Post-Game: extinguished by the Jets

The preseason does not matter. Games are won and lost, but ultimately all that matters is that the games can be used to evaluate players, systems and tactics as National Hockey League clubs prepare for the regular season.

After a game like we saw at the Scotiabank Saddledome between the Calgary Flames and the visiting Winnipeg Jets, the home side is probably very happy that the preseason does not matter. The Flames didn’t get any bounces in the first period and then were out-played in the second period en route to a 4-0 defeat at the hands of the Jets on Sunday evening.

THE RUNDOWN

The opening frame was full of good and bad for the home side. On the good side, they had the puck a lot. On the other hand, they didn’t do very much with it. The Jets opened the scoring midway through the frame, as a defensive lapse by Dennis Wideman left Scott Kasmachuk wide open for a pass from Chase de Leo for a tap-in goal to make it 1-0. The Flames had a few chances later on as they seemed to get their legs going, but a Michael Frolik slashing call behind the play led to a Jets power-play…and a second Jets goal. It was an odd one, though: Brett Kulak went to clear the puck  behind the net, but his slapper glanced off a Jets skate, careened out front, off another Jets skate and right to Ben Chiarot for another tap-in to make it 2-0. Chad Johnson had zero chance. Shots in the first were 5-3 Calgary.

The wheels fell off a bit for the locals in the middle period after a promising start. Their early power play – carried over from the very end of the first – generated a lot of nice chances and actually drew a second penalty that functionally extended the power-play to nearly four full minutes. Unfortunately, none of the chances beat Ondrej Pavelec. Soon after the Jets killed off the last penalty, Mark Stuart beat Johnson off the rush after a nice passing sequence from de Leo and Kosmachuk. The shot itself was a super-quick wrister from the high slot that just beat Johnson top-corner on his glove side. Johnson’s night ended after 3 goals against on 6 shots.

Jon Gillies’ night didn’t start off well, either, as he was beaten on his first shot after he replaced Johnson midway through the period to begin a Jets power play. On that play, the Flames defenders followed Alex Burmistrov around the zone with the puck, leaving Paul Postma wide-open in the high slot for a shot that just beat Gillies inside the post. That made it 4-0. The Jets kept pressing, but Gillies seemed to settle in. The period also featured a pair of fights: Garnet Hathaway scrapped with JC Lipon by the Flames bench after a few shoves and whacks escalated, and then Brandon Bollig fought Chris Thorburn in retaliation for Thorburn awkwardly colliding with T.J. Brodie in the Flames end on a previous shift. Shots were 13-12 Winnipeg in the second.

The final frame didn’t have a heck of a lot of action or flow to it. The Flames had a few chances but couldn’t bury anything, and the Jets played like a team that had a four-goal lead on the road and had no problem coasting their way to the finish.

SYSTEM STUFF

The Flames had some challenges getting out of their own zone, especially in the first period. Their passes weren’t connecting and they couldn’t really generate any speed or momentum through the neutral zone. As a result, they dumped the puck in a lot more than they would probably like.

The power play was actually pretty decent in terms of generating some solid chances, but they just couldn’t bury anything. The penalty kill was okay, particularly with Backlund on the ice, but they had some struggles with consistency and getting the puck out. The groups they had out there were much more passive than was probably intended.

HOW’D THEY LOOK?

The established NHLers looked solid, with Backlund, Frolik and Bennett standing out (and Tkachuk had some nice shifts as well). Gillies was really solid after giving up that first goal. Mikhail Grigoriev made his preseason debut and looked quite poised and mature, and he even generated some scoring chances in the first frame.

Everybody else – particularly those who were pushing for jobs and/or their training camp survival – weren’t all that great and probably didn’t do too much to make management’s roster decisions tougher.

QUOTEABLE

“I just feel better every day, feel more and more comfortable. The third period today, I wasn’t getting a lot of work, but that’s the best I’ve felt in a game situation all preseason. Kinda got the positioning back, got some of the details back and stuff like that, so that was a good feeling.” – Flames goalie Jon Gillies on how he feels physically after missing most of last season due to a hip injury

“When you lose the specialty teams game in this league, it’s hard to win. I thought we made another couple errors that cost us the other two goals, but it’s tough to win when you’re down 2-0 in the specialty teams.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on the loss

UP NEXT

The Flames are off for a couple days before they complete their preseason schedule with a Wednesday home date with the Arizona Coyotes and a Thursday trip to Vancouver to face the Canucks.

  • smatic10

    Great review Ryan! Here’s my individual player review:

    Grigoriev: He showed why he’s still in camp. Very smooth skater with great hands. He was trying to make things happen in the offensive zone. Had a couple of end to end rushes. He did allow an easy zone entry on the fourth goal against though.

    Jokipakka: De Leo used his speed to pass him on the first goal against. I remember Joki being victimized last year a few times because of his lack of speed. But overall he’s an intelligent player that will make the smart play most of the time. Was overall happy with his game tonight.

    Bennett: When you watch this kid with the puck, you can’t help but wonder what his ceiling really is. So skilled and fast. I really hope he has some puck luck this year because he works so hard to get into scoring chances. He really seems like he may break out this year.

    Tkachuk: I actually liked Tkachuk’s game tonight more than I did last game (even though he was held pointless tonight). He’s starting to get more comfortable. He and Benny do have some good chemistry. He’s a legitimate threat around the crease during a PP. He’s going to take a lot of abuse though by defensemen if he continues to be as aggressive as he is in the crease. But that shouldn’t be a problem as long as he doesn’t get injured or take a bad penalty.

    Johnson: Not very good tbh. First goal against was bad coverage from Wideman so you can’t fault Johnson too much. But it still seemed like a shot that should have been stopped as it sort of leaked through. Second goal against was bad decision making by Johnson but also a little bad luck on a clearing attempt by Kulak. The third goal against was a great shot by Stuart but there was no screen so it still should have been stopped. Not worried though, he’s a backup for a reason. When he’s on his game, he’s very solid and calm in net.

    Bollig: Just no. He marginally won his fight. But still, just no. Complete waste of a roster spot.

    Brodie: I love Brodie but for the love of all that is holy, SHOOT THE PUCK. SHOOT IT. If you are on the PP, it is almost never a bad idea to shoot the puck. Besides that, in my eyes, he hasn’t been his impactful self yet. I recall him skating the puck end to end only once in this game. He turned the puck over in the defensive end a couple of times too. But I’m sure he’ll return to form, probably just working out the kinks.

    Wideman: Bad coverage on the first goal. Didn’t use his shot much.

    Kulak: Showed some slick hands and got a low shot on goal on the PP. Other than that, I don’t recall too many mistakes. He continues to make a case for himself.

    Frolik: Skated hard as always. He had a good shot on a PP in the third. He picked up his play in the third along with Backs.

    Backlund: Hit two posts so he was snake bitten. Picked up his play in the third.

    Chiasson: Probably his best game as a Flame. Goes to show that he needs to play with good players in order to have any impact on a game. He still wasn’t a force out there or anything but he managed to hold the puck in the zone and make a couple of plays from behind the net.

    Korpikoski: Barely noticed him until he started skating hard in the third. Had a decent chance shorthanded. Still feel like he’s going to be cut.

    Grossman: Was ok overall. Even tried to get involved offensively a little bit. Still going to get cut.

    F. Hamilton: His weakest preseason game so far. But he was placed on a line with Bollig so I give him a pass.

    Poirier: Kid can definitely fly. This might just be me over thinking it, but his skating stance causes his center of gravity to be relatively high so he gets pushed off the puck easily and he’s not the best on his edges (so he can’t use his speed to his advantage). I have a feeling Tree is going to trade this guy this season while he still has some trade value. With that being said, who knows, another season in the A could give him the confidence he needs to be an NHLer.

    Bouma: He wasn’t really running around banging bodies like he usually is. So he didn’t bring much to the game. Did crunch Morrissey in the third though.

    Hathaway: Can’t ever fault this guy when it comes to effort. He was being his usual gritty, annoying self. But didn’t do anything for the scoresheet.

    Stajan: He didn’t stand out negatively because the whole team was pretty out of sync. But with that being said, he wasn’t good.

    Gillies: He had no chance on his goal against with Bollig sprawling out in front of him. After that, he made some solid saves. I really hope he can play a full season in the A, because he’ll steal some games for Stockton. Great prospect.

    ——

    I said it last game and I’ll say it again, not impressed with the PK. We are not “defending fast”. We are allowing way too much zone time for their PP. But again, it’s preseason so I’ll reserve judgement till after a few reg season games.

    • cberg

      With the obvious new strategy of multiple, short passes while going on offence together as a unit, I wonder if the end to end rushes of Brodie and others are going to be its victim and disappear?

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Chiasson – other than the announcers discussion how to pronounce his name, he had zero impact in the game. His skating seems fine, but he doesn’t have any finish. Not even Byron finish. If he is the best we can find for the top line this season, then we are in trouble.

      Wideman – was good only on the PP. Bad at defending mostly. He still looks slow on the PP, trying to find a lane.

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    Anyone know why Hathaway was inserted in the line-up for Vey? Now about the game tonight… With Calgary icing the worst line up so far this pre-season I don’t think anyone was really surprised with the final score. Although the final score completely flattered the jets,They did play more consistent,better organized and more skilled through out the game in comparison to what the Flames dressed tonight.
    IMO at least Three of Calgary’s “vets” really (no)showed tonight that they are not worthy of a spot on the team, they better get it together fast or be prepared to Sit out or be Shipped out.

      • ThisBigMouthIsRight

        If you didn’t watch the game, Not my Problem. If you don’t know who the obvious ones are, Not my problem! Hardly thrown under the bus to point out three guys under-performing at their wanna have job!

    • McRib

      Has Edmonton fixed their defense or is Larsson just another Andrej Sekera? Nurse, Klefbom, Davidson, Reinhart all need to take a major step forward for Edmonton to show remarked improvement for you to be competitive. Whereas Brian Elliot just needs to be the same goaltender he has been the last five years for us to be competitive, I know which bet I would take all day.

        • McRib

          Let’s talk about Calgary, who lead the league last year with an NHL-Best .930 Save Percentage? Oh right Brian Elliot. Who has the second best cumulative Save Percentage since the start of the 2011-2012 season? Once again Brian Elliot (Cory Schneider only beat him out of first with 0.01 of a difference. 0.26 versus 0.25). Did Brain Elliot even dress in yesterday’s game? No he didn’t because it’s preseason, which doesn’t mean anything.

          Great example of why preseason meaning nothing, Edmonton finished first in the Western Conference during last years preseason schedule with a 6-1-1 record. They then went on to stink up the regular season like usual. I haven’t even thougt about Edmonton in months, but oddly enough I see you bringing up Calgary multiple times a day on here.

          • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

            There you go bringing up the oilers yet again! Lol. I’m bringing up Calgary because this is Flamesnation. You are too easy man. As far as Elliot goes… he did that with the blues.

        • Kevin R

          You need to quit trolling then by derogatory comments on something you know damn well.
          I can go to Oiler thread & just criticize everything about the Oil(but first let them know I’m a Flame fan), how do you think that would be accepted?

          • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

            Derogatory comments?? Asking if the Flames had fixed their goaltending?? Johnson had a terrible game last night, so I asked the question. Geez soft skin or what??

          • BluDino

            As if.
            Everything you say is usually an off handed attack or some other form of trolling and then you play this card about just wanting to talk about the flames.
            No.
            Your comment was not innocent nor harmless.
            You are a toll and that’s all you come here to do.
            What was your Johnny comment on the last post? Some bullshit about him saying there is no intention of asking for a trade just so it will be easier to be tradded?
            More bullshit trolling and negativity mongering.

  • McRib

    If I was a Winnipeg Jets fan Ondrej Pavelec would absolutely infuriate me. He is consistently one of the worst goaltenders in the league, but just when his job seems to be in jeopardy he turns it on for a stretch of games to calm the waters and becomes unbeatable. He then precedes to resort back to being a horrible goaltender once he has earned back the role of starting netminder.

    • Captain Ron

      This is exactly what I was thinking of him. I was at the game last night. He was really good for the Jets in that game. Sometime he looks like vintage Kiprusoff and other times a beer league goalie. It must drive the coaches crazy knowing what he is capable of and yet they can’t trust him to be that guy on a regular basis.

  • smith

    Every year if feels like a bunch of veterans are outplayed yet in the end make the team. I strongly suspect Higgens, Grossman, Wideman and Bollig will be in the opening lineup. I would much rather have Hathaway, Kulak, Nakladl and I suppose Higgens would be okay.

    • KACaribou

      I don’t get the feeling at all that these vets will be in the opening line-up. I think Bollig will be the extra forward brought in for rougher games. Wideman is on the team. Get used to it. I think everyone else is down or cut completely. Nakladl isn’t even in the picture.

      I see things more like this:

      Gaudreau Monahan Ferland

      Tkachuk Bennett Brouwer

      Bouma Backlund Frolik

      Hamilton Stajan Chaisson

      Gio Brodie

      Wideman Hamilton

      Jokipakaa Engellan

      Wotherspoon

  • KACaribou

    smatic10 great job again. Thanks

    When Train isn’t being antagonistic I enjoy his alternative remarks. Sorry if I don’t want to read everyone agreeing with everything the blog author has to say. What’s wrong with his asking if the Flames have cleaned up their goaltending problems?

    I am sure you will find that goaltending problems relate greatly to team-defence. Blues have great team-defence. Flames… well… Statistically it’s easy to blame last year on poor goaltending, when realistically it was terrible team defence.

    Here’s hoping they have upgraded goaltending as well as improved team-defence.