Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports
That was fun.
Goals on goals on goals
Okay, let’s try to do a general recount of some stuff after that insane offensive explosion.
Going into this game, the Flames’ leading scorer was Michael Frolik. He did not register a single point, although it wasn’t for lack of trying; fact unfortunately was, even despite getting shelled and being generally not-great, Jonathan Bernier actually did make some good saves.
Micheal Ferland, who played all of 42 seconds, did not score a single point, either. Neither did Jyrki Jokipakka, T.J. Brodie, or Deryk Engelland, for that matter.
That’s it. Or, to put it another way: five Flames did not pick up any points last night. Eight Flames had multi-point games.
Frolik is still the Flames’ leading scorer, but after a three-point night, Sam Bennett tied him for 15 in 28 games. Johnny Gaudreau fell behind a bit in scoring (missing 10 games will do that to you); with two points last night he – along with a point from Dougie Hamilton and two from Sean Monahan – is now tied for third in team scoring, with 13.
Speaking of 13, that’s how many Flames now have double digit points this season. That includes all of the regular forwards, plus Hamilton and Mark Giordano.
Gaudreau and Hamilton led the way with four shots apiece, too.
Welcome back, Johnny
The first goal Bernier let in was a bad one, but it didn’t matter; it was a Gaudreau goal 2:09 into his first game back, and after bobbling the drop pass, even. It wasn’t even a typical Gaudreau play – but it was a goal, and it was perfect timing in case anyone was doubting him being back already.
Gaudreau only had a goal and an assist, but he could have had so much more. The Gaudreau we’re used to seeing – the one that has the puck on a string, that constantly embarrasses opponents, that creates something out of nothing – was all over the ice last night. He played 18:28, which was more than every forward not named Monahan or Troy Brouwer. He got top powerplay time, because of course he did, he’s Johnny Gaudreau. He didn’t have to face top competition because it was a home game, but he wasn’t particularly sheltered zone start-wise, either.
Oh, and keep him on Bennett’s wing for a bit. Those two were dancing. Even Alex Chiasson was a fit on their line. Maybe it was just one of those nights where everything clicked, but it was a good one, and it’s definitely something we should see for a couple of games yet.
I think that’s what we’ve been looking for since the start of the season. It’s probably safe to declare Gaudreau back in more ways than one.
He even drew multiple penalties that the referees couldn’t be bothered to call! Truly amazing.
Good special teams??
Well, kind of. For the most part. It’s hard to find too much to complain about here, considering the Flames scored two powerplay goals, a shorthanded goal, and their penalty kill only failed them once (and well after the game was over), but I’m sure I’ll find a way.
The Flames trying to enter the offensive zone on a powerplay can still be painful to watch.
Also, Brodie led in powerplay ice time, which I would disagree with. Brodie is a very good defenceman, and he can definitely score, but the offensive side of the game is still his weak point. So having him back on the blueline on the top powerplay unit was not a great call, I would say.
This was particularly prominent during the man advantage Brouwer eventually scored on. Brodie was great at keeping the puck in the zone; less great at actually doing anything with it. A fair portion of that powerplay just saw the Flames pass it back to Brodie, Brodie look like he might be winding up, and then dish it to one of the forwards. Simply put, he’s not a threat back there at all; he’s not going to shoot and we all know it. I think having one of Giordano or Hamilton be the lone defenceman on the top unit, and Brodie join the other one on the second unit, would work better.
Anyway, enough complaining. The Flames’ penalty kill is now 77.9% – third worst in the NHL – but that was the first powerplay goal they allowed in five games, ever since that bad outing in Philadelphia. Remember how their penalty kill killed the Flames in Buffalo? They’ve been pretty good at it since then; two goals against in 27 tries is a successful kill rate of 93%, which I suppose you could say is good.
Also, six shorthanded goals. (That 2-on-0 was hilarious.)
As for the powerplay, it’s now at 12.6%. GET THIS: that’s 29th in the NHL. Someone has a worse powerplay than the Flames! It’s the New York Islanders.
Fighting is stupid
I’m sure I’m gonna get lots of disagreements on this subsection head. That’s fine. Fight me.
I’m going to skip the stuff in the third period which was a mess in and of itself (and probably wouldn’t have happened had one team not had a five-goal lead), although that was all pretty not-great and generally embarrassing and unnecessary. Instead, I’d rather focus on Ferland’s fight: one that happened against Kevin Bieksa two minutes into the game, when the Flames had a 1-0 lead and… that was it.
I guess Bieksa and Ferland have some history from the playoffs, but really, that was a pointless fight – and one that knocked Ferland out of the game early on.
Everything worked out in the end; having to play down a forward didn’t hurt the Flames at all, and Ferland’s injury isn’t expected to be bad. But I’m willing to bet the Flames would’ve gotten their 10 goals if Ferland had been able to play. And that would’ve been way more enjoyable; this is the kind of high-scoring game he, too, probably would have thrived in.
Congratulations to the Flames! They are once again a .500 team. The last time they were that was Oct. 28, when they had a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. The Flames had a three-game win streak back then, and we thought they were maybe about to turn a corner, and then they lost a bunch in a row, including some pretty bad blowouts.
Well, finally, the Flames were on the positive side of a blowout – even if they should have been +7 in goals in this affair, not +5. Oh well. That’s getting greedy, I guess.
But anyway. In terms of points percentage, .500 teams – and there are four of them in the NHL right now – are tied for 22nd in the NHL.
There’s still a lot of work to do. If these are the real Flames, though – and I stress if, because we have been duped before and we will probably be duped again – then maybe things aren’t as dire as we were led to believe.
If not for this season, then maybe, hopefully, at least for next. Maybe they are turning the corner, after all.