Granted, the Montreal Canadiens featured a decimated lineup, incomplete without Brendan Gallagher, P.K. Subban, and Carey Price. That’s almost like the Flames having no Mikael Backlund, no T.J. Brodie, and no… Well, we’re used to the Flames without a goalie this season, whatever.
Except they had a goalie when they needed him last night? And Sean Monahan and Dougie Hamilton had three-point nights? Okay, Niklas Backstrom is 38 years old and didn’t have to do much ultimately, but Monahan is 21 and Hamilton is 22. Don’t they know the Flames are trying to rebuild here??
It has been one year, two months, and one week
That’s the last time Backstrom played a game. On Jan. 13, 2015, he gave up six goals to the Pittsburgh Penguins on 35 shots, and… that was that. A combination of various ailments inflicted upon him over the previous years, not to mention age and the general decline that tends to come with it, saw Backstrom’s career basically end.
Until the Flames agreed to take on his contract to get an extra sixth round pick, and promised him some starts along the way. This was his first game – and he stopped 21 of 22 shots, losing the shutout with just 7:03 to go, after his team spotted him a four-goal lead.
The Habs had 44 corsi events for through the 60 minutes, only 17 of which were scoring chances – and only seven of which were high danger ones. The numbers are pretty close to what the Flames had (41, 18, and nine, respectively), but ultimately, Backstrom didn’t need to do much: a nice little welcome back to the game for him.
His former teammates in Minnesota probably won’t be as kind when he gets his second start of the season against them on Thursday; they’re still actually fighting for a playoff spot, after all.
Four goals, seven point scorers
Monahan and Hamilton both had three-point nights, but five of their teammates also got on the board: Joe Colborne (26), T.J. Brodie (25), 19-year-old Sam Bennett, Josh Jooris (25), and Johnny Gaudreau (22).
The oldest guy to score for the Flames last night was 26 years old. The Flames may presently be “playing themselves out of the tank” – although there’s still a lot of time left, and with the exception of dominating the St. Louis Blues out of nowhere, none of these recent wins are particularly surprising – but if that’s going to happen, at least it isn’t in the form of a #goingforit team.
Twelve points were distributed around the Flames lineup last night, and eight of them went to players 22 or younger. If somebody’s going to score, it’s good it’s them.
Also, not that this is particularly meaningful – I certainly wouldn’t read much into it – but it’s worth mentioning that Micheal Ferland, despite his best efforts, was completely unable to put up any points when playing alongside Monahan and Gaudreau; Jooris already has one. He wasn’t the main factor on the play – Hamilton was – but it’s already more than what Ferland did in his time on the top line.
Get that money
Hamilton already has his money, but Monahan and Gaudreau are probably going to pass his $5.75 million cap hit.
Gaudreau has 71 points in 71 games: seventh in the NHL, and just three points back of being fourth overall. He’s now scored 27 goals this season, and has 10 games left to score three more for 30.
Make that two likely 30 goal scorers, as Monahan is right behind him with 26. He now has 79 goals in his NHL career, so it’s all but a guarantee he scores his 100th in just his fourth season. Nobody from the 2013 draft class has scored more goals than him, and he’s just two points back of Nathan MacKinnon for overall 2013 draft scoring. Granted, it’s in an additional nine games played… but MacKinnon’s rookie season saw him put up 63 points; Monahan’s saw just 34. He’s had a lot of catching up to do, and he’s pretty much there.
Fun with single-game ES WOWY
Mark Giordano and Hamilton were paired up together for this game, and they were a 51.43% CF pairing. Brodie, meanwhile, spent most of his time with Jyrki Jokipakka, and together, they were at 50.00% CF. They were barely separated from one another. Jakub Nakladal and Tyler Wotherspoon formed a very comfortable bottom pairing that posted some of the best numbers of the night: 57.14% CF, with Nakladal being even stronger away from the last-minute call-up, and speaking to just how valuable hidden gems can be as opposed to previously established veterans.
How about some of the new forward combinations? Jooris saw himself on the top line, and even the power play, and was only about a minute and a half or two minutes behind Gaudreau and Monahan in ice time. He and Gaudreau came in at 56.52% CF, and he and Monahan were 50.00%. Jooris suffered more away from Gaudreau than when away from Monahan.
Lance Bouma was the latest beneficiary of being on the Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik line, and he was significantly weaker when separated from them. Granted, we’re still dealing with tiny sample sizes, but to go from 60.00% and 57.69% with to 16.67% and 20.00% without is pretty damning. When your overall even strength corsi is 51.61% and your linemates’ are 62.96% and 60.71%, it’s indicative you’re the weakest length.
And how about Bennett in his return to the lineup? He played with Colborne (50.00% CF) and Ferland (45.45%). He didn’t get much chance with higher impact players, and it definitely leaves one hoping for another strong winger in the near future. No slight intended towards either of his linemates, but Bennett is likely going to be one of the best players on this team in the very near future, and he needs more to work with.