Post-Game: Penalties douse Flames against Anaheim

Facing the Anaheim Ducks is always a tall order. They’re a mature, veteran-laden team. They have made several lengthy runs into the playoffs and they just seem to know what buttons to push to make their opponents go nuts and make mistakes. In part due to a bunch of chaos created by Ryan Kesler and in part due to some immaturity on the Flames part, the Ducks were provided with six power plays. They scored twice.

With the Flames missing Dougie Hamilton due to an illness, the locals were already behind the eight-ball in term of matching the Ducks. Their slew of penalties were the primary factor in their 3-1 loss to Anaheim at the Saddledome.

THE RUNDOWN

The home side seemed to embrace playing a road style game in the opening frame, opting to play a dump-and-chase game rather than run and gun with the Ducks. As a result, there were hardly any shots or chances early on. Calgary opened the scoring midway through the period with a familiar combination connecting yet again: Matthew Tkachuk sprung Mikael Backlund on an almost breakaway – he entered the zone and basically engaged in a mini-footrace with a pair of Ducks – but Backlund beat John Gibson to make it 1-0. The Flames and Ducks exchanged late period chances, including a flurry around the Calgary net-front after a Flames power play that somehow resulted in no goal, but nobody else scored. Shots were 13-7 Flames in the opening 20 minutes.

The Ducks evened things up early in the second period. With Mark Giordano in the box, Chad Johnson made the initial save through oodles of traffic but kicked a rebound right to where Antoine Vermette was for the easy goal on a wide-open net. The Flames challenged the goal on the basis that Corey Perry was impeding Johnson’s side-to-side movement – you could see a case for it, but it was a tad weak – but the goal stood.

In case you weren’t aware, fans in attendance on this evening loathed Ryan Kesler to his very core. The Flames killed that penalty off. On a late period Ducks advantage, with Dennis Wideman in the box, Alex Chiasson and Sam Bennett were sprung on a two-on-none:

Shots were 10-8 Anaheim in the second.

The Ducks pressed in the second but the Flames’ dam didn’t quite break. Cracks formed in the third and water started to spurt out, though. Early in the period, Wideman was caught pinching and that left Jyrki Jokipakka to defend a two-on-one rush. Jakob Silfverberg elected to shoot and beat Johnson high to make it 2-1. The Ducks added another goal on the power play, just after the Flames killed off a lengthy five-on-three. The initial shot was stopped but Rickard Rakell dove onto the loose puck and made it 3-1. Calgary pulled their goalie late but couldn’t generate enough. Shots were 11-8 Flames in the third.

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

In my preview, I noted that the Flames needed to stay out of the box. Regardless of the circumstances, they gave Anaheim six man advantages. They scored on two. That’s the game. Obviously teams can’t be pushed around, but they also can’t take too many retaliatory penalties.

In addition, the Flames were missing their best pure defenseman – or at least the one that’s added the most to their lineup this year – and really seemed to struggle generating much off the rush. Once they got down a goal, they really struggled to get much going and it made life easy on Anaheim.

THE TURNING POINT

There are actually two:

  • The missed two-on-zero rush late in the second period could’ve given Calgary a lead going into the third…or at least have given them an offensive zone face-off.
  • The second Anaheim goal, preceded by Wideman over-committing on a pinch and leaving Jokipakka all alone, was a back-breaker tonight.

RED WARRIOR

Backlund is probably not at 100% after the shot block to the knee against Colorado, but he was a warrior for the Flames tonight.

Stick-taps go to T.J. Brodie (27:18 of ice-time), Kris Versteeg, Michael Frolik and Tkachuk. Heck, Johnson was rock-solid after not playing for a good stretch.

THE NUMBERS

(Percentage stats are even strength. Game score is overall. All stats courtesy Natural Stat Trick.)

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Frolik 71.4 71.4 0.650
Backlund 71.4 66.7 1.160
Tkachuk 66.7 66.7 1.290
Engelland 56.5 25.0 1.000
Giordano 52.2 25.0 0.550
Hathaway 50.0 40.0 0.000
Bouma 50.0 50.0 0.055
Stajan 50.0 40.0 0.095
Jokipakka 40.0 100 0.000
Bennett 40.0 71.4 0.115
Wotherspoon 38.5 100 -0.100
Brodie 34.8 83.3 -0.250
Chiasson 33.3 66.7 -0.325
Wideman 32.0 83.3 -0.500
Gaudreau 28.6 77.8 -0.150
Versteeg 26.7 75.0 -0.285
Ferland 25.0 80.0 -0.550
Monahan 16.7 83.3 -0.305
Johnson -0.050

THIS AND THAT

In his post-game press conference, Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan noted that he wouldn’t have used a challenge on the third Anaheim goal had he one available.

Tyler Wotherspoon, told he might be playing this morning, logged 8:28 in the game: 4:36 in the first, 2:04 in the second and 1:48 in the third. He was decent for what he was asked to do and the role he was given.

QUOTABLE

“The frustrating part for me is we approached this as a playoff game and I thought we did some really good things, with lots of guys…I thought it was a great hockey game. Yet there was some cheating going on in our group, a couple players, and that can’t happen. If you’re going to play these type of games, this is a play-off type game, there’s no margin for cheating.” – Gulutzan, on the most frustrating part of the evening’s loss.

“I wouldn’t have called that goalie interference. It’s just a puck bounced right over to the guy with a wide-open net. It’s just one of those plays. I just tried to get over there and got tangled up after, so I wouldn’t expect it to be goalie interference but I think in that situation you want to challenge it and see what happens.” – Flames goaltender Chad Johnson on the coach’s challenge on the first Anaheim goal.

UP NEXT

The Flames (19-17-2) polish off 2016 with one last game at home when they host the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night.

  • The Fall

    Zero – Troy Brower:

    Zero – PP goals for.
    Two – PP goal against.

    Good thing Hathaway was out there: Flame totally won the salary cap battle tonight.

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    My Opinion of why the loss,
    1 More Coasting Than Skating.
    2 Too much passing Not Enough Crashing the Ducks Net.
    3 Reffs Letting the Ducks be A-Holes and penalizing the retaliation BS.
    4 Where was the Ward working, Hard fore-checking Team that Wins? Simply the Flames got out worked.
    5 Have to Shoot High on Gibbons end of story.
    Man I Hate the Quacks esp Kes-slaw and Be-weakska.
    Better Bounce Back game Next.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I have no problem with the effort tonight. Kesler is infuriating and gets away with far too much. This is the first game that I have seen the team stick up for Johnny. However, if Ferland is going to get a penalty for face washing Kesler and likely the same 2 minutes for punching him in the head…make it count.

    Kesler actually tries to hurt star players, went head hunting on Johnny and tried a similar tactic on McDavid in a game against Edmonton. The only player that has left his mark on Kesler is Max Domi’s upper cut.

    The Flames played well enough to win but when you can’t score on your 2 on 0 and the Ducks score on a fortunate 2-1, that can be the difference. I only see one line clicking right now, so I think they need to make some changes.

    • The Fall

      Facewashing Kesler…?! Ferland and Hathaway took two worthless penalties face washing and stick checking Kesler…

      Effective play is isn’t face washing as much as face punching.

  • Lucky 13

    Didn’t help that Kesler did a head hunt on Gaudreau wasn’t penalized.
    I’d be frustrated too if I were the Flames.

    Kudos to Bouma for giving Kesler a stinky glove face wash in the 3rd period.

    I hate the dirty ducks!
    Kesler needs to be given another Domi style knockout!

    Sorry Jumping Jack beat me to this…

  • RKD

    Beaten by special teams after the Backlund goal the Flames could not get the next one. They started looking hapless and helpless offensively. Where are our big guns?

  • calgaryfan

    Are the coaches told they have to play Wideman? I can not think of any other reason a coach would play him.
    Where was Monahan tonight? Physical game he should be involved!

    • Arminius

      Did you expect him to be involved physically? I can’t recall a single big hit he’s ever thrown. Not his style..sure he’s got the size and it’d be nice but I’d never expect it. The list of big bodies who don’t play big is long..

    • Lucky 13

      That’s funny stuff!

      “If a man paint stripes on a toad he does not become a tiger”
      Reference to your above named players

      A man thanks a man for a laugh

  • BlueMoonNigel

    All I am reading in the above over and over is yet another reason why the Flames need to bring back Ernie or one of his ilk. Clearly, the current group is incapable of protecting its own and , as also referenced above, the refereeing conspiracy against the Flames continues, so they cannot expect a fair hand from the refs. This means the Flames need to be more proactive and deliberate to ensure the health and safety and well-being of its on-ice staff.

    Why was the red hot Elliott sat in favour of the ice cold Johnson?

    Two-man breakaway and no goal. That is simply not good enough. You have to bury chance like that.

    If the team doesn’t get at least 9 out of 10 points in its next five games, the team should prepare to become sellers at the deadline.

  • Flaymin Frank

    Arghh. Had to watch the Oil live last nite. Family commitment. Wasn’t all bad as we need the Kings to fail.

    That new rink Roger’s Place – I hope Calgary takes some notes when they build theirs. Don’t make the same mistakes. For starters, you need legs like an Olympic hurdler if you want to walk the stairs up to the upper bowl. Or wait in line 10 minutes to take the world’s slowest escalator. And the fan vibe is very muted. No wonder the players have nicknamed this place The Library. A billion dollars can’t buy atmosphere like it used to.

    We’re still in the hunt. No time to panic – let’s play some good basics for the next month or two.

    Who was GG referring to when he talked about some players taking shortcuts?

  • Burnward

    Missed this one last night. Running through the stats, looked like it was pretty even sans Gibson outplaying Johnson.

    Were they there 5v5 with the PP for Anaheim the difference? Or was it big, bad Anaheim running our show again?

  • snotss

    poor effort overall….big game and that’s the effort the flames put forward….not near good enough.from questionable goaltending{Elliot?}…two on nothing equals nothing????how do you!!!! blow a two on nothing at such a critical point of the game!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the reffs were same as every other game this year a lot of puzzling calls all against Calgary hmmmmmm no wideman effect here!!! Bennett is always in the box taking another stupid penalty he’s seems to have lost his game he should be much better..bad pick at #4??????? or to early tell