It isn’t this loss that stings – it’s the other ones.
The Flames played well enough to win. They were the better team overall, even when they were the ones not rested. They responded from the pathetic failure that had been their game against the Devils, just as they responded against the Sharks after the Jets disaster.
And they got a point out of it. Which, fine, whatever; that’s all well and good. Though they’re ninth in the West in points percentage, which is just out of a playoff spot, and as things stand they may be the most likely ones in the conference to just miss the dance.
Which is why you show up for every game. And why those two losses earlier in the week sting more. Because if the Flames had played this well against them, they probably would have won.
In the seven games the Flames have played in the first half of January, they have scored 14 times. Take away that first game against the Avalanche – who are, like, Oilers of yesteryear levels of bad – and that’s 10 goals in six games.
That’s really not good at all. That’s not enough to win you games, as we’ve been seeing lately. Go for even more recency, and this past week they scored five goals in four games – with three of them coming in the one win they got.
It’s over halfway through the season, and the Flames still do not have anyone on their roster who has scored 30 points. Fifty-nine players in the league have hit that marker by now. Calgary is one of six teams that does not have a 30-point scorer this far into the season, joining the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, and New Jersey Devils. Any guesses where those teams are in the standings?
It’s not as if all hope is lost, though – they have scored 2.56 goals per game this season, which is 19th in the league. But they’re going through a major dry spell right now, and it’s killing them.
Both goalies were fantastic
That said, Cam Talbot had a good game. And how many posts did the Flames hit last night?
Then again, Brian Elliott was really good, too.
There can be some debate as to who to start, particularly when Chad Johnson is Chad Johnsoning again. But in the case of a back-to-back, it’s better to play it safe, and Glen Gulutzan played it safe.
Elliott rewarded him for it, big time. He stopped 26 of 27 shots for a .963 save percentage. The one that got past him was a powerplay goal that was as much Dennis Wideman’s fault as anyone’s. Elliott definitely deserved a better fate – and before anyone complains about the shootout, let’s recall that that the Oilers outshot the Flames 6-0 in overtime, so they don’t even get that chance without Elliott.
There’s only so much he can work with when his team won’t score for him. That goes for Johnson, too. The Flames, at their current feeble level of offensive production, are asking their goaltenders to be perfect for them, and that’s not going to win you many games.
Talbot stole a win, but towards the end, Elliott stole a point.
Johnny Gaudreau is broken
Johnny Gaudreau gets on a two-on-one. You see who he’s with. Oh, it’s Alex Chiasson. You make a joke about how of course he held onto the puck, only to run out of real estate anyway, because it was Chiasson and what was Chiasson going to do? I definitely made this joke.
But then I also thought, um, who would have to be on a two-on-one with Gaudreau in order for him to even consider passing it to begin with? Sean Monahan, maybe, and only because they’re best friends?
Gaudreau tried to be a one-man machine during overtime. It did not work. Gaudreau would enter the zone and try to score it his own dang self. It would not work. And even when it comes to individuality where he’s supposed to keep the puck – the shootout – he was still terrible, because every single time he goes in slow, overhandles it, and gives the goalie more than enough time to prepare for a gentle fivehole save. (Gaudreau needs to stop being used in shootouts; he does that literally every time and it literally never works.)
Gaudreau is flat out refusing to use his linemates. Or any of his teammates, for that matter. He’s probably frustrated – throw out the contract talk; this is someone who’s been elite offensively at pretty much every level he’s played, including the NHL, and he can’t get anything going for him this season – and his apparent solution to work his way out of it is to ignore everyone else and pretend like he can dance through everyone.
He literally skated into Matt Benning at one point. Just skated into him while carrying the puck through the offensive zone. What the hell is that going to accomplish?
Sam Bennett looked better last night; Gaudreau didn’t use him. Gaudreau isn’t using anybody. Gaudreau needs to use his teammates.
I don’t know what fixes this. It’s not like you can blame a broken finger on refusing to acknowledge anyone wearing the same jersey. Maybe some intense one-on-one sessions with him, breaking down video. Maybe swapping Chiasson for Kris Versteeg, or something. But he’s hurting himself at this point – and considering how he’s the offensive heartbeat of his team, and his team isn’t scoring lately, he’s hurting his team, too.
The Flames don’t play again until Tuesday. Just… somebody work on this with him. Because until this gets sorted out, we all suffer, and Gaudreau probably tries even harder to do it all on his own.
Fine let’s talk about that guy
Hahaha I’m sorry I get it was an away game but what the hell is Garnet Hathaway doing being the forward that saw the most of Connor McDavid.
I mean, okay. Let’s be fair. Hathaway somehow held McDavid to zero shot attempts. Over five and a half minutes of ice time. Like, that Hathaway. Maybe McDavid is actually, like, really bad at hockey?
That said, just because it worked out this time does not mean I would expect it to work out ever again. Todd McLellan was very much linematching here; look at how he did his best to keep McDavid away from the 3M line. They got him shook, and for good reason.
But just like… what.
Esso Minor Hockey Week wrapped up
Sometimes, watching the Flames can make you wonder why the hell you bother with this stupid sport. Maybe not last night’s game, but the ones earlier in the week? Like… what even was that?
But there really is something so pure and wholesome about Esso Minor Hockey Week. Here are a ton of kids of all ages across the entire city playing a marathon tournament. Harnaryan Singh opened the tournament; Joe McFarland closed it, and both were delighted to be a part of it. Gold medals galore to all be handed out on the last day. Celebrate every goal like it’s your last, fistbumps for your goalie, gloves and sticks go flying when you finally get that win before you have to pick them up to salute your parents for helping you get there to begin with.
Watching kids go at it against each other is a blast. Sure, there are sometimes tears and heartbreak to go along with it – the morning game at Winsport was a 7-1 win; some games end in shootouts when you were that close only to have gold snatched away from you in that one moment – but there’s always a sense of unbridled joy and intense camaraderie throughout the entire thing. Everyone stick taps for each other, and your coaches will always be there to pick you up if it hurt too much.
A chinook is coming in, so a cold week ended on a day with lovely weather (gross roads aside). It was a great way to end a great week. The @HockeyCalgary twitter feed has literally everything you need to remind you why this game is the best.