Post-Game: Rocked by the Hurricanes

The Calgary Flames are a salary cap team. They’re bumping their heads on the cap ceiling. The Carolina Hurricanes are a cap floor team, just a smidge over the absolute bare-bottom for what you can pay an NHL squad. The Hurricanes came into Calgary without a win, and in the midst of a five game road trip. If you thought the deck was stacked for the Flames to have a confidence-building game, you were probably right.

Unfortunately, special teams were Calgary’s undoing as they lost by a 4-2 score at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday evening.

THE RUNDOWN

The Flames started off the opening frame rather well. After a few minutes of getting their feet under them, they had a nice stretch of about four minutes of fairly consistent pressure on the Hurricanes, to the point where I don’t think Carolina really touched the puck during that span. Unfortunately, a defensive lapse going the other way left Teuvo Teravainen all alone in front and he beat Brian Elliott to make it 1-0 Carolina.

Then Lee Stempniak took a double-minor and the Flames seemed to lose the plot. Between that four minutes of power play time and another two minutes after Matthew Tkachuk drew another penalty right afterwards, the Flames had a lot of PP time to work with. They generated four shots, total. The Flames took a couple penalties in succession (with Lance Bouma and Alex Chiasson headed to the box), and former Calgary Hitmen sniper Victor Rask beat Elliott (with Deryk Engelland screening the goaltender inadvertently) to make it 2-0. The Flames had one last PP to finish off the period, but also failed to gain the zone and generated just a single shot. Shots overall were 10-8 for the home side in the first.

The second period was not one for the books. The issues that have defined the Flames power play crept into their even strength time, to the point where it was tough for them to get into the Carolina zone and do very much for the balance of the period. Five minutes in, things got worse, as Victor Stalberg was sprung on a breakaway by Klaus Dahlbeck – catching both Dougie Hamilton and Jyrki Jokipakka flat-footed – and suddenly it was 3-0 after the puck crept past Elliott after an initial save. The Flames eventually responded back with a couple minutes left in the second, as Troy Brouwer collected an errant puck (after a failed zone entry), strode into the Carolina zone and powered a slap shot past Eddie Lack to make it 3-1. That was probably one of two nice scoring chances for the home side in the entire frame. Shots were 13-8 for Carolina.

Bad PP early. Good PK after that seemed to give them life. Hamilton entered zone, passed to Gaudreau, who sped up and tucked it past Lack to make it 3-2.

The Flames pressured quite a bit after that goal and made attempts to tie it, but they couldn’t bury any of their chances. A late high-sticking penalty by Chiasson (and then a subsequent call on Brouwer) negated the last chunk of the game and effectively ended their chances to get a point. Jeff Skinner added a late power-play goal to ice this one at 4-1. Shots were 11-8 Carolina in the third.

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

First and foremost, their power play remains horrendous. The team had eight minutes of power play time in the first period. They could barely generate clean zone entries, let alone scoring chances. As a result, they weren’t able to generate momentum or at least tire Carolina’s defensive players out. Carolina got a boost from deflecting the Flames’ attacks so easily, and from that point on they were in the driver’s seat.

The team has other issues, such as the top line being basically invisible through the first five games, but tonight the lack of power play production of any type was what absolutely sunk ’em.

THE TURNING POINT

Six minutes of power play time in the first: zero goals, four shots, and a ton of zone entries that resulted in absolutely no zone time of any consequence. Here’s direct from my tracking sheet:

Screen Shot 2016-10-20 at 8.19.36 PM

Yikes. Zone entries at that frequency indicate that you aren’t spending any time in the offensive zone, aren’t generating any pressure, and should probably re-think your approach. The six minutes of PP came right after Carolina went up 1-0 and they had a golden chance to reply. They didn’t, and it basically sunk ’em.

RED WARRIOR

Let’s go with Johnny Gaudreau, who had a nice goal and probably looked as dangerous at even strength of anybody on either team. He didn’t have a great game, and he struggled on the PP, but he was one of the Flames’ best tonight.

THE NUMBERS

(Percentages are even-strength; game-score is overall.)

Lots of negative numbers in game scores tonight, gang.

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Stajan 60.0 25.0 0.180
Ferland 60.0 66.7 0.400
Engelland 59.1 28.6 -0.700
Kulak 58.3 33.3 0.175
Chiasson 53.9 40.0 -0.085
Frolik 53.9 20.0 -0.015
Brodie 52.4 30.8 0.225
Giordano 52.2 28.6 0.250
Monahan 50.0 66.7 0.805
Gaudreau 47.4 66.7 1.875
Versteeg 45.0 0.0 0.125
Bouma 44.4 18.0 -0.785
Bennett 42.9 25.0 -0.115
Tkachuk 40.0 20.0 -0.025
Brouwer 40.0 50.0 1.015
Backlund 37.5 18.2 -0.175
Hamilton 34.6 40.0 1.000
Jokipakka 28.6 40.0 -0.200
Elliott -0.200

THIS AND THAT

The last time Carolina won in Calgary was December 2002. Noah Hanifin was five years old.

QUOTEABLE

“I just don’t think we’re shooting the pucks and winning battles enough. I think you can’t shoot the puck if you don’t win battles. Early on I thought they did a good job, they’re probably the best in the league at denying the zone. They do a really good job, they’re highly organized at the blue line. We started to dump it in later in the later power plays but when you do that, which lots of teams do, you need to win those wall battles. We did that maybe on the fourth or the fifth power play a little bit, but the other four we were losing puck battles and they were breaking out on us. And we weren’t supporting it. We were a little bit one and done, and I think that is the biggest breakdown.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on his team’s breakdowns on the power play.

“I don’t know what it is. I think we got to be more desperate, be hungry,
we gotta get dirty. We’re losing battles on the wall and we should be
getting those pucks. I think that’s hurting us, and we’ve got to do it
as a group. We’re trying to make plays that aren’t there and we’ve got
to make those simple plays and work hard.” – Flames center Sean Monahan on the power play struggles.

“We got to be there. We got to be in the crease, and when pucks are thrown on the net it’s those little one on one battles you’ve got to win. If you’re not going to win those, you definitely don’t have a very good chance of winning the game.” – Monahan on generating second chances on the power play.

“I think we did a good job on it. They’ve got of different guys that are good on the power play, a lot of big shots, some guys that are good in front of the net, some guys that work the half wall well. And I think we did a good job of pressuring down. The big thing for us is making those plays, when the puck’s being fought for or 50/50 it seems like we’re able to make those little pop plays using the extra guy and get it down the ice more often than not rather than just rim it up the wall into shinpads.” – Carolina forward Lee Stempniak on his team’s penalty killing on the evening.

UP NEXT

The Flames (1-3-1) have a day off tomorrow, and then it’s back into the fray against a really tough opponent in the visiting St. Louis Blues on Saturday night. (And then it’s on the road to face Chicago on Monday and St. Louis again on Tuesday.)

  • Wheels

    Season’s over. Tank for Patrick. Come back next year with new coaching (Jerrard can stay). Ship out half of this roster. Don’t resign any of the upcoming free agents (Johnson maybe).

  • Crakupov

    I think people have to chill out. There are some signs of life in the club and by December we could see a very dominant hockey club emerging.

    In the meantime what’s the consensus on Tkachuk? Back to the minors to work on skating or keep him with the big club for a cup run?

  • Newbietwo

    Versteeg and Bouma are two players who can immediately be traded as they offer zero value on this team and atleast get us some cap space.. Again caveat if anyone will take them.. This is the element of professional sports I do not like.. The over paying integrity lacking 12 year old men with zero will to win

  • ifiwasgm

    I seem to remember posting that I didn’t think Elliot was that great of a goaltender when they picked him up.
    Always thought be benefited from one of the best puck moving defences in the NHL in St Louis

  • Calm down people. It is real early in the season, new coach, new system, top players just starting to get going, etc.

    Give them a couple more weeks minimum before you claim the sky is falling. Reading through these comments it looks a lot like Olier’s Nation has over the past 5 years…

    • Arminius

      That’s because 80 percent of the post game comments are from Coiler trolls acting as though they are Flames fans. Not my problem though. You all can suffer through the non policed onslaught of Coiler d bags. I won’t be back in til something has been done. And nothing will so cheers

  • cf89

    @ Arminius

    hey bud, you need to relax man. Flame trolls have been on ON for years and years. the oil were bad, and we let them know that. now that’s its our turn, we’ll take what we dish out like men. whining about every oiler troll that post here makes us look like poor sports. rise above it man. it’s going to happen, and you can choose to react negatively or positively . i choose the latter.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      That’s probably what you said last October after that dreadful start. Then by early new year it might have finally dawned on you that the big crater the Flames had dug themselves in in October was too big for them to crawl out of. Remember too the Pac Division sucked badly last October and November, so the Flames still had a very good chance despite the bad start. If they had been in the Central last year, they would have been done by October.

      In summary, bad starts can sink a team’s playoff chances in today’s NHL because of all those single points being tossed about. The season for the Flames have gone as poorly as they could have imagined. Fans should be worried as the Flames are not only a bad team on the ice, they are so bloody boring to watch.

  • freethe flames

    Time for us to realize that maybe just maybe we are not as good as many here think we are. The players as for patience and then put up last nights effort(is that even the right word) for the game. It seems that many of them are gripping the stick to hard and are over thinking the game and not just playing. Hopefully the stars(?) get their games together because the supporting cast is not good enough. I thought that even Backs and Frolik struggled in the Ozone last night because they were trying to do too much because the top 2 lines are struggling.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Also… I have decided to stop watching until they get a couple consecutive wins under their belt… it’s just too painful right now.

    At least under Hartley, when they lost it was still entertaining.

    This is a steaming pile of horse manure.

    • Crash

      When Hartley came to town, he promised an up tempo exciting brand of hockey and he certainly delivered. He said that the team would compete for the playoffs, and after 2 seasons under his tenure they did. The Flames had structure and an identity and there was buy-in from the captain and players. He demanded more from the players than the players themselves, and everyone, knew their role and the rules (“earned not given”). He devised a system in which “boys” could be successful against “men” in the NHL. Young players like Monahan, Geaudreau, Backlund, Ferland, Colburne and Bennett made progress under his tutelage.

      He instilled a real sense of belief in the players (no mater how “unsustainable”) and squeezed every ounce of talent and effort out of them. They were never out of a game… remember all those one goal losses in ’13-14 and then all those come backs and one goal wins in ’14-15? Hockey was fun and exciting again, and the team showed promise; You were proud to call yourselves a Flames fan.

      Most importantly he got results. I sometimes wonder what last year would have looked like if they had started the year with Ramo/Ortio instead of the Three headed goaltending monster… would we have made the playoffs??? we’ll never know and there’s no point living in the past. All we can do is move forward with the players, coaching and management that we have now– but it sure was an exciting run.

      Yes, Hartley certainly made a lot of promises, but he also delivered on quite a few of them. I just hope that our young players don’t regress under this new coaching staff. I guess time will tell…

  • Jakethesnail

    So legit question. I was at work yesterday evening and only followed it on sportsnet.ca so is this a goaltending issue ,defense,or forwards not helping out, system?

  • cjc

    Personally I wasn’t expecting a playoff spot this year, so I’m not THAT down about the team so far. The PP is frustrating, Elliot hasn’t been where we expect him to be. But I think Gaudreau and Monahan will round into form and Brouwer has exceeded my expectations.

    Put it in perspective though. Good teams can start poorly, and every team goes through bad patches. Hopefully the players can use the criticism thrown their way as motivation.

    Maybe GG isn’t the coach to take this team, but he deserves time to figure it out. Remember when the Oilers were hiring a new coach every year?

    I’m also not ready to throw BT under the bus. The Brouwer signing is working out so far. The Elliot move was widely lauded. His hands were tied otherwise, the coming offseason will show us BT’s true intent, as he’ll have more flexibility than ever.

    • Jakethesnail

      I thought this team supposed to contend for a playoff spot . I think tsn pick them as the most improved team. People thought they fixed their goaltending. I also thought Elliot would solidify that position.
      It might still turn around but a regression from last year would not be good as this team should show significant improvement this year.
      Bennett may be playing well but he needs to produce.

  • A least Johnny Gaudreau finally scored his first goal of the season. But I’m trying to figure out if Gulutzan has a really good new system to replace Bob Hartley’s system but it’s just hard to learn or if it’s just a bad system.

  • OilsWell2014

    I hear Dallas Eakins has a Swarm Defense system available if GG is unable turn this team around!!!

    I was kinda hoping for a return to the battle of alberta, but looks like it’s going to have to wait another year. Glad to see the Lames trolls are finally tucking their tails between their legs.

    Time for a little humble pie….