Post-Game: All that shines are stars

The Calgary Flames had their first extended days of practice of the season over the past few days. They focused on their dreadful special teams, with the goal of stopping the bleeding – the coaching staff has regularly spoken of good games undone by one crucial kill or power play gone bad.

Well, it happened once more. Facing a Dallas Stars club that gave up eight goals on Tuesday in Winnipeg, the Flames managed just a pair – both at even strength – and lost a razor-thin 4-2 game that was swung on a power play marker from the other team.

THE RUNDOWN

The Flames were pretty decent early, making passes and skating well. They led in shots 8-1 by midway through the period. Then things got sloppy and bad. After a carry-in by Dallas Dougie Hamilton and Sam Bennett bonked into each other, allowing Radek Faksa some time to pass the puck to Lauri Korpikoski for a one-timer (and a 1-0 lead). A few minutes later, some confusion in the Flames zone and some nice Dallas passing led to another goal, as Jamie Benn scored to make it 2-0. Shots were 10-10.

I hate to get all “narrative” on y’all, but the second period was skewed heavily towards the Flames. Right after the period began, Tyler Seguin got crunched with a clean hit by a forechecking Micheal Ferland in the Dallas zone. He then engaged in fisticuffs with Antoine Roussel. The Flames kept pressing after that, and Brett Kulak’s point shot was stopped by Kari Lehtonen…but it trickled through his pads and Johnny Gaudreau tucked it into the net to make it 2-1. The game was tied on Gaudreau’s very next shift; a turnover by Dallas led to a very nice low point shot by Kulak (more of a slap-pass to the slot, really) that Gaudreau redirected to tie the game at 2-apiece. The Flames kept pressing but couldn’t bury anything for the remainder of the period. Shots were 10-4 Calgary, including 2-0 over four minutes of Dallas power play time.

The Flames weren’t quite as good in the third as they were in the second, and it hurt them. The Stars pressed well and hit a goal post and a crossbar in consecutive rushes. Finally, Dallas broke through, though it was on a weird sequence. With Alex Chiasson in the box for his second minor of the game, Dallas entered the zone on a sequence that was nearly offside. Then they made a pass to the point which looked to some eyes to be offside as well. For whatever reason – perhaps they thought the play(s) were offside – the Flames stood around a bit in confusion, allowing a few rapid-fire passes and the second goal of the game for Jamie Benn off a nifty pass from Tyler Seguin. The Flames pressed late but really couldn’t generate anything, as the Stars played a well-structured defensive third period. Roussel scored into an empty net to make it 4-2 and send the fans home unhappy. Shots were 11-8 for Calgary in the final frame.

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

The Flames played well enough through 40 minutes to be tied. They gave up a power play goal in the third after two strong second period kills. They found themselves with a late third period man advantage and a golden chance to tie it, but their PP was nowhere near as crisp as it was in the first period.

The special teams were quite good when the game was young, but they utterly failed to be difference-makers (in a positive sense) when the game was up for grabs.

THE TURNING POINT

It’s obvious, but the third Dallas goal on their third power play of the game was a back-breaker. The Flames got caught confused and flat-footed and Dallas made them pay. They never seemed to be quite in the game from that point onward. (Which is a bit of a shame considering there was still 12:40 left in regulation at that point.)

RED WARRIOR

It’s a tough one, but I’ll go with Kulak. He played 20:32 (fourth among defenders) and was consistently creating chances when he was on the ice. He ended the game with two primary assists and his play gave the Flames a chance.

Not to diminish Gaudreau’s two-goal performance, but Kulak was the catalyst tonight.

THE NUMBERS

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Gaudreau 71.0 100 3.150
Chiasson 69.2 100 0.765
Stajan 69.2 66.7 0.340
D.Hamilton 65.2 72.7 0.375
Jokipakka 65.2 72.7 0.100
F.Hamilton 64.3 66.7 0.625
Monahan 62.5 100 1.425
Vey 57.1 100 0.315
Backlund 55.6 66.7 0.395
Frolik 54.6 69.2 0.885
Giordano 54.2 78.6 0.750
Brodie 54.2 78.6 0.050
Ferland 53.9 70.0 0.275
Kulak 50.0 81.8 1.750
Engelland 50.0 81.8 0.400
Bennett 35.3 55.6 -0.140
Brouwer 29.4 66.7 -0.635
Shinkaruk 28.6 57.1 -0.700
Elliott -0.450

THIS AND THAT

Ferland hit Seguin in the early second, then immediately after fought Roussel.

Roussel had the weirdest Gordie Howe Hat Trick I’ve ever seen: fight, empty-net goal, secondary assist.

Flames coach Glen Gulutzan noted post-game that he dropped Jokipakka & Dougie Hamilton to a third pairing role for the second and third period, in part to optimize match-ups between the Engelland/Kulak pairing and the Seguin and Benn lines.

Ferland got thumped with a big hit from Stephen Johns in the third period. He left the ice with the trainer and didn’t play another shift.

QUOTEABLE

“We had two power plays, one at the end. We needed to generate a little bit more. I thought the first one was dangerous, generated some shots, chances, we are at the net. We need that kill. The first two kills were very good, very solid, and then we made three mistakes on the one. You make two, it’s probably going to end up in your net. You make three, it’s gonna end up in your net.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on his team’s special teams performance on the evening.

“We’re finding ways to lose. There’s certain things that we’re doing well, but we’re finding ways to lose. We need somebody now to step up and find a way to win and stop playing the victim. That’s really what we need. We need to find that from within our locker room. To count yourself out or in or anything at this juncture, we just need somebody to step up and take this thing, find ways to win games.” – Gulutzan on the team’s slow start to the season.

UP NEXT

The Flames are back in action on Saturday night, on Hockey Night In Canada, against the powerhouse New York Rangers.

  • Greg

    I haven’t been able to watch many of the recent games, but my impressions from the box scores is this is still all coming down to goaltending. .857 tonight, and yet outshot the opponent again.

    Am I oversimplifying? Are the flames, despite consistently outshooting, giving up tons of great chances? Or are they still just getting sunk by poor puck stopping?

    • everton fc

      Not Elliott’s fault. He gave up one he’d like to have back. The rest were simply guys making dumb plays or taking dumb penalties.

      Or both.

      Elliott would be fine behind another group of players.

      Ferland should be wearing Monahan’s letter. Maybe that would wake Monahan up a bit.

      Bennett will come around, but should be getting third-line minutes, based on his play and lack of discipline.

      Thankfully, Tkachuk seems “real”. We ave three good left wings in Gaudreau, Tkachuk and Ferland. We have three decent centres in Backlund, Bennett and Monahan.

      Our right side is the issue. Frolik’s the kind of guy Cup teams have. So i Brouwer. Neither are elite. After that?

      We need an elite RW on our first line. We need a defence that plays hard, moves pucks and clears guys out, in front of the net. I like Kulak. I still like Brodie. I’d keep Engelland as a 6/7, if he came cheap. Real cheap.

      Jokipaaka’s okay, but replaceable. But he’s played better than Hamilton, at times. And Gio really seems slow to me. Not to mention he’s not putting points on the board – neither he or Brodie are shooting the puck. At least that’s the “optics”, when I watch games…

      I’ll leave the hiring of this coaching staff to others here. I’ll say again, Ken King is the ultimate issue. BB, and maybe even BT, the “penultimate” parties responsible for this current mess.

      We are becoming a loser organization. You can see i it on the ice. And in some of the post-game interviews. As someone put it on the game thread; “With Hartley, at least you had this feeling they could come back.” They often did, the year we went to the playoffs.

      I never feel that way when we go down 1-0.

      • Greg

        If it was just this game, I wouldn’t worry about one bad goal. But that’s 10 games now and he’s at or near the bottom of the league in sv%. I’m still curious if anyone has data (shot quality, scoring chance differential, etc) that would suggest he’s doing just fine and it’s really the team in front of him. As far as I can tell, we’re consistently winning the shot counts but losing on sv%.

        I hope it’s just a case of bad coaching ala Dallas-Eakins like systems where he had players throwing everything at the net assuming good corsi% would lead to wins. I am fearing it’s just bad goaltending.

        Actually wait, maybe I’m not hoping for that. Which problem would be harder to fix?

  • everton fc

    Shinkaruk did not have a good game.

    We protect Kulak and trade either Gio or Hamilton. Brodie will get it together at some point. I simply think Hamilton’s over-rated – he’ll never be a 1/2 guy.

    Kulak may be. (He’s +7, by the way)

    Gillies. Parsons. Klimchuk. Jankowski. Mangiapane. Kylington. Andersson. Hathaway. Fox. Hickey. Maybe Poirier (though I doubt it). Dube, down the road. Maybe even a guy like Lomberg. Let us hope these guys, and any we draft this year, help us get out of this consistent funk this team seems to always be in, year after year.

    • Greg

      I hate to say it, but if we keep this pace till the trade deadline, moving Gio for a futures package so we can protect Kulak or Kevin might actually be in the cards. Would have to be a pretty big package though.

    • The GREAT WW

      Yup. Agreed on all points.

      Our 2 best players this year have been Kulak and Chuck….

      That’s a disgrace for the other players.

      Protect Kulak and fire coaches….

      WW

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    UNGH~! Watching this team gives me a massive headache… Its like we kept all the bad coaching decisions from Hartley and then scrapped the work ethic and decided to play a soft finesse game. Coaching is Teaching… Calgary NEEDS a Hockey Coach not a possession coach! Someone who can teach too the players strengths not Force them into a system they hate or don’t understand. This team has ZERO Chemistry right now and are just brutal on Special Teams and Defense(hell,offense too). I’ve seen Maybe 3 games All Year that had signs of promise and hope.. That’s It! I Really Wanted GG to be “The Guy” I don’t think its going to happen! Sorry, I have go take some more Tylenol… Tomorrow~> Lest We Forget! Thank You to all our soldiers Past,Present & Future. Good Night!

  • Crash

    Only watched halfway through, but here’s my summery: Turnover, Turnover, Turnover, Turnover, penalty, penalty, Turnover, Turnover, penalty, stupid penalty, failed PP. EN goal (6th against this year).

    The “experts” on the radio are gushing over JG’s 2 goal performance, but fail to mention he was turning over the puck like a hot potato in the shape of a grenade (has been all year).

    The radio “expert” tell us that our two best players (who are the ripe old age of 22 and 23) need to pull up their socks and start carrying the team– it’s mostly on them. Once JG, #23, #7, Hamilton and Gio decide to stop “slumping”, all will be better. They are seeing “progression”. PROGRESSION.

    Again, I’m SICK AND TIRED of hearing about Elliott ‘Moral Victories’ in Flames losses.

    The way these kids are playing (turnovers, undisciplined, trying to do it all on their own i.e. not playing as a team, etc. etc. etc.) would not stand under the old regime. IT WOULD NOT HAVE STOOD!

    Looks to be another WASTED year of potential and playoffs….

    ;{

          • T&A4Flames

            Did you really expect playoffs this year? I mean, sure, we all want it, but did you really expect it. Perhaps that’s the disconnect. I was expecting them to fight for it but not necessarily make it. I said in another blog, if they can stay close for the 1st half season, we could still fight for it.

            Growth is all I expected. That can still be accomplished.

          • TheoForever

            I expected them to be better than last year.
            They are worse.

            I expected them to fight, scratch and to show drive.
            They have none.

            I expected them to work hard.
            They don’t.

            I expected, better goaltending but Eliot sucks.

            I fully expected them to be fighting for a playoff spot. And we are looking at bottom 5.

            PP sucks and so does PK.

            They are not going to improve under this coaching regime. The only thing they are staying close to is lottery ball.

          • T&A4Flames

            You’re not wrong on any of this except the improving under this coach. It could still easily happen. Still, even if they fired him, who do they replace home with? We don’t have an assistant coach to be the interim. Anyone else that’s currently available would be as much a hope and a prayer that GG is. So how does screaming fire the coach become constructive?

          • Jakethesnail

            Krueger is not coming to Calgary . He makes 10 times as much than he would make coaching the Flames.
            This is on Treleving and Burke. The flames are right against the cap and have nowhere to go . They even have more bad contracts than before, so they will have to ride this out till at least the summer when they can free up some money.

            When they free up some money they can make some trades and add some players to change the makeup of this team.

          • Ogie Oglethorp

            Krueger comes up often but he has said on the record his World Cup gig was his last kick at coaching hockey. He likes Europe, his soccer gig (huge money, no travel).

            Unfortunately I think the only option is to wait it out. Why would any great option (NHL or AHL or anywhere) be available right now? Anyone they could replace GG with now would be from the already passed over bin.

            Sucks but the logical play is to ride it out, but have your dump truck of cah ready if anyone legit shakes loose. Like the Oilers did with McClelllan. They paid a penalty (a 2nd round draft pick) and paid him a boatload because they moved so fast. Mgmt can’t afford to sit around and dither and grind over term next time someone good is available.

          • Stu Cazz

            Agree with all your points….the only thing you missed is that this year happens to be a very weak draft….not even tanking will be a smart strategy…

    • brodiegio4life

      and? so no matter how bad the flames play we as fans aren’t ever allowed to complain about poor on ice performance? If you don’t want to hear people complain about a team that is essentially tied for last place then don’t go to the comments section

  • CalgaryCandle

    At the game tonight–what a frustrating waste of money. A good second period and a few minutes of the first.

    Hard to enter the zone, passes not connecting, lost faceoffs, no offence from the D, no offence from everyone but JH.

    Tre has undone all the good drafting, trading by hiring GG. He should fire GG and Cameron now, but obviously will not have the ‘testicular fortitude’ to do that.

    If looks to me like another bottom 6 finish–hopefully 6th overall nets us someone as good as Tzachuk.

    Very frustrated Flames Fan.

  • Canadian Hockey Fan

    Gulutzan is useless. Whatever he is saying, its not working. This team is truly awful. The Gulutzan, Sigalet, and Cameron hires were terrible, especially when you consider the other coaches who were available at the time.

    • MarbledBlueCheese

      Whew, too soon, too soon.

      Let’s leave that guy out of sports at least; we need hockey as a respite from the horrors of real life

      But at this point I’m keen on holding on to our good young players and trying to get a few more. This year is kinda looking like a wash (now I feel like an Oiler fan; gross)

  • Crash

    When Hartley was hired, he promised a fast paced, uptempo and entertaining brand of hockey– he delivered. He devised a system where ‘boys’ could successfully compete against “men’– one which could presumably be altered as these young players developed over time.

    When the Rookie GM Tre was asked “what would keep him up at night” at the start of the ’14-’15 season, he said “goalscoring.”

    When the eventual Jack Adams award winner was asked the same question, he said that goals would come from the Defense. Again, he delivered. Gio had career years and was in the Norris conversation, and we couldn’t stop Ari from gushing over Brodie (and rightly so). Guys like #6 and #4 looked serviceable, and in fact saved the 14-15 season when Gio went down.

    Hartley said that Calgary would be a hardworking, Disciplined, blue collar team that would bring their lunch pails to work every game, play for each other, and not quit until the final whistle.

    Under Hartley, playing time was “earned, not given”. He extracted and demanded every ounce of talent and energy out of his players and would often bring up what an early owner had told him, to paraphrase: “you better not return my race cars in mint condition… don’t worry, we can always fix the race cars or get you a new one. I want you to drive the $!@% out of my race cars.”

    He instilled a culture, an identity and a belief system in his team; they were never out of it.. even when playing a FAR superior foe on the road (in Anaheim of all place) in game 5 of the 2nd round of the playoffs. You had a feeling that somehow they would find a way. Young players took massive strides under his detailed and unwavering tutelage to the point of comparisons being made to Kane, Toewes, and Kieth.

    At the start of ’15-’16 teams like NJ and ARI would say: we want to be the Flames of 14-15; many teams have copied their “scoring from defence” systems. I think everyone including the fans had a pretty good idea what the Flames were under Hartley.

    Now, can anyone tell me what the Gully Flames stand for? Anyone? I know it’s early and I’m not following them as closely (the REAL tragedy here) because frankly they are boring… but can anyone tell me what this so called ‘team’ is all about? Is Gully driving the$!@% out of his race cars?

    It’s a classic case of be careful what you wish for: the writers on this site were so quick to run Hartley out of town for ‘this’ and ‘that’ and ‘poor player utilization’ and bad Corsi and blah, blah, blah… that they did not see the “Forest for the Trees.” They forgot the gravity of what he was able to achieve from a rag- tag crew of misfits and unknowns in a relatively short period of time. The writers, and to some extent some of the fans were ungrateful for what we had, and so now we have to live with THIS!!

    Well, like the guy in Airplane! said: “looks like I picked the wrong {year} to quit smoking. Light ’em if you got ’em boys and girls, light ’em if you got ’em.

    ;{

    • SmellOfVictory

      With this “rag tag group of misfits” that was virtually the same except that it also had a very good Jiri Hudler on it, Hartley managed to make the playoffs once, in a way that was completely unrepeatable, and otherwise had teams with finishes of 25th, 27th, and 25th in the league. Were they fun to watch? Sure. But let’s not pretend that Hartley was coaching them to victory on a regular basis.

      • dontcryWOLF88

        Yeah, man, its true. Its not like we stepped off the bullet train leaving Hartley behind.

        Is Glen “The Wet Towel” Gulutzun the better man for the job here? Who am I to say, I know it wasnt me who interviewed him.

        I think the team just needs to learn how to win again, to have the self-confidence to know they can do that more nights than not. I believe they have the skill, which is the part you cant fake, so thats good.

        Maybe they need to hire a strong motivational speaker like Hartley as an assistant coach? I think thats something the Flames cant seem to muster internally amongst the players corp. GG isnt getting that side done either.

    • brodiegio4life

      don’t even try to use Hartleys bs “earned not given” he had a huge bias for some guys who would play like garbage night in night out and still get big minutes over more deserving players… They came 5th last last year with your man bob so they wouldn’t be any better off right now with him. His system of collapsing and blocking shots was laughable.

      • Rock

        That same player you are talking about is on a Edmonton team that had no defense last year playing big minutes and look how they are doing.
        Advance stats says some players are better then what they really are example Hamilton. Then there Are other players there possession stats don’t look so good but are a lot better then what the numbers say.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Hartley of 2014/14 was lucky to have a team that caught everyone off guard. The team had incredible luck. He ranted earned-not-given, but that was only a select few that had to earn it. But he got results.

      The second year he did nothing to adjust. Every team knew about our stretch passes or bump back to Gaudreau. We were caught more times than not. His usage of certain players was beyond frustrating to watch.

      Remember the good times if you like. Hartley had one good year and 3 bad ones where we picked bottom 6. His time was up.

    • Stu Cazz

      Great post. I will add and say that both Sutter and Hartley quickly established an identity at the start of camp based on the teams talent level. They got the most out of very weak teams in a very short period of time but it was time for both to move on.

      I was at the game last night and made one quick observation that confirms the weakness off GG…immediately after the foolish Chiasson penalty and subsequent goal by the Stars GG sent Chiasson quickly back on the ice. That was his opportunity to make the pathetic Chiasson ride the pine for the remainder of the game and perhaps sit him out for a few. He is a weak coach and the players are not listening and are taking full advantage of him.

    • Stu Cazz

      Great post. I will add and say that both Sutter and Hartley quickly established an identity at the start of camp based on the teams talent level. They got the most out of very weak teams in a very short period of time but it was time for both to move on.

      I was at the game last night and made one quick observation that confirms the weakness off GG…immediately after the foolish Chiasson penalty and subsequent goal by the Stars GG sent Chiasson quickly back on the ice. That was his opportunity to make the pathetic Chiasson ride the pine for the remainder of the game and perhaps sit him out for a few. He is a weak coach and the players are not listening and are taking full advantage of him.

  • Skuehler

    If we were willing to potentially waste a year due to coaching, why the need to get rid of BH? Who was he really? Stanley Cup winner & Jack Adams winner, or coach of a bottom 6 team? Last year may have been an off year, as many good teams have. He could have been encouraged to work on his weaknesses and keep the stability with the players.

    Many saying on here…’give GG the season’. Is that really what everyone was expecting coming into this season – lets give a new coach a whole season and lets see what he can do?? I think expectations across the board was improvement, and GG was brought in to take the team to a place that BH wasn’t able to. So far it has been a fail. Was Edmonton better off for keeping Eakins around for as long as they did? When you know for certain something isn’t working, it’s time to move on.

    It’s just hockey, but the size of the business means that there is too much at stake to waste a season.

  • NHL93

    To me this was a puck-luck game. The Flames looked good for much of the contest and still lost. When that happens in a vacuum it’s an awe shucks experience. When that happens when the team is in this kind of funk it feels a lot worse. Let’s not lose perspective. They still suck.. but good teams and bad teams will always lose a few of these games a season.

    Now for my negativity:I love Bennett but he still makes so many mistakes as a pivot without the puck.. and sometimes with the puck. Someone suggested moving him to the wing.. that might be a decent move.

  • Beartooth72

    The last couple of years have been fun to watch.. i wasn’t too upset when they lost games as it was generally entertaining. I am finding this years Flames boring and the games are very frustrating to watch. Not a fan of Gulutzans coaching style and its obvious some players are struggling with the new system as well.
    Tkachuk, Kulak and Stajan have been pleasant surprises at least.
    i would also keep Kulak over Hamilton but i doubt that happens.

  • Despo

    If you don’t find ways to win against a better AHL team like the Stars were yesterday you deserve to be at the bottom of the standings.
    There was absolutely no push in the 3rd. The Flames created just four shots between the 42.’ and 57.’ and with Tkachuk out there was no player who crashed the net or even tried to move to the slot area.
    Hope Ferland is ok.