FGD 10: Capital gains (7:30pm MT, SN Flames)

After a day of rest, the Calgary Flames complete their truncated two game home-stand tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome with a rare Sunday night game. They began their small string of home dates with a victory over Canada’s capital city, the Ottawa Senators, and now they face America’s capital city, the Washington Capitals. Washington played last night in Vancouver and looked impressive, so they should be a big challenge for a Flames club that’s still rounding into form.

The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet Flames and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanAlex Chiasson
Kris VersteegSam BennettTroy Brouwer
Matthew TkachukMikael BacklundMichael Frolik
Micheal FerlandMatt StajanLance Bouma

Mark GiordanoDennis Wideman
T.J. BrodieDeryk Engelland
Jyrki JokipakkaDougie Hamilton

The Flames are riding a three game winning streak and enter this game at .500, which just sounds odd given how uneven their play has been to this point. There are no significant changes expected, so Brian Elliott (3-3-0, 3.15 goals against average, .893 save percentage) gets his fourth straight start.

The local club continues to have strong and weak spots. Alex Chiasson, Dougie Hamilton and a few others were quite good last game, with Chiasson making really smart plays in the offensive zone that led to goals by Sam Bennett and Sean Monahan, and Hamilton just shooting the puck a bit more (and looking a lot more confident after that first one went in).

But there are still some issues:

  • The power play is bad.
  • The penalty kill is bad (giving up two goals against Ottawa).
  • The team took dumb penalties, to the point where Glen Gulutzan benched Bennett, Matthew Tkachuk and Kris Versteeg for much of the third period.
  • The top guns (Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie) still haven’t really declared their presence this season with a game that makes you shout “Wow, those guys are pretty good!” Gaudreau’s looked really confident with the puck of late, but hasn’t yet had a breakout game.

So you could say there’s some work to do for the gentlemen wearing red this evening.

THE CAPITALS

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Alex OvechkinNicklas BackstromJustin Williams
Marcus JohanssonEvgeny KuznetsovTom Wilson
Andre BurakovskyLars EllerT.J. Oshie
Zachary SanfordJay BeagleBrett Connolly

Karl AlznerMatt Niskanen
Dmitri OrlovJohn Carlson
Brooks OrpikNate Schmidt

Washington played last night in Vancouver, winning 5-2 over the seemingly hapless Canucks. Given how hap-filled they seemed until last night, that should be setting off alarm bells. The good news is they have to play and then fly here, so they won’t be rested at all. Which is good, because Washington is a very good team.

Translation: “We played poorly against Ottawa and managed to win. We cannot expect a similar result if our play is similarly bad tonight.”

Braden Holtby will start for the Caps. He’s arguably been Washington’s weaker goalie thus far, going 2-2-1 with a 2.38 goals against average and .910 save percentage. (Backup Phillip Grubauer, who won in Vancouver last night, has as many wins and currently bests him in GAA and SV%.

Other than Holtby rotating in, it’s unclear if there will be any other changes for tonight. Considering they’re coming off of a win, I’d doubt it.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES CAPITALS
Wins 4 4
Points 9 9
Power Play 11.4% 14.3%
Penalty Kill 73.2% 76.2%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 48.3% 56.4%

HISTORY LESSON

All-time, the Flames are 43-34-14 against Washington (though those numbers are a bit skewed by the early Capitals expansion years in the mid-’70s when they were just awful). They played twice last year with each team winning once, with the road team winning each game – though Calgary won in overtime.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Recommended Capitals follows for tonight:

SUM IT UP

Let’s hope the Flames tighten up some of their sloppiness in all three zones, otherwise tonight’s game could be rough. But if they can tighten up, they can head back on the road with a four game winning streak and a record above the .500 mark.

  • TurkeyLips

    I love how we pay Backlund $3.5m to do the exact same job as remaining Oiler golden boy first overall the “Nuge” @ $6.0m

    They justify his lack of production because he “plays against top lines” to give McDingleberry some space. How cute

    Soon the Boilers will be paying RNH, Eberle, Lucic, McD 28 million combined. Laughable. That is their end.

  • Jakethesnail

    Tkachuk has played 7 games this year. Do you think he sticks?
    He may be a better option on the wing than what you have now but what do you think is best for his development?

    Trash for no props for yes

    • Arminius

      You ask this question every 2 days once you get called out for trolling and stirring the pot. Why don’t you take a hike. You don’t hear too well do you Boy?

      5 plus posts here and the first one on the Game Day thread yet nothing on ON?

  • Arminius

    Mods take a look at this little bitch. I’ll step back but shouldn’t have too as this is a place for Flames fans.

    Pathetic he is allowed to come here and run his mouth and hijack threads with no consequence. Little bottom Train

  • brodiegio4life

    Why is Hamilton not playing with Brodie… Engallend is bringing Brodie down every game and Hamilton has been playing great lately yet he’s getting significantly less minutes than engallend it makes no sense to have Hamilton on the 3rd pairing

    • EhPierre

      I think the reason is because most the time Hamilton is given top 4 minutes, he falters and loses his stride. He’s playing great right now and got his confidence back. Let him continue with that for the next couple of games and then give him top 4 minutes. Let’s not forget the guy’s young

    • Jakethesnail

      They should play Brodie and Giordano Jokipakka and Hamilton and Engellend and Wideman.
      Play the hell out of the first to pairs . Why pair Brodie and Giordano with a liability?

      • everton fc

        I’ve watched almost every game. Engelland is not bringing Brodie down. Brodie has been a bit soft thus far – even Ferraro called it out last game vs. the Sens. He’s simply not hit his stride yet, but that’s not Engelland’s fault.

        I think Engelland’s been pretty steady and dependable, even given his inflated minutes. I’d still like to see Engelland with Kulak, though. They played well together.

        Alas…

        • brodiegio4life

          I’ve watched every game too and you can’t judge it just by a simple eye test… the stats clearly show Brodie is much worse with engallend than without him. To say Brodie is being too “soft” is a joke

          • FlamesFanOtherCity

            What do you get from coming on here for every single blog? Isn’t there a Oiler blog where you can talk about how good you are doing this early in the season? Talk about the awesome signings you have this year and the depth you have at all positions?

            Russell hasn’t been a top 4 in two years. As much as we complain about the likes of Wideman or Engelland here, at least both of them can handle players on the boards. Yokipakka is easily as good as Russell and we choose to play him on the third pairing.

          • everton fc

            Ferraro called him on playing soft last game, as well. Not just me. He didn’t clear guy out in front of Elliott a few occasions; Elliot made those saves.

            I like Brodie. But he’s not playing his best. He will, so I’m not worried. Stats can be deceiving as well – remember Gio w/Sarich?

  • smatic10

    Any dumb penalties will cost us the game. Heck, even understandable penalties may decide the game. Staying disciplined and committing to defense will be our keys. If we can do that, we have the offensive depth to win this game.

  • Crash

    Was at the Game against Ottawa on Friday and I was not impressed. The boys reminded me of the ’13-’14 Randy Carlyle Leafs. Got totally outplayed for 40 min (icings, stupid penalties, totally out chanced with high grade scoring chances, etc.) but still managed to win despite all of the above. Still playing as individuals and not a team.

    The Guy Boucher Sens. looked very Crisp for the 1st two periods. Go back and watch their breakouts… talk about playing as a five man unit. They looked like ‘The Borg’ out there. We had 12 shots at the end of two, they had twelve high grade scoring chances (two which they converted with good tips in front of Elliott). In the third, Ottawa seemed frustrated (lack of results) and the goaltending mismatch took care of the rest.

    Ken Wilson and the advanced stats Gurus: why don’t you tell us how “sustainable” Flames winning is if they keep playing like that (with more icings than shots after 2 ). More Hawks and St. Loo Roady, less Friday night please. Lets see which team shows up tonight.

    The way I see it, the guys playing well right now are the ones who already know what their game is: #11, #67, Brouwer, Staje, Versteeg, etc.
    The young guys look like “Lord of the Flies” out there; running around trying to figure it out on their own, and trying to do way too much. Our former “Best players” (Johnny, Monahan, Brodie) have been average at best, and plateaued under this new regime.

    The exception is #93 who’s a Monster out there. But even Bennett has been very undisciplined. Realize, Bennett will become the McDavid Kryptonite. I know, I know… all of the Oilers fans are in “Labial Flutter” out there (can be remedied with a swift kick to the “Junk” if you run into one) saying: “how DARE you talk about our Connor McMuffin like that…Don’t you realize he is a ‘GENERATIONAL’ player’????”

    Relax. Pop a breath mint. It’s gonna be okay (Just remember where you heard it first ;). There is evidence to what I say. On the rare occasions in their careers (small sample size to be sure) when they have played head to head, Bennett has out scored and out Corsied McDavid (geek squad: please verify). Now… that will have evened out a bit after the horrendous Flames start this year under Gully, but the facts remain. So watch and learn Oilers fans, watch and learn.

    Getting back to the Flames, what’s frustrating is when you realize just how good they could be playing as a team with structure, young players continuing to improve. Real synergy. The only compliment I can give Gully so far is his fashion sense, and even that’s a stretch. But like my boys ZZ always said: “every girl’s crazy ’bout her sharp dressed man’.

  • Juan Valdez

    Losing the majority of face-offs (cleanly) on the penalty kill and power play is a recipe for disaster. There isn’t any system that can correct that type of deficiency. It’s up to the players to bear down in those situations and at least make it a scrambled draw by getting a stick on the puck. Hopefully we’ll see some improvement this game because the Capitals are a team you don’t want to give extra opportunities to.

  • DeadRedRedemption

    There is still time to get rid of GG and salvage the season. But as others have pointed out, that’s just not going to happen.

    Time to lower the quality of my whiskey so I can afford to drink more of it on game days.

    GFG.

    (Just how good is Nolan Patrick anyways?)

    • Tomas Oppolzer

      They won their last 3 games, 2 of them in convincing fashion against Chicago and St. Louis. They looked structured in those games and it looked like the coach had settled it down. So I ask, what the hell are you still complaining about? The game against Ott was flat, sure, but every team has games like that.

      • DeadRedRedemption

        2 regulation wins in 9.

        SO win in Chicago isn’t convincing.

        St. Louis played a horrible game. (Every team has games like that)

        Against OTT, was certainly flat. I would say that is the norm for this team not the exception.

        PP and PK bottom five in the league.

        Our big guns have still not really lit it up, and I can’t believe they aren’t affected by the system they are being played in.

  • Arminius

    Tkachuk now with 4 points in 8 games and looked good on the goal tonight driving the net and causing mayhem for Backs shot.
    That’s a better ppg (small sample size) than Bennett or Monahan in their rookie years. I just dont see why you’d send him back to Junior.

    • everton fc

      He fits on that third lien quite nicely. I say keep him. He has some grit, and does cause teams to keep him on their minds due to his chippy play.

      All that said, he better learn to keep his head up, as well.

      (Bennett has 20 penalty minutes! Not good)

  • Arminius

    Well a few years back there was this goalie named Kipper and he would regularly backstop the team to 2-1 wins so frequently they became known as the Kipper Special.

    I propose a new Special on the menu. Everytime the Flames go Ofer on the PP and cough up a goal or more on the PK Contributing to a loss … we have the Cameron Special.

    You’re welcome

  • Crash

    What a flat third by both teams. Caps were just trying to close it out on the 2nd of a back to back on the road, but what’s our excuse? Unlike previous years, at no point in the third did I believe we could make a comeback (it looks like the players are having a hard time believing it too). For a 2-1 game against last year’s President’s Trophy winners, that was an exceptionally unentertaining game ( again unlike previous years in which close games were at least mostly entertaining win or lose).

    In other news, the structured and well coached Sens. skunked McMuffin and the red hot Oil. tonight. If you don’t think coaching is important, take note that their only two losses have come against well coached and highly structured teams with a game plan.

    Holy crap that kid Tkachuk has incredible hockey sense! you can’t teach that stuff!!

  • Derzie

    That was as hard to watch as a 1 goal game can get. They had to replace the glass behind Holtby since every shot but 1 missed the net (corsi will be wonderful though). And for the love of god put Brodie on his correct side. The L/R pairing crap is not helping anyone. Chiasson? Not a 1st line player. Coaching is looking pretty bad except those 2 road games. Maybe the road games are better because the other coaches have more say. The team is just not looking good. Some players are, but it is not holding together.

  • Juan Valdez

    Our PP is too easy to defend right now for other teams and the biggest reason is because the defensemen are spending way too much time with the puck. They are meaninglessly skating around killing time off the clock for the other team when the puck should be on Gaudreau’s stick. It’s not rocket science…