Post-Game: Flames Beat Injury-Riddled Habs Handily

Let’s not mince words, friends: the Montreal Canadiens are a injured-ravaged hockey club. They’re missing nine or ten regulars, depending on how broadly you want to define them. Long story short: tonight’s game between the Calgary Flames and Les Habitants at Bell Centre was a winnable game for the local sports team.

The good news? Despite starting 38-year-old Niklas “Back Storm” Backstrom in net, the Flames handled the Canadiens rather easily, winning 4-1 on the road. There’s really no bad news, unless you’re a person that thinks the Flames need to finish poorly to guarantee a good draft pick. If you’re that type of person, you probably hated this game.

THE RUNDOWN

The opening period was what you’d expect from a pair of teams trying to find their footing: tentativeness. The Flames were playing pretty solid defense in front of Backstrom, as you’d expect, and the Habs were trying to figure out which lines felt like showing up after yesterday’s 6-0 loss in Ottawa. Neither team was amazing, but the Flames generated a lot more than Montreal. Shots were 10-6 and attempts were 16-11, both for the Flames.

The Flames broke the game open in the second period. They seemed to find their legs and got a bit more aggressive in the offensive zone, which led to better chances. Joe Colborne opened the scoring with about four minutes left in the period doing what he does, going to the net and making things happen to make it 1-0. The lead was doubled just before the end of the frame, as Sean Monahan converted a Dougie Hamilton feed to make it 2-0. Shots were 9-8 for the Flames and attempts were 22-12 for the Habs, but a lot of the attempts were from far away.

And the game was iced mid-way through the third, as Johnny Gaudreau got a shot to trickle through Mike Condon to make it 3-0. Monahan scored again on the power-play, going to the net after a loose puck to make it 4-0. Michael McCarron got his first NHL goal less than a minute after the 4-0 goal to break Backstrom’s shutout bid, off a nice tip-in that the defenders likely wish they could’ve prevented. But that’s all Montreal had in the tank. Shots were 16-8 Calgary in the third, and attempts were 29-11 for the road team.

THE NUMBERS

(All situations!) CorsiFor% OZStart%
Stajan 27.78% 71.43%
Bollig 31.58% 71.43%
Hathaway 23.53% 66.67%
Colborne 70% 50%
Bouma 51.61% 50%
Wotherspoon 57.14% 50%
Nakladal 60.87% 50%
Jokipakka 48.48% 40%
Brodie 50% 40%
Ferland 53.85% 40%
Bennett 50% 40%
Giordano 59.57% 37.5%
Hamilton 61.36% 37.5%
Backlund 62.96% 36.36%
Jooris 57.58% 35.71%
Frolik 60.71% 33.33%
Gaudreau 70.59% 26.67%
Monahan 64.1% 23.08%

WHY THE FLAMES WON

Rather than play down to their opposition, as they have in the past, the Flames took it to Montreal and didn’t really let up until the game was well-in-hand. They didn’t give Montreal many advantages, if any, and they played a mature, composed 60 minutes of ice hockey.

Granted, it was against a battered team, but 82 games of this kind of play would be a welcome sight around these parts.

RED WARRIOR

Sean Monahan had three points and was going to the slot and the front of the net frequently.

And stick-taps to Dougie Hamilton (three assists) and Backstrom (a win and 21 saves in his first start in a million years). Heck, Tyler Wotherspoon played a ton last night in Stockton’s 6-5 overtime win, then hopped on a plane today to haul ass to Montreal to play 15 minutes in the NHL as a replacement for Deryk Engelland.

Outside of the Stajan/Bollig/Hathaway trio, nobody wearing white was all that bad tonight.

UP NEXT

The Flames are back to it tomorrow night when they face off against the NHL’s worst team, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

  • RKD

    The Flames are starting Jonas Hiller tomorrow against the Leafs. I think this is coming from above. Backstrom was decent, Monahan was looking pretty good out there.

  • freethe flames

    I wonder if the experiment with Ferland and Johnny/Monny is finally over? I have suggested that he play with Bennett for a number of weeks now, I hope they give this a longer look.

    Hiller in net tomorrow, something else I thought might happen and I got shot down pretty bad the other day for mentioning it.

  • FireScorpion

    Why would you play Hiller 1 more minute in his Flames career?

    Ortio has been lights out (4-1-2 last 7) and gaining confidence, and now you want to screw with him some more by throwing Hiller into the mix to get the 3 goalie BS experiment going again?

    Stupid stupid stupid Hartley, can we fire him already

    • This post is all kinds of wrong.

      First – Ortio can’t play every game, and Backstrom is 38 and needs some rest.

      Second – Hiller is on the roster, and Hartley is barely insulting Ortio by playing Jonas in one game. Hiller’s played twice in the last 14 games, while Ortio’s played 11 times. And it’s against the Leafs! Who really cares?

      Third – Hiller is three wins away from 300 in his career. Make of that what you will, but it’s still something.

      Fourth – Have you, or will you ever be, an NHL coach? Call Hartley stupid when you reach his level. Until then, can we at least trust the reigning Jack Adams winner with the decision of naming his starting goaltender for a meaningless late-season game against the Maple Leafs?

      And lastly, fifth – Firing Hartley makes no sense from a practical or aesthetic standpoint. There’s 10 games left – even if it made sense, why do it now? Also, why would we fire Hartley over a meaningless game late in the season after our fate’s already been sealed?

      Sure, he’s experimenting. What’s it going to harm? Our draft position? As if he cares – and even if we lose… what’s to dislike?

      For one, I hope Jonas pitches a shutout. He’s a Flame, and he’s had a productive career for us.

        • Brodano12

          What about Hartley do you not like? His player deployment is questionable, sure, but that’s about it. Gelinas and goaltending is to blame for our special teams, and without our problems on the PP/PK and in net, we’d be a playoff team. It’s not Hartley’s fault that Ramo got injured and Hiller very quickly went downhill this year. Remember, right before Ramo went down, we were actually in a playoff position. In fact, between the trade deadline 2014 to now, the only stretches where we haven’t had a playoff record are the start of this season and since Ramo has been injured. And that’s through a rebuild, not through contending years.

          Under Hartley we have improved possession wise for 3 straight years. Our young players have developed remarkably well, much better than they did under any of our previous coaches since Sutter, and our defenseman have fluorished into Norris candidates and players that end up being worth a conditional 1st, B+ prospect and young roster dman.

          Once this roster’s deadweight is gone (Wideman, Bollig, Engelland, Smid), I am positive we will be a positive possession team – we already are improved to a middle of the league team in CF% since Wideman’s fiasco, and our core players are all around 50% CF.

          Hartley has won a ton in his career at every level he’s coached for a reason. He is a great coach. I personally think he is the best coach in the league at maintaining a positive locker room atmosphere, which is why we continue to be better than the Oilers despite having less skill on paper. Firing Hartley would be really stupid, unless a better coach like Hitchcock or Julien becomes available. The coaching market sucks right now.

        • cjc

          While I don’t think deference to authority is a good defense of playing Hiller, every other reason listed is acceptable at this stage of the season. I would add that, the Winnipeg start aside, Ortio hasn’t been lights-out over his last four games.

          Ortio is going to start again this season. A start against the Laffs won’t make or break his career.

      • cberg

        Pretty much agree. Now add to it management wanting certain things to happen, subtly. And some really tough games coming up so likely Ortio gets those to see how it goes against teams really playing at the top of their games….

  • BlueMoonNigel

    5-1-2 in their last 8 games. Flames are on fire, just as I called it in the dog days of February. Expect this late surge to continue for the remainder of the season. Call it peeing away a top-end draft pick or character building. I maintain that whether the Flames draft top 5 or 5-10 they must take Jake. No, Jake won’t be the RW the top line so desperately needs. Jake will not likely make NHL this October. However, he will be a full time NHLer before he is 20, and by 23 he will be playing stud minutes in the big show.

  • Azim

    Dissension in the Scorpion household!

    No problem with Hiller playing against the Marlies. Will get him accustomed to playing AHL level hockey, which is what he’ll be playing next year if he doesn’t retire.

  • freethe flames

    If the Flames end up drafting outside the top 5 how many here would trade that pick for a young top 6 forward that could help us next year? Props for yes the other for no.