Post-Game: Nightmare on Olympic Way

On Saturday night, the Calgary Flames will play one of the most important games of their season when they face the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place. On Friday night, they first had to play the New Jersey Devils – who faced Edmonton on Thursday night. On a Friday the 13th that featured a full moon, the Flames were spookily bad for the first 20 minutes of the game and not particularly strong through the duration of it. They dropped a winnable game to one of the worst teams in the National Hockey League, the Devils, by a 2-1 score.

For a team needing all the points it can muster in an incredibly tight Western Conference playoff race, this was a nightmare scenario.

THE RUNDOWN

In the preview for tonight’s game, I expressed some concerns that the local sports team would look past tonight’s game with the Devils and suffer the consequences. They sure looked like they weren’t mentally engaged in this game early-on, as they failed to execute simple passing plays with regularity in the first. This was particularly evident on two early power plays, which combined saw the Flames hit the net twice.

The Devils opened the scoring off the rush shortly after the first failed Flames PP; Kyle Palmieri led the way on an odd-man rush. Dougie Hamilton played the pass, so Palmieri shot and beat Chad Johnson short-side to make it 1-0. Shortly after the second failed Flames power play, which saw Michael Frolik take a penalty at the tail end, the Devils doubled their lead. The Flames had some major lapses in coverage, leaving Calgary native Taylor Hall all by his lonesome by the face-off circle. He calmly walked in and beat Johnson top corner to make it 2-0. Shots were 14-7 in the first in favour of the Devils, the team that played the previous night.

The Flames weren’t great in the second, but they were a lot better than in the first. They still couldn’t quite take hold of the game but they were better at handling the puck and making decent decisions with it. They finally broke through with six minutes remaining in the second. After a few shifts of decent pressure, they managed to corral the puck in the offensive zone after their initial rush into the zone was broken up by New Jersey. Dougie Hamilton made a simple slap shot from the half-boards that handcuffed Keith Kincaid, and Sean Monahan strolled past the defenders and tucked the loose puck into the open net to make it 2-1. Shots were 17-12 Flames in the second.

The Devils were in “defend the lead” mode in the final frame of regulation, and the Flames honestly didn’t do too much to make their lives that difficult. They pulled Johnson late for the extra attacker, but just couldn’t generate enough – even 6 on 5 – to make the effort worthwhile. Shots were 10-8 Devils in the third.

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

To be blunt? They were bad in the first period. They came out flat in the opening period, dug themselves a hole, and they weren’t good enough to dig themselves out of it. The Devils were better at even strength, were better on the power play than Calgary’s penalty kill, and their penalty kill was effective enough to shut down Calgary’s power play.

Whether it was the Flames overlooking their opposition or them playing down to their opposition, the Flames weren’t crisp, they weren’t energetic, and they really seemed like a team that was out of sync.

THE TURNING POINT

The second goal was a back-breaker. Coming on the heels of a Flames power play that didn’t really amount to very much, the coverage never quite seemed set up and Hall was left unaccosted as he strolled towards the net and calmly beat Johnson to make the game 2-0. The Flames clawed back from there, but never quite got all the way back.

RED WARRIOR

Johnson was busy tonight and aside from perhaps wanting that first goal back, he was really sharp. He ended up making 34 saves overall and was seemingly the most dialed-in Flame on the night.

Heck, he might’ve been the only one.

THE NUMBERS

(Percentage stats are even strength. Game score is overall. Stats via Natural Stat Trick.)

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Bouma 58.3 50.0 0.325
Versteeg 53.9 71.4 1.000
Stajan 53.9 40.0 -0.100
Monahan 53.9 44.4 1.350
Brouwer 51.9 42.9 0.210
Hamilton 51.2 41.7 0.950
Hathaway 50.0 33.3 0.140
Brodie 50.0 50.0 0.050
Backlund 48.5 40.0 0.280
Giordano 46.9 46.2 0.125
Frolik 46.9 33.3 0.075
Tkachuk 46.7 25.0 -0.025
Wideman 43.8 50.0 -0.050
Gaudreau 43.6 66.7 -0.250
Jokipakka 42.9 60.0 0.000
Bennett 41.9 87.5 0.210
Chiasson 41.7 62.5 -0.265
Engelland 38.5 60.0 -0.175
Johnson 1.900

THIS AND THAT

A dramatic reenactment of fan reaction to the first half of this game:

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QUOTABLE

“It was a pitiful start for us. I thought they came out really strong. They executed. We made two mistakes. We made a mistake on the penalty kill and we made a mistake on a pinch on the first goal. Other than that, we were out-battled the whole time. We lose battle after battle. When you’re not ready to play, that’s what happens.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on his team’s performance.

“I think we just came out flat in the first period. They played their game to a T: they got pucks deep, forechecked hard, used their speed and we didn’t match it in the first. I think as the game went on we started to a little bit, but still not enough.” – Flames defenseman Deryk Engelland on his club’s start.

UP NEXT

The Flames (23-20-2) immediately pack up their gear and head up Highway 2. They’ll be meeting the Edmonton Oilers tomorrow night at Rogers Place in the late game on Hockey Night In Canada.

  • CalgaryCandle

    Another game like the one in Winnipeg of playing down to the opponent. Even the 3M line was not particularly dangerous tonight.

    Wideman and Jokki were continually pushed off the puck or lost the footraces. Jokki is far too easily pressured. It seems to me an absolute priority for Tre in the off-season is to get a DEFENSIVE DEFENCEMAN. I don’t think there is one in the system.

    Glad Monahan scored. Bennett at least contributes on the PK. I’m worried that opposing coaches have figured out how to defend Gaudreau–at least to a degree.

    Not sure how the Flames develop consistency–world beaters against SJ–sleepwalking through Winnipeg and NJ. It’s mid-season. Why aren’t they prepared to come out stronger. Questions about GG are starting to resurface in my mind.

    GFG!

  • calgaryfan

    This is not a good hockey team. The highest paid players are not their best players. Monahan and Gaudreau are lost, Gio pinching and giving the puck away almost every game. Treliving has a lot of work to do before this team is a contender. Gulutzan is not the problem, they are lacking talent! They need a top 4 NHL defenceman, a real NHL center and right winger so Monahan and Bennett move down the lineup.

    • HockeyRulz

      Gaudreau needs a big aggressive banging PF on his line. Hell with his skill even two big players. The guy is magic, he just needs some big bodies that can finish, play hard and make room. Add that and I bet the flames improve huge.

        • HockeyRulz

          Yeah maybe, again I don’t watch the Flames games too often, my comment was just in general. He’s a little guy, so giving him some big tough size of that kind would maybe allow him to be more freedom.

          Example is on the last game against the oilers, he elbowed Larrson, they exchanged a few words, and then about 15 seconds later Geudreau had the puck going up the boards and Larsson drop him with a hard hit. No one even approach Larsson after. Nothing. Clean hit or not someone should return the favor. But nothing. If I was the flames I would look to stop those kinds of hits. He’s your star player.

  • DeadRedRedemption

    It’s hard to be patient.

    I want to suggest change.

    I want to say if we’re stuck with GG for three more years, then this is not the group of players that will work within his system.

    I want to say start putting our million dollar men on the trading block and find someone who can play this system.

    Then I remember that this summer a whole truckload of baggage finally will be gone.

    That is the time to bring some players that can play GG’s system.

    That will be the time to bring in a good 4th defenceman to bail out whoever ends up on the second pairing.

    That will be the time to bring in a top 6 RW to help our struggling stars.

    WE ARE WHO WE THOUGHT WE’D BE. A middle of the pack team, struggling to make the playoffs.

    Too bad about Elliot, but Chad’s been a nice surprise. It physically hurts to be chasing the oilers, but it’s one year in… 10?

    Next year is the start of our run, this year we’re still rebuilding.

    Still hate GG, but I can see where the team is going.

    GFG.

    • HockeyRulz

      I don’t watch Calgary games, but from stats, you guys are missing size. I mean like three big players that play hard and bang bodies all night long.

      For 8 years I watched the oilers get beat up night in and night out. In the NHL You need size (size that plays hard).

      If I had Gaudreau on my team I would have him with at least one player that can play hard and protect him from every player that even thought of slashing his hands, and to bang on those D who are playing against Gaudreau. The guy would have to have some speed too. Get two players like that but this one has some hands and you’ve got a completely different team.

      But as far as the backend… I’m not sure what’s missing cause I don’t watch the games.

      I’m looking forward to this BOA! It’s gonna be tight. Flames coming from a lost they should of had, and two down in the series… It’s gonna be crazy! I see them coming out hard right out of the gate.

    • Armchair genius

      Make the playoffs once in 10 years and that makes the Flames a contender?? Even that appearance was a fluke, get some real management and strip it down! Maybe you guys can get a solid defensive defenceman for JG this summer, he isn’t worth any more than that, if even that much.

      I can’t wait to read the whining tomorrow night after the Phlems lose for the 3rd time this year to the OIL!! GOG!

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Too many disappointing games against beatable teams and not enough fight against good teams. For that reason, I decided to sit this one out and go to a movie.

    I PVRd it in case I was lucky enough to Make it through the evening without hearing the score. After watching the game at regular speed I decided to fast forward and based on what I am hearing this was the right way to watch the game.

    I have not seen too many games where the team falls behind by two goals and fights back. The big difference is the game took me 5 minutes to watch greatly limiting my disappointment. Of course, I expect to watch the BOA tomorrow in real time.

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    This Jekyll and Hyde Routine is getting old! C’mon Flames! Do you want to win or Meh?(sorry to say it but even a Lame loser point would be pretty good right about now).
    GG has been right about most of his concerns and criticism of this teams efforts as well as his pointing out the(obvious)failings of his team… So why can’t he fix it? GG has been a pretty successful asst coach in other organizations, most likely working with the bottom 6 and you can definitely see the improvement among the Flames bottom 6… But does he Know how to work, coach, teach, train & pull together successful top 6 players(including line combinations and evaluating players chemistry,(not just LHS-C-RHS)? I believe this is the question that needs to be seriously looked at and addressed PDFQ!
    This Team Also has a big problem with either being properly prepared for win-able games or just an embarrassing general lack of enthusiasm and the lost importance of Every game at hand, to me that also falls on the coaching staff! After games like this I believe its easy to project that This current team and coaching staff are not going to make any noise in the playoffs… if the get there! the Flames right now are in the worst situation to be stuck in neutral… Too good to get a good Draft position and not good enough to get in or do anything in the playoffs! Just Sucks! Rant Over… Have a good one! Please try and put in a good effort tomorrow night Flames! Thanks! *sigh*

    • HockeyRulz

      I don’t know why so many people think of it as loser points.
      There is two points handed out during a regulation match. If both teams are tied by the end of the regulation match the points are split. How is that a loser point? This has been going on in the NHL forever!

      • DeadRedRedemption

        Depends what your perspective is…

        Yes, a game was worth two points back in the day when ties existed. Coming from the past it (sorta) makes sense.

        Taking a snap shot of today, there are no ties. Someone always loses. And the loser gets a point, a “Loser point”. 3 point game.

        So what’s the value of a game? 2 or 3 points?

        Edit:. Gah… I think I got trolled. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        • HockeyRulz

          Well even with ties in regulation, the OT only ever got you an extra point. They always just gave an extra point to the winner if there was a winner. (Can’t have a tie because that’s just too boring ?)

          Personally I wish they dropped the hole OT thing. And the shootout. I hate that they decided who is a better team by a one on one match. But I know I’m pretty alone in that department.

          • DeadRedRedemption

            Actually, I wish they’d go back to ties. It made more sense than the talent competition of today.

            So, your saying the game is worth 2 points and the talent show is worth one?

            Ugh… Not sure I like that any better.

            Maybe the KHL point system works better?

          • HockeyRulz

            talent competition… Yeah great wording.? that’s exactly it. And don’t like the three on three either. Because now it’s like the game pretty much ended for me after regulation.( Just seems not right, not real hockey… More like pond hockey)

            I would rather have a tie as a tie. And instead of waisting time changing the system on points, find a way where the refs can make all the calls against the stars who are getting beat on or hanged on.
            They remove power from the enforcers yet let the stars get injured. I personally don’t get it. I know Mcdavid goes through ridiculous stuff and it sound like it’s the same for Geudreau.

            The league needs to protect their stars.

          • DeadRedRedemption

            “find a way where the refs can make all the calls against the stars who are getting beat on or hanged on.”

            Ugh, drives me crazy. At least we can pretend it’s the Wideman Effect some of the time when Gaudreau gets hacked.

            Seems like a problem league wide including McDavid. Two questions:

            Does having Looch around help?

            Was the hit on McDavid last year intentional ?

          • HockeyRulz

            Yup looch helps for sure. There have been plenty moments where he “calms” down the game.
            But I think the biggest difference is having a guy like looch on each line.

            Kassian, Looch, and Maroon.

            I truly think the big success of the oilers is from those big three because the other skilled players have more freedom in the ice.

            Mcdavid doesn’t get hacked now players just grab and hold him. There was a game where Erik Karlsson looked like he was trying to get a piggy back ride from Mcdavid with no call.

            But yes if the flames got some guys like that you would see the hacks go away and the holding would take off! Lol but holding is better than hacks.

          • DeadRedRedemption

            Awesome talking hockey with you…

            Maybe I’ll check out ON tomorrow for fun. (After the Flames win ?)

            I got to get some sleep.

            Have a good one!

            GFG!

            Oh, and tough luck on that whole Steve Smith goal thing. Hahahahaha! ?

          • Blackgold

            Yes having Looch, Maroon, Drai and Kassian helps give space. Also Larsson, Nurse and Gryba on the D helps. The hacking, holding and hooking of all the stars on all teams is just taking away from the game. The increased size on the Oilers is one of reasons for their improvement, that and McDavid. The hit last year on McDavid, according to McDavid was intentional. A shove of a player going down into the boards is not accidental. His falling to the ice wasn’t intentional, it was the push while he was going down that was. The whole league suffers when the stars aren’t playing. We don’t pay big bucks to see the 4th line players.

          • DeadRedRedemption

            I think the issue, other than it was a bad idea from the start, is knowledgeable fans know the history of the game and see a game as worth 2 points and the tie breaker as 1 point. Two separate things. And their right. The history of the game suggests that.

            The newer or more casual fan see it as a game that is somehow worth either 2 or 3 points depending on the situation. And it doesn’t make sense. And their right too.

            I think you have to standardize what a game is worth. 2 or 3 not both.

            I can live with a 60 min +5 min OT for a 2 point game. Or the KHL system for or three point game. Or even a drinking competition for 7 points after the game is over, as long as all the games have the same value.

            When games within the same league are worth different values it hurts my brain and drives me to drink.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    It is time to break up all the lines in the spirit of finding some offence.
    I have never seen Johnny go this long without a point. I would like to see him moved on with Backland and Frolik.

    Another option is to put him and Monny with Tkachuk. Tkachuk makes sure players on his line are involved and not passengers and that appears to be what they need.

  • RKD

    Can’t believe we lost to the lowly Devils, I’m so tired of hearing Jokipakka, Engelland and Wideman really struggled tonight. Jokipakka should be a lot better. The Flames need two points and they come out listless. There’s a leadership problem when the top guys aren’t motivated. No one cares, NJ cares and that’s why they won. They wanted it more than Calgary.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Don’t be sad you could have drafted him but you took pool party instead…. And the good newis he got a point in an AHL game tonight. A few more of those and he will be ……oh wait that is the AHL. Well at least you have Kassian.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Flames were guilty of doing what every little Christian boy knows: never look past the Devil. A team-bonding session at a Christian retreat is exactly what the Flame players and coaches need at this time.