Post-Game: Johnson blanks the Wild


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(Bruce Hemmelgarn / USA Today Sports)

The Calgary Flames have had a rough year so far. They led the National Hockey League in losses heading into tonight. A big reason for their woes is they seem like a jittery bunch. They seem nervous that the next mistake they’ll make will end up in the back of their net, which makes them too nervous to try anything offensively.

Well, the Flames seemed to work their way out of their nervousness tonight against the Minnesota Wild. They got a timely goal, good goaltending and played 60 rock-solid minutes in a well-earned win that was strangely devoid of the type of nervousness and fragility that’s come to define the Flames this year.

THE RUNDOWN

It’s hard to really dress up a game where there was just a single goal, but don’t get me wrong: this was a pretty good, tight-checking game.

The Flames opened the scoring in the first, six minutes in, on the power play. Considering they rarely scored first and have rarely scored on the power play, that’s huge. Mark Giordano sprung Johnny Gaudreau into the Minnesota zone with a great pass and, with three Wild defenders on his heels, Gaudreau tucked it between Dubnyk’s legs to make it 1-0. Shots were 10-7 Minnesota in the first.

Nobody scored in the second, though there were lots of penalties and power plays. Follow along!

  • Dougie Hamilton took a minor at the horn in the first stopping a scoring chance. (Minnesota PP.)
  • Zach Praise took a slashing penalty mid-way through the period. (Calgary PP.)
  • With Parise’s penalty almost done, Jonas Brodin took the ever-popular “puck over glass” minor. (Short Flames 5-on-3 PP.)
  • Sean Monahan took a cross-checking penalty which nullified the Flames advantage. (4-on-4.)
  • But wait, Ryan Suter took an interference penalty a minute into that 4-on-4, giving Calgary a short 4-on-3 followed by a shorter 5-on-4.
  • But wait, because before Suter’s penalty expired Matt Stajan took an interference penalty, causing a 4-on-4 and then a short PP for Minnesota.

The referees were earning their money tonight. Well, mostly. Shots were 13-9 for the Flames in the second.

Nobody scored in the third. Minnesota pressed, but the Flames defended well. Shots were 8-7 for the Wild and the Flames, a team whose coach described them as “fragile” a few days ago, seemed eerily calm defending a one-goal lead on the road.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

They scored and played a smart road game after getting the lead, punctuated by improved attention to detail and better execution team-wide. The now-characteristic big mistakes that always end up in their net didn’t really happen tonight – and on a few occasions Chad Johnson bailed them out.

THE TURNING POINT

It was the only goal of the game, but Gaudreau’s goal was big. It gave the Flames a lead they never relinquished.

RED WARRIOR

Gaudreau. He had the game’s only goal and was buzzing otherwise.

But a few others deserve stick-taps as well, including Johnson for his shutout, Dennis Wideman for a stangely poised game by a usually streaky player, and Matthew Tkachuk for a nice energy game coming off a two-game absence due to injury.

THE NUMBERS

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
D.Hamilton 60.0 62.5 0.625
Gaudreau 57.1 62.5 1.600
Chiasson 54.1 55.6 0.500
Monahan 52.4 60.0 0.150
Giordano 48.2 52.6 1.400
Engelland 47.1 25.0 0.125
Brouwer 47.1 55.6 0.490
Bennett 42.9 50.0 -0.010
Stajan 40.9 50.0 -0.340
Kulak 40.0 20.0 -0.150
Backlund 29.6 40.0 -0.050
Tkachuk 27.6 36.4 -0.210
Brodie 27.5 25.0 -0.475
Ferland 27.3 0.0 0.000
Frolik 26.7 36.4 -0.425
Wideman 26.2 25.0 -0.650
Hathaway 25.0 0.0 -0.015
F.Hamilton 23.1 0.0 -0.230
Johnson 2.700

THIS AND THAT

Starting with tonight, our team will be curating Twitter Moments for you to follow along with for most games. Check ’em out and tweet us your feedback!

On a crappier note, Gaudreau left the game twice due to getting slashed on the hands (once by Ryan Suter, once by Eric Staal). The second time, mid-way through the third period, he didn’t return to the game.

UP NEXT

The Flames jet home and are back in action tomorrow night when they host the Arizona Coyotes at the Saddledome.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    The league is failing to protect one of their most outstanding stars. I don’t normally endorse on ice vilgilante justice, but a strong message has to be sent by Johnny’s teammates. Time to 2 hand slash the next 3 – 5 guys who take liberties with Gaudreau. I don’t care if it costs them a game. It’s been ridiculous since he arrived.

      • dontcryWOLF88

        Yup, f54ck these slashing c05k holes. I know this is a crazy idea, but I would respect the hell out of Gaudreau if he dropped his own gloves on the next guy trying that cheap sh#t.

        • Captain Ron

          You know if it keeps on happening it may do Johnny some good give a few of the offenders a good spear in the groin, crosscheck to the face, or some form of vicious slash. Remember when Kessell lost it on that goon in Buffalo? It sounds harsh but it would give him the opportunity to draw attention to the issue in a BIG way. He was getting hacked when he scored tonight and I didn’t see any refs arm go up before the puck went in. Time to incite a riot on the ice if you ask me.

          Theo wouldn’t have thought twice about doing it. He created his own space by fearlessly protecting himself and didn’t give a damn what anyone thought about it.

          If nothing else Burke or Treliving should stand up and make some noise about it. I sure wouldn’t be happy watching my star player and meal ticket constantly being abused.

          • everton fc

            Someone asked, “Where is Chris Simon?”

            Ferland could be that type of player for us. And we do have Engelland. But Ferland’s never on the ice (why he’s not deployed on either the PP or PK is mind-boggling). The fact the coaching staff didn’t go “wild” during the game itself shows their collective in experience (Cameron should at least know better).

            Frustrating.

            No, we don’t need Bollig here. And it is indeed, a passive team. And besides Bollig and Lomberg, Stockton appears to be just as passive, “on paper”.

            Where’s the promised “truculence”?

            As for Hathaway, he has more value on RW than Freddie, and perhaps even Chiasson. He should be seeing regular minutes. I like he and Freddie, as linemates.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Sorry Folks…six slashes on our top player were not random acts. These were pre-meditated tactics by a gutless coach. I expected more from Boudreau but Anaheim was never a clean team so we should not be surprised.

    • TheoForever

      This is my take too. I believe the opposing coaches are telling their players to slash Johnny’s wrists. The refs are not reacting to it, we may have lost our star player. It is happening over and over, I’m very angry about it.

      Someone on this team should be protecting the little guy.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        IMO nobody responded to the slashes for fear of taking a penalty. The team feels their PK has cost them games and GG is known to bench players for taking bad penalties. When your PP sucks teams will take liberties with your best players. When your PK is also bad your players play scared.

        If the Flames find themselves out of the Playoff picture I expect they will be less tolerant with these antics toward their top players. When players like Koivu play dirty and try and push our players around we need to show more unity and team character.

    • Captain Ron

      Them Ducks were whacking the crap out of Johnny in the playoffs and getting away with it when Boudreau was their coach. Kesler was the biggest offender. It’s no co-incidence it was going on tonight. Really pisses me off that they don’t hesitate to call a marginal cross check but ignore the constant hacking on star players like JH. It makes no sense. Time for the Flames to do the same to their star players. I wish Gulatzan would make some noise about it with the refs during the game instead of just allowing it to go on unnoticed.

      • TheoForever

        Gulutzan should definately talk to refs about it. He probably will now, could be too late. Wouldn’t be too shocked if BB had a talk with the league.

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    Really liked Hathaway’s game last year & I really liked 2nite’s performance as well. We can use more of this grit and speed.

    Flames looked less frantic finite, seemed more calm but still intense. Maybe that was the effect of CJ sitting tall in the saddle and giving them some confidence.

    Get a good nite’s rest boys & let’s take 2 points from the desert dogs 2moro nite.

    GFG

  • Kensington

    Nice to see a quality start from our D and in net. Was watching GG speak after the game and was wondering if others find him to be very passive, ie not the inspiring type with a lot of fire that you want as a coach. Any W is a good W keep it up Flames!

  • dontcryWOLF88

    Yeah he wasnt perfect by any means. Some big saves along with that though. Got quite a few shots through as well. Hmm, just curisous what other people saw. Im rooting for the guy for some reason.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    good day for the flames in relation to the pacific division. Oilers lose/ Kings lose/ Sharks lose. I would be almost hopeless on the season at this point with the Flames, but pacfic is a lucky division to be in at this time. Looking at their schedule they might still be able to close the gap if they get their sh#t together for good….not holding my breath

    My regards to Oilers trolls present: lost 7 of last 9. Cheers.

      • jakethesnail

        Oilers easy peasy schedule at the beginning of the year got them off to a tremendous start. Playing, at the most, a game every second night.

        Flames started the season with back-to-back, 3 games in 4 nights. And a 2 game back-to-back road trip in Chi-StL. Flames have just started a 5 games in 7 nights segment.

        Meanwhile, oilers played one back-to-game set on the road on the first weekend in November. That’s all for this season!

        And Milannie Lucic, pointless in the last 4 games, -3. 42 Million looking good?

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    First Thank you to Sportsnet for highlighting the Slashes(3 of them) on JG with no call! Why the @#$% isn’t the coaching staff Flipping out on the reffs? This team is way to passive and needs to stand up for themselves, get some respect back! Johnny needs to either suck it up and stop looking for the call that isn’t going to happen and then double swing slash the guy back (who cares if he gets a penalty at this point) or drop like he’s been shot and draw attention to this BS by the reffs! Something needs to be done to Stop this BS! So angry at the reffs right now! Good Win tonight… Go Flames! Stop the reffs Blackballing of the Flames NOW! Cheers!

    • Captain Ron

      I would love to see one of our guys completely lose it to the point where they get suspended over this bull shoot.

      Where’s Chris Simon when we need him?

      The Flames are waaaaay too passive. Think they would let this happen in LA or Anaheim? Not a chance it goes on for a whole game.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    In the post-game interview with GG he states that he feels the team has handled the frequent targeting of Johnny well.

    …does he mean the silent treatment? I havnt seen the team handle that crap in ANY way.

    I agree with what others have already said above though, that the team is straight up terrified of taking penalties.

    If they get their confidence/ mojo back I think that will change.

  • WildfireOne

    Actually, I’m beginning to think that it’s the overall passivity that is killing me about this team.

    I was thinking primarily about new systems as a way to explain the results, but now it’s around 20 games and that excuse is quickly expiring.

    Since carrying it clearly isn’t working, we’re watching them dump and chase. Good, that’s an adjustment! … But what in the blue hell is the point of that if you fail to regain the puck on the boards? I find myself yelling “win a fracking battle, for Chrissake!” repeatedly. And then I realized I was also yelling the same damn thing in our own zone.

    For whatever reason, we’re not winning even half of the individual battles for puck possession, and until we do, we’ll continue to lose.

    Makes me wish that Gully would summon the ghost of the Jolly Rancher at practice and hiss “All right boys, BATTLE DRILLS!” The team may not have to be physical, but it has to be hard to play against.

    Oh, and one more thing: Johnson’s won the crease. The main difference between him and Elliott is that he’s making the saves that he actually should. So done with Jonas Hiller impersonations.

  • cjc

    The failure to call the slashes is inexcusable. But I’m going to dissent as to how the rest of the team should respond. In short, it depends on context.

    1- It’s a one goal game. Taking a penalty in that context does you no favors.

    2- Powerplays were already 6-2 Calgary. I’m not using this to excuse the refs, but research shows that zebras have a tendency to even things up. Kudos to Calgary for playing a really disciplined game, absent that weird stretch in the second.

    3- If the game is out of hand, one way or another, then sending a message is perfectly fine.

    Better for BB and BT to talk with the league about this, make their case. If it continues, then have the players respond.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Interesting TOI and zone starts last night. Brodie was stapled to Wideman last night and that pair got the majority of DZ starts along with Frolik helping to babysit, while Hamilton and Giordano got the cherry OZ starts. Not surprisingly Hamillton had one of his possession games of the season.

    Tkatchuk is getting no favours and is learning to play in the NHL with hard minutes. He’s doing well.

  • Craig

    The powerplay is still so bad. How have adjustments not been made, we’re still seeing the stupid drop back play, we’re barely able to enter the zone, and we consistently lose puck battles.

    It still looks pathetic, something needs to be done, even if it’s just not playing Chiasson! Put your best players out.