Flames 8, Ducks 3 post-game embers: You get a goal, and you get a goal, and…

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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.

Playoffs?

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.

  • Kevin R

    Yes we will disagree with you Ari. That was one of the most fun games I have watched this year & the fights is just a cherry on top. :-}
    Heck, I think it was even more therapeutic for the fans, FN even did a survey if we should go for an eye for an eye. After weeks of pussy whipping this team after the Gaudreau injury, well this felt good. Which barn are we gonna meet at for our scrap :-}

    I’m with you, keep Gaudreau with Bennett. I saw a sparkle in Bennetts eyes that is so important the Flames see happen. This kid needs to get stardom, notoriety established in the league as another top stud the Flames drafted 4th overall. He really hasn’t had a lot to play with & we just expect him to magically do it himself. This kid, his wheels can keep up with Gaudreau no problem. Win win. Manahan is starting to go where he needs to to be that deadly sniper we are paying him to be. Shuffle the deck on the power play if we want, play Money & Johnny together then, but these lines looked good. I also saw some shifts where Chuk was playing Monahan & Brouwer & you know what, that had some intriguing moments.

    Finally, a game that had a touch of the 2014 magic in it, was like being dipped in holy water. Hope we see much more of it.

  • Kevin R

    Yes we will disagree with you Ari. That was one of the most fun games I have watched this year & the fights is just a cherry on top. :-}
    Heck, I think it was even more therapeutic for the fans, FN even did a survey if we should go for an eye for an eye. After weeks of pussy whipping this team after the Gaudreau injury, well this felt good. Which barn are we gonna meet at for our scrap :-}

    I’m with you, keep Gaudreau with Bennett. I saw a sparkle in Bennetts eyes that is so important the Flames see happen. This kid needs to get stardom, notoriety established in the league as another top stud the Flames drafted 4th overall. He really hasn’t had a lot to play with & we just expect him to magically do it himself. This kid, his wheels can keep up with Gaudreau no problem. Win win. Manahan is starting to go where he needs to to be that deadly sniper we are paying him to be. Shuffle the deck on the power play if we want, play Money & Johnny together then, but these lines looked good. I also saw some shifts where Chuk was playing Monahan & Brouwer & you know what, that had some intriguing moments.

    Finally, a game that had a touch of the 2014 magic in it, was like being dipped in holy water. Hope we see much more of it.

  • Kevin R

    Yes we will disagree with you Ari. That was one of the most fun games I have watched this year & the fights is just a cherry on top. :-}
    Heck, I think it was even more therapeutic for the fans, FN even did a survey if we should go for an eye for an eye. After weeks of pussy whipping this team after the Gaudreau injury, well this felt good. Which barn are we gonna meet at for our scrap :-}

    I’m with you, keep Gaudreau with Bennett. I saw a sparkle in Bennetts eyes that is so important the Flames see happen. This kid needs to get stardom, notoriety established in the league as another top stud the Flames drafted 4th overall. He really hasn’t had a lot to play with & we just expect him to magically do it himself. This kid, his wheels can keep up with Gaudreau no problem. Win win. Manahan is starting to go where he needs to to be that deadly sniper we are paying him to be. Shuffle the deck on the power play if we want, play Money & Johnny together then, but these lines looked good. I also saw some shifts where Chuk was playing Monahan & Brouwer & you know what, that had some intriguing moments.

    Finally, a game that had a touch of the 2014 magic in it, was like being dipped in holy water. Hope we see much more of it.

    • piscera.infada

      is there a reason that hamilton once again got less ice time than engelland or wideman?

      Outside of Gio and Brodie, it was pretty even in all situations last night, which is something you’d expect in a game that was pretty much over half-way through.

      Dougie played less in the game prior because he missed almost the entire first period after that injury scare. He’s been played like a top-2 for the last couple of weeks, and that needs to continue.

  • Baalzamon

    And another game in which Hamilton’s ice time was slashed for no apparent reason (no first period injury to blame this time).

    I think if the Flames hadn’t been leading by seven, you probably don’t see those last two go in.

    Might we actually have three lines that can score now? That would be nice.

  • Greg

    Really liked those line combinations last night, 3 “1B” lines will be hard to match up against. Hope they stick with that for a while.

    Also, sticktap to whomever pointed out the “new coach ~= 16 game adjustment period” analysis on the other thread (From Darren Hayes blog). Seems like there might be something to that.

  • The Fall

    Lets not get too ahead of ourselves; The Ducks were literally sick and tired last night. This stoopid schedule because of the Bettman Cup will produce these types of matchups.

    That said, The Flames smelled blood and they were relentless. Great effort.

  • Kevin R

    🙂

    Hey Ari! I guess we are going to have to scrap. That was one of the most fun games I watched for the last while & the fighting was just the cherry on top. Heck, FN actually did a poll for eye for an eye attitude & there has been a lot of trashing on this team since the Gaudreau injury. So the fights were probably therapeutic for the fan base as well. So what barn are we going to meet at for our fisticuffs :-}

    I agree we need to keep Gaudreau with Bennett. Several reasons for this. Bennett can skate & dangle with Gaudreau all day long. Bennett plays a way more sandpaper game than Monahan & that will deflect the focus off of Johnny. Most important, the burning in Bennett’s eyes were noticeable. He finally gets to play with an elite forward & display the skills that made him a potential stud selection at #4. Flames need him to get league wide recognition & give him that permanent swagger. Throw Money & Gaudreau together on the power play, but keep Gaudreau & Bennett together.

    Side note, I noticed Chucky getting some shifts with Monahan & Brouwer & I liked what I saw. I like that Monahan was darting into the sweet areas again with that lethal shot of his.Wont take much to get him back on a 30 goal clip. Maybe it’s time for someone else to get the Backlund/Frolik bump.

  • everton fc

    Actually, Beiksa and Ferland’s fight had to happen, so all parties can move on, though I bet both continue to push one another until Bieksa retires.

    I must say, Brodie looked very calm and confident when he had the puck coming out of his zone. Good to see, as I’ve been critical of his lack of physicality at times, in front of the net, not clearing players out of there….

    Bennett’s about to explode, offencively. Keep he and Gaudreau together. PLEASE!!!

  • cberg

    Ari, based on the overall season to date, I get why you’re cynical, but there’s just about nothing to be negative about last night’s game. Great offence, great defence/goaltending, great special teams, great physicality and sticking up for each other.

    Can they repeat this and make it consistent? We shall see….

  • Lucky 13

    What a gamer Chiasson was last night. 1 goal, 2 assists and a fight.
    I’m ready to see more of this. He also stuck up for Johnny last night. I’m liking this one we call Chaser.

    Both him a Ferly remove their buckets to fight. I have RESPECT for these guys!

  • Prototype369

    Can we all take a moment to appreciate Monahan last night? I know Gaudreau came back, but I doubt those two played any 5on5 minutes together, but Monahan was lethal. Primary assist on the Brouwer goal, the offensive instinct to rush to the net when Tkachuk broke up the ducks offensive breakout at the line, and just a simple shit in, and good, hard skating the rest of the game. We literally just need Bennett to break out, and Gio to be the Norris contention dman he was last year, and I can honestly smell playoffs

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    Fights – that’s a tuff subject to quantify. Its easy to point out the perils & negatives but how do you measure the upside to this part of the game. Against certain teams (like the Ducks), its imperative to play a slam bam style of hockey IMO. Otherwise you get owned both physically & mentally. And with the likes of Bennett, Chuk, and Hathaway on a heavy forecheck, you can go toe to toe with these types of teams. So if the odd fight has to be fought, so be it.

    GFG

  • Ole YELLEr

    With all of this talk of Hamilton’s ice time vs Engelland and Wideman I think short handed minutes play a role. By my eye and questionable memory I think both get more minutes on the pk. As long as Hamilton gets more even strength and particularly pp time but ends up even or a bit behind in overall toi I’m ok with that.

    I also liked the lines and hope JG and SB play together next time. I think MT, SM and TB could be a very dangerous line down low but that sure isn’t the fastest line around.

    As for fighting I’m more than ok with it in general but I do not understand why players almost always go after somebody who threw a big clean hit and never get the instigator penalty. I’m not a fan of the rule but since it exists I think it should be applied in that situation.

  • Craftmatic4.0

    Fighting is pointless? In the 100 years of NHL, fighting was always part of the game! I am sick of people who make a living with a keyboard always making negative comments about fighting! I will always enjoy a good fight and would like to see it brought to everyone’s workplace! Hockey without fighting, simply put, ….. is just not hockey!

    • BlueMoonNigel

      The Great Gretzky supposedly abhorred fighting in hockey, yet his big trade to LA was contingent on the Oilers sending primo goon Marty McSorely to the Kings. Talk about sucking and blowing at the same time.

      Let’s face it, I can flog a lot more books called “Confessions of a Fighter” by Tie Domi than “Confessions of a Multiple Lady Byng Winner” by Marty St. Louis.