Kings 3, Flames 0 post-game embers: The best player was the goalie? Wow

So. The Calgary Flames didn’t get as destroyed as they did against Anaheim, but they still didn’t have a particularly good game. Though they did not deserve the shutout – that Mikael Backlund goal was legit, you can tell by the way Jonathan Quick didn’t even have a temper tantrum – they were still thoroughly outplayed.

But their goalie kept them in it.

That’s not really been a common theme of this season, exactly.

The case for Joni Ortio continues

The Kings had 29 shots on net, and Joni Ortio stopped 26 of them. He can’t really be blamed for any of the goals that got past him, either.

The first was a gorgeous tip on the power play by Jeff Carter. The second was a lowlight Dougie Hamilton is probably going to be forced to watch over and over again, Clockwork Orange-style, until the concept of situational awareness at all times is thoroughly drilled into his head. And the third was a bounce Ortio wasn’t that far off from getting, and Part Two of Joe Colborne’s Really Bad Night in the Blue Paint.

The Flames were shutout, and their goalie was the only really blameless figure.

It was especially a stark contrast compared to the Anaheim game, which saw Jonas Hiller give up three goals on five shots, and Niklas Backstrom surrender five on 22.

After one, the Kings outshot the Flames 8-7, and it remained a tied game.

In the second period, the Kings outshot the Flames 15-8, and Ortio was left basically helpless on the two goals that got past him. But the Kings still had many more chances, and Ortio didn’t let things get out of hand.

In the third period, shots were even at six apiece, but by then, the Kings pretty much had the game in the bag. And Ortio did enough to give his team a real shot.

The Ducks are a good team. The Kings are a good team. They’re battling right down to the wire for the Pacific Division crown, so there’s still a lot at stake for the both of them. And though the Flames skaters generally looked better on the second night of their back-to-back, they still weren’t great.

The two older goalies had bad nights. Ortio looked good. So even though he gave up three, it was like a statement game from the young Finn.

Here’s to the top line

It was Backlund who actually got the goal (and then had it taken away for no apparent reason), but it was the Flames’ top line who had the best possession rates on the team. Sean Monahan was a 57.89% ES CF player, Johnny Gaudreau was a 56.00% guy, and Hunter Shinkaruk, rounding out the line, finished at 53.85%. (Jyrki Jokipakka, who clocked in at 55.56%, was the only other positive corsi player in what was a rough outing for the team.)

They only had five shots between them – Monahan and Gaudreau with two apiece, Shinkaruk with just one – but were also the only forwards to be on the ice for double digits in corsi for events (Monahan 11, Gaudreau and Shinkaruk 14 each). In a weak night offensively, their numbers do stand out, so it’ll be nice to see the Shinkaruk experiment continue for as long as it can.

Because Shinkaruk is being put in a position to succeed. That isn’t quite something we can say for many prospects who have come up through the organization, but there’s an opening on the top line now, and it’s his chance at it. Shinkaruk played 17:50, which was only behind Gaudreau in terms of ice time. He got 1:31 on the power play, which wasn’t exactly in the range for most time spent on the man advantage, but was still a modest total.

Small sample sizes of just a couple of minutes, but Shinkaruk did falter away from Gaudreau and Monahan, at least in terms of corsi. Which, honestly, is to be expected: two of these guys are established NHLers, and one was playing in his fourth game ever. So.

Good lord, this team is young

So the top line last night consisted of Gaudreau (22), Monahan (21), Shinkaruk (21), and they were sometimes out there with the Hamilton (22) and T.J. Brodie (25) defence pairing.

Brodie, 25 years young, was occasionally the old man of the Flames’ side of the ice. Except 25 is still really young in and of itself.

Throw in players like Sam Bennett (19) and Micheal Ferland (23) appearing to continue to develop chemistry with one another – though they didn’t capitalize, they once again had a handful of chances, including one right off the post – and this is a team of babies.

You can’t even really go with the call-ups excuse either, because of the seven players I’ve listed above, six of them have been regulars on this team the entire season. And it’s possible Shinkaruk joins them next season. (It’s also possible he doesn’t, but he’s a really early entrant to the “who’s gonna surprise us at training camp” question.)

The Flames were only missing Michael Frolik (28) when it came to regulars. And true, things have changed – the departures of Jiri Hudler (32), David Jones (31), Kris Russell (28), and effectively, Dennis Wideman (33) have dropped the team’s age – but it’s not exactly like they’re about to fill those spots with older players next season (Wideman aside, maybe).

The way I see it, there are two ways to interpret this:

  1. Death is imminent and coming for us all.
  2. The Flames are starting to shift out of the rebuilding phase as their young players take over the core of the team and gain more and more experience with each passing game. Seriously, Gaudreau and Monahan have nearly 400 games of NHL experience between the two of them, that’s nuts. But then, there’s still a lot of hockey to be played for the Flames’ new group – so the sooner they get it together, the sooner and, potentially, longer, the good times can roll.
  • CofRed4Life

    I think the fact that our team is so young makes me excited for the future. They’re finding their feet, and once they do, as long as we have a true number 1 goalie, and some more scoring depth, we could be a true contender. There are a lot of good pieces already in place for the future

    • Baalzamon

      Poirier didn’t play because Gaudreau was back. Jooris looked okay, though I’d say he was the passenger on his line last night (with Ferland and Bennett).

      Bouma’s recent incredible inability to provide offense is just an extension of his career incredible inability to provide offense.

  • FireScorpion

    Pulling for Shinkaruk but if there’s one thing I know it’s that Calgarians love to hate their own..see Vernon, Colburne, Raymond. It makes no sense but something tells me if Hunter stumbles we’ll see that.
    Even here it mentions he is put into position to succeed..almost as though it’s apologetic. Well hell, he has the offensive pedigree and has shown his skill. .where else would you play him. Though yeah it is surprising Hartley didn’t chain him down to Bollig I suppose haha

    Oh and Backlund still stuck on 39. 8 games and counting

  • everton fc

    Seems if we could find a good RW for Ferland and Bennett, we’d have another potentially dangerous line. Colborne may be that player, for now. Poirier could/should be that player. Perhaps its Freddie H? Perhaps it’s a skilled veteran we pick up in the summer?? Whomever it is, if that role can be adequately filled (maybe it’s Shinkaruk, with the skilled vet shouldering the right-side of Gaudreau/ Monahan?)… The potential for three very good lines is exciting – if Colborne plays RW with Ferland/Bennett, than we need someone on the LW with Backlund and Frolik. This is not Bouma. It could be Colborne, if Jooris could play RW with Ferland and Bennett, though this scenario looks unlikely. Or, it may be Agostino.

    I hope it is…

  • RKD

    Ortio is making a case for himself, he should be back next season. He’s kept us in a lot of game, Backstrom and Hiller aren’t even AHL goalies anymore. Let them go disappear to Europe. Hathaway could replace Lance Bouma. The Flames outplayed the Kings in the first 10 minutes of the game and were outshooting them 7-2 at one point. They competed harder than the against the Ducks.

  • Toofun

    Regarding the Backlund non-goal call, you guys are going to hate this but it was called no goal because 1. Colborne was in the painted part of the crease without being pushed in and 2. It impacted the goalie’s ability to move across the crease. Big Joe needs to know where his skates are. Go to the net but don’t go in the crease unless you are pushed.

    We can argue a lot of different things like “should that be the rule” or “is this rule being called consistently across the league” or what if the player is outside the crease and the goalie bumps into him” or (the most debatable in this case) “did Joe being in the crease affect the goalie’s ability to make the save” but the bottom line is that once this was called no-goal on the ice, it couldn’t be overturned.

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    I hope for a new top-line RW the Flames get creative with trades…here is an example of how:

    1. Background: Check any decent NHL salary-cap website for NEXT year and you see L.A. Kings in BIG Cap trouble when you factor in the following:

    a. Want to re-sign Lucic but will take AT LEAST $4M if not much more.

    b. Gaborik on LTIR but expected back, many years on contract and D Matt Greene on LTIR but expected back, 2 years left on contract

    c. A number of quite highly-paid 3rd and 4th liners like King, Clifford, Pearson, and even Nolan (if you re-sign him).

    2. How to do it:

    We ask for awesome RW Tyler Toffoli and fill some of their needs at less than his salary so they can also re-sign Lucic. So what do they get? Well given expensive guys on LA roster, they need cheap but decent players at both F and D so….

    A decent young-ish but inexpensive RW or centre from us like Jooris or Colborne who are in control (RFAs) or may be already re-signed before this trade PLUS a HIGH draft pick (maybe Dallas one from Russell trade, espec if 2nd rounder) AND/OR a cheap decent ane experienced defensemen (give up a re-signed Nakladal or Jokipakka).

    Is this CRAZY? It’s a stretch but if the salary cap stays same or EVEN goes up by $4M, LA is still in trouble for 2016-17. They simply CANNOT stand pat.

    • Trading their best pure goal scorer and a hell of a player who is cheap (at least for now) for a low first round/second round pick and a “decent” Jooris or Colborne? Even with a 5-6 D it would be robbery.

      I think there are many others they would trade just to dump salary before even thinking of trading Toffoli.

      Be great if it happened! 🙂