Post-Game: Flames too hot for the Wings


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(Raj Mehta / USA Today Sports)

Heading out onto the road for their longest trip of the season and without their biggest offensive weapon, the Calgary Flames likely hoped to continue their stretch of responsible team play that stretches back to the game against Minnesota where Johnny Gaudreau got hurt. Well, so far so good.

Aside from a couple rough patches, the Flames played a rock solid 60 minutes of road hockey. They got timely offense from three of their four lines and solid goaltending from Chad Johnson en route to a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings to kick off their six game road trip.

That’s four solid games in a row for these guys.

THE RUNDOWN

The first period was largely uneventful, with a few chances for either team during the frame as they tried to feel each other’s tendencies out. The Flames had one shift of iffy defensive play (by the Monahan line) and it cost ’em; after an initial chance was stopped, the visitors got into the habit of chasing the puck around their end like Timbits players. That chaos allowed Tomas Tatar to slide a puck through traffic…and Johnson’s legs to give Detroit a 1-0 lead. Shots were 10-10 in the first.

Calgary began to establish some effective zone time in the second – a running theme during this game for basically every line except for Monahan’s – and the fourth line was rewarded for it.

A nice sequence of the forwards out-manning the Red Wings down low allowed the puck to get passed to Dougie Hamilton at the point, leading to a deflection goal for Garnet Hathaway – his first of his NHL career – to tie the game at 1-1. Shots were 10-6 Flames in the second.

The Flames took the lead early in the third off an eerily similar play.

A nice cycle play and then a nice read by Matt Stajan on the tip-in and suddenly it was 2-0. The lead didn’t last long, as after Johnson made the initial save on an Anthony Mantha rush, the Wings forwrd was given oodles of time to recover the puck and shoot again, beating Johnson top corner to make it 2-2. But the Flames wouldn’t be denied.

On a Flames rush a few minutes later, Thomas Vanek completely lost track of Mikael Backlund in the zone. Frolik found him with a nice pass for the tap-in and a 3-2 lead. The Wings couldn’t mount a comeback and that’s how things ended. Shots were 7-6 Detroit in the period.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

They out-played the Red Wings soundly at even strength, aside from a few wonky shifts by the Monahan line. The Flames couldn’t make their special teams opportunities matter, but they played smart, defensively sound hockey for the vast majority of this game and that was enough.

THE TURNING POINT

The Backlund goal was the game-winner, but it was a back-breaker for the Red Wings because they had just clawed back to tie the game after blowing their 1-0 first period lead. All it took was yet another nice sequence for the Backlund/Frolik/Tkachuk line and a big defensive lapse from Vanek.

RED WARRIOR

Let’s go with the entire Backlund/Frolik/Tkachuk line, who were all excellent.

Dougie Hamilton was also quite good with three assists. Heck, you could make a case that everyone aside from Bennett, Monahan and Brouwer had effective evenings. That trio was fighting it the whole game.

THE NUMBERS

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Tkachuk 75.9 55.6 0.975
Frolik 75.0 55.6 1.690
Stajan 73.3 33.3 1.315
Chiasson 68.8 33.3 0.765
Shinkaruk 66.7 33.3 1.075
Backlund 63.3 55.6 1.505
D.Hamilton 62.5 44.4 3.025
Giordano 60.7 44.4 0.800
Engelland 56.0 50.0 0.050
Kulak 53.9 50.0 0.000
F.Hamilton 53.3 50.0 0.275
Hathaway 50.0 50.0 1.025
Ferland 50.0 50.0 0.825
Brodie 50.0 50.0 0.050
Wideman 48.5 50.0 -0.025
Monahan 31.8 50.0 -0.505
Bennett 22.7 50.0 -0.650
Brouwer 22.3 50.0 -0.825
Johnson 0.600

THIS AND THAT

Check out our Twitter moments during the games, curated by our good content boy Mike Fail.

For the record, the only acceptable use of “boys will be boys” is to refer to athletes teasing each other about being excited about doing cool things like scoring goals in the NHL.

ELSEWHERE

The Stamps won the West Final, are heading to Grey Cup. That game will go Sunday at 4:30 p.m. MT… head to head basically with the Flames game in Philadelphia.

UP NEXT

The Flames (8-11-1) hop on a plane and jet off to scenic Buffalo to take on the Sabres tomorrow evening in the second game of their six game trek.

  • redhot1

    Good game. But they’re still in a hole, you need to string together a few.

    Also, that’s a lot of tweets. I would go to Twitter if I wanted to see that many.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      So once Hamilton elevates his game to where he plays a superior game night after night, you want to trade him? Let him hone is craft as a Flame, which includes the odd hiccup now and then, and then when he joins the elite defencemen in the league, deal him? I fail to see the logic.

      My goal for the Flames’ defencemen this season is to have at least two young ones play tons of minutes. Englelland and Wideman should be gone by 01 July. That creates 2 spots and possibly a third opening if a defenceman is taken in the expansion draft. Flames need to know if Kulak and Wortherspoon can play at this level. Lots of time left in the season to bring Spoon up, so I am not at all worried about the development of the defence.

  • Tanner

    I honestly like Gulutzan. I know I’m firmly in the minute minority, but I think the way they are playing will eventually allow them to sustainably possess the puck more and lead to success. It’s too early to know for sure, but I like some of the numbers I’m seeing so far.

  • The GREAT WW

    Good road win!

    So if Engelland is the Kulak whisperer; do we resign him?

    If we even have Kulak after the expansion draft….this is getting complicated…..

    WW

  • Eggs Bennett

    The Flames are shopping Wideman. The only logical explanation for why he got the most (25:12!!!!) Ice time out of any player on both CGY or DET tonight. Unfortunately a dissapointing 0 points, -1, 1 SOG, and negative rel-corsi. For reference Dougie played just over 18 and had 3 pts, +3, not to mention the 62.5 corsi…

    • Guest

      I have seen Wideman play in person over 40 times. Part of the problem is he always seems to head late to the bench on a change and gets caught a great deal in between shifts. Maybe its because he is so slow, or maybe he just wants to play longer. Once you see him do it, you can’t unsee it.

      • Byron Bader

        I was thinking the same thing. Brodie and Hamilton can get to the bench in nearly every circumstance because they’re so fast they can get there in a few strides. There’s no explanation for why he would play the most that makes more sense than this to me.

  • cgyokgn

    Interesting how they play so much better on the road: 3-7-0 at home and 5-4-1 on the road. Maybe it’s the old cliche that they play a much simpler game and don’t try to do too much on the road.

    On the positive side they outshot and out-hit the Wings, won 57% of face-offs and Johnson made some terrific saves when needed. On the negative side, the PP was again dreadful and back to being the worst in the league.

    Playing back-to-back in Buffalo, does Elliott start?

    • Avalain

      Sure, maybe it’s because of some cliché storyline about players not getting too fancy and digging deep. Or maybe it’s a coincidence? We’re talking about the difference between 3 games going the other way on the road vs home.

  • RKD

    The Flames have been a lot better defensively and playing a much more structured game. The players seem to be executing Gulutzan’s system special teams not withstanding. This team looks way different than the team getting pasted by the Rangers. Hamilton and Gio have made each other better and that pairing has elevated. Great contributions by the fourth line, every once in a while you need goals by guys like Stajan and Hathaway.

    • Tanner

      I now really appreciate the fact that management was so clear that the power play was Cameron’s responsibility. It makes it very easy to know who to hold accountable for the power play.

  • Prototype369

    Monahan needs to get benched. His play as of recent has been really bad. Especially considering he’s our 1C making north of 6 million for the next 6 years. As soon as one of Versteeg or Bouma are back, bench him. Bennett can play 1C, and play Shinkaruk and Brouwer with him. The ever deadly line of Tkachuk, Backlund and Frolik can be line 2, Stajan, Ferland, Versteeg as line 3, and then F. Hamilton, Chiasson and Hathaway can be line 4. Maybe getting benched, despite Calgary missing their superstar will shake some sense into him. With Gaudreau out, Monahan is SUPPOSED to be our best player asides from Gio and Bennett.

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    Nice effort by the whole team tonight Minus the “#1” Line… I don’t know if #23 is still hurting from his injury or is he just simply a deer in the headlights lost? No drive, looks painfully slow, no hits or contact, making passes to No-one? wtf! Is this just Mony’s new contract demons of expectations surfacing or is he being coached to fail/just being put in uncomfortable and no win situations by GG to attempt at rounding him out as a “better” player? I seriously cringed when I saw that line out on the ice in the last 2min of this game… Anyone have any ideas on how to turn Mony’s game around? Because GG seems to be clueless on how to get him back on track… I’m actually really Pulling for you Mony but please at least try to look engaged in the game!!!! Cheers! Oh, and How about Hunter tonight! His Best game thus far if you ask me! Kudos!

  • Derzie

    The GG system is a grinder focused system. It has been gelling from the bottom up. 1st line is the last to mesh because the system doesn’t value skill. We are playing better but it is a dull version of hockey. It is nice to see the hard working lower lines get rewarded though.

    • CalgaryCandle

      Please expand on your comment–how is it grinder focused and skill denying? Backland, Frolik and Tkachuk are having success and they are not grinders.

      I know this is Hathaway’s first NHL goal, but it was a nice tip and showed skill. A couple of years ago he had 19 in the AHL. I wonder if he deserves an audition riding shotgun when JH is back. Hathaway is very physical and maybe jerks like Staal would take fewer liberties he they knew they’d get the crap beaten out of them for repeated slashes.

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    That was some decent domination by the Flamers. Howard kept it closer than it should have been. Watched Wideman on one of the PP’s; 3 giveaways & 1 errant pass. That’s even bad by DW standards. I hope the potential buyers didn’t notice.

    CJ needs to put some 2 sided carpet laying tape in in his glove, those fumbles are costly.

    Buffalo Wings next up on the menu.

    GFG

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    It is strange how the best line against Chicago is the worst line against Detroit.
    The second line does not have the same issue of inconsistency. Monny has had too many games where he has been our worst player…seems to drag his linemates with him. While Backlund consistently raises his linemates to greater heights. I love the fact that Baclund and Frolik are now the cornerstone of the team.

    • Prototype369

      Monahan is technically not a true 1C. Hes an amazing 2C, but not a true 1C. Simply put, he can’t drive plays. Either you have to be at the skill level of Crosby, or much as I hate to say it, McDavid, or you need to be a responsible, 200 foot, punishing center like Toews, Bergeron, Kopitar or Getzlaf. Monahan has a wicked shot, but he isn’t a sniper who can pull it off from anywhere instantly. He needs someone to create space for him, and Monahan will finish. But be can’t anchor the top line, and he can’t be asked to drive the play, especially not against other top lines

      • everton fc

        Perhaps Monahan was the one stifling Ferland when he played w/Johnny? Ferland is a natural playmaker. He needs more minutes. He’s a grinder, and a playmaker. So are Tkachuk, Backlund and Frolik.

        Monahan is neither. Not at the moment.

        Which is why I was saying, in another thread here, what happens to Bennett, when Johnny returns? Does he centre Gaudreau, with Brouwer on the RW? While Monahan appears to be a 2C, Brouwer is certainly not a 1RW.

        So there’s the hole. 1RW. Frolik is truly the closest we have, but he’s currently one of the best 2RW in the game. And the 2nd line of Tkachuk-Backlund-Frolik isn’t losing minutes, nor being pushed back to 3rd line status.

        Personally, I think Monahan’s just off to a slow start and will find his way. The first game with Bennett on his left and Brouwer on his right made for a god line with a lot of shots. Perhaps last night was simply not their night? But I’d like to see Gaudreau centred by Bennett, who at the moment is also not a 1C.

        • Prototype369

          If Monahan played with Backstrom, Monahan would be hitting 40 goals every year non stop. Dude has insane offensive IQ, knows where to get open, and where he’d be able to pull a shot off. Problem is, were trying to make Monahan into Backstrom lol. We have to supplement him with a playmaker. Bennett in about a year will be good enough to be 1C, Monahan can then easily dominate as a 2C, given he has a playmaking winger. His faceoff stats are simply too good to convert him to a winger

  • VoRaCS

    Last season when Monahan was playing decently, I advocated trading him. I wonder what we could’ve got. His value may never have been higher. His supporters will scream bloody murder at the idea, but the majority of his impressive number of goals have been on the greasy side with some easy ones thanks to JG. Yes, he’s got a great shot, but with the ever-increasing emphasis on speed and skating in today’s game, he continues to strike me as one falling further and further behind. For a long time now I’ve been convinced that he is not the ideal linemate for Johnny nor is Chiasson. Thoughts???

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I am not ready to give up on Monny after 20 games in a new system. He made Team NA roster on his own merit. He seems to disappear in games and struggles to get out of his zone when under fire. Personally, I believe he put too much emphasis in putting on size in the off season that has slowed his game. He will need to work more on explosion and quickness next offseason. I still feel he is an elite Center.

    • calgaryfan

      I would not trade him just yet, but I would try and make him a winger. His skating is poor and he coasts around the slot area at both ends of the ice. His hands and passing are not good but he can shoot. Maybe he becomes a winger that can score with a good center.

    • everton fc

      If Jankowski’s “for real”, then we are centre-heavy.

      Would he get us that coveted 1RW?

      Still, I see Monahan getting his game back. Tkachuk’s not the fleetest skater. But he plays for keeps, every shift.

      Monahan’s has to learn to do the same. This season is slipping away from him.

      • wot96

        I don’t think Jankowksi will get us a “coveted” RW. He is still an unproven commodity.

        What I would prefer to see, if anyone goes to a wing, is Monahan. He is a shooter. He can take face-offs if necessary, but someone else can drive play and take the defensive responsibilities.

        He isn’t that much older than Bennett and if Bennett is moved to wing to jump start his game, I don’t see why it wouldn’t help Monahan too.

        Flames have tried every other stupid combination out there, might as well try this too.

  • Arminius

    If Backlund starts scoring and chipping in like this yeah it’ll go a long ways in my books. For now he’s a shutdown center who is way too streaky and over the last 400 games has shown tht he is not close to being a reliable scoring threat when the games matter. Which for a former 1st rounder you would think he would be.

    Yesterday he was. Let’s build off that.

    PS. I’ve never in my life seen a 1st round pick so blindly fawned over who can hardly score. Very strange.

    • Captain Ron

      His value is high more for the fact that he is very good at preventing the other team from scoring when he is on the ice. It’s not like he was drafted top 3 and expected to lead his team in scoring for the next 10 years. He had 47 points last season and finished plus 10 which is not too shabby for a guy who plays against the oppositions top players and didn’t see a lot of PP time. Nothing wrong with his resume for a 24th pick overall. He is not and never was going to be a high scoring player for the Flames. Those of you who thought that are the ones who are usually disappointed. I have always said that when he is our true #3 center we will be a cup contender. Like it or not though until Monahan or Bennett take the next step, or a highly talented Center comes our way via trade or drafting he is without a doubt the best center on this team right now. If he goes down with an injury we will see very quickly in the win column how much he is missed. He brings good value for his contract and is not being paid to produce like a high scoring #1 center.

    • dontcryWOLF88

      I remember watching Backlund in the World Juniors before he was drafted. I was very excited when it was decided he would come to Calgary. I think he then preceded to be mediocore for many years, however, now appears to be a team example of success. Normally he doesnt pick it up until the team has lost, nor handle pressure overly well. That may have changed?

      Monahan has had a very strange year for his life. The transition to being a role-model for other , younger team mates, and to being a superstar. Gaudreau having a rough start, same with him, then his buddy getting his finger busted. That would be a hard pressure to perform under. Ill give him some more time on account of what he showed in the past few years.

    • cjc

      If you look at goal differential, which is the only metric that really matters, Backlund has been the best player on this team since 2013-2014. The only other Flames player with a better GF% to see a lot of ice over that time is Jiri Hudler, who is no longer with the team.

      Over this stretch, Backlund has had a better GF% than Frolik, Monahan, Gaudreau, Giordano and Brodie.

      Nobody is going to mistake Backlund for Crosby or Bergeron. His game is not flashy or high event. But he can go toe to toe with those types and effectively neutralize them. Teams need that kind of player in the 2C or 3C spot.

  • Kensington

    The only problem with Monahans game is his lack of effort! The best he ever played for the Flames was his first 10 games when he had to be unreal to make the team, his next best was last year playing for the big contract. Now he is focused on his new house and GF and seems totally distracted from Hockey. Let him sit in the stands for a few games, maybe he will wake up! To all those who think that players not going back to Junior when they are 18 leads to their second contract being lower only need look at Monahan and see with the numbers he is on pace for this year would translate into a much lower contract then the 6.3 he is making now. Bennett is also becoming more of a disappointment as time goes on. Good game though by Doug and the slugs.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    After 20 games last season, Monahan had 6 goals and 8 helpers. This year after 20 games, he has 5 goals and 3 assists. Hardly a drop in stats that indicate the sky has fallen and that he should be run out of town like Henry Burris was.

    Consider that Monahan missed almost all the preseason, has a new coach, has become fabulously rich, had struggled to find chemistry with Johnny and is now without him.

    I agree that Monahan has underperformed this season, but put his struggles into perspective. He is one goal off where he was at this time last season!

    Cut the dude some slack. If he is still struggling to get points and looks lost on the ice in January, then call me and we can revisit this discussion.

    • cjc

      The issue this year is not Monahan’s production, it’s that he’s getting his head bashed in in nearly every facet. You’ve given him lots of extenuating circumstances, but I would counter that:

      1-The preseason is only 7-8 games, of which Monny would play 3 or 4 – he should be more than up to speed by now, unless he’s still injured (to which I would say, why is he playing then?)

      2-New coach, sure, but many an example could be given where great players have no issues adjusting to a new coach. 20 games in now, Monahan’s slack has run out here too.

      3-$$$- This is really more of a reason to be frustrated with his effort. If I got a raise at work and stopped producing, I’d be in hot water.

      4-Chemistry- why should Monahan ever be judged by JG’s performance? Who’s bringing who down?

      He’s certainly miscast as a top line C, but he is being paid like one. He gets easier ZS than most 1C’s though. He’s gotta get it togehter.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    Just watched every point from Monahans last two years. He gets a lot of dirty, hard working goals, a lot from his really good shot, a fair few of gimmes from Gaudreau and previously Hudler. He also gave a bunch away too though.

    Monahan has the ability to make space for himself when he is fearless and working hard…something hes demonstrated many times already.

    I watched through all that to alleviate my internal battle questioning if I had deluded myself into thinking hes good. Still possible i am, but I really think thats a slump on his part, not a concrete decline of any sort.