Post-Game: penalties kill Flames against Buffalo


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(Timothy T. Ludwig / USA Today Sports)

On Sunday night, the Calgary Flames began their road trip with some smart 200-foot hockey. They got timely goals and were able to work around some troubles that Sean Monahan’s line had, and they beat Detroit. Tonight? Things didn’t quite work as well as they did last night. At all.

Three power play goals against in just over a minute and a half was all it took to sink Calgary’s chances of winning back-to-back games, and they fell 4-2 to the Buffalo Sabres.

THE RUNDOWN

After a strong effort against Detroit, the Flames came out of the blocks strongly in the first. They opened the scoring off a nice defensive play by Dougie Hamilton. Hamilton poked the puck away from a Sabres forward, springing the entire 3M Line (Matthew Tkachuk, Michael Frolik and Mikael Backlund) on an odd-man rush. Frolik delivered a gorgeous saucer pass to Backlund, who put the puck over Robin Lehner to make it 1-0.

The shots were 13-9 for Buffalo.

Unfortunately for the visitors, the Sabres were a lot better in the second. Doubly unfortunately, the Flames were trying to execute an odd combination of being overly fancy and somewhat lazy with their fundamentals in the period. And it cost them dearly, and repeatedly. They gave the Sabres five power plays in the period, including a full two minutes of five-on-three time. The Flames much-criticized penalty kill lived down to reputation.

They ended up getting tagged for three goals in the span of 91 seconds, two of which were on the power play and the third of which might as well as been given how poorly they were looking in their own end. So how bad is the Flames penalty kill? This bad:

  • Matt Stajan lost his stick just inside blueline, leaving plenty of room for Buffalo to make passes. Kyle Okposo buried a wrister to make it 1-1.
  • Evander Kane’s point shot got deflected through traffic by Johan Larsson to make it 2-1.
  • A really nice cross-zone pass (enabled by some poor coverage) from Okposo found Matt Moulson at the side of the net, giving him ages to put it past Brian Elliott to make it 3-1.

Shots were 13-9 for Buffalo in the second.

The Flames had a bit of a push early in the third, with Tkachuk deflecting a point shot past Robin Lehner to make it 3-2. But that’s as close as the Flames got, as yet another lapse by the Monahan line caused utter chaos in the Flames zone and Nick Foligno slid the puck under a sprawling Elliott to make it 4-2. Shots were 13-6 for the Flames in the final frame.

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

Let’s call a spade a spade: the Monahan line was no damn good tonight. The Flames penalty kill was rough – three goals against in six chances – but they only had to kill that many penalties because a Monahan lapse led to two minors and then Brouwer took another as soon as he got out of the box.

Give any power play that many chances to score on you, and they probably will. (Well, except for the Flames power play, I guess…)

THE TURNING POINT

Two penalties on one failed zone exit by Monahan.

RED WARRIOR

Tkachuk had a goal and an assist, and caused a ruckus all game long with his speed, smarts and physicality.

Backlund and Frolik were also pretty good. The entire bottom six was also solid. Heck, Elliott let in four goals but he was only really on the hook for the fourth goal (because he didn’t seal off the post and the shot slid under his leg).

THE NUMBERS

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Frolik 61.3 50.0 1.075
Ferland 60.0 50.0 0.300
D.Hamilton 59.4 63.6 1.550
Hathaway 58.8 50.0 0.245
Backlund 58.1 50.0 1.710
Giordano 56.8 58.3 0.975
F.Hamilton 56.3 50.0 0.045
Wideman 55.9 44.4 -0.025
Stajan 55.6 0.0 -0.210
Tkachuk 55.2 50.0 2.315
Shinkaruk 55.0 0.0 0.100
Brodie 53.3 44.4 -0.450
Jokipakka 50.0 50.0 0.225
Bennett 50.0 100 -0.180
Monahan 48.2 100 -0.010
Brouwer 47.8 100 -0.190
Chiasson 47.6 0.0 -0.400
Engelland 44.0 40.0 -0.750
Elliott -0.200

THIS AND THAT

UP NEXT

The Flames (8-12-1) fly to Columbus tonight are have a CBA-mandated day off tomorrow. They’re back at it on Wednesday night against the Blue Jackets.

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    Nice to see Hammy get his 4th point in two games. Not impressed with Wideman logging major minutes while Kulak spells out for JJ. We must be showcasing him to justify these kinds of minutes.

    Our 1st line situation is a train wreck. As is our goalie situation. Another .875 sv pct tonite for BE.

    Another head scratching loss.

    GFG

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I’m now solidly in the Monahan’s playing hurt camp. That or he’s playing after a bad bender last night. Monahan is sinking his line on his own. He didn’t take a single draw in the defensive zone.

  • RedMan

    The only thing that got me about this was the slashing penalty against the flames. Seriously, the refs are just screwing with us now! Slashing penalty? When did they start calling these?

  • Canadian Hockey Fan

    Same stuff, different day. Elliott is still garbage without that St. Louis defence in front of him. Gulutzan is still one of the worst coaches in the league, if not the worst. Monahan is one of those typical players nowadays who gets that big money contract at a young age, then only puts in half the effort for the rest of it. I’m a Flames fan, but I’m also a realist. It would be nice to see what this team could do with a real, hardworking coach and a solid goalie.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Interesting you didn’t bother dropping by while the Oilers were taking left hand turns downward to their natural place in the NHL basement.

      Don’t worry you’ll be there soon.

      • Ogie Oglethorp

        Why engage these clowns? It just denegrades a useful thread to bickering with Oiler fans. Also the Oilers are crushing the Hawks right now, so maybe choose your timing if you do want to swing in the gutter with trolls. I get it’s fun to rattle on about the Oilers ‘natural place’ but it’s starting to get embarrassing coming from the team actually in the basement.

        Back to Flames… I’m not defending GG, but the lack of offence on this team would sink any coach. Nice to see the D coming around but how can this team expect to win with at best 1/3 of a first line. The team just fundamentally lacks elite skill. Even with Johnny in. SAm was supposed to be it, but the current trends aren’t encouraging…

        Mohnny better be hurt because the alternative is terrifying…

        Loving Tkachuk. That guy is gonna be a thorn in the pacific division for a decade. Love it. If he can put up enough points to make himself a legit top 6 guy he will be the steal of the draft.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    This game was one step back after a series of moving forward (basically since playing NYR). On the positive side:
    -3M has been great
    -Tkatchuk is the real deal
    -the Flames defense is rounding into form
    -Hamilton has been great with Giordano
    -the goalies are both competent puck stoppers (please don’t bore everyone with blaming tonight on Elliot, that’s riducuous)

    The losses are easy to take, now that I’m not expecting a playoff berth. It’s niw just better looking for team progression.

  • Wheels

    I’ve gone to see 4 games in Buffalo; two times cheering for the Sabres, and twice the Flames when they’ve come to town. Combined they are 0-2-2.

    Maybe I should stop going to Buffalo.

  • Newbietwo

    Ok so it seems we were playing a pretty solid game until buffalo tied it up and everything went out the window which seems to have been the consistent this season.

    My concern is that ok the way we are playing sets up great for third and fourth lines but for true easy to west offensive players it doesn’t.

    I have real concerns with Monahan this year.. if he is injured as some might suggest buck it up and say so because buddy your fans are losing confidence in your game.. again the youngest player on our team is the one playing for a win more than anyone else on the ice.. so we have a bunch of players who don’t know how to win?

    I say keep playing like ou mostly have for past four games guys and you will get results.. last note: poor Elliot the guy is having a rough season both on performance and luck

  • everton fc

    Went to Mass. Game was 1-0.

    Asked a guy on the street after Mass what the final score of the game was. He told me.

    How does this happen?!

    My thoughts (this could be a long post)

    *Brodie’s being destroyed on the left-side.

    *Kulak is better than Jokipaaka.

    *Monaham’s either hurt and needs to sit, or he needs his minutes reduced. And/or, he needs to be tried on the wing. Clearly the 1st line experiment of Bennett-Monahan-Brouwer doesn’t click.

    *Chiasson is an adequate 4th line RW. Nothing more. But Hathaway is better. Perhaps Chiasson should be waived?

    *I like Shinkaruk, but he needs more time in the “A”. He’ll be okay, though. Someday.

    *Hathway should be a regular NHL player, going forward.

    *Tkachuk and Ferland just giver. Ditto Frolik and Backlund. And Stajan. Engelland’s trying. Others need to be questioned. (Backlund had 6 SOG’s this evening)

    *BT and BB need to be held accountable. But “KK” brought them here. All three gave us GG and company.

    *Gio is aging. Engelland’s actually been as good.

    *I say we hold onto Hamilton. And Kulak should never be benched again.

    *Bennett should be our first line centre. He mau be in a slump, but he competes. Tkachuk on his LW would be interesting, but how do you break up our 2nd line, which should really be our first?

    *We grossly overpaid for Brouwer. A contract that we’ll regret soon. (Like Gio’s, if we don’t move him).

    What I’d like to see while Johnny’s out:

    *First line minutes for Tkachuk-Backlund-Frolik

    *2nd line centred by Bennett. Try Ferland on the LW, Versteeg on the RW. See what happens.

    *3rd line of Shinkaruk-Monahan-Hathway

    *4th line of Stajan-Hamilton-Chiasson/Vey (I’d actually like to see them give Vey a chance. See if he can produce consistently. He has nothing more to learn, in the “A”. Waive Chiasson. Someone will pick him up.)

    *Defence – Shop Wideman. Keep Kulak in every game. Keep Kulak with Engelland. Continue to see what Hamilton has to offer – hold onto Hamilton. Shop Gio at the deadline to a team back East (Rangers? Could we get Simmonds for Gio, straight up?? That would solve our problem on RW, but the Flyers are not deep on the main team, or in Lehigh Valley)

    Rant over.

    • DeadRedRedemption

      Couldn’t decide whether to give you props or trash it.

      I agree with you about KK, BB and BT. I think we’ve beat the dead horse of GG et al to a puddle. He has no business behind an NHL bench.

      And your player assessments are pretty spot on. Though I still blame GG for the underperforming players mostly. (If Monahan is hurt, rest and rehab maybe be better for him and the team than him continuing to play. Back injuries suck. Anyone remember Paul Reinhart?)

      Trading Wideman? Sure.

      Trading Gio? Ugh.. tough call. I’d like to see a coaching change before we move any big pieces.

      Playing with the lines? Sure. If Tkachuk is getting the Backlund bump, may as well give him some minutes. No offence to Tkachuk, he’s awesome and deserves every second.

      Until GG is gone, whatever. This team is designed to fail.

      GFG

  • Dan the flames fan

    OK, as much as people want to point fingers at BE, I won’t. There was not one goal that I saw tonight that didn’t demand that the goalie stand on his head and make insane type saves. BE made some good stops, but seriously, did Chad J have to put up with, what was it, 6 penalties in like a 3 minute span!? I think that that the flames really believe that the term “number one starter” means that they don’t have to work, and the goalie carries them. Until they change that mentality, they will continue to falter.
    I also agree that SM has to be still injured, or he has to return to a lighter for, like he was last year. He definitely seems slower, and struggling to stay in the play. Bennett continues to look more settled on the wing, but his whole line was off tonight.

    • everton fc

      Bennett’s a winner. I like him. He’ll wear a letter here, someday.

      Monahan should not be wearing Backlund’s letter.

      And in my rant above, no negative mention of Elliott. So I agree with your post.

    • everton fc

      Agreed.

      But we are also learning who are truly our most valuable players, going forward. This is how I see it (in no particular order):

      Gaudreau

      Backlund

      Tkachuk

      Frolik

      Ferland

      Hamilton (yes, Hamilton!)

      Brodie

      Kulak

      Bennett

      Perhaps Hathaway

      Probably Monahan (if we can find the perfect place for him, and he’s healthy)

      Everyone else is expendable. Engelland and Stajan should both be considered as assistant coaches when their careers end, and when/if the organization makes radical changes. “Need be”, of course.

      I’d protect:

      Goalies: Johnson

      Defence: Hamilton, Kulak, Brodie

      Forwards: Gaudreau, Bennett, Monahan, Backlund, Frolik, Ferland, maybe Brouwer. But only if he’s a 2nd/3rd line RW. Preferably the latter, as he ages.

      I’d try and move Gio for a guy like Simmonds. That would mean Brouwer isn’t protected.

      Once Johnny comes back, they have to pair him w/Bennett. I like Versteeg on the RW here. But a trade – Gio for Simmonds comes to mind – changes everything. We need a 1st line RW. Frolik’s our #2. Brouwer’s our #3. Hathaway’s the perfect 4th line mucker who can score. If we can hold onto Versteeg, he’s a good 3rd line RW, as well. He can also play LW. A 4th line w/Versteeg and Hathaway as bookends to someone like Freddie, or Stajan back on the cheap…

      It’s all a jigsaw puzzle, at present. We are thinner at centre than we may all think. We have Mangiapane and Pribyl (only 24 when camp starts, and probably better now, than Chiasson), waiting in the wings on RW. Lomberg may be a nice replacement for Bouma on the LW. Klimchuk may push his way onto the roster, left side. And we have next year’s draft.

      The key is we have to use/move our assets wisely. Our biggest assets are certainly Gio, perhaps even a guy like Monahan. Wideman will not garner much. For this fan, the current group of KK, BB, BT, GG scares me.

      They drafted Mason McDonald, signed Bollig and Raymond, signed Brouwer to his contract. Lots of albatrosses. Time will tell. I’ll always remain a Flames fan, regardless!

  • dontcryWOLF88

    I really wonder what the flames record would currently be if the special teams were average. Take those 3 PK fails out in that one and youve got yourself a win.

    Is there a rule against having the whole team plug themselves into the net so nothing else can get in?

    ..and maybe for the PP they could just ask for a credit? just until they figure out that scoring should be part of process once in while.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    I noticed today that Getzlaf only has 1 goal this year, and Perry 4.

    Only reason I bring that up is you can’t look at 1-5-10-20 game stretches and panic if the scoring isn’t there. Hockey is a game played by human beings. Slumps will happen.

    I’m not saying thats a great excuse, or that I myself don’t feel anxious about our first line treading water. However, perspective is always important with this business.

    • Jakethesnail

      The difference is that Perry and Getzlaf have been around many years and have been constant scorers every single year and they have shown that they can earn their money, unlike the couple of guys you are talking about that have not been around that long and had the brinks truck backed up to their yard, and SO FAR have been a disappointment.

      • dontcryWOLF88

        So what your saying is, there is no such thing as a slump for younger players? The flames should just trade monahan because hes having a bad season so far? You would make quite the GM. I realize your an Oilers fan, and your just here to try to rub as much salt as possible in our wounds…but maybe dont be that petty?

    • Jakethesnail

      It will certainly take more than Monahan . Monahan,Hamilton,and a first rounder for Tavares and Hamonic.

      Two Flames that your not sure about for one of the best centers in the league and a proven defender with a great contract.

        • dontcryWOLF88

          Yeah, well youre not wrong. We could probably select a homeless guy from the ctrain station that could pull off better numbers coaching the PP….

          cant tell how much of that is just the players thinking they are jinxed with it. Must be hard, with the press asking you about it all the time, and reading about it all over. Its hard to kick reputations/ self perceptions like that sometimes

          • DeadRedRedemption

            So what your saying is we need someone to pump our guys egos UP…

            JERI…

            Nevermind, I’m over it. Reality has settled back in and I’m out of whiskey.

            In the meantime and in-between time that’s it for another edition of Stampede Wrestling.

  • Kman15

    As an oilers fan I’m psyched the flames lost but have the officials been as terrible as they have for us? It seems like every game they are abysmal wondering if the flames were in the same boat just not coping as well?

  • dontcryWOLF88

    Uguh….Flames need to up their game for the sole reason of shutting Oilers trolls up. I get major cognitive dissonance over this every time. Its like having the kid with down syndrome in class make fun of you.

    • Neddd

      I don’t think you’re using “Cognitive Dissonance” properly. If you’re using big words to try to make yourself look smart you should at least ensure that you understand how to use them.

      Also, the down syndrome reference really isn’t cool…. Ya ya, blah blah, people are too politically correct, don’t be so sensitive, etc, etc. There’s a reason why we don’t find these jokes acceptable as a society any longer, its called evolution, you should try it.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    Cognitive dissonance is when reality doesn’t line up with expectation. Just like now, for me at least.

    Guess I’m the odd one out here, which is fine.

    Back to hockey it is.