Post-Game: Mission Accomplished

Tonight, the Calgary Flames strolled into Air Canada Center in Toronto on a bit of a high. The Flames have a ton of momentum, having won many games lately – despite trading away everything but the kitchen sink at the trade deadline. (They even found a new home for David Jones.)

Tonight, in a position to really distance themselves from the Leafs in the race for last place and separate themselves from the bottom pack, the Flames registered a pretty important 5-2 loss to Toronto.

It was their second game in as many nights on the road. But the Flames played a pretty flat, uninspired 60 minutes of hockey. It was the perfect time for that to happen, but it’s still pretty disappointing. But if you’re part of Team Tank? Mission accomplished.

THE RUNDOWN

The Flames came out flat in the first and the Leafs had a lot of chances early. They finally broke it open mid-way through the period. Jonas Hiller mishandled the puck behind the net; William Nylander stole it and fed P.A. Parenteau for a sure goal out front to make it 1-0. They had more chances, but that’s all they got. Shots were 7-3 Toronto and attempts were 25-7 Toronto.

After the intermission, the Flames came out and played with some pep. After exchanging chances, they finally broke through on the penalty kill, as Matt Stajan scored a short-handed goal to tie things up. Zach Hyman made it 2-1 a few minutes later off another nice Nylander pass, but the Flames responded back before the period ended as Joe Colborne deflected a Mark Giordano shot past Jonathan Bernier to make it 2-2. Shots were 15-8 Calgary and attempts were 26-24 Calgary.

As the Flames were trying to shake the cobwebs off to kick off the third, Nylander scored 29 seconds in to make it 3-2. The Flames tried to respond back but didn’t have the ability to bear down on their chances, and the Leafs added a pair of empty-netters (by Colin Greening and Josh Leivo) to ice things. Shots were 11-7 Toronto and attempts were 18-14 Toronto.

THE NUMBERS

(All situations) CorsiFor% OZStart%
Bennett 40.91% 87.5%
Colborne 61.29% 80%
Bollig 43.75% 71.43%
Jokipakka 28.95% 66.67%
Bouma 35.71% 66.67%
Hamilton 63.16% 66.67%
Gaudreau 56.76% 64.29%
Nakladal 33.33% 63.64%
Stajan 33.33% 55.56%
Hathaway 33.33% 55.56%
Ferland 42.11% 55.56%
Backlund 37.84% 52.94%
Monahan 47.5% 52.94%
Frolik 39.29% 52.94%
Brodie 34.29% 47.37%
Giordano 57.78% 45.83%
Wotherspoon 27.03% 45.45%
Jooris 35% 25%

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

Well, they got tooled up by Michael Nylander’s kid, first and foremost. But fundamentally, they just lacked the crispness and energy that they had in Montreal. They were consistently the second-best team on the ice through the game, and they deserved to lose.

Oh, and they gave Toronto six power-plays. That’s pretty damn sloppy.

RED WARRIOR

Mark Giordano was full of pep tonight and was pretty involved throughout the game. He had three shots, a primary assist, and led the team in ice-time.

And let’s give Josh Jooris some credit; after Johnny Gaudreau got hit by Nazem Kadri in the second, Jooris jumped in to engage Kadri. Whether you think fisticuffs are useful in hockey or not, it was nice to see an actual response from the team when their best player got leveled.

THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM

The Flames tragic number is down to 3.5 – any combination of 3.5 Flames losses or Colorado wins will eliminate the Flames officially from the post-season.

UP NEXT

The Flames fly off to the Twin Cities and are back in action on Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild.

  • Scoring_guru

    Can someone explain to me what Sam Bennett brings to the table? I know he is still a “kid”, but I don’t really see what all the hype is about him. He seems lost in our own end and he doesn’t seem to generate a lot of scoring chances in the offensive zone. I know he is feisty and tenacious, but that doesn’t seem to be generating any offense. Is he playing with the wrong players? Is he hurt? Does he still need to learn what it takes to compete game in and game out in the NHL? I really thought I would see more from him tonight, especially against the Toronto Marlies, but that just didn’t happen.

    • FlamesFan1489

      As a kid putting up 0.5 PPG, mainly with terrible linemates, with the tenacity and the guts to play in the dirty areas (in the corners, in front of the net) I would say Sam has had a successful rookie season. He’s not a generational player (I think the TSN/Powerade special on Bennett and Reinhart was a little overkill) but he’s going to be a damn good player. You want to quit on a rookie in his first year, I’m glad you’re not running this team. Sorry he isn’t Connor McDavid but most 19 year olds don’t just jump into the NHL and put up over a PPG, and by the looks of it most players in the league don’t either.

    • piscera.infada

      Disappointment in Bennett’s game is kind of unfounded. It’s funny, because if you look at his numbers, he’s basically putting up the same numbers as Monahan did in his rookie year (and he’s actually on pace to do better). Guess we’re just not as starved for good young players anymore, eh?

      • ChinookArchYYC

        You beat me to it, he’s on pace to out perform Mohahan in year 1. I expect Bennett will be the #1 centre on this team within a couple of seasons. And I’ve also long considered Monahan as a top #2 centre in the league, so Bennett as a # 1 can’t happen soon enough for me.

          • piscera.infada

            Yes and no. Chemistry is fine, until a better player comes along and they are given time to develop chemistry with Gaudreau, right?

            I mean, the times where Johnny and Sam have played together for longer than 10 minutes, they have produced an incredible number of chances, and very good possession. Problem is, Hartley refuses to actually let them develop that chemistry over any sort of time.

        • Brodano12

          Monahan is a 1C in this league. Not sure what you cut off as being a 1C, but I cut it off as being a top 30 centre in the league. He is just hovering around that cut off in terms of his production and advanced stats this year, and he’s only 21. 60 points + 2-way play at age 21 is a top line centre on most teams.

          Kid is leading his draft class and the previous draft class in goals scored and we’re calling him a 2C. Not every team can have a Crosby or McDavid.

          • piscera.infada

            I completely agree with you in regards to production.

            The issue I have is this label as a “+2-way player”. He simply isn’t (and that’s fine, although it could be an issue if he’s your 1c on a contender. Monahan rank 110th in the league in terms of score-adjusted relCorsi percentage at even-strength for all centres that have played a minimum of 200 minutes (immediate comparables: Darren Helm, Henrique, Mike Richards, Linden Vey). In terms of raw Corsi he ranks 180th out of the same player pool (comparables: Nugent-Hopkins, Tikhonov, Ryan White, Zibanejad). In terms of scoring chance plus/minus, Monahan ranks 191st out of the same cohort (Chipchura, Eichel, Sedin, Cracknell).

            None of this is to say “Monahan is poor”, but look at the centres he has to match-up against with number 1 centre match-ups just in the division alone (Kopitar, Getzlaf/Kesler, McDavid). If he doesn’t get that turned around, he (and the first line as a whole) is at a severe disadvantage.

            Now compare these numbers to Bennett (a rookie). Score-adjust relCorsi percent: 46th (Kopitar, Krejci, Jordan Staal, Neilsen). Raw Corsi: 141st (Turris, Barkov, Bjugstad). Scoring chances +/-: 51st (McDavid, Jordan Staal, Backstrom, Barkov, Lee).

            We already know Bennett is tracking as good (or better) than Monahan in terms of counting stats in their rookie years. So it’s not inconceivable to see Bennett as the number one centre ahead of Monahan at some point. That’s not saying it will happen. But it is saying that Bennett looks to fit that bill better at this point.

    • The Fall

      Sam’s offence has stalled since they put him at centre. I believe this is for the best long term.

      Since his move to centre, Sam has had inconsistent line mates including Joe Goalborne on his wing. Joe is the type of player who benefits from good line mates, but does not drive offence on his own. Joe’s numbers are up (this year’s Bouma), at the expense of other players, i.e.. 19 y.o. Sam Bennett who isn’t experienced enough to drag him along.

      With the chemistry and offence Backs and Frolic have developed, it’s unlikely Sam will see higher skilled playmakers on his wing for the rest of the season.

      For me, the best case scenario is Sean, Sam, Backs running 1,2,3. With Backs taking the hardest d-zone starts, Sean taking first line minutes and Sam cleaning up against weaker players.

  • RKD

    Kadri is a little puke, he hits Johnny hockey then gets hacked and turtles when Jooris starts pounding him. This guy has become public enemy no. 1 ever since his classless throat slashing gesture towards Gio.

  • beloch

    Even though it was a back-to-back game and Hiller was in net, it’s pretty humiliating to lose to the Marlies. If this is what it takes to pick first overall, I’m fine with picking later.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    Bennett will tear this league up he just needs time imagine if gaudreau was thrown in at 18 this kid is a mad dog for the puck he just needs time

  • KACaribou

    Obviously Pike is part of “Team Tank” because he headlined this article as such.

    I don’t care for any talk of tanking to be truthful. Our best player was a 4th rounder.

    AND…

    If Bennett was hurt nobody would know. He’s one tough hombre. Fret about him is ridiculous.

    Hiller played because he is part of the team, and even if he won’t be back next year he has friends on the team who like and care about him including the coaches. It’s easy to be a heartless idiot here. Last season Hiller saved our a$$es on plenty of occasions.

  • freethe flames

    Teams play bad games; last night it was the Flames turn.I don’t know why people are so upset by it; even good teams lay a stinker now and then. What a game like last night tells us is we still need more talent up front and a goaltender. While tanking is not something I endorse a top 3 pick would go a long way to helping with adding talent upfront. Add one FA upfront and a goaltender things will get better.

  • RedMan

    is this the HILLer we wanna die on? I say yes! Hiller gets his start, the results are what they are – draft position.

    would have like to see a little more jump from the team, but hey, back to backs, end of season – it was OK.

  • SteveTheLeaf

    Let me start with saying this is a serious attempt to start a discussion regarding the Kadri incident. Obviously, I’m a Leaf fan but I don’t pretend to believe the Leafs players are all angels, especially Kadri. I also believe that there is tons of grey areas in hockey while fandom sometimes forces you to typically view everything in black and white.

    Why I came to this site was not to chirp (like Empey so embarrassingly did above…), but to get a glimpse of “the other side”.

    Regardless, I’m not sure what Kadri could have done here beyond how he acted in this game. He threw a hard, legal check while Gaudreau was watching his pass. I would hope that most of you would agree to this. Should he receive retribution for hitting the Flames, arguably, top young player. Sure, I would expect similar if someone laid out Nylander. I would also hope that we all agree that it shouldn’t require a fight (hopefully, you haven’t being fully Burke-ified yet like we all were…).

    Now, was a double hack to the unpadded back of the legs good, ole fashioned retribution, though? Probably not. It’s kinds of a cheap, dirty play and I would much rather the Flames hitters directing their fury in the form of hard hits to Kadri for the rest of the night. Now, did Kadri embellish? I’m going 50/50. He has a “reputation” but I’m sure it hurt like a b*tch to get slashed like that (twice) and I’m not surprised he dropped his knees. I do think, however, that the stick throw (launch) was a little much.

    Lastly, Jooris kind of bear-hugged Kadri’s head down until it was resting on his arms (that were already planted on the ice to support his falling body) and followed it up with punches to the back and side of the head. He was basically put into the turtle by Jooris and only proceeded to tuck more when there wasn’t much more he could do. I don’t know what you really expect here as I don’t picture him rolling over and asking Jooris “please good sir, can you spread those punches out directly to my face as well?”

    Seriously though, I get the Kadri hate. He’s the Leaf’s Marchand or Montreal’s Gallagher. Sure, they aren’t all the exact same, but they are their team’s “guy” that every other team’s fan and players alike would love to punch the sh*t-eating smile off their faces. I get the initial hate too because of (what I perceive to be) overblown throat-slashing gesture. I just don’t get why a guy like Gaudreau (who is great, by the way… enjoy him!) is being lauded for calling Kadri a turtle-er. He’s never fought himself (nor should he) and I think, if anyone should be making that gesture, it should be Jooris (however, I hope I explained why I don’t think it a “full” turtle…).

    Anyway, If you can stomach it and don’t perceive yourselves fully biased, I’d recommend reading Leafsnation (admittedly, also biased) take on it. Broaden your horizons…

    • Burnward

      You realize Kadri ran a 5’6 165 pound player?

      Obviously it’s allowed.

      But if you want to run Johnny’s toughness down, that’s the wrong guy to use as a counter argument.

      It’d be like Habs fans beaking about Brodie turning it over and costing his team the game.

      • SteveTheLeaf

        Well, that didn’t take long. I did say Gaudreau shouldn’t have had to fight, didn’t I? And should we all pity Gaudreau because of his size and treat him with “kid gloves” because of his stature? And the term “ran” implies he was charged by Kadri, which he wasn’t. I’m glad to see the game is getting faster and smaller. I’d love if he was a Leaf. Yes, he’s small. But no, if he is puck watching, you shouldn’t avoid giving him a legal, shoulder-to-shoulder hit. And, frankly, I don’t get the Brodie comment. I’m not playing the “my dad can beat up your dad game”. Gaudreau doesn’t have to be “tough”. My main question is regarding the slashes (retribution) and turtling (or lack thereof). But, really, why should I expect to have a civil discussion beyond the jerseys the players were wearing and the names on their backs…

        • Burnward

          Slashes – Minimal and really, Johnny’s only form of defence.

          Turtling – Kadri takes that shot, he better be ready to answer…or be okay with Turtling and take the heat.

          You guys are way too sensitive.

          • SteveTheLeaf

            Haha, sensitive. Ok, sure, whatever. See, I’m not resulting to insults. Again, I want a discussion (and I’m really hurt by all these fake internet points I’m losing with the downvotes, btw…). But fine, I agree, Gaudreau’s only real way to retaliate was to hack at Kadri. Fair enough. We’ve made a concession. But I also said he shouldn’t have to retaliate. That should be a guy like Jooris’ job to fill Kadri in with multiple hits for the remainder of the night or challenge him to a fight, ala, McSorley for Gretzky (not that I pretend to know if Jooris is that guy or who that guy would be for the Flames… do you still have McGrattan?).

            But how did Kadri have time to answer? It was BAM, Jooris slash > BAM, Gaudreau slash > BAM, drop to knees > BAM, bear hug > BAM, head punches. It all happened in mere seconds. How can a guy “answer”? You know what, I would take that response if Kadri was confronted at the faceoff dot, during the play, or after the play. I would agree in that case that it was a wuss move to turn down a hypothetical fight, although, a clean hit shouldn’t always warrant one. Guys like Marchand laughing off fights makes me mad too and if Kadri backed down it would be the same thing. But that didn’t happen here…

          • SteveTheLeaf

            I wanted a view from the other side. I may be a Leafs fan by proximity (and by proximity I mean I don’t live in Toronto so don’t go painting us with the same brush) but that doesn’t mean I hate on other teams because I think that paradigm is idiotic, especially for teams who have had no considerable ill will between them by way of actual, meaningful games played against each other.

            But really, I wanted to see if there is any common ground regarding my views towards the “turtle” not actually being a “turtle” and whether Gaudreau’s actions were warranted. I think it is ironic for him to action “turtle”-ing when I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d do the exact thing if the tables were reversed.

            I’m just a guy trying to build bridge, lol