Post-Game: Flames tame Bruins


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(Bob DeChiara / USA Today Sports)

Let’s be honest with ourselves here: the Calgary Flames were given a nice situation to walk into against the Boston Bruins. Boston had lost the night before in Ottawa and then had to fly home. Star goalie Tuukka Rask worked as back-up to Anton Khudobin, who was recalled from a conditioning stint this morning and has zero wins in the NHL this season.

Well, the Flames managed to grind out their 10th win of the season by a 2-1 score. It was by way of a familiar recipe: they played perfectly fine defensive hockey at even strength, and relied upon timely goals and some great goaltending from Chad Johnson (yet again).

THE RUNDOWN

After a rough outing in Ottawa, the Bruins came out with a lot of energy in the first. The Flames were game, though, and defended intelligently and didn’t give the Bruins very much. The Flames played a bit of a counter-punch game, and it paid off; after T.J. Brodie induced a turnover just inside the Flames zone, Matt Stajan collected the puck and sprung Sam Bennett on a breakaway. He beat Anton Khudobin (with two defenders in pursuit) to make it 1-0.

That’s all the scoring we got in the first. Shots were 13-5 for the Flames.

Three minutes into second, Brad Marchand angled Mark Giordano into Johnson, knocking him down and allowing Patrice Bergeron to score one a wide-open net. The Flames challenged on basis of goalie interference and the goal was disallowed.

The Bruins pressed for much of the second. The Flames were on their heels quite a bit, but defended fairly well and maintained their lead. Shots were 11-7 for Boston.

Calgary defended fairly well, even killing off a big Boston power play where the Bruins got seven shots. But just when things started to calm down, Boston kept pressing and the tired Flames defenders stood around while David Pastrnak got multiple whacks at the puck and beat Johnson to tie the game.

But the game wasn’t tied for long. Just over a minute later, Bennett circled around the back of Boston’s net, faked going for a wrap-around and fed Chiasson at the far side of the opposite post. He chipped the puck into the open net for the 2-1 lead. Boston pressed late and pulled their goalie, but they couldn’t get enough good chances to tie the game again. Shots were 20-9 Boston.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

The Bruins played with more energy than the Flames and had the puck much more often. But in a very similar manner as the Columbus game, the Flames defended fairly well, limited second chances and played as smart without the puck as they could. Shots at even strength were about even (28-27 Boston), the Flames managed to avoid giving up any power play goals and Johnson was better than Khudobin.

THE TURNING POINT

It’s obvious, but Chiasson’s goal was huge. The game was tied up for 70 seconds. Boston didn’t get a chance to get comfortable with a lead and the Flames never got a chance to worry that this game might slip away.

RED WARRIOR

We’re being repetitive, but it’s warranted: Johnson made 35 saves and was the team’s best player. Bennett was a close second, with two points and a whole lot of battling over the course of the game.

THE NUMBERS

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
D.Hamilton 54.1 37.5 0.325
Giordano 48.7 33.3 0.525
Frolik 48.6 37.5 -0.150
Tkachuk 48.5 33.3 0.075
Kulak 44.8 25.0 -0.100
Ferland 43.5 31.6 -0.025
Backlund 42.9 31.3 -0.305
Monahan 41.4 31.6 -0.050
Bennett 40.9 66.7 1.565
Stajan 37.5 66.7 0.480
Chiasson 34.6 60.0 0.675
Brouwer 33.3 28.6 -0.870
Wideman 30.8 40.9 -0.475
Shinkaruk 30.0 33.3 -0.175
Engelland 28.6 16.7 -0.465
F.Hamilton 25.0 33.3 -0.190
Brodie 21.4 40.9 -0.225
Hathaway 12.5 33.3 -0.350
Johnson 2.750

THIS AND THAT

The Flames are now guaranteed to finish over .500 on this road trip. They’re 3-1-0 so far with two road games to go.

Johnson is now 7-3-1 with a 1.98 goals against average, .928 save percentage and .939 even strength save percentage. All of those numbers put him in the top third (or better) in the NHL.

UP NEXT

The Flames (10-12-1) are in the home stretch of their road trip now. They head off to Philadelphia to play the Flyers on Sunday, then finish the trip off in Brooklyn on Monday night when they face the Islanders.

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    • Kevin R

      The beauty of it is we can probably extend Johnson for cheaper than Elliott if the situation was reversed & I think Elliott can get us a better return at the trade deadline.

    • everton fc

      There’s no question he’s our #1. He’s been one of the best goalies in the league, of late. Put him on the protected list.

      Can you imagine is one of either Gillies or Riddich is for “real”? What a tandem, w/Johnson.

      This is a very good win. A very good road win, in a tough place to play.

      Ferland had over 14 minutes of ice time. Finally!

      Bennett with a goal and an assist. Lots of hits. Lots of shots on goal. Finally!!

      I’ve wanted to like Chiasson. He moved w/o the puck and got himmself in good position to pop a goal. Finally!!!

      Bad night from the dot after the first period. Minor.

      PK did the job. Finally!!

      Backlund line putting shots on net – consistent.

      Garnet Hathaway. A keeper!

  • jakethesnail

    The Flames just need a reliable backup for Johnson! Elliott is not the answer. But he will likely start against Islanders on Monday. Hopefully, he breaks his streak of giving up a bad goal in a game.

  • CalgaryCandle

    By my count we’re 5-2 in the last 7 games. We’ve beaten some decent teams. Johnson looks totally in his zone–the last time I remember feeling this comfortable in goal was with Kiprusoff. The really good thing is I think he can continue close to this level of play long term. Imagine Elliot contract extension talks are really quiet right now.

    Slowly, more and more Flames are coming around–Brodie, Gio, Hamilton. Backlund, Frolik and Tzachuk have been going all season. Ferland’s been solid. Bennett was excellent tonight. Now if Mony can break out of his funk and play like years one and two I can definitely sniff playoffs.

    GFG!!

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Who exactly are the “decent teams” the Flames have beaten in their past 7 games? Define decent? By my count, only the Wild are a playoff team, and you know if a team is not a playoff team by Halloween, the sky has fallen and their season is over and their coach and GM should be run out of town.

      Flames are 3-1 on the current roadie, but back to back losses against two bummy teams in Philly and Brooklyn and the recent enthusiasm that is building for the Flames will explode like a baby’s fart and once more the talk will be of firing GG, second guessing Tre, trading Monahan and Hambone and exposing Gio in the expansion draft.

      As I noted above, the NHL season is over in October. A team’s play in the first couple of weeks decides if they will make the show or not. After October, all the games are jive until the playoffs. This is what I learned from many posters on FN last month.

  • CalgaryCandle

    Am beginning to sense a Flames identity emerging. Try to win 3-2 or 2-1, definitely not 6-5. Give up lots of shots, but limit high danger scoring chances. Rely on goalie to stop what comes his way. Do not activate D except very exceptionally. PK has been good the last couple of games (since after Buffalo–hopefully a trend).

    Flames starting to cohere. I was demanding GG’s head at the beginning of the season. Now developing a little more faith. Tortorella said he was “progressive.” Must have been what BT saw in him? Now if we can develop a double digit PP.

    GFG!!

      • freethe flames

        I’m not sure you can expect much more from this team. GG has finally figured out 3 d pairings that work, the players seem to have finally bought into the PK but the truth is up front there is not a lot of offensive talent especially with Johnny injured and Monahan and Brouwer not playing well. This teams identity must be roll 4 lines and hope all can produce a little and that may be what happens when Johnny comes back.

        With Janko up I would put him on a line with Monahan and Brouwer. I say this because he is offensively talented; pass first kinda of guy and the other 2 are shooters. He is also known as 200 foot player and that is what Brouwer is supposedly known as.

        My lines would look like: Ferland/Bennett/Hathaway, Monahan/Janko/Brouwer, Tkachuk/Backs/Frolik, and Stajan/Hamilton/Chiasson and basically roll 4 lines and give certain players more PP responsibilities and others PK responsibilities.

  • Kensington

    What I was hoping for with JG out Bennett is starting to fill the void! Maybe Chad is playing better then Elliot because he was used to playing behind a weaker defense with Buffalo then Elliot was with the Blues.

  • DeadRedRedemption

    Please don’t start praising GG FlamesNation.

    Yes, the Flames have put together a string of wins since JG was injured (+1 prior).

    If anything it should tell us that whatever system GG was forcing on the players before JG’s injury was the cause of all the Flames problems.

    After losing Johnny, GG changed his system (as he stated in the press) to a simpler, more defensive one. One that the players understand and can implement.

    Add CJ being super impressive as of late, playing against mostly sub par teams and we’re able to squeak out some wins.

    The credit for this success falls directly on the players and the schedule, not the coach.

    What will be telling is what GG does once JG returns…

    At least it’s nice to get a few wins in the meantime.

    GFG

        • BlueMoonNigel

          Who decided Chad played?

          I have never understood the logic behind the oft made stupid remark: the team won only because the goalie stood on his head.

          What exactly is the job of the goalie? By keeping pucks out of his net, he is just doing his job, so why try and demean a win when the goalie plays an outstanding game and is also fortunate not to have been scored upon by a dreaded deflected shot?

          Why is zero credit given to the guys who score goals on the nights when a goalie plays exceedingly well so the said goalie actually gets the win?

          What part of hockey is a total team effort don’t you understand?

      • DeadRedRedemption

        I’m just saying GG had his hand forced. He had to abandon his previous system due to circumstances. CJ got hot and we played some weak teams (some of whom played their backup goalie).

        I fail to see a reason to start liking this coaching staff based on the results of this road trip.

        • piscera.infada

          There is no evidence they have abandoned their 5 on 5 system. Gultuzan was asked about this prior to the game last night. He denied changing anything. Treliving said as much earlier this week. You’re reaching.

  • Greg

    Don’t the flames have to cough up another 3rd rounder if they resign Elliot? That decision is getting easier by the day.

    I wish him well though. If he can find a way to make that a tough decision still, that would probably mean he’s put us back into the playoffs himself.

  • DoubleDIon

    Ferland has consistently been one of the best players on the ice. He’s not just a physical threat anymore but also one of our best defensive players and forecheckers. I think eventually he’ll start to finish more of the opportunities he generates. He’s on my protected list. Backlund, Frolik, Bennett, Monahan, Gaudreau, Ferland and??

    That final forward spot is still up for grabs in my opinion. Unclear on the rules though, do we have to protect Stajan and Brouwer? If we do it’s going to suck losing one of the guys that deserve to be protected.