Flames 3, Wild 2 (SO) post-game embers: What’s the opposite of wild?

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Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sports

It doesn’t seem to matter how much the teams change: games against the Minnesota Wild will forever remain boring.

Although a tied game late in the third with multiple penalties being called – including one stretching into overtime – is undoubtedly exciting. Especially when the Flames are able to do that thing where they have consistent, dangerous pressure. And are only thwarted by a stray body or well-placed stick. Multiple times.

Those parts were pretty exciting.

Not so much vengeance after all

There are several reasons why the Flames deserved to win that game. (Almost) everybody keeping their cool was one of them.

The last time these two teams faced, Johnny Gaudreau’s finger ended up broken. If any team was trying to be the aggressor last night – at least before Matthew Tkachuk went a little overboard – it was the Wild. They were the undisciplined ones; the Flames even managed to make them pay for it once on the powerplay, which was nothing short of a miracle.

(That overtime powerplay was pretty nuts, too; they definitely could have scored on it.)

The Flames didn’t take the bait. They played a cool, collected game. Mikael Backlund’s line was brilliant at generating constant chances, including on just that one shift in the third period; the Flames just calmly scored goals and played most of the game with a lead instead.

The best revenge is two points. (Though I will confess a part of me was hoping the Flames would take a two-goal lead and then go to town on some certain opposing player hands in the final minute, but this was probably the better way to go out. No suspensions, for one thing.)

Can somebody help Matthew Tkachuk find his chill

Yikes.

Remember back during the Penticton games? Tkachuk stood out, both in good ways – he’s pretty good at hockey – and bad – he was completely out of control.

For the most part, he reigned that stuff in when he made the NHL. Um, kind of; the fact that he leads the Flames with 49 penalty minutes – getting kinda close to double the next guy – is pretty bad and telling, but he has at least looked less wild out there.

Until last night, when he took a bad offensive zone penalty at the end of an amazing shift for his line; and then, when his team killed it off, headbutted Marco Scandella.

No. No. Absolutely not. That’s completely unacceptable under normal circumstances. But forcing your team to kill two penalties in the final 10 minutes of a tied game, particularly when your second penalty was an egregious show of stupidity, cannot fly.

The Flames were able to kill off all three powerplays they faced. They were pretty good at it, too (if you’re keeping score at home, their 78.0% penalty kill is now the fifth worst in the NHL). If they hadn’t, then Tkachuk would have been to blame. I’m amazed he even got a shift after that.

If it were up to me – and obviously it’s not, but if it was – I would healthy scratch him the next game (providing he doesn’t get suspended first). He was reckless, he could have cost his team the game (and one day, if this keeps up, he probably will), and he could have hurt someone. Actions have consequences. Time to learn that.

The ongoing saga of Sean Monahan

Since being relegated to the fourth line for two periods against the New York Islanders, Monahan has scored three points in three games, including this one. This game he got a secondary assist, but it was the result of him being involved in the play and collecting the puck in the offensive zone – ensuring his team would have it before he set up Jyrki Jokipakka for a shot, one that Kris Versteeg capitalized on the ensuing rebound – that led to anything happening.

Though Monahan was among the weaker corsi players on the Flames (and once again with sheltered zone starts, at that), he looked much more engaged than he has at several points throughout the season. If this is going to be a regular thing from now on, then good, we all very much welcome it – and will probably even more so if he keeps it up when Gaudreau returns to action, presumably on his line.

Monahan didn’t get first line centre minutes last night – he played 18:03, almost four fewer minutes than Backlund (with the same amount of special teams time for them both). Backlund earned those extra minutes – six shots alone for him – but it’s good to see Monahan appearing to round back into form, eventually.

Dougie Hamilton: a reasonably good hockey player

There has been a lot of unnecessary talk about Dougie Hamilton this past week.

Here’s where we’re at: Hamilton is a core player on this Flames team. He’s one of the best defencemen they have, easily. He’s one of the best offensive generators on the Flames – five shots last night, 73 on the season to lead the Flames (top 20 in the NHL), behind only Michael Frolik and Backlund for top corsi players on the Flames against the Wild (and second on the Flames throughout the season, behind only Tkachuk), quarterbacking the powerplay the way he was – he’s a treat to watch, and he’s going to be a big part of this team’s future.

Seriously. He’s been fantastic, and it feels like we’re on the verge of watching him rise to another level.

So it was good to see him get over five minutes on the powerplay – seriously, as poor as the overall powerplay has been, Hamilton was constantly on the verge of making things happen – but for Dennis Wideman and Deryk Engelland, two players who shouldn’t be here at all next year, to get more ice time than him is baffling.

He’s better. Let’s accept that and run with it.

Playoffs?

Technically, the Flames, with a 12-13-2 record, are in a playoff spot. They’re in the second wild card spot in the West, but a playoff spot is a playoff spot.

If the Predators, Stars, or Jets – all of whom are playing today – win their next games, the Flames will be out of a playoff spot. The Preds can lose in overtime and this will still be the case. Fact is, the Flames have still played more games than everyone else in the NHL.

Going by points percentage, they’re a .481 team. That’s not good.

Here’s the good news: they’re 24th in the NHL. That’s good when put into context that a week ago or so, they were 29th, 30th.

We are seeing the Flames improve. We’ll see what things look like when other teams start to catch up to them in games played later in the season, though. So don’t get too excited… but maybe get a little excited if they can keep this going.

  • First Name Unidentified

    Chad Johnson is a real competitor. I love what he said and I paraphrase – I’ve been running around all over the places looking for an opportunity. Now I have one!

    Go Chad

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    Sometimes you steal a game, other times you get robbed. Last night was a case of lacing up your work boots & putting on your hard hat type of a victory.

    Loved the Flames push back when the Wild got their 2nd goal. The Wild were fortunate to extend the game into OT.

    Bonehead Boudreau suited up a designated knuckle dragger but got no dance partners. That was a stooge move on his part.

    I hate three point games in the west but not so much when we get the deuce. The playoff cut line is log jammed as usual, moving down two or three spots onernite is typical. Just win baby and the other stuff will take care of itself.

    Now lets get ready for some duck hunting.

    GFG

  • Hockeyfan

    Nice to see Monahan getting it together. Backs and Stajan lines playing great. keep it up guys. MT is a beast already, this kid will be a jewel in 2 years.

  • Southboy

    I will take those 2 pts against the team that mangled Johnny Ringette’s finger. But it is sad to see that the way the Wild play now means we are the new Minnesota Wild of a few years ago. Sooooo boring, we need JG back to put a little fun in this team.

    • piscera.infada

      I’ve seen a few posts lamenting that Gulutzan’s “system is boring” (I don’t agree, but that’s not the point) and referencing that “Boudreau’s would have been more exciting”. Since Washington, the dude is the king of the trap. Last night was a prime example. They trapped through the first 2 periods, and once they needed to open the game up, they got torched (their goal notwithstanding). Sure, part of it might be his rosters, but Boudreau has not been about coaching exciting hockey for some time.

  • Flaymin Frank

    We have five games in hand over three other teams in the west. That’s messed up. We lead the league in games played with no sign of leveling out for quite some time. Not a fan of that system.

    I know we are only a .500’ish team but I like the direction we’re heading.

    GFG

  • FL@med

    Jokipakka played really well the last couple of games. Sportsnet even did a little segment on him. Hope he keeps this up, and if he does.. 5 th rounder to Vegas to not choose him?

    • MWflames

      Seriously?

      First of all, I’m fairly certain these types of arrangements have been discuss around the league, and are not supposed to happen.

      Second, I’m okay if they take jokipaka tbh. I’d rather they take him than kulak at this point, who will be a better player in a year if he isn’t already

    • Baalzamon

      Hope he keeps this up, and if he does.. 5 th rounder to Vegas to not choose him?

      Nah. At this point, if the Flames get through the expansion draft with Ferland, Shinkaruk, and Kulak all still in the organization you call it a win and move on.

  • Tanner

    They must be auditioning Wideman and Engelland for the trade deadline. Otherwise, I don’t understand why Dougie Hamilton isn’t closer to 24 minutes more consistently.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    If Monny starts to get some confidence here the timing will be perfect when Johnny comes back and hopefully that line starts to go nuts and we can win a game by more than 1 goal every now and then (assuming they leave Chiasson where he belongs)

    Personally I’d like to see this:

    Johnny/Monny/Versteeg

    Tkachuk/Backlund/Frolik

    Ferland/Bennett/Brouwer

    Chiasson/Stajan/Hathaway

    If the first line fails to click for the first 5 games or so… similar to earlier in the season, how about something a little out there and not tried before:

    Gaudreau/Backlund/Frolik

    Tkachuk/Bennett/Versteeg

    Ferland/Monahan/Brouwer

    Chiasson/Stajan/Hathaway

    I figure other teams are going after Gaudreau as the top line anyways, might as well put him on the “top line” and give Monahan some time to get his game together (especially on the road) – this is only if Johnny and Monny keep shooting blanks together.

  • Baalzamon

    but for Dennis Wideman and Deryk Engelland, two players who shouldn’t be here at all next year, to get more ice time than him is baffling.

    Somehow, I knew I’d see this in the post game. Hamilton played less because he missed over half the first period due to that injury scare, remember? I was actually surprised he crested 20 minutes on the night.

    • Ari Yanover

      … I totally forgot about that. Whoops. Force of habit from it constantly happening throughout many of the games in which he has not faced an injury scare.

  • FL@med

    Call me out if I’m wrong, but I really think we should claim teddy Purcell. He’s an amazing playmaker, and a RW at that. He’s done wonders in every NHL season, however has gotten to a slow start this year (2 points in 12 games) he has a high cap hit, but if we move Wideman (his trade value is actually decent right now) we can afford thIs. Plus we have enough cap rn before of ir money. Imagine a line consisting of Gaudreau – Monny – Purcell

  • Derzie

    Winning has never been so boring. If the new identity is lunchbucket stagnation, so be it. At least Tkachuk is spicing up the game. Coach wants to lull him to sleep like a good robot and get with the program. Yawn. I like the wins but for the most part, reading the game summary is more exciting than watching the game. Hate the Leafs but how they play is what makes watching fun.

    • Locker Room Talk

      Besides the 2nd period – and at least it went by quickly since there were so few whistles – I actually thought this was a pretty exciting game, particularly the 3rd and OT. Tons of chances at both ends of the ice, mostly the Flames with those chances, and we ended up out-shooting another team. I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed the game last night.

      I do agree the Leafs have been fun to watch, kinda reminds me of when the Flames made it to the playoffs…except instead of blowing 3rd period leads, we were coming from behind to win. Definitely an interesting team to watch.

  • Juan Valdez

    Even with his injury problems, Kris Versteeg is still hands down the best free agent signing this year. I sure hope we don’t lose him to Vegas because that kind of high-end talent isn’t easy to replace.

  • Truculence

    “He was reckless, he could have cost his team the game (and one day, if this keeps up, he probably will), and he could have hurt someone.”

    Did you just say that “he could have hurt someone” with regards to a sport that allows people to pummel one another and use their body to literally try to physically hurt one another (bodycheck).

    Come on, take it from a guy that’s experienced both headbutts and punches to the face in multiple scraps up in northern B.C.: one is no more violent than the other.

    You could call it a cheap-shot, but then remember that these are the same a-holes that slashed Gaudreau like cowards 21 or so times.If anybody deserves to be on the butt-end of dirty plays, it is the Wild.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    Tkachuk has some impulse control issues. Ecexuctive function, somebody said already, which is exactly right.

    He is an amazing player and is already showing himself as a top tier forward. If it was any team but the Wild, who broke Johnnys finger, I might feel a bit bad. But in light of that, fuc* the Wild