Post-Game: Winning streak busted by the Caps

The Calgary Flames entered tonight’s game at .500, hoping to get a key two points against the Washington Capitals before heading out on the road for a big four game trip. However, a fairly standard recipe has emerged for the team’s losses: get down early, get out-scored by the other team’s special teams groups, and then have to play from behind for the majority of the game.

Despite a hefty third period push, the Flames skated to a 3-1 loss against Washington tonight.

THE RUNDOWN

The Capitals didn’t seem like a group that played last night early on. They had their legs moving and scored a nice heads up goal: with the Flames defense completely out of position, Jay Beagle set up an uncovered Brett Connolly with a one-timer in the slot to make it 1-0. Their lead was doubled on a Capitals power play: with Deryk Engelland in the box, a nice passing play ended with Alex Ovechkin’s one-timer from the left side of the ice getting tipped by Marcus Johansson to make it 2-0. On both goals, Brian Elliott had very little chance to stop the puck.

Calgary answered back before the period was over, though. An errant pass through the neutral zone was collected by a Washington defender at their blueline, but Matthew Tkachuk stole it from them and passed to Mikael Backlund for a really nice wrister that beat Braden Holtby to make it 2-1. Tkachuk made some contact with a Capitals player before the goal and the Capitals argued there should’ve been a penalty, but the goal stood. Washington led in shots 12-8 in the first and generally carried play during the period.

Nobody scored in the second period. Both teams had power plays. The Capitals had a few decent chances that Elliott deftly turned aside. The Flames really struggled to get organized and, as happened in the first period, got their best chances at even strength with either the Stajan line or the Backlund line on the ice. Shots were 9-6 Washington.

The Flames found their legs in the third period and generated a bunch of chances off the rush. The coaching staff also made some tweaks here and there, even throwing out Johnny Gaudreau for a whirl with the Backlund/Michael Frolik pairing. Unfortunately, the Flames just couldn’t generate enough solid chances in the third to get a second puck past Holtby. Johansson added an empty netter to make it 3-1. Shots were 8-8 in the third.

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

They got down early off a flat start and allowed two quick goals off some lost battles, bad positioning and shoddy special teams. They had a ton of chances to tie the game, but ultimately they couldn’t generate much of anything on their special teams opportunities and that was that.

It’s a shame, because it wasted a really good performance by the Backlund/Frolik/Tkachuk line against Ovechkin’s tandem.

THE TURNING POINT

The Flames were pretty decent in the second periods, albeit in fits and starts. They generated two power plays in the second half of the period: they resulted in one shot and zero goals. That was basically it, in terms of the game.

RED WARRIOR

Backlund had the Flames only goal and performed very well in a really tough assignment against Alex Ovechkin’s line. He, Frolik and Tkachuk gave one of the NHL’s most dangerous players very little, and also managed to generate a few nice chances of their own.

Elliott was also really sharp.

THE NUMBERS

(All situations.)

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Tkachuk 66.7 36.4 1.250
Frolik 62.5 37.5 1.175
Backlund 61.8 41.2 1.660
Brodie 55.6 36.4 0.275
Versteeg 52.2 60.0 0.030
Monahan 50.0 87.5 -0.015
Gaudreau 48.2 80.0 -0.125
Giordano 47.5 55.6 -0.225
Hamilton 46.4 66.7 0.200
Wideman 46.0 52.9 -0.025
Chiasson 45.5 85.7 -0.100
Engelland 44.8 12.5 -0.175
Jokipakka 41.9 60.0 -0.200
Bennett 40.9 60.0 -0.010
Brouwer 40.0 66.7 -0.235
Ferland 33.3 0.0 -0.275
Stajan 25.0 0.0 -0.815
Bouma 20.0 0.0 -0.750
Elliott 1.100

THIS AND THAT

As usual, the Flames in-game production staff put together a cool Halloween intro for the game.

QUOTEABLE

“I was disappointed with our execution. Just throwing each other grenades, it seemed like. We didn’t generate, didn’t get any momentum from those.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on his team’s two power play opportunities.

“I think in-zone, once we get in zone we get some looks. It’s getting into the zone, I think, we’re having some issues. That’s where it starts. We gotta find a way to get in there, grind that puck out, get it around and get some shots to the net. But you gotta give.. tonight, they were good on the entries. We’ve got to find a way to get some puck possession, though.” – Flames captain Mark Giordano on his team’s power play struggles.

“I thought he played good. Young guy, you can see it’s a heavy game for him. I thought he played hard and got to the areas, but it’s not an easy game. That’s a really good hockey club.” – Gulutzan on Matthew Tkachuk’s play against Washington after being benched for much of the third period against Ottawa.

“All we tried to do there in the third was get Johnny some more ice. It was at the expense of Boums and Tkachuk and a couple other guys. It’s just to get him out there a little bit more. My experience is when guys are feeling a bit frustrated is to keep putting them on the ice, especially your top players, and see if they can get different looks with different guys. And I thought Backs and Fro had some nice energy, that line they created some zone time and chances, so you never know if you can get a little spark.” – Gulutzan on playing Gaudreau with Backlund and Frolik in the third.

ELSEWHERE

The Stockton Heat got out to a 3-1 lead midway through their game in Tucson against the Roadrunners. But they couldn’t hold on and ended up losing 4-3 to spoil David Rittich’s first start of the season. Hunter Shinkaruk, Emile Poirier and Linden Vey scored for the Heat.

UP NEXT

The Flames are back on the road, heading to Chicago for a Tuesday night game that kicks off a rather odd road trip that then takes them through the three California cities (San Jose, Los Angeles & Anaheim). They’re back at home next Thursday (November 10) when they host the Dallas Stars.

  • Truculence

    It might just be me but I find the Flames current system to be kind of boring and puzzling. 10 games into the season, I still don’t know what their identity is.

  • Christian Roatis

    Gulutzan hasn’t seemed to be truly happy with any game outside St. Louis and Chicago, though he had some qualms about that game too, and that to me is a positive because the Flames honestly haven’t looked good in any but those 2 games.

    At least the coach recognizes this team has a long ways to go still, and they’ll continue to put in the work to get there as opposed to giving themselves a break because they’ve won 3 of their last 4.

  • _vntony

    I was listening to the post game interview the fan960 guys did with Marty Gelinas and heard him talk about Sam Bennett. Marty was saying how Bennett was one of the better players tonight. I’m not sure if I agree with his assessment of Bennett’s play tonight. He had a few hits but did not stand out at all. He did not win key draws and compared to the flames other centres, he had huge difficulty gaining the zone and creating anything.

    I believe that Sam Bennett has the potential to one day be the Flames no. 1 centre, but he has not been dominant up to this point. He’s having trouble creating chances for his linemates and most nights I don’t even see him get good shots on net.

    Maybe I’m just being overly critical on a 20yr old kid..

    • Scary Gary

      Bennett won 8 of 12 faceoffs last night. I thought he played alright but the Washington system was so good at stacking the blue line and batting down pucks that we couldn’t gain the zone.

  • OKG

    This team’s identity used to be its defense jumping into the play at all the right times to make awesome stuff happen. I had hoped that a few changed to our breakouts and forecheck were all we needed to take the next step, but it seems we’ve taken a step backwards. They’re trying way too hard to be a cycle team while having half their cap on the back end on guys whose role is now to loft soft wristers from 40 feet.

  • Aadvarkian Abakeneezer

    3 game win streak: everyone kisses Gulutzan’s… shoes, while losing their minds about how great the new system is.

    1 loss against an excellent team: the system sucks. Soon Walt will be back to tell us about how far in over his head Gulutzan is.

    This team’s fans are a special kind of fickle.

    • The Real Slim Brodie

      I still believe in this group. Atleast we will not suffer the losing streak that is in store for vancouver and the one edmonton started tonight.

  • I find you guys are often far too over analytical. I watched the team put in a decent effort. Did they get the win? No, but at least they’re not skating around with their heads up their asses like the first 5 games. Still a ways to go, but even the best teams lose. I’ll take a loss for every three wins. At least they’re trying.

  • Petzl

    The system doesn’t play to Calgary’s strengths, honestly only D man I saw jumping up in the play was Wideman. We’re at our best offensively when we have D men join the rush or lead the rush, hopefully not Wideman though. I feel the team has played conservative and it’s bitting them in the ass.

    Also the PP is terrible, dump and chase died years ago.

  • RKD

    I’m not sure what GG’s system is, the d-men seem to not jump up in to the rush as often or hold the puck on for too long in the o-zone on the pp. Elliott was great again but we need more from Monahan and Gaudreau, they look off.