Post-Game: The kid stays in the picture

USATSI_9652092
(Neville E. Guard / USA Today Sports)

The Calgary Flames rolled into San Jose this evening to tangle with the Sharks, last year’s Western Conference champions. The Sharks haven’t been great this season, though they’ve played rather solid.

The Flames still have their warts. They were out-shot. They gave the Sharks five power plays (and gave up a goal). They lost Kris Versteeg in the first period and had to shuffle their lines for the rest of the game. But they rolled with the punches and ended up winning 3-2, in regulation, against a divisional foe.

The difference-maker? An 18-year-old kid from St. Louis.

THE RUNDOWN

Neither team scored in the first period, but the Flames played fairly well. They did take three penalties and had to defend against three Sharks power plays, but the Flames were solid against a very flat Sharks PP. Aside from that – and Versteeg’s injury – there weren’t a ton of high-octane plays. Shots were 7-7.

The Flames were a bit sloppy and discombobulated in the second, as they were struggling to find some line stability in Versteeg’s absence. The results were a bit mixed and the Flames were on their heels for the first half of the period (or so). But they figured things out a bit late in the period and scored a couple of goals a couple minutes apart. Micheal Ferland made a goal happen entirely via a really nice back-pass into the slot. Skating around the back of San Jose’s net, Ferland kept moving but passed out front to Troy Brouwer for a one-timer that Martin Jones barely reacted to. That made it 1-0. A few minutes later, Deryk Engelland carried the puck into the Sharks zone and fed the puck to Matthew Tkachuk with a slick drop-pass. Tkachuk unleashed a wrister that beat Jones high to make it 2-0. Shots were 10-10 in the second.

The Sharks clawed back in the third. With Sam Bennett in the box for a late second period penalty, Brent Burns drove home a one-timer from the point (through traffic) to make it 2-1. The Sharks kept pressing and the Flames seemed content to try to white-knuckle it to the very end. Of course, that resulted in another goal mid-way through the period. Melker Karlsson drove the net and tipped Marc-Eduoard Vlasic’s point shot past Johnson to make it 2-2. It felt like a game bound for overtime, but once again Engelland and Tkachuk combined for some offense. Engelland drove the offensive zone, passed to Michael Frolik…who immediately chucked the puck towards Tkachuk, who deked out Jones and tucked the puck in for the 3-2 goal. That’s how it ended, as Matt Stajan and the fourth line kept the Sharks attackers at bay. Shots were 11-5 Sharks.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

The first line continues to be a mixed bag of missed opportunities, and the Flames were forced to roll with 11 forwards (and a top eight instead of a top nine) but they rolled with the challenges. The shutdown line (Backlund, Frolik & Tkachuk) and the third defensive pairing (Engelland & Kulak) generated two goals and surrendered zero.

Until the top six figures their crap out, at least the team’s depth players continue to make things happen.

THE TURNING POINT

Tkachuk’s second goal, which was a really nice play that put the Flames up.

RED WARRIOR

Let’s go with the kid: Tkachuk had a pair of goals, both of them pretty good. Stick-taps to Engelland (two assists), Frolik (two assists) and Ferland (really great pass to Brouwer).

Heck, Kulak was really good tonight, too.

THE NUMBERS

(Percentage stats are even strength. Game score is overall.)

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Ferland 70.0 100 1.350
Kulak 59.3 57.1 0.600
Frolik 59.1 20.0 1.735
Backlund 57.9 0.0 0.130
Engelland 57.1 57.1 1.275
Stajan 53.6 50.0 -0.065
Bouma 52.0 40.0 -0.025
Tkachuk 47.4 0.0 1.975
Brodie 42.9 46.7 -0.550
Chiasson 41.7 62.5 -0.435
Hamilton 40.0 33.3 -0.175
Giordano 37.5 50.0 -0.500
Monahan 37.5 70.0 -0.355
Jokipakka 36.7 28.6 -0.425
Gaudreau 31.4 61.5 -0.350
Bennett 25.0 75.0 0.200
Brouwer 23.5 62.5 0.755
Versteeg 0.0 100 0.010
Johnson 1.100

THIS AND THAT

UP NEXT

The Flames (5-6-1) now head to Southern California for a tough assignment: back-to-back games on Saturday (against Los Angeles) and Sunday (against Anaheim).

  • rakilla

    Enough is enough with Monahan. Send him a message. Seriously. His level of play is just unacceptable. Was it a mirage these past 3 years or is he actually a 4th line plug? Losing every single 1 on 1 battle, absolutely cannot skate to save his life….I have no idea what is happening. But he needs a reality check.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      What do you propose for Calgary’s 6 Million Dollar Man? Demoting him to the 3rd or 4th line? Consigning to the press box for a few games? Hang a “For Sale” sign on him and start trying to seriously shop him? What about Gio and the other leaders on the team taking him out to the woodshed and giving him a debagging?

      I do agree with that he has been dreadful this year.

  • Captain Ron

    Tkackuk is a beauty. Saw his Dad play his rookie season and early part of his career and now have the pleasure of watching his son play his. He’s a bit different but a chip off the old block for sure.

    He is a massive part of the future of this team. Backlund, Frolik, and Tkachuk are a bonafide scoring line already in only a short period of time.

    When the “first line” gets it together we will be going places.

    • everton fc

      We’re getting close, Captain. I also like Ferland with Bennett and Brouwer. Bennett will bounce back with these two, as hinges. And our fourth line may be one of the best in the league, though I like to see Chiasson down there, versus Bouma. Of course, these leaves us w/o a first line RW. Our biggest challenge – that and Bennett’s penalties!

      The issue is our first line. They are not effective. Johnny was invisible this evening. Yet we still won. Thankfully. Chiasson is not “the problem” – he’s simply not a first line RW. He’d be ideal on the 4th line, w/Stajan and Bouma, on LW. Ferland filled in admirably for Versteeg – should Versteeg be, once again, “auditioned” with Gaudreau and Monahan? I wonder. But Chiasson’s not the answer. Nor is Ferland, who needs to stay at LW.

      Monahan may not be a 1st line centre. So, do you go with Ferland/Monahan/Brouwer on the 2nd line, and Gaudreau/Bennett/Versteeg on the “first line”? The “obvious” is this: we don’t have a first line. Our 2nd thru 4th lines are competitive, but not our first line. That’s the challenge. What’s the solution?

    • supra steve

      Absolutely agree, MT is a chip off the old Tkachuk block. How much better is he than having a chip off the Nylander block?…because that block had no fire/heart.

  • FlamesRule

    ” Tkachuk unleashed a wrister that beat Jones high to make it 2-0. ”

    Didn’t happen this way at all. Puck hit a defenders stick and went under Jones pad.

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    Congratz Matthew Tkachuk on a memorable 10th game, that is the kind of showing I’m talking about! Keep it rolling… Well done D-pairings! with Chad looking solid in net. If the reffs are going to be this F@#$ing Pathetic,petty and B-S-Biased its going to be a very long,tough and frustrating year for the Flames. Good luck against LA and for the love of god pls beat the snot out of the Ducks finally! Cheers! Hmmm? Maybe sit 23&13 out for the ducks game? Just to let them watch from above to get a new perspective not as a punishment or anything like that… Just an after thought. Go Flames…

  • BobB

    The fact that we have an 18yr old kid who can consistenly get 0% O-zone starts against good, deep teams like SJ and hold his own, or thrive, is beast.

    He’s got some work to do for sure, but the kid is a hockey player. Furthermore, he’s not the most mobile guy, which hopefully improves, but after (only) 10 games, he’s got such a solid foundation. And then two goals tonight and the GWG. Color me impressed.

    We now have the distinction of two of our most promising ‘young stars’ who are below avg skaters. That’s unsettling. The first, above, I’m becoming very good with. The second, Monahan, has always made me uneasy. How he scores goals is equally unbelieveable as a 0% O-zone start, 55ish% Corsi 18yrold. But what happens when the Money-hands aren’t paying the bills? He’s paid to be a top centre now – Bergeron money. Thorton money. Kesler money.

    You gotta have the foundation. One kid appears to have it. The other ‘kid’ still a question mark to me.

  • brodiegio4life

    if the first line can start doing something and the PP can be even average this team will be going places folks…also the first line has to be sent a message… they’re awful right now they need a wake up call

  • Kensington

    Game notes
    1.great work Matt 2.Much better game by TJ even though corsi doesn’t show it. Brutal game by Mony again! JG some nice offense but weak on the d as always. Ferland is the guy who stirs the pot and gets the Flames going. Good game by Chad.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    The Flames can play with the best teams in the league, and they’re doing so with out all cylinders firing. The last 2 games have been well played by the team and the defence now has a structure. As the team continues to succeed, my hope is that a little less pressure on the top line will allow them to round out their game.

  • Eggs Bennett

    Monahan has been historically a streaky player. I remember last year mid-year when people were questioning his talent and whether his 30 goal sophomore year was a fluke when he wasn’t scoring. Then he got hot and almost had 30 goals again and many people were back on the bandwagon saying he’s a top line centre, give him his $6.5 mil. Make no mistake, Monny needs to find his consistency and sitting him/Gaudreau for a game might not be a bad idea. But I don’t think it’s as bad as people are making it out to be on this forum right now… the kid’s young, he will get it turned around. Aside from Scheifele, non of Monahan’s peers (Barkov, Mackinnon) have really been playing well either. Are they busts too? Give it time people…

  • Eggs Bennett

    Monahan has been historically a streaky player. I remember last year mid-year when people were questioning his talent and whether his 30 goal sophomore year was a fluke when he wasn’t scoring. Then he got hot and almost had 30 goals again and many people were back on the bandwagon saying he’s a top line centre, give him his $6.5 mil. Make no mistake, Monny needs to find his consistency and sitting him/Gaudreau for a game might not be a bad idea. But I don’t think it’s as bad as people are making it out to be on this forum right now… the kid’s young, he will get it turned around. Aside from Scheifele, non of Monahan’s peers doing well either (Barkov, Mackinnon). Do you think they’re all busts too? Give it some time people…

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Tkachuk on pace for 48 points over 80 games.

    Curiously close to his NHLE and he is just getting his feet wet.

    With the article on his possession stats and now the points falling into place… perhaps he was one of the drivers on that scary good London line?