put him on pace for 45 over 82 games: his previous career high). As it stands, Frolik is sitting at 32 points and he’s seventh in Flames scoring, while Backlund is fifth.

This recent points surge has helped both of them numbers-wise, but they’ve both kinda been at it all season. The longest Backlund has gone without points is nine games; after that, five, but mostly it’s just little stretches of two or so games here and there. Frolik has gone five games in a row without a single point, and four a handful of other times, but otherwise, his record has been decorated without scoring throughout the year as well. (Johnny Gaudreau, who is over a point per game, has as many four-game stretches without a point as Frolik does.)

Both Backlund and Frolik have exhibited a trend of being roughly just above half a point per game players as they’ve settled into their careers, and we’re seeing that continue this season. They’re just good, all-around players. You may not like the timing of this particular set of scoring, but they’ve kinda been doing this all year.

The third linemate

It probably doesn’t matter who gets put on a line with Backlund and Frolik. They’re probably going to do well. Sam Bennett flourished while playing beside them, and he’s a potential elite talent, likely to turn out better than them both. He hasn’t done quite as well with other players on his line.

Joe Colborne picked up another two points while playing alongside them, the entire line clicking to start the game – some fluke successes they capitalized on and rode to victory. The trio performed pretty well together, though Colborne is definitely the most replaceable part of the line; who’s to say if it hadn’t been Kenny Agostino in his place, he wouldn’t have picked up some points as well? He was clicking well enough with the European Mikes in his first two games.

Which kind of has me thinking: why not try Micheal Ferland on that line? And not just for the idea of having three Mikes on a single line, but maybe to get him going. There aren’t really many options for the top line, and it’s not that Ferland doesn’t deserve an extended chance up there, it’s that absolutely nothing is happening for him while Sean Monahan and Gaudreau continue to pick up points of their own.

The last time Ferland picked up a point, Giordano and Sam Bennett assisted on a goal back on Feb. 29; before that, it was him and Matt Stajan assisting on a David Jones goal back on Feb. 17. He had four points in February, none in March to date, and that’s with him playing in what should be ideal circumstances.

It’s just not happening. Maybe, with the way they’re going, Backlund and Frolik can kick his game into gear; when Ferland was becoming an established part of the team back in the playoffs, he already played with Stajan and Jones in a defensive role, anyway.

But then who goes on the top line to close out the year? The Flames need another high-end winger so bad, but for now, I’d suggest trying out Josh Jooris up there. Why not? He’s a good possession player, the right side is natural to him, and he hasn’t gotten much of a look up there at all. We’re just existing closing out the season anyway, might as well play around a bit more.

Ice times across the board

This was a game with fairly even ice time distribution. Maybe it’s because the Flames got out to an early lead, but they had long stretches of no offensive activity following the first period, and it felt like they were playing more for the sake of playing than actually trying to win. They already had that 3-0 lead built up, though, and it’s not like the Winnipeg Jets are any good themselves, so…

Forward ice time ranged across the board. Frolik played the most with 17:59, while Freddie Hamilton the least with 12:04. That’s not a particularly big gap, with four lines rotated throughout the night. Though to my point above – Ferland only played 12:28, second least among forwards, all night, which is kind of strange for a supposed top line guy.

He was hovering around Lance Bouma and Garnet Hathaway ice time; F.Ham had the greatest corsi of that bunch (50% CF at ES), while Jooris and Bouma were just below him. Hathaway and Ferland posted numbers closer to Brandon Bollig, i.e., not good.

As for the defence, everyone had to step it up in Dennis Wideman’s absence when he left only partway through the first period. Mark Giordano played 26:16, Dougie Hamilton and Jyrki Jokipakka came in at 25:23 and 25:21 respectively, and Deryk Engelland posted a cool 23:19. Jakub Nakladal even got to post a cool 15:16, which is the third most ice time he’s ever gotten.

Is it time for Nakladal to get a few more minutes? Maybe – we already know what Engelland is, do we not? Giordano’s performance was better with Nakladal than with Engelland, and that was with worse zone starts. Now’s the time to experiment, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to try.

  • brodiegio4life

    even though people may be angry about getting meaningless points down the stretch, I think it’s really indicative of the culture and the attitudes of the players on this team that they continue to push every night and want to win. I think that forecasts future success. Not like the oilers who just give up and wait for the lottery every year.

    • Cfan in Vic

      I agree. I’m hoping for a high-ish draft pick, of course, but I have to give the guys credit for a job well done over the last stretch of games.

      It’s night and day between the Alberta teams, where Hartley has post game comments about pride and hard work, and McLellen has comments about entitlement and disappointment.

      • RedMan

        “It’s night and day between the Alberta teams, where Hartley has post game comments about pride and hard work, and McLellen has comments about entitlement and disappointment.”

        This statement is golden.

        for those Edmonton Fans who like to act like the two teams are in the same boat because points wise they are close in the standing, this sums everything up perfectly.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I have to agree. There are 2 schools of thought, the points are basically meaningless since we are likely out of a playoff spot, but the players and the teams are getting these points arguably at the most difficult time of the season…..the streatch drive.

      Now, one could argue that there is no pressure on Calgary compared to the teams that are jockeying for a playoff spot. Never the less, they are still competing hard at the expense of a certain Top 3 Draft pick.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Colbort and Ferklund have had their chances on the top line. With 12 games left, why not give some other dudes a try?

    JoJoo and Bouma (hey, why not?) could both get 4 games, and then, give Benny 4 games as Johnnys C to close things out.

    Or give Benny and Johnny a shot together for all 12 games. I’d be down with that.

  • Petzl

    Jokipakka has really impressed me, so calm, makes smart plays. Defensively he has quite good positioning and his reach is a huge advantage, skating a board work could use improvement but he makes up for it with his awareness. Really have liked him so far, hope he sticks.

    • Cfan in Vic

      Agreed. He seems to be quite quick, composed, and aware. Exactly what we need from a bottom pairing.

      What a great deal that trade was! Russel might work out great in Dallas, and I hope he does, but I’m pretty damned happy how it all worked out for the Flames.

      • Baalzamon

        So far it looks like the trade is working out for both teams. Russell is posting better results with the Stars than he was with the Flames, and Jokipakka has been better for Calgary than Russell was.

        It’s still very early, but it’s strange how things work out sometimes, isn’t it?

  • F.Ham and D.Ham – I love this.

    Good game last night. I’m at the point where I’m not bothered if they win or lose… It’s fun to see Mickis and Frolik string together some points and be generally awesome.

    Happy St. Mickis Day to you all!

  • Baalzamon

    I’d like to take a moment to talk about Joni Ortio.

    He’s started 10 of the Flames last 11 games (IIRC). In those 10 games, he’s posted no less than seven quality starts. This is both his best and his busiest stretch of the season. It’s funny how confidence works sometimes.

    If Ramo hadn’t gotten hurt, Ortio would likely still be Poulin’s backup. The Ramo injury may have saved Ortio’s career with the Flames.

    • Cfan in Vic

      I’ve been impressed too. Quality starts, but most importantly, no complete collapses.

      And you could say that Hiller’s injury early in the season may have saved Ramo’s career with the Flames… Hard to say whether he’ll be with the club next year, but it was looking like a zero-value situation when he went down to Stockton, then he rebounded to his average+ level of play

      Indeed, it is funny how things work out sometimes.

    • Jake the Snail

      …and not only that Ortio is 4-1-1 in his last 6 starts.

      Also hope that Ramo is 100% healthy for the start of training camp.

      I think that a Ramo and Ortio combo would be good for the Flames next year. No sense in going to UFA market or a high priced over the hill goalie (like Hiller became). Ramo was playing well too before his injury.

  • Justthateasy

    There goes that idiot Bettman again minimizing The Importance of Being in the playoffs. Who really cares about other teams except your own until you get really deep in the playoffs? More teams have to be in the playoffs– which will eliminate almost 1/2 the teams given zero chance for the playoffs at the 60 game mark. This might result in NOT having to watch what is virtually exhibition games for one quarter of the season for almost half of the teams aND their fans. And gee, it might have some effect on the amount of teams tanking. Duh!

  • Trevy

    Totally agree with with some of you pointing out Jokkipakka’s game of late. To think he’s only in his sophomore year and will only get better with a full season on the Flames next year proves what a savvy GM we have with BT, and that’s just one piece of that trade! My only fear now is losing him to expansion as we’re only allowed to protect 3 dmen…

    Also agree with Ortio’s fine play these past few games. Something about Ortio that he excels when in the big show and shows great positioning and poise, but seems disengaged if sent to the minors. Here’s hoping he gets a legit shot as a regular back up next season!

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Dean Molberg is being doppie again. He was complaining that Backlund was only contributing now “when there’s nothing on the line” this morining. Nice narrative, in spite of the fact that he’s quietly contributed at about 0.5 pts per game all season long, while longing the toughest minutes amongst forwards.

    But who cares about the truth, when he’s alread made up his mind.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      Local radio is dying a slow death, right along with local TV and newspapers. Their job now is to get you to listen, either through love or hate, and it doesn’t matter which. Eric Francis is the same. They aren’t trying to tell you the truth, just whatever will make you tune in again tomorrow.

    • freethe flames

      I agree, it was nice to see Ari’s take on it as well. The truth is we don’t have enough offensive talent upfront and a lot of guys fell short of expectations; Ferland I expected more, Bouma I expected more, Jooris I expected more, Stajan I expected more. If these 4 had scored 10 each where would we be.

      Top offensive line: Johnny/Monny/???? goal is 80+goals

      Second offensive line: ????/Sam/??? target 50+ goals

      Third offenisive line and shutdown line: Coborne/Backs/Frolik target 40+ goals

      $th line energy libe defensive resp: Bouma/Jooris/Ferland/Hathaway 20+ goals.

      Until the question marks are filled we have issues.

      And 25+ from the defenders.

  • MattyFranchise

    This 7 game segment ended with a 4-2-1 record.

    Previous season highs were records of 4-2-1 and 5-2-0 during the home game winning streak that covered both segments played between November 24th and December 27th.

    One seven game segment and one five game segment left to go. The Flames have winning records in 4 of the 10 segments played so far, the other one being a 4-3-0 stretch from November 7th to November 20th.