Post-Game: Flames overwhelm desert dogs

A whirlwind 24 hours of games and news for the Calgary Flames ended earlier this evening at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Playing their first of what will likely be several games without star winger Johnny Gaudreau, the Calgary Flames played a scrappy game and dominated the Arizona Coyotes for two periods after a slow start. Despite some superb goaltending from Arizona, the Flames managed a 2-1 overtime win for their second victory in as many nights.

Here’s how it went down.

THE RUNDOWN

The Flames came out of the starting blocks rather groggily, likely due to a combination of last night’s game in Minnesota, the travel, or the emotion of learning they’ll be without their top gun for the time being. However, after that slow initial 7 or 8 minutes the Flames woke up and took over the period. They had the most dangerous chances, but just couldn’t bury any. Shots were 8-5 Arizona in the opening frame.

The locals continued their nice play as the second period began, pressuring on a few early shifts and looking poised. On one particularly nice sequence, Matthew Tkachuk teed one up for Michael Frolik in the slot…only for Frolik to be robbed by the glove hand of Mike Smith. We seemed destined to head into the second intermission deadlocked, but fate – and some wonky Flames defensive coverage – intervened in the dying seconds of the period. Off a lazy clear attempt, Jordan Martinook chased the puck down just inside the blueline and fired it towards the net, where Tobias Rieder was able to tuck it past Chad Johnson with just 16.7 seconds left in the frame. Shots were 8-7 for the Flames in the period and they carried the play for the balance of the period, so you gotta believe it stung to head to the break down a goal.

After a sleepy start to the third, the Flames tied the game off a really nice sequence on an offensive face-off: Mikael Backlund tied up his man, Frolik tied up his man, and Tkachuk grabbed the puck and wristed it over both a sliding defender and Smith’s shoulder to make it 1-1.

The Flames were all over the Coyotes from that point onwards, peppering Smith with shots and nearly scoring a couple But Arizona’s goalie held ’em in, so extra hockey was needed to decide this one. Shots were 10-6 for the Flames in the third.

There wasn’t need for much additional time, as Frolik strode in and beat Smith with a nice wrister to close this one out.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

They were the better team. They dominated possession. They kept pressing. They didn’t let a late goal in the second period deflate them. They didn’t allow any power play goals.

The Coyotes aren’t an amazing team, but the Flames out-chanced and out-worked them for the balance of this game and got a well-deserved two points as a result.

THE TURNING POINT

The Flames pressed for the better part of two periods (and change) but weren’t rewarded. It seemed like Smith might save everything. Then Tkachuk put a puck upstairs from a nearly impossible angle, and the Flames were off to the races from there.

RED WARRIOR

Micheal Ferland was a bowling ball tonight in the best possible way. He was crashing and banging, and had a really nice scoring chance off the rush in the first. He anchored a really good fourth line

Tkachuk was also pretty solid, aside from his snipe in the third that swung the game.

THE NUMBERS

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Chiasson 88.2 80.0 0.665
Vey 80.0 66.7 0.430
Stajan 77.8 57.1 0.575
Hathaway 72.7 50.0 0.410
Giordano 72.2 61.9 1.000
Ferland 69.2 100 0.250
Bennett 67.9 56.3 0.850
Wideman 67.7 54.6 0.775
D.Hamilton 67.6 65.0 1.100
F.Hamilton 66.7 100 0.295
Backlund 65.6 61.5 1.100
Kulak 65.0 50.0 0.425
Tkachuk 63.6 66.7 1.640
Engelland 63.2 60.0 -0.050
Brodie 60.6 60.0 0.600
Monahan 60.0 56.3 0.800
Brouwer 59.1 52.9 0.500
Frolik 58.3 61.5 1.875
Johnson 1.250

THIS AND THAT

As soon as Johnson was scored on late in the second, ending a stretch of over five full periods of shutout hockey, a few folks claimed responsibility for the goal.

It was an 8 p.m. start because of a Sportsnet double-header. It was a late night for everybody.

QUOTEABLE

“I really liked their response. I thought we were really good in the third. There was energy there. There was  a will to win. I liked our group. It was an incredibly shot by Chucky, but I thought we created a lot of chances,a  lot of zone time. I liked our response. It was a good win for our group.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on his team’s response to the late second period goal by Arizona.

“We haven’t really practiced that play, but [Backlund] wanted to, if we were losing he was driving and he took the D out and nobody came to me. I think that’s the first time we’ve run that all year, that little over-the-top play. It worked, though.” – Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk on his game-tying goal in the third period.

UP NEXT

The Flames (7-10-1) are off tomorrow and back at it on Friday night when they host the Chicago Blackhawks at the ‘Dome.

  • Locker Room Talk

    I never really felt like we were in that much danger tonight, I was just worried that we might not find a hole in Mike Smith. What a beauty by Tkachuk – I love that he’s a Flame – and a great OT goal by Fro. Not the most thrilling display of ice hockey ever given but it was a good close win for this team.

  • CDB

    Ferland was an extremely effective player that played 8 min tonight. The most troublesome part about the flames this year is how bad their specialty systems are and player usage. Direct reflection on coaching.

    8 min Ferland and 25 min wideman? Serious coaching issues.

  • Arminius

    On the goal its Fro and Backs tie up their men allowing Tkachuk to score?
    How about Tkachuk picks up the puck for a tied up Backlund and Frolik and places a perfect shot in little to no space on the tightest of angles..

    I mean let’s be real.

  • smatic10

    Everyone came to play tonight. I was really hoping Johnny’s injury would unite the team and make them play for each other. That’s exactly what they did. All four lines were getting their chances and they generated a lot by winning board battles. They also skated hard for loose pucks. No dumb penalties. Solid goaltending. Other notes:

    Ferland-F.Hamilton-Hathaway was buzzing out there.

    Chiasson isn’t providing much offense, but man we can’t fault him for effort. This guy battles for pucks all night. I’m a fan.

    Brodie…….I’ve missed you. He finally looks like his old self. He got caught puck-watching on the Yotes goal but he had a solid argument for a too many men call.

    D.Hamilton had a great game. Big hit on Martinook. Blocked a shot on the pk. Made tape to tape passes.

    We should be so grateful that the Tkachuk-Backlund-Frolik line exists. Such a reliable line. Sick shot by Tkachuk on his goal and he nearly danced in for another just a few moments later.

    People have been critical of Monny and probably rightfully so. But let’s be real here guys, Monny has never been a puck dangling speedster. He’s not the type of player to make something out of nothing. Don’t expect this guy to produce offense like Ovechkin or Kane. Should he have more goals by now? Yes. But the whole team has been mostly out of sync all season. Tonight he was making plays, winning face-offs, had a nice defensive stick in OT. He will get his goals this season, but I hope that in the meantime, he continues to bring something to the table every night.

    Johnson was solid. Really good signing so far. Elliott hasn’t been his best this season but it’s clearly visible that the team hasn’t been playing as solid in front of him as they have in front of Johnson. Our tandem is still one to envy.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Tkachuk was a beast. Typically your youngest player should not be your best player but he could have had 4 points tonight if not for some great saves by Smith. I would love to see more offense but they directed almost 70 pucks at the net. A lot of deflections and shots from the slot which are out of character for the Flames. This was also Hamilton’s best game…albeit against a weak team. I can watch this type of hockey as long as the effort is there.

  • RKD

    Tkachuk was great out there, he scored a goal from an near impossible angle, had a lot of energy and was buzzing all over the ice. I’m liking Gulutzan using Bennett as the top line LW in place of Gaudreau, he and Brouwer were buzzing all night with a lot of chances. I’m also liking the top pairing of Hamilton with Giordano, probably the two best games played by Hamilton. Frolik scores the OT winner, leads the team with 6 goals yet see no PP time, what gives?

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    Wow, I think this game was one of most enjoyable games I’ve watch all year! Hard working, sandpaper & Grit, team work, supporting each other and dare I say some chemistry all throughout the line up?(well 95%)Mike Smith was insane! Kudos to him and Chad Johnson whom also looked really great tonight! Loved seeing Brodie jumping into the play like that! Has GG changed his coaching style/system to match the players strengths and not just get them to adapt to his ideas hmmm? Anyways They looked sound defensively and the offensive pressure was Awesome! It Seems that Obi Wan Ke-Gaudreau Might Not Be Our Only Hope after all! But Seriously, HEAL Fast JG we still need you! and way to go Flames you did Good tonight! Go Flames! Cheers!

  • flames2015

    I’m realy liking Johnson’s play, he’s calm and has good positioning. You don’t see him needing to make many sprawling saves. Could have potentially had another shutout if it wasn’t for that too many men blunder. The team seems to play better infront of him. He should be given the chance to run with the net until proven otherwise.

    • Flash

      Yup, Johnson is now 4-2-1 in 7 games with 2.25 GAA and .915 SV%

      Compare that with Elliott who is 3-8-0 with 3.36 GAA and .882 SV%

      I think we have found the solution to all of life’s problems!

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        I like Elliott but he does have that mentality like Johnston..where he refuses to give up the first goal. We need that right now. Despite all the chances, the Flames likely lose that game if not for Tkachuk’s great individual effort. Ferland needs to be moved the the top lie when Johnny is back…. That was better than ‘Vancouver series’ Michael…not as much running around.

        • Derzie

          Loubardias threw it out there that Elliott is used to elite circumstances. Getting peppered is new territory and he is tightening up. Johnson on the other hand comes from Buffalo so he is right at home with 10 bell chances and actually stays calm. This seems to have some merit.

    • Joe Flames

      About that too many men penalty….shouldn’t that play have been blown dead once Smith handled the puck outside the trapezoid? Isn’t that the whole idea of the trapezoid? I thought goalies weren’t allowed to play the puck outside of it.

  • Kensington

    The Good Bad and Ugly. Good Team effort, TJ looked great and ditto MT. Bad Monahan & Gio (these two contracts will come back to haunt the Flames in years to come). Monahan is way over paid and its starting to show (his bad start will become even worse without JG to set him up) and Gio is already showing signs of slowing and his contract just kicked in (three times did a stickhandle at blueline for no reason that caused an offside). Ugly Flames ability to cash in on scoring attempts we have a team full of stone hands!

    • mikeswcal

      I see this works bash the flames or give an honest opinion maybe because you are disappointed in their play or frustrated and you get trashed. Says gee the boys sure are spiffy tonight and you get prop’s.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    So the NHL’s worst managed and worst coached and worst team hands down–all of which I have been reading for weeks on this site–is a mere 3 points out of the playoffs with 128 points still up for grabs.

    The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

    “Let’s fire the coach. He is inept”

    “Let’s trade Gio. He’s too old and slow.”

    “Let’s trade Hammy. He’s too young and soft.”

    “Let’s trade Monahan. He has become a pretty boy fat cat.”

    “Let’s gut the team and start the rebuild fresh.”

    “Oh, if we only had shot block extraordinaire Kris Russell all of our worries and woes would be gone.”

    “Oh if we still had pint-sized Paul Byron we would be a playoff team now!”

    This is just a small sample of the absolute rot that has been polluting this site since the start of the season by way too many posters who regard a trip on a merry-go-round as a white knuckler ride.

    I can forgive any poster who has posted in panic who is under the age of 18 as we can blame his excessive jitters on his hormones and inexperience, but any adult man who has posted the “doomsday” crap I have had to read is a man who simply needs to start acting like a man.

    • freethe flames

      Many of the people on FN have been critical for awhile now, some have been critical of the GG from the outset, others like myself have been critical about the lack of talent on the team for a while as well.

      Last night they played hard and played as a team resulting in a win. That does not mean that their problems have been solved. As well as the Ferland/FHamilton/Hathaway line played; they created pressure and scoring opportunities they buried nothing. At some point positive play needs to become production and the truth is that these 3 guys for all their hard work may never produce points. I wonder if moving Bennett to the center on this line might lead to some actual production.

      Until we start getting consistent production from Monahan, Brouwer and Bennett up front this team will struggle offensively as 2 of the other 3 lines try as they might lack any finishers. Perhaps a lineup like this might allow the team to roll 4 effective lines: Shinkaruk/Monahan/Brouwer (offensive zone starts and PP time), Tkachuk/Backs/Frolik (any time any place), Ferland/Bennett/Hathaway (offensive zone starts) and Vey/Stajan/Chiasson (dzone starts; can we really expect any production from them).

      • everton fc

        Ferland-Freddie-Hathaway should be our third line. Vey (or whomever) Stajan and Chiasson the 4th line.

        Hamilton and Hathaway played well as linemates in Stockton last season. But I think Stajan (or maybe Bennett, as you’ve countered) might be something to try. I don’t think Freddie’s going to score goals at this level. Ferland is, and Hathaway will. They need the right centre.

        Again, could it be Bennett – a third line of Ferland/Bennett/Hathaway??

        As for all the negativity, to put things once again in perspective; since 1996-97, we’ve made the playoffs six times… Some of us get tired of hearing the term “rebuild” these days. They have to start winning. My criticism has been higher up than the players. I start my criticism with Ken King, who has been president for most of the seasons we haven’t made the playoffs (since 2001).

        BB would be next in my line of site…

        But this was a good win for the boys, sans Gaudreau. Maybe losing their star woke some of these guys up. But I think it’s giving opportunities to guys like Hathaway and Freddie, seeing Ferland play like a veteran leader… Guys like Stajan and Engelland leading by example… Ditto Frolik and Backlund… And finding a goalie who is calm, cool and confident between the sticks… This may be an avenue back to .500 hockey. GG seems like a decent guy, a family man – a fellow you want to root for. And I still think a good 4th line would be something like Shinkaruk-Stajan-Chiasson. Or Vey-Stajan-Chiasson. But as a 4th line. Ferland-Bennett/Freddie-Hathaway should be the 3rd line, and get those minutes. And they’ll produce points. Ferland’s on the cusp of a breakthrough. If he finds his touch…

      • piscera.infada

        Granted. But the points aren’t necessarily wrong (minus the weird age dig at the end).

        For example, look at the comment directly above the comment you responded to. “Team full of stone hands”, really? That game should have easily been 5-1 if Smith hadn’t have stood on his head for the better part of the game. Arizona scored on their only real chance.

        No one’s saying last night’s win was a cure-all–they do need to score more–but they played well. The system generated. You play that game against most opponents, and you’re going to win more games than you lose.

        • calgaryfan

          why do you think the goalie was so good? maybe the guys shooting at him are not so good!
          They beat the coyotes in overtime! don’t get me wrong I enjoy the flames winning but the team is not good.

        • DeadRedRedemption

          GG changed systems to a simpler more defense oriented one. The players seem to have adopted it fairly well.

          We’ll have to see how it stands up to a non 30th place team, and what GG does when JG returns.

          At least GG is adjusting, I guess. Just wish the Flames would adjust him out the door.

          • Primo

            What basis/information do you have that GG has changed systems?? Is it possible that the players are adapting to a new system within a typical timeline of 20 or so games….

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        Last year they weren’t winning but they were entertaining….this year they aren’t winning and the have not been entertaining. I can’t apologize for changing the channel when I am not being entertained.

        As well, last year the team won most of its games on home ice and rewarded the fans…this year not so much. The fourth Line last night with Ferland and Hathaway reminded me off one of the toughest 4th lines in hockey in Long Island with Czikas and Clutterbuck…lots of grit but still dangerous.

    • dontcryWOLF88

      I agree you gotta handle the highs and lows as a fan. But I for one make no apologies for being passionate. The fear is always that the low will stay low and that something needs to be done. Adults arnt immune from that one bit. I’m not, at least.

      Not nearly out of the woods yet. I’ll calm down after they get to 0.500.

    • DeadRedRedemption

      Or the coaching does suck.

      Squeaking out 2 wins 1-0 and 2-1 changes nothing. In fact, GG admitted to having to play a certain way when you lose someone like JH.

      So he’s has changed from whatever abomination if a system he was trying before to a more defense oriented one, which most players would be familiar with.

      I guess at least he’s adjusting, but doesn’t the change highlight how ineffective his “system” has been to this point if we suddenly can squeeze out wins albeit to a crappy team?

      • BlueMoonNigel

        GG’s has to see what systems his lads can and cannot use to their advantage. Just as the players have to get used to the new coach and his schemes, it is the same for GG and his staff. The team isn’t even at the quarter pole of a marathon. Why all the panic? That is what I cannot understand and accept.

        This team is a work in progress. In a couple, three years when the team is talked about as a serious playoff contender at the outset of the season, how many of the current Flames will still be on the roster?

        Tell me, do you call a house that is under construction and about 30% complete a “house” or a “house under construction” or a “house being built?” Think about the Flames this way. There is fat chance that this team can make the playoffs this year and that’s okay. They are not ready. Give them time. Whereas they had Davie Jones last year, they now have Matty Tkachuk. Last year’s super Joe Colborne is this year’s Troy Brouwer. Both big improvements, don’t you think?

    • Derzie

      They beat the worst team in the league in OT Nigel. Let’s not get all self-congratulatory. We all want the team to win but being in the race because your peers suck is not something to be proud of. Aim higher.

  • Burnward

    It took Dougie til the All-Star break last year.

    Mid-November is a nicer time to start playing hockey this time around.

    Nice to see.

    Solid game by most last night.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    Yeah I can see it working. Might get some confidence for him against some easier opponents. Bring them all up at once. Bennett has a lot of skill hiding in there…we’ve all seen it. Buddy just needs to find a consistent groove though

  • kittensandcookies

    The system has been the same all season. The players were full of bad habits (e.g. forcing stretch passes) and they’re slowly, slowly getting out of them. Also they’re reacting faster as they get used to new positioning.

    One thing I have noticed watching a few games around the league: The clearing shot around the glass is no longer safe. I thought it was Engelland being stupid, but I have now noticed it on multiple occasions by different teams that the offensive d-man will try to catch the puck with his hand, drop it down to his stick, and there will be two of his teammates already charging towards the net.