Post-Game: Aspirational Victories

On Sunday, the Calgary Inferno won the Clarkson Cup as CWHL champions. By all accounts it was a really entertaining game, and the Inferno gutted it out and came out on top. They were recognized prior to tonight’s game between the Calgary Flames and the Winnipeg Jets at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The 60 minutes of hockey that followed weren’t nearly as important or entertaining as the Inferno’s victory on Sunday, but they were a step in the right direction. The Flames took advantage of an inferior opponent, got a lead and held on, as they won 4-1 over the Jets for their 30th victory of the 2015-16 season.

It was by no means a picture perfect game, but it was a step in the right direction.

THE RUNDOWN

The pace of play was rather even in the first, but the Winnipeg Jets played some horrendous defensive ice hockey. Joe Colborne scored early by chucking the puck on net from the side boards. Mikael Backlund was out front causing havoc, but the puck glanced in off Ondrej Pavelec’s stick to make it 1-0. Mid-way through the period the Colborne-Backlund-Frolik trio struck again, this time with Michael Frolik chipping in a puck that glanced off Backlund’s stick on a biffed slap-shot. Pavalec played the slapper and had no chance on Frolik’s chip shot, and that made it 2-0. Sean Monahan scored late in the period off a scrambly play in the slot to make it 3-0. The Flames didn’t dominate or anything, but they were all over their chances in the Jets end. Shots were 9-9 and shot attempts were 26-16 for Winnipeg.

The Flames sat back quite a bit in the second period – score effects gonna score effect – and the Jets were content to whirl around with the puck. Neither team was particularly crisp, but it was a gaffe by Joni Ortio that got the Jets on the board. Ortio went out to play a dump in and lost the puck to a chasing Blake Wheeler, who passed it out front for a Drew Stafford tap-in to make it 3-1. There were a few flurries of offensive chances here and there, but nothing that turned into much. Shots were 10-8 Jets and attempts were 19-12 Jets. It was a fairly sleepy period.

The final frame was another sleepy one. The Jets pressed and pressed but couldn’t generate a ton of dangerous chances, while the Flames held on reasonably well – seeming content to chip the puck into the neutral zone for much of the period. They had a long, late two-man advantage and Mark Giordano scored off a Frolik feed just after the five-on-three expired to make it 4-1. Shots were 10-4 Winnipeg and attempts were 20-14 for the Jets, more score effects, but the Flames held on.

THE NUMBERS

(All Situations) CorsiFor% OZStart%
Jooris 50% 71.43%
D.Hamilton 47.92% 58.82%
Bouma 38.46% 50%
F.Hamilton 50% 42.86%
Gaudreau 50% 41.18%
Jokipakka 26.67% 40%
Hathaway 20.83% 40%
Colborne 52% 37.5%
Nakladal 44.83% 37.5%
Frolik 48.28% 37.5%
Monahan 39.29% 35%
Stajan 25% 33.33%
Bollig 21.74% 33.33%
Giordano 40% 31.82%
Backlund 48.28% 30%
Engelland 30.77% 21.05%
Ferland 25% 20%
Wideman 75% 0%

WHY THE FLAMES WON

Two reasons, primarily: they were better than the Jets in the first period when it counted. And then? They were good enough to not lose. They weren’t amazing, and they struggled to connect on good passes throughout the game. But they didn’t buckle under the Jets attack and they defended fairly intelligently for the bulk of the game. For a team that’s blown a lot of late leads throughout this season, it’s nice to see.

Joni Ortio didn’t have to be amazing, so you know they were fairly good in their own end (at least by their standards).

RED WARRIOR

Mikael Backlund had two assists, won 83% of his face-offs and was the catalyst of the team’s most dangerous line. He’s been superb lately and getting onto the scoresheet with regularity.

Joe Colborne and Michael Frolik were also pretty good. And give Jyrki Jokipakka and Deryk Engelland credit: they played north of 22 minutes apiece and neither seemed worse for wear in Dennis Wideman’s absence.

Oh, and Meaghan Mikkelson’s baby was with her at the start of the game and it was the chillest baby ever. Technically we can’t give Red Warrior to somebody that didn’t play, but if we could, that baby would win.

THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 11.19.20 PM

Edmonton won. Colorado won. The Flames are six points up on Toronto for dead-last, and 11 points back of Colorado for the last playoff spot.

Their “tragic number” is down to 6.5; any combination of 6.5 Colorado wins or Flames losses eliminates them from post-season contention.

UP NEXT

The Flames polish off their final lengthy homestand of the 2015-16 season on Friday evening when they welcome Jarome Iginla and the Colorado Avalanche to town.

    • freethe flames

      I only watched the first and he was what you expect, he was okay.

      We have been discussing whether it is okay to tank or not for awhile now; what I want is to be entertained and for the Flames to play hard. If that results in wins so be it but if they lose but play hard I’m okay with that.

      Now that Ortio has played his required games to be qualified; what to do with him and the rest of the goalies? If he plays the majority of the games of the season here you get a better read on him, if you send him down to the Heat and he continues to play well maybe he helps get them into the playoffs and a then has a playoff run. Giving Backstrom a few well chosen games helps with race to bottom as would Hiller.

  • DeadRedRedemption

    I know “tank” is a dirty word for the Flames organization, but…. Do you want to be a mediocre team? Cause winning games right now is how you become mediocre team.

    I guess our current mediocre talent gets to pad their stats… Yay. :-/

    • OKG

      Finished 2nd – Added Mark Giordano

      Finished 17th – Added Mikael Backlund

      Finished 14th – Added TJ Brodie

      Finished 10th – Added Joni Ortio

      Finished 15th – Added Micheal Ferland

      Finished 17th – Added Johnny Gaudreau

      Finished 17th – Added Mark Jankowski, Brett Kulak and Jon Gillies

      Finished 25th – Added Sean Monahan, Emile Poirier, and John Gilmour

      Finished 27th – Added Sam Bennett, Mason McDonald, Adam Ollas Mattsson, and Brandon Hickey

      Finished 16th – Added Dougie Hamilton, Oliver Kylington, Rasmus Anderson, and Andrew Mangiapane

      Finish wherever, still have a chance to add Matthews, Puljujarvi, Laine, Dubois, Tkachuk, Juolevi, Chychrun, Sergachev, Nylander, McLeod, Bean, Keller, Jost, Rubtsov, and I’m sure plenty more deeper into the draft.

      Would I love if it were Laine? YES absolutely.

      But there are still very good players everywhere in pretty much every draft, you’re not getting a guarantee picking first, just a better likelyhood but likelyhoods ignore the ability of actual scouts to identify good players later. Dylan Larkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Max Pacioretty, PK Subban, Jamie Benn, John Klingberg, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson, Anton Stralman, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Johnny Boychuk, Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic, Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, James Neal, Filip Forsberg, Anze Kopitar, Tyler Toffoli, Slava Voynov, Jake Muzzin, Tanner Pearson, Shayne Gostisbehere, Claude Giroux, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Richard Rakell, Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Kris Letang, Henrik Lundqvist, Vladimir Tarasenko, Evgeny Kuznetsov… do I still need to go on? Some of the most dynamic players on good teams were not top 5 picks. Drafting and Development are still #1 not Tanking and DevOilment.

      And lastly, A 50+ point / 82GP Backlund is sure as heck a better trade chip for a 25+ goal right winger than a 27P/53GP Backlund ;P

      • DeadRedRedemption

        Good post.

        However, outside of maybe 3-4 players on the Flames list that is presented most of those players are the definition of mediocre.

        There will always be diamonds in the rough that can be found in the later spots in the draft (just as top 5 picks don’t always pan out). The likelihood of landing a true NHLer who can make a difference increases at the top of the draft.

        An interesting counter to your lists would be one which lists the success of top 3 draft picks compared to the thousands of non top 3 picks who never see a game in the NHL.

        You list a handful of players who have done well despite their draft position. What about the majority who haven’t because of the draft position?

        I actually don’t like the idea of tanking but I’m tired of the flames being in the middle/bottom of the pack every year.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Joe Colburne’s recent results will hopefully garner some interest around the NHL. He won’t be local anywhere else else, but he’s big, he’s starting to use his body more to protect the puck, plays RW (a position of need around the league) and is contributing secondary scoring.

    I’d say he’s a fit here too, if it weren’t for Bob overplaying him in the top 6 and at centre. It’s doing this that ensures he’s ineffective.

  • Brent G.

    Oh good, the Flames are up to 5th last in the NHL.

    I am so tired of this same old story that they always do. Suck all year, go on a meaningless late season run, finish 10th last or higher, draft player equivalent to Jankowski…

    • Rockmorton65

      Yeah, drafting Monahan and Bennet & trading for Hamilton has really set this organization back decades….

      One thing the Edmontons, Buffalos and Colorados of the league have taught us is that consistent high picks are no guarantee of success. The Chicagos and LAs have also taught us that 2 or 3 quality picks, developed properly and surrounded by a strong supporting cast can set you up for years of contention.

      This team has a budding elite core – Gaudreau, Brodie, Monahan, Bennett, and Hamilton. We don’t NEED one more elite piece. It’d be nice sure, but definitely not necessary. One or two more quality pieces and this team is set for awhile. Success in the NHL now is about scouting and developing, not position. In my opinion.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        It would be nice if you’re right, but given Jankowski has yet to play a single AHL game let alone an NHL game, it’s a little unfair to put those kinds of expectations on him. Then again maybe you have an excellent crystal ball.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Joni seems to flop around a bit, to me, but I’m no goalie evaluator. He’s only 24 though. Does anyone who knows about these things think he’s on track, ahead or behind the curve, in terms of becoming a better than average NHL starter?