Post-Game: Backstrom’s Last Stand

It was a nice gesture by the Calgary Flames to give veteran goaltender Niklas Backstrom the final start of the season, which happened to be in his old stomping grounds of Minnesota. Backstrom played just over 400 games with the Wild and at 38 years of age, it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll be back in the National Hockey League next season.

But Backstrom was a massive difference-maker for a Flames roster full of youthful exuberance tonight, making 35 saves en route to a 2-1 comeback victory to close out the 2015-16 season.

THE RUNDOWN

The Flames were, uh, tentative in the first period. Sean Monahan barely played and left after the period due to an injury. As a result, Bob Hartley seemed to shuffle lines to figure out a solution. They never really clicked in the first. Shots were 13-5 and attempts were 28-11, both for Minnesota.

The game was a bit more energetic in the second, but the Flames weren’t nearly crisp enough. The Wild pressed a bit but couldn’t score on any of their good chances, but then they scored two-thirds through the period. Zac Dalpe chucked a puck on net from a bad angle and beat Backstrom inside the far post to make it 1-0. Shots were 18-6 Minnesota and attempts were 30-10 Minnesota.

The Flames came out with energy in the third, seemingly not wanting to get stomped on their last game of the season. They finally broke through with about six minutes left in the period. On a nice shift by the fourth line, Turner Elson and Drew Shore teamed with Brandon Bollig to generate the tying goal: Elson beat the Wild defenders to a loose puck (on an attempted Wild clear), cycling the puck back to Shore, who fed Bollig to make it 1-1. On the very next shift, Patrick Sieloff scored his first NHL goal. It’s one he’ll probably exaggerate  – he skated in and shot it on net, and it bonked in off Darcy Kuemper’s skate. The Wild pulled the goalie late but couldn’t score, and the Flames won 2-1. Shots were 14-5 and attempts were 18-10, both for the Flames.

THE NUMBERS

(All situations) CorsiFor% OZStart%
Monahan 30% 66.67%
Ferland 57.14% 66.67%
Hamilton 41.18% 63.64%
Gaudreau 42.42% 57.14%
Jokipakka 42.11% 43.75%
Elson 15.79% 42.86%
Stajan 50% 33.33%
Bennett 38.24% 33.33%
Shinkaruk 57.69% 27.27%
Backlund 41.94% 25%
Bollig 37.5% 25%
Giordano 36.59% 21.43%
Shore 40.74% 20%
Sieloff 36.36% 20%
Colborne 36.84% 14.29%
Brodie 25% 12.5%
Kylington 36.67% 11.11%
Jooris 21.21% 10%

WHY THE FLAMES WON

The Flames had a bit more energy than the Wild in the final period and didn’t seem to sit back as the game wore on. They took tons of penalties, but their penalty kill was pretty effective and Niklas Backstrom played a great game aside from the weak goal by Dalpe.

And despite missing a ton of regulars, the Flames seemed content just to play their game. Despite getting a bunch of shots on net, the Wild never seemed particularly strong and lacked a killer instinct.

RED WARRIOR

I’m sentimental, but let’s give it to Niklas Backstrom. In what’s probably his last game, he gave the Flames a performance to be proud of. He made 35 saves and was pretty strong over the first two periods, keeping the Flames in the game.

And for the roles they were asked to perform, Oliver Kylington, Patrick Sieloff and Turner Elson were all pretty effective. Elson, in particular, did a good job on the play leading up to the tying goal.

THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM

The Flames finish the 2015-16 season with 77 points. Pending the results of the Winnipeg/Los Angeles game, the Flames will finish 25th overall (or 6th-last in the inverse standings).

UP NEXT

The Flames are off tomorrow, and then it’s the annual rite of Garbage Bag Day on Monday down at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

  • Cool Story, Brodie!!!

    Oh my god stop complaining about winning!! It’s f?kn pathetic! I’m fully aware of the draft implications if we win but guess what. I don’t care!! When that red light goes on someone’s getting a high five. We’re still gonna get a great player. Trelivings gonna dance through the cap crunch. The holes in our roster are gonna be addressed so stop your complaining and enjoy a win in the the last Flames game you’ll see for months!……Jesus!

  • MattyFranchise

    The 6th last place team has nearly a 25% chance of getting into the top 3 and picking a good player.

    IT’S THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD

    I can’t believe this team has “fans” that are actively cheering for losses. It’s embarrassing and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

  • smatic10

    A high draft pick is not going to be the thing that brings this team back to the playoffs. We need a top-4 dman, a top-6 forward, we need to dump anchoring contracts, we need to continue to sprinkle in youth, and we need a new coach. Lots on the agenda for Tree but he has shown he can get stuff done and I have faith that he can accomplish at least some of those things. We can be a playoff team as early as next year.

    We are rebuilding the right way and patience is the key. With the right amount of shrewd moves we can be a cup contender within a few years without picking first overall year after year. Don’t agree? Fine. Stop reading this post and go play with the NHL lottery simulator. Apparently that’s a better use of your time lol.

    As far as tonights game goes. Elson was like a deer caught in the headlights for most of the game, but he got a couple good shifts in him in the third and it led to an assist, so good for him. After watching his wjc highlights, I was really worried about Kylington. He seemed to have zero defensive awareness. But I can already tell that part of his game as improved. 2-3 more years in the A, I think this pick will pay off and he’ll only be 21 :O . Sieloff looked solid too, hopefully we don’t give up on him too soon. He’s one of the few guys in the prospect ranks that plays with an edge.

    It wasn’t the season we wanted, but there are signs of good stuff to come. I’m excited.

  • McRib

    Winnipeg wins, back in 5th place!!! Apparently I hate the Flames for wanting a better calculated chance to get the best possible prospect to further help our future. Wanting to lose one game on second last day of year, isn’t being pro tanking.

      • McRib

        Wow, have they ever gone on an insane run lately, I was just thinking about that. When I was looking at all of the bottom teams strength of schedule five games out from end of the season, I looked at Winnipegs and thought there wasn’t a chance in hell that we could pass them in the draft order. I’d love for the NHL to move to a future draft order where the bottom say five teams draft order is determined by who won the most games in their final say 15 games. It would eliminate tanking all together and encourage staying in games late in season. Winnipeg, Calgary, Columbus would deservedly be picking Top. 3. Whereas Vancouver would be punished for pulling an embarrassing tank job the last couple months.

  • Greg

    Fairly intense opinions on the tanking, and seems to be a pretty even split on both sides. Think it’s fairly safe to say the league hasn’t quite done enough to get rid of the incentive to tank.

    I’m still not sure I like the “most points earned after elimination” idea (it would kill the trade deadline even more), but they should do more to balance out the odds and positioning. Does last place really need 7.5% higher odds than 2nd last? I’d say flatten those odds out even more, and make the top 10 picks all lottery, so all non-playoff teams have high likelihood of moving up or down significantly regardless of where they finish.

    Doesn’t give any incentive to win, but at least it kills all incentives to lose, as it’d make a few spots in the standings virtually meaningless, while still redistributing most top talent towards the lower teams.

  • Craig

    I disagree that a lottery pick won’t solve our problem. There’s two potentially elite RW. We desperately need a scoring RW. Then all we would need is a goalie.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    When the regular season ends tonight, there should be a one-week layoff for the playoff teams to plot strategy and rest up. In the interim, the bottom 8 non-playoff teams play a mini tournament that decides the top 8 draft picks. It is a series of one game showdowns.

    Based on this year’s standings:

    1. Buffalo 2. Arizona 3. Winnipeg 4. Calgary 5. Columbus 6. Vancouver 7. Edmonton 8. Toronto

    1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, 3 vs 6, 4 vs 5

    The winners of these one-game showdowns advance to decide draft picks 1 to 4. The losers will also play one-game showdowns to decide picks 5 to 8.

    Start the tournament on a Monday. Have a day between games for travel. The tournament is done by Friday. The Stanley Cup playoffs then begin on Saturday.

    All the draft positions are known before the real playoffs begin. GMs can now start discussing their makeovers with the knowledge that they know exactly where they will be drafting with the exception of any conditional picks involving playoff-bound teams. NHL makes extra dough for the non-playoff tournament. Much greater fan interest as a one-game showdown for the 1st overall pick would be a like a Game 7 for the Stanley Cup in years where there is a generational player up for grabs in the draft. Far more entertaining than watching Billy Dailey grab Bettman’s balls to decide rank.

    By the way, count how many times I used the word “tank” in the above suggestion.

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    Speaking of leader boards….. 2015-16 Season

    Top 10 Points: Six outta ten not top 10 draft pix

    Top 10 Defense (points): Seven outta 10 not a top 10 pick

    One could reasonably argue that a team’s odds for success lie beyond the fever dreams of Top Ten picks.

    • Avalain

      But then, it should be noted that there have only been 2 teams since the expansion (in the 70s?) who have won the cup without having a player on the roster who was drafted top 3 overall. One of them was Calgary, though Lanny was drafted 4th. Some teams like Detroit would have had to trade for them at some point, but they were there.