Post-Game: That’s so retro

It was Retro Night down at the Scotiabank Saddledome tonight. The Calgary Flames wore retro uniforms. They had retro graphics. They even brought back their old in-game announcer Russ Peake for an authentic old-timey feel.

They unfortunately even got a retro result, getting clobbered by the Edmonton Oilers by a 7-3 score to allow the Oilers to sweep the Battle of Alberta season series for the first time in over a decade. In arguably the Flames’ biggest game of the season – and a game they needed to have in order to keep pace in the playoff race with the teams chasing them – they fell utterly, embarrassingly flat.

THE RUNDOWN

For a team that talked about lacking oomph to their starts and needing to find desperation after their stinker against Nashville, the Flames sure did come out of the starting blocks rather flat again. Unfortunately for them, the Oilers are a bit more offensively potent than Nashville was on Thursday. The Oilers scored three goals in the first 5:58 of this game.

Anton Slepyshev opened the scoring on the Oilers’ second shot of the game off a scrambly face-off loss by the Flames. Slepshev’s shot beat Johnson through the legs to make it 1-0. The Flames had a few chances in the Oilers end, but two goals in 36 seconds ended Johnson’s night. Edmonton’s third shot of the game turned into a goal by a result of shot shoddy defensive coverage, with Dennis Wideman and T.J. Brodie chasing players around in their end and leaving Mark Letestu wide open for a nice pass and tap-in. Jordan Eberle beat Johnson short-side on his glove side off the rush (on Edmonton’s fourth shot) to make it 3-0.

Shots were 13-8 for the Flames, but they didn’t have many dangerous scoring chances.

The carnage continued in the second period. After a Flames power play that didn’t look too great, the Oilers got Connor McDavid out against Calgary’s fourth line. It ended as you would expect it would, with a wrister from the high slot to make it 4-0. The Oilers made it 5-0 later in the period off another defensive lapse by the Wideman and Brodie pairing, leaving Matt Benning wide-open to make a nice slap-pass to Jordan Eberle for a nice tip-in goal.

The Flames broke Laurent Brossoit’s shutout bid on the power play, as Matthew Tkachuk tipped a Dougie Hamilton point shot in to make it 5-1. But Tkachuk took a minor on the very next shift and Oscar Klefbom scored on a point shot through traffic to make it 6-1. Shots were 16-15 Flames in the second. Yes, even with score effects rearing their head throughout the entire period.

The Flames scored an early shorthanded goal to improve the score slightly, as Sean Monahan stole the puck in the neutral zone and beat Brossoit with a wrister to make it 6-2. Lance Bouma tipped in a Brodie point shot to make it 6-3 late, but Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored on an empty net late to make it 7-3 and finish the Flames off.

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

The key to the majority of Calgary’s victories this season has been the play of Johnson. When he’s been in, he’s generally been good enough. Not great, but good enough to give them a chance. He was bad early and the Flames never, ever recovered.

That’s not to say that he was the only reason they lost tonight. 14 of the team’s 18 skaters (and both of their goalies) were on the ice for goals against tonight and when you break down the goals against, four of the five even strength goals against were direct results of defensive breakdowns. But they needed saves to keep them afloat early. Johnson wasn’t able to get them against Florida. He wasn’t able to get them against Nashville. He wasn’t able to get them tonight.

THE TURNING POINT

The Flames were reeling and already down a pair in the first period when Johnson gave up one he probably needed to have, as Eberle beat him short-side on the rush. The Oilers were up 3-0 and just went into cruise control afterwards.

RED WARRIOR

Can I go with “nobody?” I’m going with nobody. Nobody was very good tonight.

THE NUMBERS

In the spirit of the Flames’ play tonight (especially the opening six minutes), I’ve decided not to go through the work of posting these. Besides, considering the score they were meaningless, anyway.

Instead, here’s which players were on the ice for how many goals against:

  • 4: Bouma, Stajan
  • 3: Johnson, Elliott, Wideman, Engelland, Ferland, Brodie
  • 2: Jokipakka
  • 1: Chiasson, Gaudreau, Versteeg, Bennett, Monahan, Brouwer, Giordano
  • 0: Hamilton, Tkachuk, Frolik, Backlund

The Oilers did score an empty-netter and a power play goal, but yeesh.

    THIS AND THAT

    Tkachuk was given a 10 minute misconduct after a scrum late in the second period that involved him engaging with McDavid. Given Tkachuk’s, uh, pugnacious nature, it was probably in everyone’s best interests to give him a chance to cool off a bit.

    It’s just the third time ever the Flames have failed to get a win in the Battle of Alberta and the first time ever that they’ve lost every single game. In 1983-84 they had seven losses and a tie. In 2000-01 they had four losses and a tie.

    QUOTABLE

    Some choice excerpts from Glen Gulutzan’s post-game press conference:

    “I don’t even know where to start… I think we’ve gotta re-look at everything. How we play without a lead is probably maybe the top thing on the list.” – on what tops the concerns list after this loss.

    “I actually have no explanation for what our D were doing on the third goal. It was a complete mistake.” – on what happened on the third goal, after he recounted over-skating the puck after a face-off loss on the first Oilers goal and a defensive lapse leading to a nice pass on the second Oilers goal.

    “It’s embarrassing. I don’t talk to the guys after the game, win or lose. I talk to them the next day. Certainly the coaches’ room, emotions are high, and it’s embarrassing. Our resolve to stick to it wasn’t there.” – on the team’s reaction to the loss.

    UP NEXT

    The Flames (24-22-3) have a travel day tomorrow, as they jet off to scenic Toronto to kick off a three game road trip. Life doesn’t get easier for the local sports club, as they play three games in four nights in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa beginning on Monday evening.

    Wish them luck.

    In brighter news: the Calgary Inferno are playing on national television tomorrow! They play at 10:30 a.m. on Sportsnet West. Check it out and should you enjoy the game, please bug Sportsnet via the social media available to you so they have more games on television.

    • MarbledBlueCheese

      I have a sinking feeling that management is really feeling an itch to get bigger right now at all costs.

      I didn’t see a team lose because of size; I saw them lose because of a skill deficit and some lack of passion or confidence. Unfortunately, I fear that isn’t how the brass sees it.

      Worst case scenario could include someone like Engelland extended at $$$ because ‘intangibles.’

    • Gfountyyc

      This is the first time I’ve ever actually been embarrassed to cheer for the flames in 28 years. I don’t care if we don’t make the playoffs or if our procession stats aren’t great.
      We got sweep by the oilers. It makes me want to puke

    • Skeittari78

      Gaudreau gave up the puck 6 times. I counted. All his (5) shots were easy to stop or he missed the net by a mile. Hamilton was almost equally bad with the puck. Jokipakka was plain horrible. Worst I’ve seen him so far. Frolik had a ton of changes but couldn’t deliver. When Brodie has the puck, I used to lean back and watch what happens. Now he causes me hair loss every other shift. A lot of people keep on blaming Wideman but he’s not the only reason to Brodie’s struggles.

    • #97TRAIN

      Maybe now you will realize that unless you are Chicago you have to have size to go along with skill in this league.

      Even Pittsburgh’s top guys like Crosby and Malkin are big strong guys. Chiarelli has come to the Oilers and made them a team which is hard to play against and he has done it in 18 months.

      McDavid is great but he only plays 20 minutes a night.

    • X Man

      I miss Hartley… Warts and all…

      GG is alright, a good intellectual and possession coach, but he just doesn’t come across as an NHL caliber coach… He doesn’t seem to command the players respect…

      If I were MGT. I’d be looking at other coaching (and goalie) options, to begin with… It would be smart to have a new coach in place once the season is a write off, to experiment and learn systems and whatnot before next season…

      I think we are starting to see why Elliot and Johnson are both (really good) career backups…

      …What the hell is wrong with Johnny?… He was one of the best players at the world cup… And now…!?!

      • jakethesnail

        The Flames were known as a team that was hard to play against under Hartley. Under Bruce Boudreau, the Wild are known as a team that is hard to play against. Tell me why BT went outside the box and hired the “cerebral” GG instead of Boudreau.

        When your best players are not your best players – the system is the problem…

        Always earned, never given. Chiasson?

        • BlueMoonNigel

          Boudreau had zero interest in coming to Calgary. He also had no lack of suitors last offseason, so he was in a position to choose his spot, and Calgary was not even in the running. Smart man as with Minnesota he is in the running for Coach of the Year and playoff dough. With Calgary, he could be singing lullabies to Johnny every game night. Wild!

          Always earned and never given was Hartley’s mantra. It went out the door when he did. Still not sure what GG’s mantra is.

          • Trevy

            I’ve been preaching this for a while now and agree that Boudreau had no intention of coming to Calgary. I’m not sure if that’s what swayed BT to look outside the box, but he took a shot with his old buddy GG.

            Let’s now face facts, it isn’t working. The players are either not grasping the system or tuned him out and as I mentioned before, GG is hardly the intimidating type to show these players he’s the boss.

            The ball is now in BT ‘s court. I highly doubt GG is going to be the victim of this declining, disappointing season, although Gallant would be a nice fit. Therefore, hard decisions have to be made regarding the players. Too many inconsistent passengers to list, defense that looks lost, unenthusiastic and no grit save for Engelland. Chiasson is NOT the answer to a top winger, a revamped bottom six and a clear #1 goaltender. The lack of physical play is equally disturbing. Ferland lost his mojo yet again and if not for Hathaway, we have no one. Bouma is playing like he knows he’s going to be traded.

            With expansion looming and the difficulty of making a trade this season, don’t expect much in changes. A few more losses will seal the fate of this season and we will become sellers. In the off season, BT will have his work cut out for him, provided he’s still around ( contract expires at the end of this season). I would start by first signing Alzner, resign Engelland at a reduced contract and bring in Kulak. Too much to list after that. Good luck Brad!

            • BlueMoonNigel

              Head coaches who can’t intimidate their players themselves, have assistants to do that for them. Cameron is like the nagging girlfriend/wife, while Paul can bench press or box the ears of any wayward Flame. The intimidation factor is why a lot of ex-goons become assistant coaches. How many players are going to tell the head coach to blow it out his bagpipes if an assistant like Timmy Hunter or Paul Baxter is glaring at them?

              On another note, it seems EF created a buzz on FN last night by mentioning Tre not having a contract beyond this season. One has to seriously wonder if Tre’s replacement is already in the fold, the man whom I called the Flames’ biggest acquisition last offseason: Dave Maloney.

    • RedMan

      Gaudreau has had very little razzle, and virtually no dazzle this year. He better get ahold of the emperor quickly to find out how to get his groove back!

      i wrote this season off after the first 15 games, but was tricked into thinking they might have turned it around. there is no way this team makes the playoffs this year.

      is it the coaching? something killed this team.

      • HockeyRulz

        I can take a jab at it. Cause they are wimps!
        let me ask you something. When the Wild (I think it was) broke Gaudreau’s hand, has the flames done or did they do anything to show the rest of the NHL they will not tolerate that type of play on their star players? Personally I don’t actually know the answer but from last nights game I am guessing not. (correct me if I am wrong with a reply with what they did)
        They need to get toughness to support their star players.
        No team is scared of the flames. All night long the Oilers pushed around and the flames had no response.

        • FlamesFan27

          I’m a Flames fan living in Edmonton. I have heard this for years on Oilers sports radio, where the Oiler’s never pushed back. Now they do. This is something the Flames are really lacking.

    • freethe flames

      I have said this for a long time we are not good enough upfront. The Flames are 2 or 3 top nine forwards short of being a good team and that is with everyone going; if one of the top 9 is struggling we are even in more trouble.

      At the start of the year the overall consensus of Flames fans on this website was that the Backlund line was our 3rd line; yet most nights it been our best line. That in in self tells you something is wrong.

      There is lots of blame to go around. First lets start with the players; it’s their job to show up and play no matter what the situation is and quite frankly there has not been enough of that form many of the stars on this team.

      The coaching staff. GG was hired by BT with BB blessings to bring a style of hockey that BT and BB believe will lead to winning. He has attempted to implement this w/o having the personal to do this. His system does not fit the players he has available and I believe that some of them have turned him off already. They also don’t have enough talent to spread through out the line up and he does not have legitimate line mates to play with his stars.

      Management. It’s BT job to improve the talent pool on this team and he has done nothing at all during the season to address this. His big signing of the off season has been to be nice less than expected. Brouwer was brought in to add leadership(?), skill and offence(?) and some grit to the top 9 and frankly I have not seen enough of any of these from him and especially at his price point. We believed that BT had addressed the goalie issue but other than a short stretch by Chad J they have not been a significant upgrade from lasts years trio.

      Yet despite all this they remain a playoff bubble team. Time for management to decide if making the playoffs is the goal or time to significantly change the make up of this team.

    • Looch#27

      As an oiler fan I can offer you this, rebuilds are super tricky, poor management is worse then porous defence,hiring hotshot inexperienced coaches is not a great idea. Burke is your Klowe the man is a complete egotistical manic who has done zero in the NHL on his own merit. Trevling seems smarter then MacT but that coaching hire says otherwise I think you’ve got some sweet pieces to the puzzle you just need a management group that knows how to build a team. Sure Larrson for Hall looked bad on paper but ask Johnny g if he’d rather play vs Hall or Larrson. Edmonton is for real guys it’s taken a lot of pain and firing of former star players but we’re for real!

      • freethe flames

        Your GM had to make a tough choice and he did and it seems to be paying off. The question is will BT make the tough choices? Will he make a real hockey trade and be prepared for the fall out.

      • T&A4Flames

        I Tim no you’re trying to help but seriously, you guys were garbage for over a decade. Like, the worst. Don’t come in here and tell us about how management helps make it better. You got gifted yet another 1st overall and this one turned out to be a generational talent. That’s what brought all your crap together, including getting a GM that put the helpful pieces together.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I wonder if Johnny could have a do-over on his contract negotiations over the summer…..would he take it. This season has been a write off for him all because of this lengthy contract battle. He left last season as one of the elite players in the league and adored by Flames fans. I could be wrong, but I think he has recorded one point since he was selected to the All star team while Backland has been on fire.

    • deantheraven

      Johnson and Elliot are both high quality ‘keepers. Sure everyone goes through rough patches, but maybe that’s where your Coaches should be putting in a little OT,working on technical issues,physical and mental strength. Gulutzan put Johnson in a position to pull himself outta the funk he’s been in. Alone. That failed.

      Glaring weaknesses in the team makeup aside, this game just looked like a largely unmotivated bunch against a team that knew what was on the line and were there to take it…
      Coaches, as much as players should own this steamer.

    • Hamm34

      how cute you guys need your mods to protect you because your team cant show up

      Comments are moderated. Pretend your mom is reading over your shoulder.

      This site is moderated. If you are not a fan of that, you have the choice to not participate. There’s only a few rules.

      -FN Mod.

    • CalgaryBornandRaised

      5-0 to start the game……ouch

      There is a lot, and I mean a lot of dead weight on this team.

      I’m not ready to blame GG just yet, I’d like to see what he can do when we are without Wideman (playing top 4 minutes for some reason) Engelland, Stajan, Bouma, Monahan with a full training camp and in good health, Gaudreau not trying to carry the team on his back and a solid right winger for him to play with

      This should be a giant wake up call to management that the Flames need some serious work, I get that McDavid is a generational talent, but he’s one guy, and he’s not Gretzky, yet, so we can gameplan for him, we’ve seen teams take him out of the game before. He’s burned us way to much this year, and that can’t continue to happen