Post-Games: Leafs wilt against Flames

It’s always an interesting occasion in the Saddledome when the Toronto Maple Leafs come to town. Calgary, as you may know, is a city of transplants; the common joke is that nobody is actually from Calgary, it’s just a place that seems to collect people. The ‘Dome was roughly one-third full of blue sweaters cheering on one of hockey’s Original Six clubs this evening. After the first 49 seconds of this contest, those fans were awfully quiet.

The Calgary Flames uncharacteristically got out to an early lead and held on for the rest of the game against a Leafs team that played the night before. You would’ve expected the Flames to win a game like this, and they did so tonight, by a 3-0 score.

THE RUNDOWN

Against all odds, the Flames led 2-0 before most people sat down after the intermission. First, a dump-in was followed by a quick puck retrieval by Micheal Ferland and a one-timer teed up for Freddie Hamilton, who beat Jhonas Enroth on the first shot of the game just 14 seconds in.

Before they had a chance to announce that goal, Sean Monahan’s rebound went right to Kris Versteeg who buried it for a 2-0 lead (on three shots) after just 49 seconds.

As the period wound down, the Leafs gained some momentum and they really seemed to get a lift out of a really rough Flames power play that generated zero shots. However, immediately after that Leafs penalty expired, the Flames struck again: Alex Chiasson carried the puck into the zone and passed it quickly to Michael Frolik, who quickly chucked the puck into the slot for a quick tip-in by Matt Stajan to make it 3-0.

Shots were 12-10 for the Leafs in the opening frame.

Nobody scored in the second period, as the home side seemed content to implement a “grind it out” mentality for the remainder of the game. The Flames had a solid PP that generated some chances once they managed to gain the zone half-way through, and a decent penalty kill which managed to allow zero goals despite giving the Leafs a lot of time and space in the offensive zone. Shots were 13-13 in the second.

The Flames held on in the third period. There was a really nice Johnson save on Mitch Marner on a breakaway, but beyond that the Flames coasted and played some preventative hockey. Shots were 14-6 for Toronto.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

They were a lot better in the first period, took advantage of their early chances, and then were good enough in playing a staunch defensive game not to give up too much against a young, usually fast and scrappy Leafs squad that was neither of those things tonight.

THE TURNING POINT

The third Flames goal, notched as the first period began to wind down, was a back-breaker. The Leafs seemed to gain some energy from Calgary’s bad power play, but got scored upon yet again before they had a chance to take advantage.

RED WARRIOR

Let’s go with Calgary’s netminder, who was very good when called upon tonight.

Honestly? Their game scores are all a rather rough because of score effects impacting their possession stats, but nobody was all that bad tonight. Nobody really stood out overall aside from Johnson, but this was a rock-solid team win.

THE NUMBERS

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Monahan 58.1 50.0 1.430
Versteeg 57.1 50.0 1.425
Brouwer 57.1 54.6 0.775
Giordano 47.5 25.0 -0.150
D.Hamilton 46.7 25.0 0.100
Brodie 45.5 63.6 -0.150
Bennett 42.1 75.0 0.200
Wideman 40.6 63.6 0.050
Frolik 40.0 14.3 0.475
Chiasson 40.0 75.0 0.500
F.Hamilton 38.1 50.0 0.870
Tkachuk 37.6 14.3 -0.225
Engelland 36.4 62.5 0.250
Backlund 35.0 14.3 -0.355
Stajan 33.3 75.0 0.185
Ferland 33.3 40.0 0.550
Jokipakka 30.8 62.5 -0.100
Hathaway 28.0 50.0 -0.125
Johnson 3.900

THIS AND THAT

The goals in that game were from Doug Risebrough (9 seconds in) and Colin Patterson (32 seconds in).

QUOTEABLE

“We talked about coming back in and not changing the way we played on the road, and for the most part we did that. I thought they actually, after we scored three we sat back and definitely let them skate a lot and that took us out of our game but all-in-all, sometimes it’s tough to maintain that. Especially when there’s a high-skilled team on the other side.” – Flames winger Kris Versteeg assessing his team’s performance.

“We’ve definitely been more structured as a group. We’re just playing more as five-man units and obviously when you get a lead, score some goals, it makes everything easier. The goaltending makes everything even much more easier, because even when you get a breakdown they cover it up for you. When you’re not scoring goals, things get magnified, and you wait for bad things to happen. That’s what’s been happening early in the season because we haven’t been scoring many goals. We’ve done a good job doing the little things better, but now we gotta keep making plays, build off this win and try to fill the back of their net and keep doing what we’ve been doing defensively.” – Flames center Matt Stajan summing up the last good stretch of hockey from the hockey club.

UP NEXT

The Flames (11-13-2) have a recovery day tomorrow and then are back in action on Friday night when they face the Minnesota Wild.

  • Lucky 13

    Wow the Flames came out firing on all cylinders in the first period. Nice change from what is the norm.
    Now if we can maintain a good home stand, just maybe I’ll get all giddy.

    Do we really give Stajan all the credit he deserves this year?

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    Just managed to watch only the third period when the Flames Gang were in defensive cruise control. That Chad Johnson kid might have a career in the NHL if he keeps it. Impressive puck stopping. He’s trending towards double digit SO’s for the season.

    Looking forward to the rematch against Boudreau’s Beasts on Friday. Hope the boys can muster up a little payback for JH’s sake.

    GFG

    • BlueMoonNigel

      To the extent that they put aside their game plan, take some bonehead penalties and get zipped on the PP?

      This team lowly standing does not put it in a position where exacting revenge comes ahead ahead of collecting points.

      When a team struggles to score goals like the Flames, they can’t afford to give their opponents too many PPs.

      Sweetest revenge for the Flames would be to notch the 2 points and forget about all the premediated tough guy crap, which the refs will surely be looking for and hypersensitive to.

  • Ole YELLEr

    So on the first day I post here I suggest Elliot and Jankowski play instead of Johnson and Hamilton. Naturally Johnson makes some great saves gets a shut out and the first star and Hamilton gets the gwg on his first shift and the second star. Shows what I know.

    Anyways nice win by the Flames here’s to hoping they can replicate last Decembers home ice success this year.

  • Tundradog

    Interesting that on a night that appears to be a good game for the Flames, the only 3 players with positive possession stats are Monahan, Brouwer, and Versteeg. Monahan and Brouwer are supposed to be 2/3 of the #1 line and Versteeg is a logical replacement for Gaudreau while out.

    The next 4 best possession stats for the team are Gio, D. Hamilton, Brodie, and Bennett. So the best players appear to have been the best players tonight – and the Flames win.

    At the bottom of the possession stats are, Ferland (who I like and has a big role), Stajan, Jokipakka, Engelland, and a few new guys that are not who you build a team around.

    Shows how big Possession gains this season from Stajan and other 4th liners are irrelevant and have only helped pad the possession stats, not lead to W’s in the win column.

    By the way did anyone notice Gio jumping into the rush and the stretch pass leading to 2 of the 3 goals? Reminded me of Hartley Hockey.

    And at the end of the day, Johnson stopped 39. Thank You!

    Not what GG is preaching, but a good win. I know what I am concluding from all of this, anyone else want to chirp in on a non possession style win?

    • ChinookArchYYC

      It’s called “Score Effects”.

      “The idea behind Score Effects: When a team has a lead of two or more goals in the first or second period or even just one goal in the third period, it tends to protect that lead. Often, the leading team will go into a defensive shell and be much less aggressive offensively. The leading team takes fewer risks in order to avoid giving up a goal. The team trailing in these situations tends to be much more aggressive offensively, taking more risks to score and get back in the game.” Jen Lute Costella (from Puck Daddy)

      • Tundradog

        Notice the word “appears” in my comment twice? Its there for a reason. Analytics played absolutely no role in figuring out what happened in that game.
        If you think about what I am saying, Possession and analytics, when it comes to how the Flames season is going, tell very little about the story of the season so far. Stajan (and other 4th liners and role players) are up big when it comes to possession stats, and the outcomes are “less than expected.” On a night when Stajan is near worst, but the big guns have great stats, Flames win, while getting outshot badly.
        It is just a MESS.

        And if you think for one minute that protecting the lead includes giving Toronto clear cut breakaways… That’s not protecting a lead, that’s incompetence.

  • smatic10

    That 2010 Phaneuf trade gets funnier and funnier everytime Stajan scores against the Leafs.

    In my opinion, two players that had really great games were Dougie and Frolik. Both battled hard for pucks all night long and did some good things on both ends of the ice.

    • Lucky 13

      At the beginning of the season Brouwer truly looked like a leader on this team. Remember the team meeting they had when they were on the 1st road trip?

      Brouwer was an integral part of that and while his play has levelled off, I’m convinced he’s a great leader still. He’s great in the mucking areas of the ice and at times it’s easy to overlook his contributions.

      Versteeg has looked like a steal for sure and is really finding his game as of late.
      Really glad he signed with us and not Edmonton.

      Value can’t always be measured in stats

      • OKG

        I disagree that Brouwer is great in the mucking areas. He seems to suffer from Joe Colborne Syndrome where he’s just bad at reading the play unless his linemates are setting him up for perfect shots. I don’t think he wins all that many 1v1 battles or races either. I definitely think Versteeg brings more on a shift-by-shift basis.

        • Lucky 13

          Funny how at the beginning of the season when Brouwer was leading for the most points , 6 points in 8 games there was so much praise for him, his play and what a mentor he was on the team. Fast forward to now and since his point production has declined we get the knee- jerk reaction to his playing performance and his worth on the team.

          He plays on the PP, PK and throws his weight around, unlike Joe Colborne who was a marshmallow most of the time ( and I’m not disparaging Joe) but Brouwer is smart enough and wise enough to pick his spots to do so.

          Versteeg role is much different from Brouwers, so I fail to see why we’re comparing the two?

          If it’s a dollar issue, I get it. But that’s Trelivings doing and we can’t change that.
          Performance wise I’m happy with both. If you can’t see Brouwer for what he is then perhaps a visit to the optometrist might help

  • Derzie

    Game Summary: Chad Johnson played out of his mind and covered up for a team that played on their heels for 58 minutes. Team is still underachieving in a big way under GG. Chad was absolutely great to watch though.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    I also noticed Toronto bias in coverage, as others have mentioned. Wouldn’t be at all suprised if the producers of sportnet tell the commentators to focus on the Toronto side. Curious why the game started at 630? Hmm what time does that make it in Toronto?

    I understand though. There’s over 6m people in the GTA. Only 4m in all of Alberta. Leafs franchise value? $1.3 billion USD (highest in the NHL). Flames franchise value? $451 million USD (13th highest in the NHL).

    That’s economics.

    • ThisBigMouthIsRight

      Absolutely… Personally my biggest WTF Moment with the game commentators was with under 2 min left in the game the “play by play” guy, Without blinking or a second thought and on purpose says something like “with less than two minuets to go Chad Johnson is looking to get his 7 shutout of his career” I was Stunned!!! In 30 years of watching NHL games I don’t think I’ve Ever heard and TV guy say those words “ShutOut” over fear of jinxing the goalie.. EVER~! WTF??? Who does that? Anyways Beauty of a first game back and I’m hoping for many more! Gratz to the Flames for playing a good game tonight! Cheers!

  • Locker Room Talk

    When Chad is in net I feel calm. Someone on a breakaway? No fear, Johnson doesn’t even twitch. He just tracks the puck and makes the save. Seriously though, I’m pleased with the win tonight, but I would really like to see this team limit the shots against. 39 is too many.

    Also that PP is still a dumpster fire. As soon as it went back to even strength it was like a switch went off and they remembered how to play leading to that great Stajan goal. How is it possible they’re so much better when the other team has 5 guys?

  • The Sultan

    Lol. Joe Colborne. Remember earlier in the year when he scored his first career hat-trick? Yeah, those have been his only goals all season to go along with 1 assist. I’ll take Brouwer over Big/Local any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

    • DoubleDIon

      I said the exact same thing. Obviously a poor man’s Price, but same style. No extra movement or overreaction. Just where he needs to be at the moment he needs to be there. He’s not as quick or athletic as Elliot, but he doesn’t need to be since he reads the play so well and positions himself perfectly.

  • piscera.infada

    As a shout-out on that third goal, I’d like to point out that as nice as that Frolik pass was, the play by Chiasson keeping the entire play onside at the blueline while creating space was textbook. I haven’t been a big Chiasson fan thus far, but he’s been playing some simple, effective hockey the last handful of games.

  • everton fc

    Protect Johnson.

    Still would like to see Brodie on the right-side.

    Wideman has 6 shots.

    Freddie H. plays w/a bit of an edge – an elbow to Kadri, who was leaning on him a bit, as he brought the puck in for Ferland, prior to the first goal.

    Ferland is a very under-rated playmaker. He loves that pass from behind the net, while moving. He’s has two assist on that move in the past recent games.

    Bennett is quietly looking like the leader I believe he is. I think he will be a much better centre – a #1 centre, or maybe even a LW – than Monahan. He’ll be back in the pivot, when Johnny returns.

    Kulak/Brodie would be a nice defensive pairing. And I’m not saying Engelland deserves to be benched. The “d” looks much more cool, calm and confident, as November progressed.

    Agree that Frolik is playing some of his best hockey, and that Chiasson may have found his “niche”, next to Stajan.

    December has some very “winnable” games.

    2 goals off 7 shots from Poirier last night, in Stockton. A goal and an assist from Pribyl. Another goal by Vey, who seems to have done everything possible in the AHL – needs to she more up here, but may never get the chance. 2 assists by Andersson. And an assist for KANZIG!! Lomberg w/2 assists, 2nd star of the game… And 5 shots. This kid will be a 4th liner someday, in Calgary.

    Overall, a pretty good “last evening”, for the organization.

  • Petzl

    Brodie is looking more comfortable on his “off” side, I’d love to see him back on the right hand side though. I’m not sure why we’re forcing him to switch, he makes breakout passes and clears the zone on his backhand better than Engelland on his forehand.

    As everton fc mentioned, I’d love to see him with partner that can actually skate like Kulak.

  • DoubleDIon

    I’d like to see Bennett center Johnny and Ferland when Johnny comes back. I’d like to see Monahan center the 4th line until he plays better in his own end and starts to engage battles. We don’t need him to be a goal suck who feeds off Johnny. We need him to be a battler who plays 200 feet. Until he does I’d park him on the 4th line.

  • McRib

    Sean Monahan has looked much better the last two or three games from the eye test and now the last couple of in game possession results are speaking to the same line of thinking (led all Flames skaters with a 58.1 Corsi yesterday). I really think he was battling an disclosed injury to start the year as his skating looks much better the last few. Really have enjoyed these multiple perspective post game reviews this year following every game, great work FN.