Post-Game: PK Grabs The Flames A Point

The penalty kill has been a sore spot for the Calgary Flames this season, to put it mildly. To be more blunt, the Flames’ inability to kill a ton of penalties (and to give up power-play goals at the wrong time of tight games) has cost the Flames wins and points. So it’s probably been nice lately to see the man-down unit shut down the opposing teams and actually score goals.

It happened again tonight. Two goals in 30 seconds by the penalty kill powered the Flames to a point. They lost 4-3 to the Colorado Avalanche in the shootout at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

THE RUNDOWN

The opening frame wasn’t terribly exciting, with the teams combining for a single shot on goal in the first seven minutes or so. It picked up in the second half of the period, and Matt Stajan opened the scoring with a nice effort pivoting around a defender on a zone entry, a nice pass to Jyrki Jokipakka and then a nice skate deflection off Jokipakka’s point shot through traffic. (It held up on a goal review, because Stajan didn’t make a kicking motion but merely angled his skate. Veteran move.) The lead didn’t last the period, though: the Flames lost track of the attackers and the puck after defending the initial rush well and so Erik Johnson snuck in from the point and one-timed a pass past a sprawling Joni Ortio to make it 1-1. Shots were 9-8 Colorado in the opening period, but shot attempts were 20-16 for the Flames.

The second period was much, much more entertaining. It helps that the crowd got into it after the Flames scored two short-handed goals in 30 seconds. First, Josh Jooris created a neutral zone turnover after an initial Michael Frolik/Mikael Backlund odd-man rush was defended. Jooris carried the puck it, waited out the defenders and fed the puck to Mark Giordano in the slot for a wrister that made it 2-1. On the next shift, Lance Bouma collected the puck off an errant pass from Freddie Hamilton, then fed Hamilton for a one-timer that made it 3-1. (And was Hamilton’s first goal in 365 days.) The Avalanche answered back before the period ended, though, as Joe Colborne over-skated a puck while trying to skate it out of the defensive zone, leading to a few passes and a shot from Tyson Barrie that deflected off Giordano and past Ortio to make it 3-2. Shots were 13-5 Flames and attempts were 22-8 for the Flames. (The NHL’s worst possession team, the Avalanche, lived very much down to their reputation.)

It looked like the Flames might coast to another win in the third period, but the Avalanche scored on a defensive fire-drill in the Flames end mid-way through the third. There were a flurry of chances, including a goal-post, but with Ortio down after an initial save, Carl Soderberg scored off the rebound to make it 3-3. Neither team managed to score from there, so we went to overtime. Shots in the third were 12-11 Colorado, but shot attempts were 22-22.

Overtime came, and overtime went! The Flames had a couple nice chances, but Ortio got called for tripping Jarome Iginla. But T.J. Brodie made all kinds of nice clearing attempts on the kill, so they managed to hold on until the shootout. Shots were 2-1 Colorado and attempts were 4-4 in extra time. Mikkel Boedker scored the only goal in the shootout for either team, and so the Flames dropped this one in extra time.

THE NUMBERS

(All Situations) CorsiFor% OZStart%
D.Hamilton 71.11% 72.73%
Stajan 62.5% 71.43%
Bollig 66.67% 71.43%
Jooris 66.67% 66.67%
Bouma 69.57% 60%
F.Hamilton 56.52% 60%
Gaudreau 58.54% 58.33%
Colborne 41.38% 55.56%
Jokipakka 61.11% 50%
Monahan 77.78% 50%
Engelland 39.02% 50%
Hathaway 66.67% 50%
Brodie 61.82% 47.06%
Ferland 65.38% 45.45%
Giordano 53.33% 44.44%
Nakladal 62.5% 44.44%
Backlund 41.03% 38.46%
Frolik 42.5% 33.33%

WHY THE FLAMES GOT A POINT

Let’s be honest, the Flames played well enough to win tonight. They scored three goals, including two short-handed markers. But they couldn’t generate enough at even-strength (or on the power-play), and their defensive zone coverage was iffy at the wrong times in this one. So in another way, they played well enough to win but also juuuust bad enough for them to lose.

Notable: Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan were held pointless tonight, and each guy was minus-1 on the evening.

RED WARRIOR

Y’know, Josh Jooris was really effective tonight. He was good on the fore-check and on the penalty kill, and his line with Brandon Bollig and Matt Stajan was quite effective.

Stick-tap to T.J. Brodie, who made his return to the line-up by playing 29 minutes and being a beast on that overtime penalty kill.

FUN FACT

The fastest two short-handed goals in Flames history? They happened in the last minute of an 8-8 tie against the Quebec Nordiques in October 1989

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(That game summary courtesy our pals at the Hockey Summary Project.)

THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM

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It was a big loss for the Flames (and a big win for the Avalanche, who have a bit of breathing room as Minnesota tries to chase them down). Calgary is now seven points back of last-place Toronto, though the Leafs have a game in hand. And they’re 12 points back of Colorado. The “tragic number” for the Flames is now 5.5 – any combination of 5.5 Flames losses or Colorado wins eliminates them mathematically from playoff contention.

UP NEXT

The Flames hit the road for a three-game jaunt that takes them first to Montreal on Sunday evening. It’s the beginning of a stretch that sees the NHL’s worst road team play six of their next seven games away from the friendly confines of the Saddledome.

  • OKG

    Nice to have more ROW than six other bottom feeders. Rough night for the Gio-Engelland pairing being on for all three goals against. Engelland just isn’t a top 4 Dman.

    • MattyFranchise

      It’s annoying to me as a fan that Engelland keeps getting put in the top 4 when he has had good results with every player, except Smid, that he has played with on the bottom pairing.

      I’m pretty sure the guy isn’t stupid, he probably knows he’s playing above his head in the top 4. I can only imagine how frustrating it is to be thrust into that role and have to play against players that are all better than him every night.

      • KiLLKiND

        Engelland is an NHL vet that has won the cup… I’m sure he isn’t thinking he is way out of his league, playing as a 4th D-man with a Norris caliber partner. He has faced the toughest players in the league many times by now, he knows he isn’t as fast but he is playing a smarter game this year. He is slowing the game down to his speed and making the easy smart plays 9/10 times. I understand why Hartley has him on the 2nd pairing, it allows Hartley to experiment with his matchups and let Nak and Kevin get easier deployments while Bromilton takes more 1st line responsibilities.

        Bromilton is a new pairing as well, although it shouldn’t be new this late in a lottery season. They are somewhat getting the offensive zone starts, while Engelland and Gio handle the tough D-zone starts.

        Nakladal and Jokkipakka are a pretty decent 3rd pairing if you ask me. Nak is playing his first few games in the NHL still and Hartley isn’t going to give him more than he can handle. Kevin is still really young and is a left shooting D which means he is stapled to the 3rd pairing bar injury a Hartley loves the L-R combo.

        With that being said, I do agree that Engelland should be on the 3rd pairing though. Especially because I want to see Nak with Gio. Nak has some pretty good offensive instincts and is decent defensively. Next year when we trade Engelland and Wideman at the deadline, we will be in a great position.

        Side note what do you guys think of Bromilton as a name for Brodie, Hamilton? I was going to go with Broton but figured Bromilton sounds and looks better.

      • cberg

        You make it seem like it really matters at this point from a team perspective, and perhaps you’re missing a couple other explanations?

        Like, for instance, how is BT going to be able to trade him off, much less get a great deal like the Russell trade if we don’t showcase and develop him in that role? Engelland certainly stepped in there last year and isn’t doing so bad now, once again. The big minutes and roster flexibility are way more valuable than the physicality and great 3rd pairing D he’s already proven. Right?

        And secondly, moving him out (but still on the roster, maintaining our call-up flexibility) provides a terrific opportunity to test out three of our own D in the 3rd pairing role (Jokipakka, Nakladal and Wotherspoon) they’ll likely end as, before the summer decision to re-sign the two currently sitting as UFA or RFA on the farm. Right again?

        Finally, like I said at the beginning, although the Flames are never going to tank, and maintaining that never quit work ethic is key to their future success, there is more than one way to skin a cat, if you know what I mean. Cheers!

  • freethe flames

    The Stajan line played well; we don’t often get to say that. One good game in awhile does not mean they have turned around their game.

    For those who care the Heat won 5-1 last night. Grant with two goals in his return and Agostino with a goal and twp helpers (on Grants goals).

    As KIllkind says it’s time to experiment with Gio and Nakdaddy. We know what Eng’s so does Hartley; time to see what Nakdaddy is.

  • freethe flames

    I was also thinking that another guy who I have seldom praised this year was Bouma; 2a on the PK, hitting people. Actually from the eye test that whole line played well. With Bouma, Jooris, Hathaway, Ferland, and the kids from the farm ( Hamilton last night) there is a pretty good looking energy line that could be very good defensively and generate possession while possibly contributing some offence. Agh and then this brings me back to the problem of we don’t have two offensive lines or two PP units.

    The Flames have 2/3 of a high end offensive unit; missing RW.

    The Flames 1/3 of a solid secondary offensive unit; missing both wingers or a C that would allow Bennett to be a lW.

    The Flames have a a very good defensive line that also contributes offensively.

    The Flame have plenty of candidates for an energy line that can play well defensively and should be able to generate some offence.

    We have a solid defensive core and what looks like some very good prospects coming up.

    Off season needs: Sign two goaltenders: Ortio and a healthy Ramo would be adequate not ideal. We don’t need any over the hill fillers.

    At least one RW that can play on either the first or second offensive line. This can be done at the draft, FA or even a trade. But it needs to be done.

    Lose some deadweight contracts. This might need to be done first. So we can afford to the other two. Hopefully the NHLPA use their rights to force a salary cap raise.