The Flames had a big opportunity with this one. If they’d won in regulation, they would have been right up there with the Ducks in points percentage, and a real threat to get into the top three of the Pacific Division. And not by games played, as they were before – but for real.
Of course, that’s a bit of a tall order. The Ducks are a team filled with talented players that have often had the Flames’ number, that one 8-3 win aside. That order grew even taller when Calgary lost one of their best players to illness.
And still, they hanged in there for most of the game, at least in score. But only scoring one goal is going to hurt you more often than not, failing to capitalize on a two-on-zero is pretty awful, and your special teams simply can’t be that bad.
But at least it wasn’t a blowout.
Life without Hamiltons
No Freddie Hamilton is a given at this point. Would he really be worse than Garnet Hathaway’s allotted 6:47? Oh well.
No Dougie Hamilton, however, is the much bigger loss. The good news – he should be back. The bad news – well, you remember in 2014-15, when Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie were the Flames’ only reliable defencemen who could play big minutes? And the Flames desperately needed a top four guy, and they got him in the 2015 offseason? Yeah, this is what happens when you take him away.
Remember all that stupidity about trading Hamilton earlier in the season? This is what you get when you don’t have him in the lineup. Not pleasant, is it?
Without Hamilton, Brodie had to play 27:10, including nearly 10 minutes of special teams time. Giordano had to play 23:30. Deryk Engelland and Dennis Wideman had to play about 22 minutes each. Those two should not, under any circumstances, even be on this team next season, even for cheap; this is what the Flames have to deal with when one of their three good defencemen goes down and they have nobody else to replace him with.
You gotta think Wideman would have gotten more ice time if he hadn’t taken two penalties, too. (Limited sample size, naturally, but in 14:55 with Wideman, Brodie was a 28.57% 5v5 CF guy. Away from him, 100%.)
Please feel better soon, Dougie. Don’t leave us again like this. And please let the expansion draft hurry up already so the Flames’ bad contracts can expire and they can finish putting together a real top four.
Mikael Backlund, the ultimate warrior
I have never, ever fathomed how on earth it could possibly be that some people don’t like Mikael Backlund as a player.
It makes no sense. He’s so well-rounded, there’s a part of his game that should appeal to every single hockey fan. Does he put up points? At least half a point per game for five years now. Does he drive the play north? Yup. Make his linemates better? Literally everyone, all the time. Able to play in all situations? Yes. Gritty? He may not be a hitter (except last night, he had three), but you watch him on the penalty kill – especially that five-on-three against the Avalanche, which he is still in all likelihood hurting from, and in what world is that not gritty? He has even dropped the gloves in defence of his teammates before. Multiple times.
He may not be elite in every facet, but he basically embodies every single thing that’s fun and good about the game. Top that off with the blatant passion he displays on and off the ice night in and night out, and just, he’s everything there is to love about hockey.
Another goal last night, the Flames’ only one of the game. Third in ice time, behind just Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. Played in all situations, the most-used forward on the penalty kill who continued to be a threat even then. Second in team scoring. Literally four shot attempts went against him at 5v5 the entire night. Probably not at 100%.
He’s just. Really, really good.
Fix your powerplay
Troy Brouwer is out for an extended period of time, and with it, so is a right shot on the powerplay.
Which is apparently crucial, if you’ll remember all the powerplay time Linden Vey got back when Kris Versteeg was out.
So… 5:30 for Alex Chiasson on the man advantage? Are you kidding me? More than everyone not named Brodie, Gaudreau, and Monahan? Seriously? Backlund, Sam Bennett, and Matthew Tkachuk gonna get snubbed like that? Michael Frolik and Micheal Ferland are RIGHT THERE, the hell with your right shot.
Geez I mean I’d probably prefer Wideman playing forward for that long on the man advantage over Chiasson if having a right shot is that important to you, at least he actually is just a powerplay specialist at this point in his career. What is this. Adjust your powerplay to the guys you have, don’t force inferior players in (and for five-and-a-half frickin’ minutes at that) because you just need to have your precious right shot and it couldn’t possibly work any other way. Get out of here with that nonsense.
I know it isn’t Chiasson’s fault the Flames couldn’t score on any of their four opportunities, but my god it’s probably trending towards excessive Chiasson on the man advantage for as long as Brouwer is out, and it’s probably going to be like this the entire time.
Chiasson would make an absolutely fine fourth liner with great hustle and that’s about it. There is nothing wrong with that, except for when you refuse to acknowledge it and overmine the poor guy. Please learn to start adapting instead of trying to fit the square peg in a round hole, my god.
Penalties penalties penalties
The Flames remain the most penalized team in the NHL. Actually, at 12:14 PIM per games played, they’re the only ones north of 12 minutes; Arizona is second at 11:53, and they’re the second worst team in the NHL. It’s a pretty bad look.
The good news? The Flames’ penalty kill is still clicking at 80.7%. They’re the most penalized team in the NHL, but at least they don’t have the worst penalty kill, just the 12th worst. The bad news? That’s still not super great, and it’s evidently going to burn you.
The Flames still needed to do more, though. Not taking a single penalty still leaves this as a 1-1 game. That’s not good enough to win, obviously. It’s good enough to get you a loser point, but in a divisional game like this, winning in regulation is incredibly important, too.
And I agree, the reffing was really not up to par. Ryan Kesler is awful and the officials seriously have to do their jobs when it comes to players like him. There’s being an agitator, and then there’s committing actual infractions and putting players’ health in danger by pulling the nonsense he does. In what world did he play a clean, penalty-free game? Ugh.
But fact was, he kept doing it because it was working. At that point, you have to figure out what your priority is, what want to do. Do you want to make him, specifically, pay (and depending on how far you go, continue to put your team on the penalty kill, get suspended, or like… what, here, exactly), or do you want to put everything you have into ignoring his shenanigans and beating him on the scoreboard? The latter is preferred. Neither really happened.
Can you imagine having to live life as Ryan Kesler? Ugh no wonder he’s so awful
I think we could all use a little pick-me-up after that, so I’ll share my favourite Kesler memory. ‘Member Game 7 in 2011?