Flames 6, Jets 2 post-game embers: 6-2 be you

Winning is fun. Winning blowouts is even more fun. I assume winning a blowout without giving up a couple of inane goals at the very end of it is maximum fun, but the Flames aren’t there quite yet, it would seem.

But the fact that they’ve won six games in a row has been a lot of fun, and that streak has seen their season officially resurrected. I’m kind of afraid for the next time they lose a game, but the way things are going right now, this is no longer a mentally weak team, and I’m sure they have it in them to keep on rolling.

Wait for the recovery

The Flames did not have a particularly good first period. It’s not that they had a bad one, either, but especially towards the end of the frame they were so sloppy they were just one bad bounce away from the Jets taking the lead in the final minute. And wouldn’t that have been a way to head to the locker room? I assume the team went over some stuff during the first intermission – i.e., stop being so lackadaisical, what the hell is wrong with you – and, evidently, it worked.

But while they were having a lazy go of things at times, Chad Johnson was there to bail them out, multiple times.

The same Johnson who saw his stats dip a little with that bleh goal with .1 seconds left in the game, and still has a .932 save percentage in all situations – which is fifth in the NHL among goalies with at least 10 games played. He’s behind Devan Dubnyk, Jimmy Howard, Carey Price, and Antti Raanta, and Raanta just barely hits those parameters. He’s tied with Sergei Bobrovsky.

So yeah, we’re kind of on the verge of “top five goalie in the NHL Chad Johnson” here. This is the best season of his career, without question.

Though he has only played 18 games, so we should perhaps temper expectations a bit. Be excited, but cautious.

The great thing about this one was Johnson only had to keep his team in the game for a period; in the next frame, they rewarded him with quite the run support.

Wow look at all these points

Fun with numbers time!

Johnny Gaudreau has played four games since returning from a broken finger. He has scored two points in each of those four games. He now has 19 points in 21 games played this season. Remember how Gaudreau was flirting with being a point per game player all throughout last season? Turns out that guy didn’t go anywhere. 

Also, how much fun is it to watch the opposition try to stop him only for Gaudreau to retain the puck and dance around them and get into the offensive zone or generate a scoring chance anyway? That happened like what, at least five times last night? Ten? A lot. Imagine how much more fun it would be if the penalties committed against him were actually called, too!

Gaudreau now has 100 career assists in 181 games. That is reasonably good.

Sean Monahan is currently on a seven-game point streak. He has nine points over that time. This has vaulted him up to second in team scoring with 17 points in 31 games. This is still below what we expect of him, but the course is being corrected and the goal he got was scored in the most Monahan way possible (beauty shot in the slot via a beauty pass from Gaudreau). The classics are always nice to return to. You’d think he was due to score eventually: Monahan had five shots last night.

Dougie Hamilton had a three-point night. He is tied with Monahan for second in team scoring. Get used to this; he’s probably going to be leading defence scoring for a while. How could he not with that shot and the ability to jump up into the rush like that? And seven shots on net, too. He’s relentless. Almost as if he’s a key offensive contributor on this team, or something.

dougie hamilton water

Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk had three-point nights, too. Backlund had six shots on net. Tkachuk didn’t have any, but he did have three assists, so we’ll forgive him for that. 

More on the 3M line

In the section above, we covered that Gaudreau is leading the Flames in scoring, and Monahan and Hamilton are tied for second. Sam Bennett is fourth with 16 points, and then, you’ll never guess who’s in a three-way tie for fifth place.

If you ever needed more of a sign that a line was meant to play together, may I present you with these stat lines.

Player Goals Assists Points
Matthew Tkachuk 6 9 15
Mikael Backlund 5 10 15
Michael Frolik 6 9 15

Wow way to ruin a nice line Backlund.

Michael Frolik has now gone five games without a point, which is unfortunate for the Flames’ leading point scorer from back when Gaudreau was out of the lineup. It’s not as though he’s been useless during that time, though; he remains one of the top corsi players on the Flames and continues to drive play north and be a fantastic penalty killer, even when he isn’t seeing the puck go in the back of the net.

It’s just now his linemates have caught up to him. Tkachuk, Backlund, and Frolik are all tied for fifth in team scoring. They follow up a group of guys ranging from the ages of 20-23 with a teenager and 27 and 28-year-olds. And technically, that’s supposed to be the shutdown line.

Though last night they did face the Jets’ top players and came away with dominant corsi numbers (the lowest point was Frolik being a 54.55% guy when sharing the ice with Dustin Byfuglien. The lowest point. Backlund never dropped below 60%), so they kind of did do that whole shutting down thing, too.

They just helped score three goals while they were doing it.

Fun with special teams

TWO powerplay goals last night? Who are these people??

The Flames had four opportunities to score with the man advantage. We still got the old staples – oh no, the puck is out of the offensive zone and we can’t get it back in – but when you score on half of your chances, you’re doing a good job. They only gave up one powerplay goal on four opportunities, too; the end result of being a little too eager to add to their league-leading shorthanded tally. (Can you blame them? It’s been like a week since they last scored one.)

The Flames’ powerplay is now clicking at 15.5%. That’s 23rd in the NHL. These shouldn’t be numbers to celebrate, but it wasn’t that long ago their powerplay was at a single digit success rate, so damn it, celebrate. We’ve earned this. The Flames have scored powerplay goals in five straight games. I think we’re just about in “apologize to Dave Cameron” territory, or at least we will be when we go a whole game without those zone entry messes. Though one day the good times will end, and we’ll see how they respond.

The penalty kill has overall been doing well, but it’s still clicking along at 78.8%, which is 25th in the NHL. It still needs to rise up.

They say you’ve got pretty decent special teams if their percentages add up to be 100%. Right now, the Flames’ add up to 94.3%. That’s much better than the 80-region they were in like a month ago.

Playoffs???

Technically the Flames are at the top of the Pacific Division, but they have also played more games than everyone else in the NHL, so not really.

Before you tell me to shut up, I will add that the Flames are officially in a playoff spot now.

Going by points percentage, they’re a .548% team. That’s eighth in the west. They hold the second wild card spot. 

Again, that isn’t anything to be proud of; then again, after the way their season started, it is.

They also now hold a goal differential of -5. (That last goal against, ugh.) A positive goal differential is within sight. Most playoff teams tend to have that. Let’s do this, please. After suffering a few blowouts against them – a couple, coincidentally, in Saturday night games – a couple of their own are righting the ship. 

Now if they could just close them out properly…

  • MontanaMan

    While the world was calling for Gulutzan’s head, there were about three of us on here that preached patience and time to adapt to his system. For all of you who overreacted, step up and admit your mistake. First up, Walter.

    • cberg

      Regardless, congrats to the Flames who continue to play consistent, solid 2-way hockey. Ehlers’s speed and Buf’s physicality were the biggest threats but they were able to handle them while still applying pressure.

      Really loving the current lines, which spreads the talent around and provides a great balance on all lines. That also includes the fourth line which has been a solid line, including Stajan’s best year yet and Hathaway playing a needed physical “stir-it-up” role…. and yeah, he took on Big But and took a couple for the team which I also applaud him for. Also great to see both Tkachuk and Bennett making solid progress. Bennett especially learning how to play with his line mates and use the whole ice while Tkachuk just seems to relish every shift and the gusto and hockey sense he brings to the 3M line makes them even better.

    • The GREAT WW

      Agreed; GG has earned the right to coach past Christmas.

      Please get Gallant on board in some capacity asap (solid goaltending can make a coach look better than he really is…).

      WW

      • cberg

        Though I guess the significantly improved PK, PP and overall team play is due to……. ?

        Probably more like new coach adjustments… a la Darren Haynes’ earlier article….. Hopefully this is the new New and they can continue to keep up the vastly-improved play.

      • MontanaMan

        I had/have concerns about Monahan’s game but I wasn’t calling for him to be cut or traded like most on this board with Gulutzan. That’s the difference.

        I still don’t believe that Monahan is a legitimate #1 centre and will likely be surpassed but Bennett (if he hasn’t already). His foot speed just doesn’t allow him to keep pace with faster wingers. Having said that, Bennett (1), Monahan (2) and Backlund (3) is a pretty solid centre crew.

        • Baalzamon

          Monahan’s shot is certainly a huge asset on that first powerplay unit. He’s also been winning a lot of faceoffs this year (third on the team in win% behind Hamilton and Stajan; it’s been the only consistent part of his game).

          • Primo

            Again in my opinion you are incorrect. The entire site was not but I do admit many were! Only those who do not understand the transition time required to reverse a 3 year old system with new strategies and concepts took exception to GG. The transition typically takes 20 games minimum.

            As well I personally consider Monahan an elite Centre given his age and production to date, He is the class selection of his draft year…young players will regularly go through development gaps in their early years…..

          • cberg

            I don’t think its that relevant in that I’m pretty sure the Flames execs aren’t depending on FN to help them determine what they need to do.

            Having said that I questioned GG early on, as was appropriate because the team was LOUSY, much worse that expected and seemed on the verge of freezing the coach out which would have been a disaster. At the same time, after DHayne’s great article on new coaches it was clear that the early problems are pretty normal and I needed to give GG more time, like to Christmas to see if the team would respond and start to turn things around.

            They have, and some of the clunky things of the first few weeks are gone so either the team responded, GG modified his approach or most likely, some combination of the two AND other things I haven’t thought of. In any case, they are doing well now, and as the saying goes “Winning is EVERYTHING”.

    • deantheraven

      I never said it out loud, but man was I thinking it!
      We’ll see how far the special teams can climb into the ‘league average’ area. That would be swell enough, as long as we have Chad at one end and JH at the other!

      PS I’m blowin’ up the NHL website with write in votes for Chad Johnson. You should too!

    • Derzie

      Blindly calling for his head is exactly the same as blindly assuming he will make things right by preaching patience. Exactly the same. One positive. One negative. Neither are correct until it plays out.

      I was calling for his head, but at the end of the season. With the team showing positive signs, I’m off that stance but I have yet to be in his group of supporters. I react to what I see relative to expectations. Not big on blind faith. Glad we are winning though. The season will dictate GG’s fate.

      • Nobody preaches patience because they blindly believe Gulutzan will make things right. They preach patience because it takes longer than a month to see what we have in our new coaching staff.

        He might still be a bad fit, but hopefully the torch and pitchfork crowd will give it the whole season before they start screaming for blood again.

          • What exactly don’t you agree with? That it’s too soon to pronounce Gulutzan a good/bad coach?

            He wouldn’t have been my first pick either, but I’m going to give him a season before I come to any conclusions. That’s all I’m saying.

      • Primo

        The season determines all 30 NHL coaches fate. Their jobs depend on results. The only difference in your world vs mine is that management is astute and patient with new coaches beyond a year. The lessons learned from the Oiler model of 6 coaches in 7 years is a disaster that will never be employed in Calgary with a patient GM like Treliving……

    • First Name Unidentified

      Just stop! Gulutzan is beginning to learn player deployment and proper usage now, hence Better results. Bennett is playing first line centre, Dougie is getting top pairing minutes, and most of all Cheddar Johnson has made the biggest difference.

      So, yeah, I wouldn’t get my panties in a knot over “amazing” Gulutzan yet. He still needs to bring down Chaisson’s minutes, but he’s learning which is encouraging to see.

  • Eggs Bennett

    The Ehlers goal against was completely avoidable. They rushed up with 4 players on the PK trying to get Dougie his hat trick and ended up costing Johnson his SO with an odd man rush the other way.

    Great game, nonetheless. And first period was not dominated by the Jets… shots were 16-9 Flames. Jets did have some chances where Johnson was sharp, but by no means was the period lopsided like you speak of

  • Kensington

    Game Notes JG Wow!, DH Wow!, Monahan still giving the puck away, dump the puck in you aren’t a great stickhandler and lose it at the Blueline often. Wideman please quit jumping up in the play you are to old and slow to get back and are getting caught 2 or 3 times a game. Gio great game on D.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I missed most of the first period, but from what I saw it looked like Giordano’s back. He was getting pucks through traffic and the stalwart defender the Flames have come to rely on. For me, this was one of the most important of the players, I was waiting on to turn his game around. Next up TJ Brodie.

  • Arminius

    How bout that Matthew Tkachuk ? Hope Backlund is taking him out for some birthday Brekkie this morning after doing the heavy lifting enabling Backs to poach 2 secondary assists and knock in a point blank shot for a goal.

    Time for Tkachuk to get more kudos as a major part of the line he’s on

      • aflame13

        Talking about a previously undocumented Tkachuk bump ignores the historically evident Backlund bump. At max, the benefits are mutual and shouldn’t necessarily be attributed solely to one or the other.

    • Baalzamon

      Tkachuk is unquestionably the best LW the Backlund-Frolik unit has ever had… but let’s be honest here. Between Sam Bennett (who is an awful winger), Joe Colborne (who is Joe Colborne), and Lance Bouma (come on) his only real competition is Micheal Ferland. And while Ferland is great and all… no one will dispute that Tkachuk is better.

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    What a streak – let’s hope their 4 day rest break in the schedule doesn’t mess with this mojo they got going.

    Hathaway – undrafted, Florida born. Classic Flames kinda guy. Love his passion and enthusiasm for the game, doesn’t back down from anybody. Big Buff gave him some decent shots but Hathman didn’t fold up like laptop. He knows what he has to do to stay in the lineup.

    Hats off to Scott Oake for his hearty attempt to pump some life into the After Hours interview with Laine. OMG it was cringeworthy.

  • Kevin R

    Ari, the Jets only outplayed the Flames for the first 5-8minutes of the first. They were outshooting them 3-1 & had some decent chances. The momentum changes after that dirty hit from behind on Backlund. After the 1st, it was no contest. The sloppy play late in the first was committed by no other than Backlund & I remember cursing him saying he knows friggin better than to blindly throw the puck from the boards to the middle in front of the net. We need to realize everyone has their WTF moment.

    Monahan was fine & so glad he had that vintage laser beam goal. I really liked Hathaway’s game as well. Yes, I saw a lot of non calls against like usual. The officiating in the NHL is the worst of all the sports. The slash Monahan got called for was a joke compared to the non calls in that game & in other games.

    • cberg

      Engelland did and has played great this season. With Jokipakka or Kulak a possibility to be taken in the expansion draft, and Wideman and Smid surely gone that’s a lot of change for the start of next season. Yes, I think keeping Engelland on with a 1 year deal would be called for. Whether he would do it remains to be seen.

  • CalgaryBornandRaised

    In the last 6 games I’ve started to notice a positive trend with the Flames overall game. Under Hartley, the collapse and counterattack was fun, but ultimately dangerous as teams just cycled the puck, wore us down and then scored. Too many 3rd period deficits to make up and then missing playoffs/high draft picks, 2014-2015 notwithstanding.

    Now, while we got off to a horrendous start, GG’s system has the Flames playing a structured game in their own end and the offense is finally coming. This is the beginnings of the Flames becoming a dominant possession team that the preseason hype thought they would be. A few more pieces to augment the core and the Flames will be able to compete 3-4 years down the road for a serious Stanley Cup Finals birth