Maple Leafs 5, Flames 2 post-game embers: Anyway, that was something

The nice thing about back-to-back games is they come with a built-in excuse for losing. You have a sluggish first period (getting, say, only three shots on net and seven corsi events total)? Travel. Of course you’d hope for a better team to rise above that – but the Flames aren’t exactly a better team.

And make no mistake about it. While the Leafs are lacking in personnel, and are very deservedly right at the bottom of the league, they’ve still got Mike Babcock who has made quite the difference for them.

The Flames have won a lot as of late, but the only really surprising win was over the St. Louis Blues. Not beating Toronto was a little surprising – but the Flames beat the bottom-feeding Canadiens the day before, so the tank balances out.

The return of the shorthanded goal

Matt Stajan’s sixth of the season marked the Flames’ sixth shorthanded goal in six games. They now have eight on the season, which is tied fifth in the NHL, alongside Montreal and Chicago.

(Speaking of Montreal – Paul Byron has three shorties this year. That could be 11 for the Flames! Which would be second in the NHL! Oh well.)

Granted, Stajan’s goal maybe shouldn’t have gone in – that was a bad one by Jonathan Bernier – but it’s impressive that in a game in which the Flames gave the Leafs six power plays, they still outscored them on their own power play, 1-0.

Okay, so I’m not gonna piss Josh Jooris off

I’m going to go out on a limb and say Nazem Kadri probably doesn’t have a high opinion of the Flames after this season. First, there was the throat-slashing gesture towards Mark Giordano; now, there was a clean hit on Johnny Gaudreau… followed by a tag-team matchup against him.

Kadri hits Gaudreau. Gaudreau, evidently displeased, slashes the backs of both of Kadri’s legs. Kadri gets called for embellishment, for some reason; as he goes down, Gaudreau skates away and Jooris jumps on top of him.

I’m not totally sure how I feel about this? On the one hand, Kadri is the only party in this incident that did nothing wrong, and if that’s how Gaudreau reacts to taking a hit… eh. On the other hand, it does further show how little use players like Brandon Bollig can have. He’s not going to protect Gaudreau because he shouldn’t be on the ice with Gaudreau, period. (We saw that earlier this season and it was, predictably, bad.) And Bollig was the only Flame to not even crack 10 minutes last night. At least Jooris can play while he’s beating on someone.

On the other hand, though, nobody got hurt, the games are meaningless now, and it was kinda funny.

The top pairing

Normally I’d call whatever pairing T.J. Brodie is on the Flames’ top pairing, but when he’s partnered with Jyrki Jokipakka, maybe a little less so. The Flames’ top pairing is probably more accurately described as whichever one has the most of Brodie, Giordano, and Dougie Hamilton.

(Ice times don’t count so much last night – the number of penalties the Flames took skewed them towards special teams, and Bob Hartley still seems hesitant to use Hamilton on the kill. He actually played the least out of all Flames defencemen last night, but we’re talking about a difference of 5:10 in ice time from top to bottom – not that big. Everyone was used pretty evenly.)

So Giordano and Hamilton are back together. And this could – should – be the death of the “Dougie Hamilton was bad when he joined the Flames” narrative, in part because it’s been months now and we’re long past it being time to get over it. But also in part because of what Rick Ball and Kelly Hrudey were discussing on the broadcast: it takes time to get integrated with a new team. (We’re ignoring the part where everybody not named Johnny Gaudreau was bad in October, apparently.)

Hamilton has spent almost a full season on the Flames now. His career high was 10 goals and 42 points in 72 games with the Bruins in 2014-15; now, through 73 games with the Flames in 2015-16, he has 10 goals and 38 points, on pace to hit 43 – just barely an improvement, but more impressive when you remember how he’s had to claw his way up the lineup and onto the power play over the course of the season.

Then there’s Giordano who, with an assist, set a new career high himself with 49 points. Of course, he was on pace for more the previous two seasons, before injuries ruined his Norris campaigns – 60 in 2013-14 and 65 in 2014-15 – but a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. He’s on pace for just 55 this season – though he, like Hamilton, also had a bad October, so…

And when you look at the Flames’ even strength corsi numbers – so taking out the inflictions they suffered on the penalty kill – Giordano and Hamilton were the only positive players. 

Huh. They lost, but it’s not October anymore.

Hey, didn’t I see this before?

The Leafs scored two empty net goals on the Flames, a result of two pathetic efforts on their part the Flames’ part. The first one was rather odd, with Micheal Ferland’s stick breaking, and then Ferland deciding to skate right into Giordano en route back to the bench for some reason, but hey, sometimes things just happen.

Neither goal was particularly flattering towards the Flames, though, nor should they be.

The last time the Flames had two empty net goals scored on them? Dec. 9, 2014, in… Toronto. In the Flames’ last two trips to Toronto, they’ve had four empty net goals scored on them.

Weird.

  • Parallex

    Random non-game related observation: There is a lot more parity at the bottom of the league this year.

    I looked at the bottom three teams and assumed that teams will collect points for the last stretch of the season as they have for the entirety of the season leaving a projection for the the bottom three teams of 72, 72. and 71 points (Aside: #herecometheoilers… they have the lowest rate of point collection in the NHL) with projected goal differentials of -36, -40, & -41. Compare this with last year where the bottom three teams had 62, 56, 54 and differentials of -85, -102, & -113. If you want to stretch it back another year (to account for the possibility of Generational Talent Draft tanking) the bottom three had 67 (-67), 66 (-72) and 52 (-91)… still a notable improvement.

  • piscera.infada

    I’m not sure I agree with your thoughts on Jooris and Gaudreau. Look, I’m not an advocate of “retribution”. This goes doubly for clean hits, and I will agree the hit on Gaudreau was pretty clean save for a bit of a chicken wing by Kadri.

    All that said, I actually liked what Jooris did on the play. This team has seemed to have a bit of an issue the last few years with just letting things that they probably should take exception to slide. The goalies have been bumped, jostled, hacked, snowed, and fallen on far too much for my liking with no push back from the Flames. Same thing goes for boardline to dirty hits on Gaudreau and Bennett this season, and every other Flame on the ice just stands around. For me, it’s not so much an issue of “retribution” as it is about being a team-mate–that kind of camaraderie goes a long way in a team sport.

    I also just plain don’t like Kadri either.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Agreed, plus the embellishment call on Kadri was justified. He appeared to have been shot on the play or hit with a baseball swing. As far as Bollig goes, I see no where or how he fits on the team. Hathaway is far more useful player that has supassed Bollig in every metric, except beard-growing.

      • piscera.infada

        As far as Bollig goes, I see no where or how he fits on the team. Hathaway is far more useful player that has supassed Bollig in every metric, except beard-growing.

        Well I mean, that goes without saying.

      • mk

        I’m not sure I understand your comment – you seem to suggest beard-growing is non-essential. Don’t you know how beardosity and raw beard-second rates are highly correlated with playoff winning?

        Gees…its like you don’t want this team to win…

  • cjc

    I feel like every time there’s an embellishment call, somebody on the opposing team gets a matching call. I mean, either it was a slash or it wasn’t, and it was an embellishment or it wasn’t. Not sure how it can be both ways – it’s like the refs aren’t sure so they call both the original penalty and the embellishment just to hedge their bets.

    • Avalain

      Embellishment doesn’t mean that the player faked it entirely. It means that you did something that is a penalty and they went overboard trying to make it look like you tried to kill them. So you hit then with a high stick that only hits their visor and they drop to the ground like you poked out their eye.

    • Baalzamon

      I agree with you when it comes to tripping–either it’s a trip, or the player fell to make it look like a trip.

      But slashing is another story. A player can be slashed, and then overreact to make it look worse than it was. Sort of like Kadri did last night. Gaudreau hacks at his ankle, and he explodes like he was just hip checked by Dustin Byfuglien.

  • CutterMcAwesome

    he fell like a great redwood being chopped in the forest, screaming in complete agony. Jooris did what any player should have done when someone takes a shot at your best player. He responded. Kadri wont have learned a lesson and it wont matter in the future. All this says to me is that at least our guys are playing like a team. Minus the fact they dont like hiller and it shows.

  • Jeremy Ian

    I used to like Gaudreau. But he disgraced himself last night. Take the clean hit and shut up. Be a wuss if you want, and slash someone’s ankles. Be a bigger wuss and let someone else do the retaliation for you while you skate away. Then be the biggest of wusses and mock turtle en route to the box.

    Kadri has a dramatic edge to his game, no question.

    But watching the replay of Gaudreau was a reel of astonishing immaturity.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Do you ever watch hockey? Players give and take all the time. Yes, even Crosby and McJezzub. Hacking a player back is the standard response; sometimes the refs see it, sometimes they miss it.

      It funny that you describe a clean hit, as a hit where a player gets nailed in the face. Whether that is a elbow to the face or a shoulder to the head, it’s not a clean hit. He was headhunting.

      Any team that sits back and lets that hit go unpunished is a team you can beat any day of the week. The Oilers were that team, but have a few guys that are willing to step up. They still have a lot that will look away, or not want to get involved.

    • RedMan

      everyone is entitled to an opinion, even if it is out of line.

      Gaudreau is the exact opposite of a “wuss”. he is playing against giant, strong, violent men, all twice his size, who all would take the opportunity to blow him up with a huge hit if they had the chance. Rarely do they get the chance because Gaudreau is just that much better skater and has learned to avoid the hits, so the opposition have resorted to heavy duty slashing and hacking on JG every single game.

      anyone who classifies Gaudreau as a “wuss” is just being a troll with an idiotic statement meant to get a reaction. Just another Oiler fan I assume who has dreams (wet) of a team that competes and pushes back and stands up for each other and commands their space on the ice.

      😀 🙂 😉

      • Jeremy Ian

        Well, I have to admire Flames’ fans ability to distinguish themselves for their open mindedness.

        “Out of line?” What is this, a dictatorship?

        Mockery en route to the box was so uncool, especially as Monsieur G was not the one who stood up for himself after the yes, clean, hit (…. or are you planning on drawing a unilateral line in the little despotic universe we should call your brain that means only Flames players get to deliver hard hits?).

          • Jeremy Ian

            ah yes….of course….I also forgot to mention the Flames’ fans’ talent for spotting the objectivity they don’t possess.

            😉

            Actually, I am a “completely unbiased” Leafs fan who likes the Flames. I make no apologies for Kadri’s antics. But Gaudreau dropped several notches in my completely unbiased regard.

  • FireScorpion

    The question now becomes..What will it take to move up in the draft from 7 or 8 to 2 or 3??

    Thoughts.. because there is nothing I want at 7 or 8 when its the big Finn on the wing that the team needs above all else available on Draft Day

    • supra steve

      “The question now becomes..What will it take to move up in the draft from 7 or 8 to 2 or 3??”

      Well, a few well timed losses (like last night) is the first thing that comes to mind…or win the lotto.

    • MattyFranchise

      Probably just some lottery luck. The bottom 8 teams have a 20% or better chance at the top 3.

      This little run of games the Flames have been on isn’t likely to hurt them too much come draft time imo.

      Whoever BT picks near the top of the draft will be a good player.

      But yeah, a top 3 pick would be ideal.

    • freethe flames

      The question is; What would you be prepared to give up? I’m still waiting for the end of the season and the draft lottery before I get too worked up or set a price.

  • FireScorpion

    Just trashes eh? Right on..I see continued mediocrity is acceptable. Wow…not to me it’s not, but I guess its the times we live in.

    Mediocrity is acceptable. Sad.

    • T&A4Flames

      I don’t think we have the assets we’d be willing to give up to move up that much.

      In saying that, I wonder how people feel about trading the 1st overall (Matthews) if we won the lottery to ARI if they won 2nd or 3rd overall? Would people on here consider swapping 1st OA for 2nd or 3rd OA and someone like Dylan Strome? So basically Laine or Puljujarvi and Strome for Matthews. Prop for yes, trash for no. Comments/opinions are always appreciated and good to read.

  • supra steve

    “Kadri hits Gaudreau. Gaudreau, evidently displeased, slashes the backs of both of Kadri’s legs. Kadri gets called for embellishment, for some reason; as he goes down, Gaudreau skates away and Jooris jumps on top of him.

    I’m not totally sure how I feel about this? On the one hand, Kadri is the only party in this incident that did nothing wrong, and if that’s how Gaudreau reacts to taking a hit… eh.”

    I don’t see a lot readers agreeing with this point of view. If you couldn’t see the embellishment, then you didn’t really look.